*cautiously peeks around corner*

Hello, my lovely, loyal readers! I know you guys haven't heard from me in over two years, but I promise I haven't disappeared into the ether. I've been MIA because I have some serious medical issues that are causing me drama. I've literally had 2-3 medical procedures every month for the past two years, which isn't exactly conducive to writing. I'm gonna warn you all right now that nothing on that front has changed. I'm still in the doctor's office all the freaking time and it really takes it out of me. I tried to get into a new specialist, who once again suggested leg amputation, so I don't see the situation improving anytime soon.

Because of this, I'm really not sure when I'll get a chance to update my crossover or TB fic. I was actually planning to hold off on posting anything to do with this fic until I was certain I could finish this too, but my mom (who I love to bits and pieces) convinced me to share what I have while you're waiting for the other updates.

It is a Jasper/Bella time travel fic! I know, the idea's been done before, but I got addicted to the Maria's army fics and there weren't nearly enough! That's usually how it starts for me... I only write what I want to read. Lol. Please keep in mind that I write to entertain myself, so if you just really wanna flame it? That's okay. There are literally thousands of other stories at your fingertips. Instead of showing me hate, go show them some love. You'd be doing us all a favor.

For everyone who does end up loving this fic just as much as I do? Here's the thing- I started this story around the same time I began my crossover and I've been hanging onto it, adding bits and pieces for the last two years. I just recently pulled it out again and started editing. I can't confidently say when it will get updated, so please bear with me. I'll work on it when I feel up to it and that's all I can promise you.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to KittyInAZ for pre-reading these chaps and letting me bounce ideas off her. Seriously, she's amazing. Google her if you haven't already.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. The Twilight Saga belongs to Stephanie Meyers in its entirety. I'm just a writer who lives for the 'What Ifs...'

Victoria and Carlos

Victoria never did like Forks much. Even before she lost James to the odd coven that resided there, the small town never sat well with her. The constant, steady drizzle of rain that settled over the place always rubbed her the wrong way, casting a distinctly dreary aura over what she imagined would otherwise be a quaint and picturesque little village. She couldn't understand the appeal of a gloomy place like that. Sure, the overcast sky made it possible for her kind to safely venture outdoors during the daytime, but the never ending pitter patter of rain was suffocating. She doubted anything good could ever come from lingering in a town like Forks.

"You're sure this is what you want?" a silken voice asked her and Victoria turned to look at the vampire standing to her right.

A human would've found it difficult to see them both at that moment. They were clever, using the cover of darkness and the surrounding shadows to their advantage. It was instinctive for them to blend into their surroundings, an impulse that every human drinking vampire was familiar with. Only the bright crimson color of their eyes would've given their location away.

Victoria, on the other hand, could see the other nomad quite clearly. His pale, marble skin reflected hints of the scattered moonlight peeking through the overcast sky, causing the scars littering his skin to stand out more than ever before.

She let her gaze linger on those scars for a second before focusing her darkening eyes on the second story window of Bella Swan's house. If Victoria was lucky, similar scars would litter the girl's skin long before she was torn apart in a battle that had already happened decades ago. She was counting on it, actually. She wanted Bella to suffer like no other and the idea of trapping the mousey little human in the newborn wars of the South? Well, she couldn't come up with a way to make her suffer more than that.

And the coven that tore James apart? They would finally get a taste of the relentless grief that consumed her.

"I'm sure," Victoria replied, the soft notes of her musical voice hardened with resolve.

The nomad standing beside her was a solitary vampire, one that her James had somehow befriended more than forty years ago. Her mate occasionally sought him out every couple of decades, but Victoria never realized that James had kept to a set schedule. He always visited Carlos around the same time every fifteen years, without fail. When James missed the last visit, Carlos knew something was wrong and sought her out instead. She told him what happened, told him about the coven that tore her mate apart and the human pet they kept, and Carlos decided to stay with her for a while. Normally, a vampire with scars like his would send her running, but Victoria had a gift for sensing danger and she sensed none from the vampire standing at her side.

It didn't take long for Carlos to realize that Victoria never strayed far from Forks and he quickly pieced together that she was looking for revenge. She hadn't decided what, exactly, she wanted to do with Bella Swan until about an hour ago, though, when Carlos finally revealed the dark history behind his many scars. Victoria already knew what they meant, of course. James had filled her in on that fascinating tidbit after their first encounter with the Cullens, when Jasper Whitlock's unexpected presence among them had caught his attention. She was merely waiting for the vampire to confide in her before addressing the topic. And Carlos didn't disappoint her. Though it took far longer than she expected it to, he eventually took that leap of faith and shared his story with her. To her surprise and unending delight, it wasn't the only secret the former soldier decided to spill.

