|When The House Goes Up In Flames
Author: by the factory wall PM
Bella wakes up after cliff diving, only to discover that she hasn't been saved by anyone intent on saving her. She can only hope that Edward is on his way...Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Chapters: 15 - Words: 55,462 - Reviews: 236 - Favs: 142 - Follows: 96 - Updated: 07-09-08 - Published: 06-02-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4295590
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters. They all belong to Stephenie Meyer alone. I just wanted to play around a bit.
Summary: During New Moon, Bella wakes up after jumping off the cliff, but she wasn't saved by Jacob. All she can hope for is that Edward isn't far off...
Author's Note: I haven't written any fanfiction in two+ years, so this is a bit rusty, and to be frank... bad. It's also unbeta'd, which contributes to the bad. However, if, by some miracle, you like it just be warned that, due to laziness/having a life, I won't be able to update every day.
Also, the title is a line in "Michael Myers Resplendent" by The Mountain Goats.
Another author's note, from about a month later: To anyone just beginning this story now, I should warn you that it gets really, really angst-ridden and kind of sad. It's not without its happy bits, but if you're not willing to read a bit of an emotional roller coaster, then I suggest you stop here.
When the House Goes Up in Flames
Chapter One – Pain
Bella remembered the exhilaration, followed by the panic. Each breath she took scraped against her throat. Her clothes were soaked and muddy and cold, and they clung to her half-frozen skin. Everything around her was cold and damp and hard. She couldn't open her eyes. Slowly, the reasons she had jumped seeped into her consciousness, like color to a developing photograph. Edward.
Thinking the name woke her with a gasp. I should be dead. There were rocks under her head. I drowned. Her chest ached, racked not only by her recent diving expedition but the sudden emptiness caused by months of pain. I'm dead. She closed her eyes tight. I shouldn't feel this. I'm dead. But there was damp earth beneath her, and weak light was filtered through her eyelids. Giving up, she opened her eyes again and took in her surroundings. Her very green surroundings. The trees, the ground, even the light was the same shade of green as it fragmented in the treetops.
One arm at a time, she lifted herself up. A shock shot through her right arm and it collapsed beneath her.
From just behind her, Bella heard a chuckle, nearly muted, but a chuckle nonetheless. Closer to a snigger. It was venomous, and came from a cold, rock-hard hand that suddenly snaked its way across her throat, lifting her off the ground. If not for the lack of air, Bella would've felt like she was floating.
Before her stood a haggard woman, emaciated and wild. The circles under Victoria's eyes matched the hard black emptiness of her irises, and her lips were white, cracked, and dry. Her skin remained flawless and white, with a chalky pallor that had always reminded Bella of a marble statue. But this being, an abomination as far as… some had been concerned, moved too quickly and far too gracefully to be a carving. And atop her sunken yet beautiful head, Victoria's flame-red hair blew around in the wind.
The next thing she knew, Bella was hurdling through the air. The wind was knocked out of her, and she heard a thunderous crack. If she hadn't known better, she would've thought the body between her and the tree-
"Don't want your back broken quite yet, sweet," Victoria snarled. She unceremoniously dropped Bella at her feet. Breath could not find its way into Bella's lungs. Her chest heaved, but nothing came. Small spots of black floated around the edges of her vision. Finally, a breath caught, and oxygen was returning to her lungs.
Victoria's face was a mere inch from her own. The icy hand held her on to throat strong enough to keep Bella from moving, but was careful enough so as not to crush her throat. Bella could not wrest her eyes from Victoria's gaze – it was a hungry, desperate stare. "I'm surprised," Victoria finally whispered, voice tenebrous, allowing one hand to stroke the side of Bella's face, "he hasn't come to save you. Leaving your safety in the hands of dogs, really," she tutted. "They've been keeping me hungry the past few weeks. And Bella, darling, I'm so… very… hungry…"
Taking one of Bella's hands between her fingertips, Victoria began to caress it blankly. She held it like a newborn child, but continued to stare at her victim. In a lightning-quick second, before Bella even had a chance to register the movement, her finger snapped. The following scream, silent and breathless, almost made it more painful. In her ears, her dull heartbeat sped up.
"I wonder what he'll do when he finds your body." Victoria cocked her head to one side and took the next of Bella's fingers. Don't look down. Don't look at it. Just don't-
This time, Bella really could scream. And it was loud.
