Several folks have asked me to repost this story even though it was - in its other iteration - incomplete. After a blue, blue summer and lot of fucking change in my personal life, I decided to do a little rewriting and throw it back up here for those who are interested in the hopes it gets me back into the world of the living.
This is a sequel – or more continuation – of Be Like Water (though hopefully you can enjoy it alone). In fact the Epilogue of that story is the direct preface for this one. Parts of it are dark and the story forays in to a more "original urban fantasy" world with extra-twi concepts that may not appeal to every fanfic reader. (ie: it's not a girl meets boy drama)
As with most things in life, it's complicated.
The "official" schtick: A sequel to BLW: Some things seem just too good to last, others are just too insidious just to disappear. Cue the Volturi- stage left. How far will Bella go to protect everything she holds dear? Well – as usual – it's complicated.
This story is rated M for language, violence, mature themes and non-gratuitous sex.
General Disclaimer: Don't own a thing. Just having fun. Yada, yada, yada...
This chapter is a "flash forward" to about two weeks from the start of this tale. Prescience means "foreknowledge" and that's what this is: a moment in time to come.
Under the Harvest Moon by Carl Sandburg
Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.
Bella's breath echoed harshly off the stone walls of the cavernous building.
"Steady," Jasper's whisper laced the mists that billowed through the ancient double doors behind them.
Gulping, Bella nodded once – a brisk, curt movement in contrast to the roll of her heaving breath.
She had to keep it together.
Jasper's arm pulled her tightly to his side in an attempt at comfort, but the overture made her gasp in pain. Like she had been skinned, every last nerve chafed and burned against the contact.
He immediately slackened his hold and she drooped forward, catching herself with hands to thighs.
"Sorry, darlin'," he murmured, his hand brushing apologetically down her spine.
Bella sucked in an icy breath and pushed herself upright with a strangled cry. "Don't touch," she gasped.
"Shhh," he crooned, even while he snatched his hand away. "It'll be any minute, now."
Bella shuddered and drew a steeling breath through her nose as she swallowed against the tremors that wracked her body.
A rushing screech made Bella jerk her head up fearfully and scan the old abandoned tabernacle. It was just a restless bird, high in the rafters of the dilapidated building. Feathers rustled as the anonymous black shape flew through one of the broken windows.
Bella scanned the gaping room. The pews that remained in this relic were piled in dark broken shadows against the wall and wild grasses grew from between the cobblestones. Dusk had fallen hard, siphoning off all color and majesty, leaving only an ominous dreamscape the likes of which were perfect for this nightmare.
And make no mistake, this was a nightmare.
At that moment, the harvest moon broke through the clouds with audacity, seeping in through the yawning archways and washing her anew in molten pain. Bella's body jerked and seized as she fell to her knees.
Pressing her fists to burning eyes, Bella let her head flop back to the dank, vaulted ceiling as she released a bruising sob.
She couldn't do this! She couldn't!
Hindsight and foresight converged in an oppressive present and the adrenaline of terror raced through her veins and she moaned.
"Steady now, girl," Jasper hissed, squatting down beside her. "They'll be here any minute. I feel 'em." His voice was tense and anxious, "Darlin', you gotta …"
Licking her lips, she completed his sentence in a forlorn whisper – more for herself than anything - "I have to do it right." Gulping, she looked up into his ochre eyes, searching for validation. Or some remnants of her waning resolve.
"That's right, sweetheart," Jasper breathed, worry withering that cool warrior's gaze.
He was doubting her.
It was enough to make Bella lunge to her feet, pitching forward a few stumbling steps as the earth reeled beneath her. Her empty stomach rebelled, pushing burning acid up to flirt with the back of her throat.
Everything culminated in this very moment: the explosive trauma of the last two weeks as well as the long slow demise that had started with that fateful night five years ago when her world was torn apart … when the veil of innocence had been shredded by cold, undead hands.
In a mere handful of days she had glimpsed what lay behind the proverbial curtain that everyone pretended didn't exist: Love perverted by lust….the gluttony that lurked under the cheap veneer of civility… the corrupting savagery of selfishness.
Edward had taught her so much.
And they were lessons she had run from – frantic to recapture her lost innocence – in her hopes and dreams, in her nightmares, in the way she lived her life. She blended into obscurity as best she could and sheltered herself under the isolating umbrella of her Pack and lived by other's agendas.
It was only in the arms of the love of her life that she felt safe – or as safe as you can when your soul mate is a werewolf – and there she had timidly stayed.
But Bella had finally learned, painfully learned…
…you can't run away from your destiny.
"They're here," Jasper announced quietly.
Bella's breath caught.
All the pain, all the suffering…everything she left, everything she lost, everyone she hurt…
It was all for this very moment.