Not long after the macabre tale of his change came tumbling out, Carlos disclosed that he possessed a gift, an odd one that Victoria planned to use. He could send the living back in time to any year that he himself had lived through. At first, Victoria had naively hoped he could send her back, that she could go back and fix the grave mistake they made when James decided he wanted to make a game of hunting Bella Swan. That foolish hope died when Carlos explained his gift only worked on people with a beating heart, but then a darker hope started to take root, a hope inspired by the litany of bite marks dusting his skin. That spark of hope quickly grew into a raging inferno and Victoria finally knew how to punish the girl responsible for her mate's demise.

The redhead was keenly aware the seer in the Cullen coven would have a vision of the decision she made, but it didn't deter her. If anything, the knowledge brought a dark smile to her face. By their own design, the animal drinking fools were currently on the other side of the country. They were too far away to get back in time to interfere.

Carlos honestly wasn't sure why his gift wouldn't work on vampires, but he often theorized that sending a vampire back in time would upset the balance too much. A small wrinkle, one loose thread, wouldn't detract from the beauty of fate's great design. One sole mortal was nothing in the grand scheme of things. A vampire, on the other hand, could puncture a whole in that design and potentially cause the entire weave to unravel. The damage a vampire was capable of causing was too great a risk for fate to allow. A human, however... well, one paltry human couldn't make that much of a difference.

And that was what Carlos told himself to justify what he was about to do. He told himself that one sole human didn't matter. Besides, Bella Swan was hovering on death's doorstep anyway. With a wrathful vampire like Victoria after her, the petite girl never stood a chance. At least this way, her future was uncertain. Were she truly as unique as he privately suspected her to be, then she had a small shot at survival.

If she could befriend a whole coven of vampires, surely she could befriend another, right? She could find someone to turn her and protect her until she made it back to her own time, couldn't she?

Victoria, the spiteful creature, was under the false impression that he stuck around out of some odd kind of loyalty to James, but that wasn't true. In fact, Carlos could barely tolerate the tracker and the only thing that had kept him from ending the disgusting vampire himself was a warning from a friend, an old war buddy. Peter Whitlock had a gift of his own, one that Carlos always heeded. The asshole just knew shit and that shit had a way of always coming true. Peter had saved his sorry hide on more than one occasion, so when Peter called and warned him not to kill the tracker that showed up every few years, Carlos listened.

He hadn't understood it at the time. After all, James was a bottom-feeder. He hunted the innocent and gained joy from terrorizing the unfortunate girls that caught his attention. Like Peter and his mate, Char, Carlos only fed from the guilty. He had no tolerance for vampires like James, but he trusted Peter and let the tracker keep his head.

He was even more confused when Peter and Char visited him a couple weeks back to call in an old debt, asking him to find James' mate, Victoria, and help her gain her vengeance.

One look at Bella, the object of Victoria's wrath, was all it took to understand. She was a true innocent, in every sense of the word, and she would meet her death at Victoria's hands one way or another. Stepping in meant she might actually survive somehow. And if she didn't? Then her death would be a mercy. Bella Swan hadn't been truly alive since the night the Cullen coven left her. She was slowly making her way to an early grave and she died a little more inside every day.

Bella was lost to the world right now, that was easy to see, and Carlos highly doubted that was likely to change anytime soon. It might've been a naive and foolish wish, but he rather hoped she stayed that way. Considering the life he was about to force upon her, numbness would be a blessing.

He really should've known better. The true tragedy of it was that Carlos wouldn't remember one of the harshest lessons he learned in battle until after he sent Bella back. He'd forgotten that war had a nasty habit of turning the most feeling people numb and forcing numb people to feel.

"I'm sure," Victoria repeated emphatically, mistaking Carlos' reluctance for skepticism, and took a step towards the house. "Let's get this done, Carlos."

Lips pursed, he silently followed Victoria as she ghosted across the front lawn and climbed the tree outside of Bella's open window. With all the grace their kind was known for, she leapt from the tree to the window and lithely slipped her body through the open frame.

Carlos sadly shook his head at the sight, pitying the sleeping owner of the erratic heartbeat coming from that room. The foolish girl had left the window open just in case the coven she loved ever returned. While it was true that a closed window wouldn't have stopped Victoria from entering, he almost felt like Bella was asking for it by making it too easy.