"Oh shut up." The snap had been sickening. In fact, Bella felt bile creeping up the back of her throat. She was going to be sick. "Let's make this last, shall we?" Victoria grabbed the back of Bella's head and ducked her head down to her throat. Every inch of Bella's body was screaming at her to move, to do something, but her mind was frozen – listening intently to the sound of Victoria's labored breaths, so close to what she desired, and the thrum of her own blood. The veins in her neck pulsed even quicker, seeming to rise above the skin as the cold, dry lips brushed against her.
How long can she make this last before she kills me? Bella thought. How long can she hold on? Her mind was working much quicker than it had before, processing new information with every passing moment. How much more can I stand? How much more can my body take?
She already knew. She welcomed it. She was ready to die as soon as she had opened her eyes. No, even before then. Hadn't she welcomed death in the water, as it turned her around in a mass of salty swirls, as she stopped fighting and let the ocean take her, pull her down, down, as she lost consciousness, becoming one with that beautiful, angelic voice she heard only as an echo in her head, and going down, and down, down…
"Wake up." Victoria jerked Bella's head back, ripping strands of hair from her head as she did so. "We're nowhere near finished yet, and I need you to stay with me." She took a step away from Bella, who crumpled – a mere quaking, heaving mass at the feet of a merciless executioner. "I said wake up."
Once again, Bella was lifted by the throat. She's really going to make this last as long as possible. There had to be some way to just shut off the pain.
With one free hand, so cold it practically burned Bella's skin, Victoria followed the veins in Bella's arm, tracing them until she reached the scar. The last trace of James. A sudden wave of calm spread over Victoria's tortured face and she marveled at the mark, swept up in memory. There was something almost tender about the way she danced her fingers across it. Her lips moved unintelligibly with something Bella couldn't hear, but understood entirely.
A murmur of hope.
A cry of loss.
It tugged at the edges of the hole in Bella's chest, threatening to sink her into oblivion. For a split second, she understood her hunter. The moment seemed to last for ages. Waves of grief spilled from Victoria. They had both lost their soul mates, forever. But the comparisons ended there. Bella could never be in Victoria's place.
Victoria's eyes flashed, hard and wintry. From somewhere deep within her chest – probably a similar cavity to Bella's – a growl unfurled. There was no more pain coming, save the last bit. The sharp end.
Exactly along the lines of her love's final act, Victoria tore her teeth into Bella's flesh. A small shriek escaped Bella's lips as her life escaped her veins.
Several things happened all at once. First, Victoria ripped herself from Bella's hand, searching for more instant gratification. A deep growl came from just beyond the trees. And a large blurry body flung out at the momentarily still Victoria, knocking her just out of Bella's vision in a flurry of screams and howls.
Then, Bella's heart fell. The bullet that had shot out to tackle down her killer was not the pristine body she had been hoping for. Instead, it was a very large russet wolf. And it was not alone. Four other wolves darted out from the trees around Bella, sprinting after Jacob and Victoria as they wrestled.
Everything was moving so fast. She wanted to clamp her hands over her ears with each bloodcurdling scream and yowl, but could barely move. Instead, she closed her eyes and tried to wash the panic away. Jacob was there. She was going to be safe. A light breeze whipped by her face as the screams died down – they sounded much further away now.
"Bella." The voice was quiet in the back of her head, but she jumped at the abruptness of it. "Bella." The velvety texture of his voice was straining. With her last ounce of energy, she let the calm that came with her hallucination wash over her.
"Edward," she whispered into the wind, smiling despite it all.
"Bella, I'm right here. I'm so sorry. I am so incredibly sorry."
Reaching with her bloodied hand, eyes still shut tight, she stroked the side of his face. In reality, it was only air, but she could almost feel it. Hard and cool and beautiful.
It's alright. It's time. I'm ready.
The angel shook his head. "Not for this." She traced her fingers along the edge of his chin, and his lips curled into a broken smile.
Will I see you when I'm gone?
"You're not going anywhere."
In an instant, her vision shut off. She let her hand drop and her eyes open. Her body was so tired, but there was something new. Something creeping its way around her palm. It burned.
"Jacob," she murmured. Using her voice pulled at the cracks in her throat. She tried to yell. "Jacob." Someone had set her hand on fire.
"Bella! Jesus Christ, Bella." Suddenly, warm hands engulfed her face. "Bella, I've got you. I'm going to take you to the hospital, okay?"
"No, Jacob, you have to help… you have to…"
Their eyes locked, both frantic. "She… bit… you." Bella let loose a wild scream. "Bella, what can I do? Tell me what to do."
"Like a snakebite," she was somehow able to gasp as she started writhing helplessly against the tree. The pain was unbearable. Why couldn't she just shut it off?
