Will Edward save the women, or are they all doomed to die at Caius's hands?
Edward reaches the end of the hall and what he assumes is the master bedroom. The other rooms appear to be empty as he passes them and peeks inside. He hopes to hell Jane's body isn't rotting in the shed or in a closet. He creeps into the burnt master bedroom, visions of a ruthless, blood soaked killer in his mind's eye.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
Edward nearly pisses himself when he hears the sound again, just on the other side of the closet wall. He inches forward, his gun raised and at the ready. He reaches the doorway and stops with his back pressed to the wall. He swallows the lump in his throat, wiping his sweaty brow on his shoulder. He counts down in his head, then swings around the doorframe, his gun aimed in the direction of the sound of banging metal.
"Freeze! Seattle Fire Department! Drop the fucking shovel!"
He's not prepared for the look on his face when the madman turns and lurches in his direction. It's the same man from the sidewalk, the one from the picture on the mantel posing with his smiling wife. Only his eyes look like they're lit with the fires of hell, his mouth is twisted in an angry grimace, and his hair is plastered to his head with sweat. He's covered in blood and things better not thought about. And Edward knows he's just been added to his list of people to kill.
"Who the fuck are you?" he rasps.
There's a reason I didn't go to the academy! Edward thinks in a panic. "Just drop the weapon!"
They stand there staring at each other, Caius determined to kill anyone that knows his secrets, and Edward trying to decide if he's justified in simply shooting him. His arms are steady as he aims the gun at the monster in the closet.
Without warning, Caius pitches awkwardly toward him with the bloody shovel held high. Edward fires three times, and watches the red spots bloom and spread across the lunatic's chest just before he collapses.
Edward's ears are ringing painfully as he steps over Caius and moves to the door of the safe room. Everything in the closet has been reduced to ashes except for the reinforced metal door that was only left charred in the fire. The control panel is exposed after Caius destroyed the cover, and he studies the wires for a few seconds before pulling out his pocket knife and cutting the red wire. The airlock hisses and he pulls on the door, unaware of the evil still lurking behind him.
"God damn it, Cullen!" Jasper shouts into his phone as he hears the outgoing voicemail message again. "I need to know you're safe and not in that fucking house! Why are you so bad about leaving your phone in the truck? Look, the labs came back, and Volturi has LSD and PCP in his system, for fuck's sake. He's dangerous, stay the fuck away from him!"
He throws the phone down and flips on his lights and siren, pressing the gas pedal that much harder.
His gut is telling him to be terrified for his friend.
"Oh my God, Bella! That's not Caius!" Jane shouts. Her voice echoes in the metal room.
Edward groans from where he landed on the floor, feeling like his head has just split open like a pumpkin dropped on the sidewalk. He could swear there's water covering his face, drowning him. He gasps, and everything clears as he takes a deep breath. There's still some ringing in his ears, and horrible pain at his temple.
He blinks several times, trying to focus on the two women standing over him. A brunette in a robe that looks like she's seen better days… and Jane Volturi in the flesh.
"Jane," he mumbles.
She frowns, confused that he knows her name. "Who are you?"
"Another body to add to the pile."
The three of them look up at the new voice, seeing Caius standing just inside the safe room. Blood seeps from multiple holes in his chest, and his face is ashen and drenched in sweat. Edward shifts to his knees, but Caius throws a punch to his face that lands on his cheekbone, jarring his bones and his brain. He feels like a failure as he wavers before falling over. He was trying to save Jane's life, and now he's handed these two women over to the psychopath.
He feels small hands on his shoulders, then roaming his chest. The brunette is feeling around for something, and Edward soon realizes she saw his gun before he went down for the second time. He meets her gaze, her eyes bloody and her pupils large, and he feels a rush of empathy for whatever she's been through. He picks the gun up from the floor, where it landed by his waist, and hands it to her.
She stands and raises the gun at an advancing Caius, who is headed for his wife. There's no warning before she pulls the trigger, and this time the hole opens up in the middle of the maniac's head. He drops like a felled tree, and Jane screams with her hands over her ears.
