Jenny: One long-ass author's note coming up... Can you believe it's been four years (& a month!) since we posted the first chapter of Coming Home? And here we are again, on our FIFTH story together. What kind of craziness is that?
Deb: Really crazy, 'cause I forgot how to do everything as a team…
Jenny: I don't think it took us long to get back in the swing of things…although you had to kick my muse a few times. She's a sleepy bitch nowadays! LMAO
Deb: *pours coffee* LOL We found the rhythm again.
Jenny: So the idea for this one… Wasn't it mine? I wanted one with different powers. You took that idea and ran with it, and voila! Six was born.
Deb: I couldn't help it. I'm a sci-fi geek/action junkie! ;) So yeah…Twilight meets X-men meets my crazy mind, I guess. LOL
Jenny: When we started teasing it, someone asked if we were going to make them cry. I said maybe a little bit at the beginning. But really, this is much more action-oriented coupled with a sweet Edward/Bella relationship. There is drama, but not between our lovebirds. Right?
Deb: No, not really. This took a different spin, I think. Supernatural, action, romance, with some suspense thrown in occasionally. We won't keep you guys. And we won't always have a lengthy A/N. Most of them will be at the end.
Jenny: Just FYI, we start off with Edward alone this chapter, so it's all Deb. Next chapter will be both Edward and Bella, and from there, it's a mix. Sometimes the characters were wordy buggers. When that happens, they got a full chapter to themselves. We'll post at least once a week, on Sundays, with a surprise chapter during the week every so often. As we finish up writing it, chapters will probably come twice a week. But for now, I'll turn this over to Deb to introduce Edward!
Deb: My fierce little 11-year-old Edward. I love him so…
Six – Chapter 1
Chicago – Ten years ago
Thump…thump – thump…
Thump…thump – thump…
The sound of the soft rubber ball had a rhythm I liked as it hit the concrete deck, the building's wall, and then back to my hand. It drowned out the noise in my head. There was always noise in my head.
Dreams, curiosities, wishes, needs, wants, fears – they all echoed around in my brain, which hurt most days. Kids like me, whose parents got into trouble and we had no choice. And there were kids whose parents tucked them away like an ugly secret, like they'd just drop off a stray dog to the pound – we all had wants and needs. We wanted out of this institution. We needed a home, not a hospital. Well, a few of us didn't need this stupid hospital… Not all of us were crazy.
With a grunt, I threw the ball harder. It hit the concrete and then the block wall, shooting way over my head. I glanced around me, tilting my head a bit before reaching out with my mind to stop the ball from going over the fence. If it went over the fence, there was no getting it back. Mrs. Cope wouldn't let us outside the gate – ball or no ball.
I smiled when it halted midair, falling to my feet with a soft thump. I bent down to pick it up, rolling my eyes at Newton's attempt to sneak up on me. When I stood up, I turned around to glare at him eye-to-eye.
Mike Newton was crazy; he'd set his own bedroom on fire just to see his brother scream. His brother had screamed and then died. And that's why he was locked up in here. His stay was court ordered. Mine was because my parents were deemed unfit.
"Evil Eddie," he said with a grin, and his voice was raspy – the only result of the fire he'd set to his house – making him sound like he was going through puberty when he was only eleven.
"Get away from me, matchstick."
I went to push past him. I wasn't scared of the crazy kid. We were the same age, and even though he was bigger than me, there wasn't much I wouldn't see coming. His thoughts were usually right there before he acted on them. Today, he wanted a fight. He was feeling edgy and twitchy from seeing his parents and the fact that he wasn't allowed anywhere near matches, lighters, or anything that could start a fire. He thought of fire like a friend, and he missed it.
Honestly, I just wanted to be alone. Alone was quieter. But with Mike usually came a group of boys that followed him around. And that meant loud, angry thoughts. My temples throbbed with it all.
Wonder if Masen can really move stuff without touching it.
I hope Masen swings on Mike; they'll put him in solitary for a few days.
I bet he's just as crazy as Matchstick Mike. Hearing voices is schizophrenia. I heard the nurses talking…
I rubbed my face, pressing the heels of my hands into my eyes to ease the pounding. I knew better than to answer any of those questions or show what I could do. I was a freak, according to my father, and a demon from hell according to my grandparents. Apparently, telepathy and telekinesis were evil or don't exist at all, and I knew better than to do anything in front of people. Usually, I could control it unless I got mad, which made me grimace, because that was what brought me here in the first place – losing control.
Starting for the back door of the building, I considered seeking out Alice. The tiny thing had arrived at Brookside Psychiatric Hospital the same day as me, six months ago. She was only nine – two years younger than I was – and she was blind. But her thoughts were what I loved and what I kept secret.