Following Victoria into the room, he paused just inside and let himself adjust to the decadent scent that coated the walls. Buried under layers of Bella's rich, floral tones was the faint trace of a male vampire, but the scent was so weak that Carlos could tell it'd been several weeks since he'd last been there. Months, even. Quicker to adjust, Victoria was already standing at the foot of Bella's bed, watching the restless girl toss and turn with predatory eyes. From what they'd seen, she always slept fitfully and tonight was no different.

"Do you think it's her conscience that keeps her from resting peacefully?" Victoria wondered offhandedly, whispering at a level too low for the girl to hear. "Or is it the fact that the coven she loved abandoned her, leaving her to the mercy of the supernatural world?" She made a small sound of amusement as she listened to Bella's erratic pulse rise and fall, "Do you think vampires hunt her in her dreams, Carlos? Maybe she dreams of me."

"We will never know," Carlos remarked, though he had a feeling Bella's dreams were haunted by vampires with golden eyes rather than red ones.

His crimson gaze trailed over Bella's petite form sympathetically, solemnly taking in the exhausted state of her worn body and the deep bruises beneath her eyes before he looked elsewhere. Wandering over to her desk, he scanned the collage of pictures she'd pinned to the wall above it with open curiosity. Her warm, brown eyes held an undeniable spark of life in those photos, one he hadn't seen a hint of even once in all the weeks he'd watched Victoria stalk her.

"Es una pena, ┬┐no?" The redhead threw him an uncomprehending look and Carlos gestured to the photos on the wall. "It's a shame," he repeated in accented English. He was met with another blank stare, so he clarified, "The state they left her in, what they've reduced her to." Carlos glanced at Bella again, noting to himself that she was nothing more than a pale shadow of the vibrant girl captured in those images. He found it rather heartbreaking to see that the love she had for that coven was now killing her bit by bit. "Draining her would've been more merciful than this."

"And they consider themselves more compassionate than vampires like us," Victoria agreed with a sneer. She hated Bella with a passion, but she couldn't deny the truth in his words.

Deep down, buried underneath all the rage and heartache, there was a tiny part of Victoria that knew it wasn't fair to take her anger out on Bella. The brunette was really just another victim of the Cullens and it was clear that she was suffering immensely, but Victoria was too blinded by the deep rooted ache in her soul to think rationally. She was desperate to avenge her mate, consumed with the need for revenge, and the Cullens had too many gifts and numbers on their side for her to pursue them. Taking them on was a death sentence and, despite her need to make them suffer, Victoria wasn't ready to die. Unfortunately, that meant the only option she had left was to use Bella to make them pay for the destruction of her mate.

With movements so fluid they were practically feline, Victoria prowled closer and crouched down at Bella's bedside. The redhead stared at the girl's drawn face as she murmured, "You know they killed my mate for her, Carlos. They killed James for a human they had no intentions of ever changing. My mate died for a girl they abandoned like yesterday's trash."

Carlos cautiously stepped closer and asked in a carefully neutral tone, "If that's how you truly feel, then why do we punish her? We should be punishing the coven."

"We are," Victoria said darkly. "I am not convinced they left because they care nothing for her. Saving her was important to them. They put their very lives on the line to keep her heart beating. It will kill them to know that the girl they risked everything for was given a fate worse than death because of them, because of their sins." She tilted her head in a very catlike way and mused, "I watched them before they left, you know, watched how they treated her. I think they were all in love with her humanity. Their departure was just a pathetic attempt to preserve it." With a light laugh, she observed, "If she does somehow survive the Southern Wars, there will be nothing human left about her." Her eyes glittered dangerously in the dark room as she lifted her head and met his gaze, "I can't decide what I would enjoy more... her death on the battlefield or her survival. Either way, the Cullens will be destroyed by it."

Before Carlos could react, Victoria reached out and snatched the girl to her. Bella's eyes flew open and a startled noise was torn from her throat, muffled by the hand Victoria was using to cover her mouth. Survival instincts kicked in and the petite girl looked around wildly as she thrashed in her hold, desperately trying to throw Victoria off her. She caught sight of Carlos a second later, somehow noticing the color of his eyes in the middle of her furious struggle to break free. A flicker of recognition flashed in those weary pools of chocolate and he watched in fascination as her body instantly stilled.

He was amazed by how quickly she'd realized it was pointless to fight. It was the first time he'd seen actual proof that she truly knew what they were.

