When I was thirteen, I had appendicitis. It started out a small, dull pain, and quickly over the course of an hour or so turned into the worst pain I had ever experienced. I was sitting in my small class of about ten students at a school in Denali when it happened. The teacher immediately called the school nurse, and the school nurse called an ambulance. I went to the hospital and my father was waiting for me in the ER. I was in surgery within an hour, and the stabbing pain was gone.
This was nothing like that. This was much, much worse.
My body was engulfed in flames, and I felt like I was dying, but couldn't let myself go. I kept hearing voices, but couldn't make anyone's out in particular. The voices kept telling me that it was going to be okay, that I was okay, but I didn't care. I wasn't okay. I was in excruciating pain.
It felt like my Jacob when he was hurt last summer. Every one of my bones being broken and reset. Even then, I didn't think that hurt as much as this did.
"I'm so sorry," Someone apologized. "I'm so, so sorry." Yeah, you should be.
I was pretty sure most of the pain in my throat came from screaming. How Bella was silent during her transformation was baffling. Now I knew why they all thought she was dead. The screaming didn't make anything better, but it gave me something to focus on. Something other than my skin melting and bones breaking.
I wanted to die. I wanted Demetri to come and snap my neck like he did Ryan. I wanted this fire to pick up so that I would burn away like whomever that was in the clearing. I wanted this pain to end.
Ryan. That poor, poor boy. Aro must have figured him out. They must have been torturing him for information on me or something. This was all my fault. I should have stayed away from him. There you go Dani, I thought to myself. Add emotional turmoil to this painful mess you're in.
Death couldn't come quickly enough. Please, whoever is out there, just end this already! I pleaded.
"It's okay," someone responded. "Shh…it'll be okay, baby." No, this is definitely not okay!
"Just relax, Danielle. It'll all be over soon," someone promised. "It will all be over soon."
I went back to screaming when the fire left my limbs and went straight for my chest. Had my limbs already been burnt off? I didn't realize burning alive took this long. I could hear not only voices, but footsteps and breathing. It was incredibly strange. I tried to focus on someone who was breathing beside me. As the flame melted my insides their breathing calmed me.
"Carlisle," the voice said, strained. He sounded like he had been crying.
"It's almost over, Jacob," the other voice said. Jacob.
My Jacob. My brave, brave Jacob. What was he going to think of all of this? I tried to remember the events that brought me here. Was he mad at Emily for letting me go? Do they all know what happened? Do they care?
Poor, poor Jacob. He didn't ask for this. He asked for a normal life. He wanted something normal so badly, and I tried so hard to give that to him. I failed him. He was the one person I was supposed to risk everything for, and I failed him.
"Shh…don't cry baby. It's almost over," Jacob said, grabbing my hand. His hand was too warm. Don't do that, I couldn't move to pull my hand away. Please let go. His grip was uncomfortable. I panicked. Was it because of the fire, or because of the transition? Would I not be able to stand touching my own boyfriend if I was a vampire?
"Jacob, let go of her hand," someone directed, and I was grateful, even though it sparked a fight between the two of them.
"Carlisle, something's happening!" Jake said, panicking and a heard of people rushed in.
"Ah," someone said. "It's almost over."
"Soon," another chirpy voice agreed. I groaned. Please let this be over. Please just let me die already.
"She's going to be different, Jacob," another voice warned. "Things might be different for a little while."
"Bella was fine," Jacob argued, growling. Please don't fight.
"Only time will tell," someone pacified.
As if it were possible, the fire in my chest heated up. It was like someone threw another round of logs on the fire, just to torture me some more before my death. My heart took off, beating faster than any human heart should. I thought it was going to break through my ribs and fly away. Get it out! I screamed. I felt people come and take my hands. I must have been moving or something. Get it out! My back arched in pain. This was awful. This was worse than the fire itself. This was torture.
"This is the last part, sweetie," someone promised, stroking my hair. Please stop touching me, I groaned. There was enough going on with my body right now. I kept screaming.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, the pain went away. My heart stopped, but I wasn't dead. The transition was complete.
"Dani? Can you open your eyes, love?" Someone asked. I was afraid to. This was officially new territory for me. I was afraid of what I would see.
"It's okay, we're all right here little darlin'," someone comforted – Jasper. He and Alice were back. That's right. I felt like I should be breathing, but I didn't need to. Everything was so uncomfortable.
I opened my eyes and was shocked at how clear and bright everything was. I could taste the air through my breath, which kind of freaked me out. I could see the dust in the air. The smells in the room were just…well, some of them were nice. I recalled the familiar lily and lilac smell of my family home, but there were other smells layered on top of that. One of them being a disgusting wet dog smell. I knew who that belonged to.
Someone chuckled, and I was aware of those sitting around me. There were so many people, and I panicked, running – unnecessarily fast – to an open corner. My back was to the corner, and everyone else was huddled on the other side.