Alice could see visions of the future.
Mike grabbed the sleeve of my shirt. "Gimme the ball, Masen."
"No." I shrugged out of his grip and started for the door again, rolling my eyes when I heard his mind…and his footsteps. I ducked when he tried to tackle me, which sent him sprawling across the concrete of the back deck. As he started to stand, I contemplated mentally tripping him, but my head spun toward the playground area.
"Shit," I hissed, throwing the ball in my hand at Newton's face and breaking out into a run toward the sound of laughter and tears.
My temper exploded. Tiny Alice was in the center of a large group of kids – some of the more normal ones who were allowed to go outside. They'd taken her red-and-white cane from her and were moving the chairs so that she kept running into them. From behind her sunglasses, tears were streaking down her face.
Edward, don't! Don't do it! You'll get into so much trouble! she warned me.
Alice could keep secrets, too. She'd seen me and what I could do before she'd even come to Brookside.
I couldn't stop, though. I hated this place, these kids, and everything around me. If I could, I'd take Alice away from here. My head throbbed with the thoughts of the circle of kids. They wanted to watch her fall, stumble, cry. They wanted her glasses to come off so that they could see her eyes, which were almost white.
As I ran, my mind shot out of control and started to push and shove. I needed to get to Alice before she fell over the chair that was just a step or two in front of her, but as the crowd fell sprawling in several directions, so did some chairs and tables, and I was pretty sure the shrubs edging the deck ripped up from the ground. But I didn't get the chair in time, and little Alice stumbled, falling onto her butt, scraping her elbow.
"Aw, Alice," I said, falling down next to her on my knees. "Why didn't you call for me sooner?" I whispered, picking up her elbow to see it bleeding a little.
She shook her head and sniffled. Her dark hair was in her face, sticking to the tears.
"Close your eyes," I told her, ignoring the idiots around me who were trying to figure out why they were several feet away from where they'd been standing just seconds before. I took her sunglasses off and wiped away her tears and hair as best I could before putting her glasses back on. I knew what her eyes looked like, but I wouldn't let these jerks win. One more glance around, I found her cane had skidded across the grass. I opened my hand for it, and it snapped to my grip.
"Here," I said softly, putting the handle into her grasp. "Okay, you're good. Let's go see the nurse."
Alice's little hand reached for me. "Someone's coming!" she hissed.
Glancing around again, I looked for one of the nurses or even one of the security guys, but I didn't see anyone. Not yet, anyway, but it was really only a matter of time. Someone would squeal soon enough.
"No, no… Someone's coming for us, Edward."
Her visions were always so interesting. She hadn't been born blind, so her colors were right, but faces weren't always clear. However, she'd lost her sight when she'd had her first true vision – the car wreck that took her parents. It had scared her so badly that her eyes had burst just about all the blood vessels in them. She lost her sight and her parents but gained her ability to see the future.
What she was seeing right then was a tall man, blond hair, cool blue eyes, and a woman with hair the color of honey. Alice had no fear of them, and I'd never seen them before, but for some reason they gave off a sense of hope and freedom.
"Who is that?"
"I don't know, but…they're here."
"Whatever. Nurse first, Alice. You're bleedin'."
She nodded, letting me stand up and then pull her up from the ground. When we started for the door to go inside, Mrs. Cope loomed in front of us.
"What happened out here?!" she yelled, her round face turning red with her anger.
"She fell. Someone took her cane," I said, smirking at how dumb she was, because her thoughts were so easy to manipulate. "Mike did it."
Alice giggled softly from my side but said nothing out loud.
"I'm taking her to the nurse. Mike's over there," I told her, and she locked her beady eyes on to Newton.
"Michael Newton!" she yelled and started for him, and before she could change her mind, I guided Alice inside.
The hallways were long and echoed with Alice's tapping cane, but she kept her hand in mine. We found the first-aid room and went inside. I expected one of the usual nurses but stopped cold when the man with the blond hair from Alice's vision was right in front of me.
"Um…" I swallowed nervously. "She fell down," I finally sputtered out.
The man's smile was small but warm and kind. "Well, then… Let's take a look, shall we?" He looked to Alice. "What's your name?"
"Alice. And that's Edward. Don't make him leave."
"I wouldn't dare dream of it," he said with a grin and a wink my way. "Edward." He nodded. "My name is Dr. Carlisle Cullen."
"Sir," I whispered, sitting on the chair in the corner as he led Alice to the table, where he sat her down and began to pull out supplies to clean her elbow.