"Hello, Bella," Victoria cooed from behind her, holding her firmly against her chest. Bella's eyes widened slightly at the familiar sound of her voice, but her face remained otherwise blank. The redhead pouted in disappointment over her lack of reaction and chided, "Don't be like that, Bella. I know you've been sleep-walking for months, but it's time to wake up now. I've been waiting so very patiently."

Bella's pulse quickened, but she made no effort to fight her off. Her eyes remained flat and emotionless, which Carlos was secretly grateful for. He hoped she stayed that way when he sent her into the past.

"No?" Victoria asked, amused. "I could always get Charlie. Would you like that, Bella? Would that wake you up?"

Bella visibly tensed and Carlos interrupted, hoping to stop Victoria before she could accomplish her goal. He didn't want Bella awake, he wanted her to remain numb.

"I didn't agree to getting the Chief of Police involved, Victoria," he warned in a dark tone, failing to notice the way the human's gaze suddenly sharpened. Bella was a perceptive girl, she knew what a reluctant accomplice looked like when she saw one. "You'll bring the Volturi down on us. Going after his daughter is risky enough."

"Fine," Victoria agreed with a petulant sigh. Bella didn't relax, but Carlos wasn't worried. He doubted one threat would be enough to bring her out of the heavy mental fog she'd shrouded herself in. "This is Carlos, Bella," Victoria purred in her ear. "I've always wondered, can your human eyes see the scars littering his skin? Your friend, Jasper, was covered in them too."

She paused for a reaction and gave the girl a small shake when she got none. The shake was enough to jar Bella's bones and Carlos held back a growl of protest over the rough treatment. The girl was about to go through enough pain without Victoria adding to it. Bella's eyes began to water from the sting and she finally gave in, answering the vampire with a stilted shake of her head.

Victoria let out a tinkling laugh and trailed her free hand down Bella's arm. She tapped the scar on the girl's wrist meaningfully and asked in a silky tone, "You never realized Jasper was covered from head to toe in bite marks just like this one?" She tutted in her ear and sighed in mock disappointment, "I guess you wouldn't. I mean, you were always too busy mooning over Edward to look too closely at Jasper. It's a pity, really. Because of that pathetic boy, you never realized there was a bonafide warrior around." Her voice took on a more taunting tone, "Edward's not the only one who could've changed you, you know. Jasper's changed hundreds, maybe even thousands. James thought going after you would be the ultimate hunt once he realized who Jasper was. Alice's visions made the hunt tempting, but when he discovered that Jasper was protecting you too? Well, the game became too intoxicating to resist. James thought Jasper would be his most challenging opponent."

Carlos' eyes shot up to Victoria in surprise. He hadn't known that one of the Cullens had served in the Wars. If he was hearing right, it sounded like she was talking about Jasper Whitlock, who had fought under Maria for the better part of a century.

It was an odd coincidence, that Peter and Char would ask him to help Victoria send back a human girl their sire had befriended. Whatever bond they shared would not yet exist in that period of time, so he doubted sending Bella back would benefit Jasper in any way. Maybe they were hoping Victoria would leave their sire alone if she took her anger out on the human. Her ability to sense danger made her difficult to catch and her determination to avenge her mate meant she was a lethal threat.

Whatever their reasoning was, he just hoped Jasper didn't come after him once everything was said and done.

"Where is Jasper now, Bella? Where's Edward?" Victoria asked with a cruel laugh, her hand tightening painfully around Bella's arm. "Where are all the Cullens? Are you not worthy of their protection anymore?"

Bella flinched in pain, but Carlos mistakenly assumed that pain was caused by the strength of Victoria's grip. A solitary tear spilled down her cheek and Carlos attributed that, too, to her physical discomfort. He doubted it was from an emotional wound, not when her lifeless eyes seemed even emptier than before. Thanks to Victoria's maliciousness, those eyes had grown impossibly colder.

"Did Edward ever tell you about the life Jasper lived before he joined the Cullens, Bella?" Victoria asked in a conversational tone. Bella feebly shook her head again and the redhead chuckled. "I'm not surprised. He probably didn't want to frighten you, weak mortal that you are. Vampires used to breed entire armies of newborns to fight for feeding territories in the South, before the Volturi put an end to it all. That's where Jasper was changed. He was recruited by a warlord named Maria and gained quite a fearsome reputation as the leader of her army. He spent over seventy years under her command. Right, Carlos?"

"The famed Major of the South," he idly agreed and drifted closer in curiosity.