"It's okay, Danielle," Dad stepped forward. "I know it can be disorientating, but you're alright."
I couldn't stop looking around. Every time someone shifted, and felt like I was about to be attacked. I was confused. This is your family, Danielle, I told myself. They won't hurt you.
I remembered the fire. They did.
Jacob was leaned over the bed, his arm still reached out. He looked hurt that I couldn't figure anything out, but I couldn't help that.
Jasper and Emmett were in the front of the family with my father. Just like there was danger. I was the danger to them. I remembered then, the fire at the clearing. Someone died. I tried to count who was here, but they were huddled so close that I couldn't.
"Babe, relax," Jacob said, standing up and moving over to me, but someone stopped him before I could escape. His heart was beating, but the blood didn't matter to me. My Jacob, I thought to myself. He was still my Jacob. I swallowed. Was this disorientation and confusion my life now?
"It'll get easier," Edward said, stepping away from the clump.
"I'm a vampire now?" I asked, and I was surprised at my own voice. I didn't sound like me. My voice was higher, and more put together. The words sounded like they came from an instrument rather than a human. I reached for my neck. I didn't like this.
"Yes, I changed you," Dad said. "I can explain everything to you, sweetheart, once you settle in." I tried to remember what happened in the clearing, but it was fuzzy. I remember Aro standing over me, and I remember trying to avoid giving him my hand. I remember the fire and I remember Demetri, but when did Dad change me?
"You don't have to worry about that now," Edward stepped in, reading my mind. Part of me was annoyed, and another part of me was grateful. He was helping me make sense of everything.
I looked around again. I was in my bedroom. I recognized the white furniture and the white walls. I decorated the room with my mom when we first moved in. We put round gold stickers on the ceiling to help make it seem more homie. I tried to focus on the stickers.
"How are you feeling, Danielle?" Dad asked again, trying to redirect my attention.
"We're going to take you hunting soon," Jasper announced. My eyes darted over to him. Jasper. For some reason, I couldn't latch onto the fact that they were back. Alice was standing behind him, beaming. Were they staying? Was the danger gone?
"Everything has been sorted out," Edward confirmed, coming in clutch again with the mind reading. "Everyone is home, and everyone is safe. You're our only concern right now."
"Danielle, how do you feel?" My dad pushed again.
"Weird. Distracted. Confused," I started throwing out adjectives that described what I was going through. Luckily dead and burning weren't necessary options anymore.
"Doc," Jake said strained from where he had been abandoned earlier. I looked over to him and smiled.
"Let her come to you, Jacob," Jasper directed. Was I that out of control?
"You're doing remarkably well, Dani, we just don't want to overwhelm you," Edward answered.
"I have a record to beat," I joked. A few people looked around uncomfortably. I knew I wasn't going to be as good of a newborn as Bella was. Bella had prepared for this. I didn't get to make a decision for myself. It was going to be harder for me, I knew that.
"Can I hug him?" I whispered quietly, gesturing towards Jacob? I prayed that touch wouldn't feel the same way now that I was done transitioning. That his warm skin wouldn't burn me the same way it had before.
"You can do whatever you feel comfortable doing," Dad encouraged. I took a few steps and found myself walking far faster than I expected. This was not a human pace. I stopped immediately.
"Take it slow, Dani," Mom encouraged, stepping out from behind Emmett. "You're doing great. I felt like I was a baby taking her first steps. I wouldn't be surprised if Mom pulled out the video camera.
"Hi," I smiled, when I finally got to Jacob. He chuckled.
"You're going to be the death of me, Danielle Black," he said, using my married name. I got up on my tip toes and reached up to kiss him. His touch wasn't burning and it wasn't uncomfortable. I placed my arms around his shoulders and kissed him.
"Come on, Dani. You have to know how bad he smells by now," Emmett joked from behind. I spun around too fast and Jake hissed in pain.
"Oh my God, Jake!" I cried out. Did I hurt him? Jasper rushed over to where I was, and Dad rushed over to Jacob.
"It's fine, I'm fine," He said, adjusting his neck. "I'm still in recovery," he mumbled.
"Recovery? Recovery from what?" I demanded. He looked like a deer caught in headlights. He must have forgotten that I can hear everything now.
"I'll explain later. You have to go eat," he redirected.
"Are you coming?" I asked him. I didn't really want to leave him.
"Not this time," Jasper answered. "This is a brother/sister bonding trip," he smiled.
"Are all three of you coming?" I complained. Emmett shook his head.
"Nah, just Eddie and Jazz," He answered. "You're too good at this, Dani."
"It doesn't feel that way…" I trailed. My throat hurt and I was still distracted by every little thing. If I focused on any one thing for too long, I panicked. I couldn't control myself, and it was aggravating.
"It gets easier. It's only been a little while," Edward encouraged. "Come on, we're going to go hunt, and then we'll fill you in on everything."