"Quite the feat you pulled off out there," he pointed out, jerking his chin toward the window.
My eyes widened, and my brow broke out into a sweat. "I, um… I dunno…"
It was then I saw his mind. He'd been pretty quiet until that moment, but I wasn't sure it was because I'd been more focused on Alice. He knew what I could do, what Alice could do. And I suddenly panicked.
"We gotta go!" I said, reaching for her hand.
"Edward, son…calm down." He grasped my shoulders gently and settled me back onto the chair. "You're okay. And your secrets – both of your secrets are safe with me. I would never say anything. Sixxers have to stick together." He grinned my way, dabbing at Alice's elbow.
"What?" I asked, tilting my head.
"What you can do, Edward, is a sixth sense. It's a part of your mind that works differently than most human beings. Alice's too. There are more of us out there in the world than you think."
"You?" Alice whispered, but a small smile curled her mouth as she saw flashes of his decisions to come here. "You can…sense us. Six…"
"Sixxers." Dr. Cullen chuckled softly, tapping her chin lightly. "I can. Very good, Alice. And I knew I'd find two of you here."
"No one should know. We're freaks!" I snapped, starting to stand up.
"We're different, yes," he agreed, setting a hand on my shoulder. I wanted to flinch away from him, manipulate him into just finishing up on Alice, but my curiosity overrode everything. "Some will tell you we're better, more evolved than everyone else. Others will tell you that we're possessed by devils, but I personally will tell you that you can learn to control it, to hone your skills into something useful. There are some out there who will exploit what you can do. Some will use you for terrible things."
My brow furrowed at that. "Like my parents."
Dr. Cullen frowned. "What did your parents do, son?"
"They…they…wanted me to listen," I told him, tapping my temple. "ATM PIN numbers, bank-account numbers, lock combinations. Then…then they wanted me to break open places. They wanted me to make people do things for them. When we got caught, they tried to bribe their way out. No one believed them, and they were arrested. I was brought here."
His eyes warmed to that. "You made that happen, didn't you? Helped get them caught."
I looked down at the floor and then out the window, where I could see what I'd done outside in the courtyard. It looked like a small bomb had gone off. Sighing deeply, I nodded a little as my eyes took in ripped-up bushes, bent and broken chairs and tables, not to mention a few kids still wondering what the hell had happened. It was mild in comparison to what I'd done to get my parents caught.
"I just wanted to go to school. I wanted to be normal. I hate what I am. My head hurts all the time. But they moved around so much, used me like some…some…trained dog."
"It will get better, Edward. You can learn to control it. I promise you."
I shrugged a shoulder, glancing toward Alice, whose mind was as quiet as her mouth at the moment. Except for one tiny vision she was mulling over. Dr. Cullen was taking us somewhere.
"Alice?" I whispered.
"Shh!" she hushed me. Edward, he's a good person. He saves us.
The doctor chuckled at us, shaking his head a little. His thoughts were pretty open, easy to read. A pretty lady with the honey-colored hair entered his mind, and he smiled at the thought of her. He thought she'd love Alice and me instantly. He pictured us in a house that looked like a castle or mansion with toys and holidays and laughter.
Dr. Cullen caught my stare, thinking, How much can you see?
"All of it. Who is she?"
"My wife, Esme. She'd like you. Both of you."
Alice's mind saw decisions made so quickly, I could barely keep up, and they were coming from the blond man still bandaging her elbow.
"They won't let you take us. Alice maybe, but not me. My parents only got a year in prison for fraud and theft. They'll get out and—"
He placed a hand on my shoulder to stop me, and a small smile curled across his face. "Oh, son… Let me worry about such things."
New York City – present day
I shook my head as I gazed at the blurry flashes going by the train-car window of the subway. I hadn't believed him, even when his mind was so sure, but Carlisle had patched up Alice's elbow, promising us he'd see us again really soon. The next time I saw him, he was with Esme, and they'd come for both of us.
Alice had been adopted by them first. She'd lost her family. Edward and Elizabeth Masen Sr. had taken a bit of convincing before they'd finally signed over their parental rights. By the time I was twelve and Alice was ten, we were officially Cullens.
Carlisle had volunteered that day to work the clinic of Brookside, but his sixth sense was powerful. He could sense others like us just about anywhere. And he'd later told us the draw to Brookside had been so very strong because Alice and I had the strongest abilities he'd ever encountered.
The train slowed down as it approached the next stop. I braced myself for the shift in minds around me. Carlisle had been right about the ability to control my extra senses. With time, I could focus on one mind in a room full of people. However, my temper tended to still push my control just a little.