Bella hadn't looked away from him even once while Victoria was taunting her, never letting her weary eyes stray from his own. Carlos was the bigger threat in the room and he could tell that she sensed it somehow. Her observant, brown eyes might not have registered his or Jasper's scars, but it was obvious to Carlos that she'd still learned something useful from her time with Jasper's coven, how to identify the greater threat.

"I never thought he'd be one to ignore the laws," he said contemplatively, genuinely puzzled by Jasper's actions. Bella's brow crinkled in confusion and Carlos took pity on her, explaining, "The Volturi, our rulers, have a law that states any human who knows about vampires must be changed or killed. The Cullens endanger themselves by letting you live. Jasper knows this."

"Why do you think James was so determined to pursue you?" Victoria asked dangerously. "Had the Cullens simply changed you, we would've backed off, but they refused to abide by the rules. They left us no choice. We were required to obey the law or die in your stead."

Bella's face crumpled and the redhead laughed darkly. She could literally see the realization sinking in, the horrifying knowledge that the coven she loved so much had risked her mother's life merely to keep her human. They'd risked her father's too, though the brunette was unaware of it. If James' ploy on the phone hadn't worked, Victoria would've snatched Charlie next.

Carlos finally stopped in front of Bella's bed and kneeled, bringing himself down to her eye level. "I do not know how you managed to stay Jasper Whitlock's hand, Bella, but you should not expect the same mercy when you see him next... if you make it that long. ┬┐Entiendes?" He brushed a sweaty lock of hair out of her eyes and stressed, "Jasper was known for being ruthless back then. He will not save you. At best, he will change you and force you to serve as a soldier until your newborn year ends, promising you'll go free when that year is over. Then he will kill you. He will not be the man you know. Remember that, chiquita. Es importante."

He wasn't sure how much Spanish Bella knew, if any, but he had an eerie instinct that she understood everything. To Victoria, it sounded like Carlos was taunting her, but he had a feeling that Bella knew he was actually trying to help her. She had no idea why he was warning her about Jasper, but she knew that was exactly what he was giving her, a warning.

"You don't get it yet, do you, Bella?" Victoria giggled gleefully. She brought her lips back to Bella's ear and whispered, "Carlos has a gift. He can send anyone with a beating heart back in time." Bella's racing pulse sped up even more. Carlos' gaze darted over to Victoria in question, earning himself a small nod. "It's such a pity I won't get to taste you first," she teased, reveling in the girl's responding shudder. "While you do smell heavenly, this... this feels so much more satisfying. Say hello to Maria and Jasper for me, Bella."

Closing his eyes, Carlos lifted his hand and gently touched Bella's forehead as he called forth his gift. Water poured from his fingertips and he opened his eyes to watch it flow over her body. It clung to her unnaturally, behaving in a way that ordinary water never would. Bella started to tremble and Carlos lifted his gaze to hers in surprise, locking eyes with her one last time. Too late, he registered the change in her pretty brown orbs. Her drenched form was already fading by the time he realized Bella was not as numb as she'd pretended to be.

The room was eerily quiet in the wake of what he'd just done. His darkening gaze remained fixed on the vacant space where her brown eyes once resided as he swallowed roughly, his chest uncomfortably tight. All that was left of Bella Swan were wet sheets and the bitter scent of her fear lingering in the air.

Thoughts racing, he replayed the last half hour in his mind, trying to pinpoint the exact moment the scent of Bella's fear filled the room. It was such a typical human reaction to their kind that he hadn't even noticed it. Ashamed, he finally realized it happened when Victoria mentioned her father. She loved him more than Carlos realized if she'd pulled herself together when Victoria threatened his life.

"Buena suerte," he murmured, swallowing a curse. It was different when he thought that Bella had shut down, that she was hollow. If she were dead inside, he could pretend this was a mercy, an end to her suffering. Now it just felt like cruelty. He had a feeling the terror he'd seen in those wide, brown eyes would haunt him for many years to come.

Victoria brought him out of his thoughts when she flicked her wet hands, spraying him with droplets of water. Eyeing the soaked bedsheets, she asked curiously, "What's with the water?"

"Time is not linear," Carlos explained absentmindedly, still thinking about the cruelty of the path he'd just placed an innocent girl on. "It's not a road that takes you from point A to point B. It flows like a river. I merely drop people in."

Victoria looked at him oddly and a dark, satisfied smile started to spread across her face, "Then for Bella's sake, I hope she can swim."


┬┐Entiendes? - Understand?

Chiquita - Little girl

Es importante - It's important.

Buena suerte - Good luck