Drawing herself up and squaring her shoulders, she turned to the silent procession of heavy, velvet-cloaked vampires.
Bella gulped and blindly reached out. Jasper's steady hand clasped hers with a squeeze of fortitude that made Bella's nerves twitch and burn.
Side by side, they watched the small sober procession: four tall, imposing vampires flanking one tiny–but more menacing – leader. Bella ground her teeth to keep them from chattering.
With a deliberate and sedate speed, that was no doubt intended to unnerve, the group approached.
"Jas-per, you're late," a childish sing-song voice slithered through the swirling mists and echoed off the rafters.
"Now I was goin' to say the same, little darlin', but my manners thought better of it," Jasper drawled with a practiced nonchalance.
Jane sniffed a sarcastic laugh as her gaze snapped to where Bella was putting everything she had into stilling the tremors that rolled through her body. The girl's eyes glowed a vicious, feral crimson.
"And Bella… so nice to see you again," she gushed in a disturbing parody of charm and then drove in the knife. "Did you enjoy your honeymoon?" she twisted the question with disgust.
Bella nodded curtly and dropped her gaze as she squeezed her eyes tight and tried to steady her breath against her hemorrhaging heart's stutter.
Jasper squeezed her hand. "Where's Aro?"
Bella looked back up to see Jane take several skipping steps toward them, her hands clasped jauntily behind her back as her blood-red gaze flayed Bella down to her very soul.
A slow, provocative smile twisted those childish bow lips and she clucked her tongue. "You don't really think Aro would come to meet you here, do you?" The girl cast her eyes disparagingly over the crumbling building. "Where there's no protection?" Her gaze narrowed shrewdly on Jasper. "On a harvest moon?" Her voice broke into a disturbing giggle whose echoes bounced through the gloom like ping pong balls.
Bella's stomach dropped as dread crept up her spine with clammy fingers.
Jasper shifted beside her.
Jane sashayed toward them in that disturbingly childlike way. "No, I've just come to get your answer and either bring you to our fearless leader…." Her repulsive pink tongue slipped out to run suggestively over her leer. "Or enjoy myself," she piped brightly. With that, her hand darted out toward Bella.
Like lightning Jasper intercepted with a harsh fist on the girl's wrist. "She's mine," he smirked, his glittering eyes in conflict with his casual tone.
"How dare you touch me!" Jane shrilled.
And, with a bellow of agony, Jasper dropped to the ground, curling into a fetal position.
"Stop! Stop it!" Bella shrieked as her horrified gaze snapped to where Jasper was writhing in torment. She whipped around to where Jane was holding him hostage with a sadistic glee etched into her face. Bella lunged and grabbed the velvet robes of the vampire who was only slightly smaller. "STOP!" she screamed, vainly beating that putrid granite with her fists.
Jane's casual backhand sent Bella sprawling across the rough flagstone. "Shut up," she quipped snidely, at least turning on Bella and releasing Jasper from his torment.
Bella gasped against the pain wracking her body, and quickly scrabbled to hands and knees as her breath pulled at her burning muscles and aching bones. She wiped her mouth incidentally with the back of her hand and was relieved that it was only snot, and not blood that was dripping down her face.
Bella took a deep, steeling breath.
It was time. This was the end of it all.
All the pain, all the suffering…everything she left, everything she lost, everyone she hurt…It was all for this very moment.
"Take me to Aro," she ground out through gritted teeth as she pushed off the cold, rough floor.
Jane was before her in a second. "You've decided to join us?"
"I've decided," Bella nodded once, holding herself up by her hands on her thighs.
Jane's face melted into a patronizing smirk. "I could turn you, you know," she taunted, no doubt envisioning the violence that she wished would end the threat of competition that Aro saw in Bella's "gifts."
Bella met that chilling gaze head on. She licked her lips. "I don't want to be Turned by some second-rate bratty errand-girl."
Jane's eyes narrowed as her lips pressed together in a severe line.
Before she kicked Bella wickedly in the face.
Bella flew backwards, splaying out on her back and gasping hoarsely in pain from the impact. An involuntary moan slipped from her lips as she rolled over on her side.
"Bella…" Jasper's worried whisper made her look up to where he was being restrained by two of the Volturi guard.
Grimacing, she pushed arduously off the floor. She had to do this. For her child, her Pack, her mate and all that was right in this world… everything she lost, everything she still held dear.
"I'm disappointed in you, Bella," Jane's condescending voice quivered on the jagged edges of a volatile temper. "You never used to be so rude. You've changed," she tsked harshly.
A bitter laugh washed, warm, over Bella's lips.
"Oh…you've no fucking idea."
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