Carlisle and Esme, though, had given us everything we could ask for in life. They gave us a calm home, a real family, stability. The good doctor came from old money and didn't do half-bad at the hospitals he'd worked throughout the last ten years, so we'd never wanted for anything.
We also weren't the only sixxers he'd taken in; there were three others. We were the first but most definitely not the last. We were, however, the only ones he'd legally adopted. Alice and I were truly his children, and Esme and Carlisle made sure that we knew that every damn day. We loved them for it.
I'm gonna be late!
Maybe Sharon will be at the meeting this time…
What if I'm pregnant? I just can't…
The file for the Turner account has to be in here. I need that bastard… Please, please… Ah-HA!
I tore my gaze from the window as people got on and off the train. The doors finally slid closed, and we pulled away from the station. The guy panicking over the file was mentally celebrating. The woman scared that she might be pregnant was wide-eyed and trying to read her book, but really, she was berating every poor decision she'd ever made, including the man who may have gotten her "knocked up." He was married to someone else.
Sighing deeply, I forced it all away. Sometimes the drama and stress and panic and fear were too much. People worried endlessly about infinite topics – jobs, relationships, health, money, bills, children. It was enough for me to concentrate on my own life.
My college courses at NYU were hard. I was close to the end of my junior year, and I still really didn't know what the hell I was going to do with my life.
I felt a nudge to my arm, and I looked over to Jasper, who was eyeing Miss Maybe-Pregnant.
"She's hot. And she's looking your way," he whispered, grinning when I rolled my eyes at him.
"She's having an affair with a married man, and she's possibly carrying his child," I answered without much emotion behind it.
"Oh. Never mind, then."
I nodded. "Right."
"Fuck, that shit must get old. Hearing everything."
I nodded again, turning my eyes back out the window. It did get old, but I was used to it. It made relationships ridiculously hard. There were no secrets from me. There was no sense of privacy if someone decided to date me.
"You should ask Tanya about that," I muttered, smiling at his scoff as he barely glanced up from his phone.
"No thank you."
Smirking his way, I said, "Exactly." Tanya was a story I'd like to forget.
Jasper was a year behind me at NYU. He'd come to live with us when he was fifteen. Carlisle had sensed a sixxer on a medical-conference trip he'd taken to Austin, Texas. Jasper had been living on the streets, trying to do odd jobs just to be able to eat. All we'd known up until meeting him were that sixxers' abilities were usually a mental talent – like Alice's visions, my own telepathy and telekinesis, and Carlisle's talent. But Jasper was different. His sixth sense gave him speed and a dexterity that was almost reptile-like. With short bursts of speed, he could move so fast, he was practically invisible, but he could also climb like Spiderman or some shit. And that last thing had developed as early as infancy. Apparently, his mother had put him in his crib and come in to check on him, only to find him clinging to the popcorn ceiling of their home in Austin. As he grew, so did her disdain for his strangeness, which is how he came to be living on the streets.
And the very second he'd stepped foot in our home, he'd been in love with my sister. The two were really rather perfect for each other.
He scrolled through his phone, showing me the screen. "Volterra Industries is on Forbes's list this year."
"Of course it is." I frowned at that. "It's amazing what you can do when ethics aren't exactly your concern."
"You still think they're looking for us?"
"Yeah, Carlisle seems to think so." I nodded. "He knew them at one time. Or at least he knew the CEO way back when. Medical school, I think." I shrugged a shoulder. "One of the brothers is a sixxer. Marcus, I think. Anyway, Aro wanted to 'fix him.' And that turned into genetic testing. Now…they want all sixxers for testing. They're willing to do anything to get them. Carlisle's been watching the missing persons' lists for years – decades, really – because he's convinced that sixxers sign up but they never come out of the lab in Washington."
The train slowed down, and we stood up when it came to a stop at the platform. Once we were out of the train station and up on the sidewalk, I turned his way.
"Anyway, Carlisle's always said that we should be able to choose. That we should be able to defend ourselves – physically or with our senses. We've had close calls, even before you came into the picture. It was why we left Chicago not long after they adopted Alice and me. Alice…" I sighed, shaking my head. "She knew someone was coming, and she's seen what they'd do to me and her, so her fear and her inability to run made her a target. I just about destroyed a McDonald's that day. You really don't want to see what they'd do to us." I tapped my temple to indicate the visions I'd seen in my sister's mind.
Jasper grimaced but nodded, pointing toward the bodega. "We need to stop in here. Mom needs a few things."