Immediately, Jacob understood. "Sam, hold her down." Sam looked down at his friend incredulously. Bella had no recollection of the other wolves returning. Two very strong, hot arms wrapped themselves around her as Jacob took her hand. Pressing the wound to his lips, he quickly sucked the blood out, spitting every few seconds.
The fire was diminishing rapidly. Soon it was only a dull pain in her wrist, and then a flicker of heat in her palm. "That's it," she muttered. "Take me home."
Jacob pulled her up into his arms, a protective hug. It wasn't his usual bone-crushing bear hug; it was surprisingly gentle. "Hospital, Bella."
"No. I need… to… go home." Jacob opened his mouth to argue, but she was losing consciousness in his arms.
"Bella, can you hear me?" Jacob's voice was far away. She muttered something, but it slurred and even she couldn't tell what it was supposed to sound like. Jacob laughed. He was above her, somewhere. "I'm putting you in your bed, Bella. I'll be right here. I'm giving you an hour until we go to the hospital, okay?" She tried to thank him, but the words wouldn't work properly. Hot lips brushed the top of her head.
At the end of each arm were two completely different pains. One was the sharp throb of her broken fingers, the other the dull burn of the bite. Slowly, she was becoming less and less aware of the injuries, and let sleep take her.
She knew Jacob was there; she could hear him breathing frantically in her ear, and see him stroking her hair, and smell his familiar skin as he clutched onto her, but she could not feel him. There was no warmth radiating from his arms, and his strong grasp was barely noticeable.
She could have easily been dead in his arms. She had no notion of where or why, and her eyes were blank. The only movement in her entire limp body, draped across Jacob's lap, was the twitching of a few fingers that weren't broken yet.
As though there was water pressing against her ears, she was only vaguely aware of Jacob roaring.
And then she was gone, running. A ghost in the forest.
Bella lurched out of her dream. Air still shredded the inside of her throat as she tried to breathe.
She was wide awake now, and she couldn't tell why. Every inch of her screamed for sleep. It was still light outside – as light as it got in Forks – so she knew she hadn't been asleep that long. Forcing the memories back as they drizzled in was making her even more tired.
Jacob was curled in a large, snoring ball on the floor at the foot of her bed. He saved me. She smiled, still half asleep. My Jacob. He had been so tired the day before, and she doubted he had slept since then.
The more conscious she became, the more she realized something was bizarrely wrong, however. The room was practically spinning, but she did not feel dizzy. A taste she never knew before was stuck at the back of her throat – which she would have chalked up to dehydration – but it was almost sickly sweet.
Her cut hand was tingling. She flexed each muscle carefully, before she realized – the cut was healing quickly. It was an angry red, but it was no longer open. Had she been asleep longer than she thought?
But, again, the feeling that something was incredibly wrong started worming its way through her. The dull ache of her now-closed wound was not local to her hand. It was all the way up to her shoulder, and burning stronger with every second. This is not happening, was all she could think.
In a flurry, she threw the bed sheet off of her and whisked out of the room. There was nothing she could do to stop it, she realized. The thought was crippling. After months of not being able to breathe properly – hell, even after a day of hardly breathing at all – she felt the air being sucked out of the entire house. The fire was getting hotter under her skin. All she could think was that she had to get away. Jacob couldn't find her.
Jacob. He may as well not have done anything. He may as well have had the pack kill me on the spot. Oh, God. Jacob.
She ran as fast as she could out of the house, as fast as the wind would take her. If only the fire would stop; if only she could guarantee that she wouldn't hurt anyone; if only the pack wouldn't go looking for her.
How far can I drive until it's too much? She got in the car and the engine roared to life. The fire was licking at her insides, snaking its way to her chest, excruciatingly slow.
As she drove, she allowed herself to curse his name. She was so utterly and completely alone. It didn't matter if saying it out loud ripped apart the edges of the gaping hole in her chest – he wasn't here, he wasn't coming back, and she would have to spend an eternity without him.
Soon it was too much.
Between the burning in her arm and the self-imposed torture, Bella couldn't concentrate on the road. She wasn't even aware of her other injuries, though she was sure that driving and running wasn't going to help them much.
The door slammed shut behind her – she hadn't even bothered to take the keys out of the ignition. Her beautiful, rust-ridden truck echoed on the empty road as she blindly dove into the forest. Soon the two pains would merge and she wouldn't be able to tell the hollow empty of her heart from the scorching fire of her blood. Just keep running, she thought. Get lost. Don't go back.
The light was growing dimmer, the trees emerging greener, and the pain getting louder.
Just keep running.