"Seattle Police! Drop your weapon and put your hands up!"
Edward could weep with relief at the sound of Jasper's voice over the constant ringing. So he does.
Bella pulls the trigger and watches her nightmare end, and then finally, finally allows her knees to buckle. She drops next to the man that essentially saved them, tears streaming down her face. She raises her hands up on either side of her head and waits for the cop to arrest her.
He doesn't, though. He goes to Caius and checks for his pulse before checking on Jane. Bella turns away from them at the gentle hand on her arm.
"My name is Edward. You're safe now." He straightens into a sitting position, the pain beginning to fade from his head.
Unable to help herself, Bella throws her arms around him and sobs soundlessly. Her body trembles and shakes, bowing her slender frame against his muscular one. His arms encircle her shoulders and hold on tight as she cries.
"Don't you ever do that again, Cullen, you hear me?"
Edward looks up at Jasper, and sees the relief on his face.
"Not a problem, Hale. Not a fucking problem."
Edward is released from the hospital after an annoyingly long eight hours. He needed stitches for the blow to his head, courtesy of Bella. His cheek and eye are bruised, but the ringing has finally stopped in his ears.
Unfortunately, he has to go back to the house of horrors. He has to complete the actual arson investigation that started all this mess. When he pulls up to the curb, the premonition of a bloody revenant causes him to shudder.
"Get a grip, Cullen. There's a cop here, he'll have your back if the ghost of Caius rises up to haunt you."
He does not feel better after that pep talk.
Edward steps through the front door and goes straight for the burnt out front room, the one he's been itching to get a look at since the night before. There's sunlight streaming through the holes that used to be the front windows, so he leaves his flashlight in his pocket. He has a clipboard and pen at the ready, where he already filled out what he could while he was stuck at the hospital for observation. He looks at the walls, searching for evidence of accelerant. He doesn't feel the usual satisfaction in his job; even if he proves arson, Caius is dead and Jane had nothing to do with it. She shouldn't have to live with this mess he created.
He moves to the sofa where Caius was supposedly napping, and as he peers behind it, that's when he spots them. Stunned, he chokes on his tongue and tries not to dry heave before quickly pulling out his phone.
"Hale? Yes, it's me again. Shut up, fucker. I finally got to do the inspection of the Volturi house, and you're not gonna believe what I've found…"
He barely gets the words out before he runs outside to be sick in the bushes, the picture of the charred bodies burned into his retinas.
She opens her eyes slowly and meets the sweet green gaze of the man from the safe room. "Edward?" she croaks.
He smiles gently, and she has to catch her breath. "Here, have some water." He pours her a cupful and hands it to her, and she just stares at him as she accepts it and takes a sip. He's sporting a shiner and his hair is a mess. Bella wonders how badly she hurt him when she nailed him in the head, considering that it's covered in a bandage. He's the most attractive man she's ever seen outside of a movie.
"You're here? Why?" her voice comes out as a scratchy whisper.
"I wanted to see for myself that you were going to be okay." He thinks she looks like hell, but he just knows she's beautiful under it all. Her bruises are darker now, around her throat and under her eyes. She's had stitches on the back of her head, and he figures she'll be pleased that they didn't have to shave her hair. He also hopes she won't mind that he had a look at her file as part of his investigation. At least, that's the excuse he's going with.
She nods. "I think so. My mom is on her way." She swallows more water to ease the burn, and for something to do. Jane had already been by; she would move back into her parents' home and go to therapy.
"That's good. I guess you'll be here for awhile."
"Yes, I guess so," she whispers. She knows she needs time to heal, both physically and mentally.
"Do you mind if I come back and visit you?" he asks shyly.
Does she mind? No, she doesn't mind if the handsome man that saved her comes back to see her. "I'd like that."
Edward smiles again and picks up her closest hand, raising it to his lips and kissing the knuckles. Bella blushes, and he finds that he likes that look on her. He thinks he'd like to see that look on her face every day for a really long time.
Thank you all so much for reading, and happy Halloween!