Esme had sent him a small list of things she needed to his phone, so we grabbed a basket, shooting a wave to the man behind the counter as the bell over the door chimed. Bart – which was short for something long and complicated – was a tall, thick man with an even thicker accent and impressive beard. Usually he was one to joke around, but his mind was focused on a girl's face. I couldn't read his mind, because he thought in Armenian, but I could see his distrust of her when he'd pace back and forth behind that counter in order to see which aisle she was on.
Jasper chattered away about his classes at NYU, which focused on history, but I stayed quiet. When I finally saw the girl who was making Bart so anxious, my eyebrows shot up. She was a petite thing, with dark hair pulled back into a long ponytail and even darker eyes. Her clothes had seen better days, and on her shoulder was a backpack that seemed to be filled to bursting. Her sneakers were just about worn out, and in her hands were a few cans of soup, a loaf of bread, and a jar of peanut butter. Her mind, though, was jumbled, everywhere and nowhere all at one time. It was hard to read her, except for the two thoughts that were prevalent – escape and hunger.
The one thing that outshone all of that was the fact that she was undeniably beautiful. It was natural and easy. It wasn't wrapped up in makeup or hair products. It was smooth skin and wide, scared, life-hardened eyes, and lips that were pink and full…when she wasn't chewing on the bottom one. And if I'd had to guess, I'd say she was somewhere around Alice's age, maybe a little older.
The one thought that made me freeze was the Volterra Industries emblem that swirled to the forefront of her mind. It was a red V and I, and to her, it screamed danger. In fact, she looked at my shirt for it before focusing back on her armload.
Bart muttered under his breath, but I caught the girl's eye.
"He'll beat you to the door," I warned her softly as Jasper took the next aisle. "Don't do it. He'll press charges, no shame. No matter how pretty you are."
She gasped, glancing down at what was in her hands and then toward the front counter. There was a brief moment of sheer, utter defeat on that pretty face. She looked my way again, her cheeks blooming into either anger or embarrassment – I wasn't sure which. Just when I thought she'd put some of her stuff down, she was running.
"Hey!" Bart yelled when the bell rang so hard it sounded like it would fall off the door.
"Ah, hell… Jasper, stay here!" I was fast, though Jasper could beat me any day, but Bart did beat me to and out the door. I turned the corner, shaking my head that this girl had picked a dead-end alleyway. She was as good as arrested, which for some unknown reason, I just couldn't let happen.
Bart was still yelling from the sidewalk, but I ran down the alley, where she'd darted behind some dumpsters. Just as I caught sight of a brunette ponytail and an overstuffed backpack, she stepped toward a brick wall. Her hands were still full of the things she'd stolen, but as she walked toward the brick wall, a window-like square appeared, revealing something familiar through it, but she darted into it and the window evaporated.
"Oh, shit," I whispered to myself through a laugh. "Pretty girl's a sixxer."
That thought, though, made the humor fade away instantly. She was a talented thing, and there was no telling where she'd gone, except that I was pretty sure it was another alley just like the one where I was standing. But she looked damned lost, if not homeless. The thought of her sleeping on the streets, someone that young and pretty and small, made me shake my head. In reality, her talent could take her anywhere. Hell, she could teleport into the Plaza Hotel for a night.
I snorted to myself and turned back around. I walked up to Bart, holding up a twenty. "Here, this should cover what she took."
"She has to be down there, kid!" he snapped at me, taking the money roughly. "There's no way out."
"Not down there, Bart. She must've taken another way." I forced that opinion into his head, and his eyes dulled for a split second before he finally nodded. "C'mon, ring us up. Esme will be upset if we're late for dinner."
That made him smile. The big guy had a bit of a crush on my mother.
"You tell her I took care of you."
"Will do, Bart."
He rang us up, and I could feel Jasper's gaze on me, but his thoughts were question after question. He said nothing until we toted our bags out onto the sidewalk to make our way to the large apartment building where we lived. I needed to see Carlisle. I needed to know if he could find this teleporting girl.
"What the hell happened?" Jasper asked as we stepped into the elevator of the building.
"She stole food."
"She disappeared down that alleyway."
"It's a dead-fucking-end, Ed!"
Grinning, I glanced over at him. "She's a sixxer…a teleporter. Poof! Gone."
He laughed once. "No shit?"
"Yeah," I sighed, but my face had to have shown something, because his brow furrowed again. "She's running from Volterra."
"Exactly. We need to talk to Carlisle."
A/N #2: So there you have it! Next chapter, you'll get more info on Bella. That one will post next Sunday. If you're on Facebook, we'll probably post pic teases mid-week. We hope you enjoyed the start of this one. If you did, leave us a review and let us know! Mwah! ~ Deb