A product of quarantine and the Twilight Renaissance.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, plot points, and backgrounds do not belong to me.
It was a fairly uneventful night at the Cullen house.
Alice and Esme had been away hunting for a few days, but were expected to return sometime that night. Rosalie was in her room, flipping through car magazines. Carlisle was at the hospital, having taken the night shift the past week during Esme's absence. The boys were all downstairs, Jasper and Emmett loudly arguing on the couch over which video game to play while Edward sat perched on the chair, knowing without even their thoughts as an aid that they would settle on Mario Kart. Jasper had beaten Emmett soundly in many rounds just the night before and Emmett never accepted defeat without a rematch.
Edward sighed, glancing out the glass wall of their living room. The clearing in front of the house contrasted with the warmth inside. Beyond the window, with the full moon high and casting bright moonlight over the ground, the grass and trees appeared in grayscale
His reflection on the glass made him look like a ghost on that gray world, his pale skin luminescent against the dark backdrop. To what would be Alice's chagrin, he was also wearing all black, his reflected body blending into the line of trees. The only color was his hair and the dark gold of his eyes. The whole scene seemed very supernatural, he thought, even for a supernatural creature
It was while he looked out at the trees that he first caught a trail of Alice's thought, and it was just one word repeated over and over, tinged with urgency
Home, home, home.
He couldn't hear Esme, yet. He smirked, assuming Alice had challenged her to a race. It explained the tone of Alice's thoughts. Alice never played a game she didn't think she would win.
Edward nudged Jasper with his foot, nodding to the front of the house. "Alice and Esme are almost here," he said.
Jasper's eyes brightened. He stood, dropping his remote to the table as he did, and went to peer out the window. Emmett groaned.
"Come on, man," he said, flailing his arm with the remote toward the TV screen. "You promised! Just because she's getting home a couple hours early doesn't mean you can't get your ass kicked on rainbow road before you get your ass slapped by Tinkerbell." When his brothers didn't laugh at his joke, he laughed enough for the three of them.
"Classy, Emmett," Edward said. While he didn't begrudge Jasper's excitement at Alice's arrival, he quietly agreed that it seemed a bit much to drop everything to greet her. It wasn't as if they hadn't spoken on the phone countless times since she left, even if it had been a record five hours since their last check in.
Edward wondered, not for the first time, if he would think it was silly if he were the one waiting for someone to come home.
His head snapped toward the window, his body tensing. Alice's thoughts now screamed urgency, bits and pieces coming so fast Edward couldn't catch onto the source of the panic. He saw the full moon behind the trees, a flash of brown and . . . a human? Had there been a run in with a human? It had been many years since there had been a slip up but if they were in the middle of a hunt . . .
Alice was close enough that they could all hear her footsteps. Edward strained, but could hear neither Esme's thoughts or her steps. Did something happen to Esme? Edward shot off the chair and joined Jasper at the door, fully alert.
Jasper sensed the shift in Edward's emotions. What's happened? Is Alice in danger?
"What the hell is going on?" Emmett asked, eyes bouncing from Jasper to Edward. In an instant he was standing at their side. "Please shed some light out loud for those who can't read minds or sense feelings."
Before he could answer either of his brothers, Edward picked one direct thought from Alice's head. Get Carlisle on the phone, NOW!
His phone was in his hand with the number dialed when Alice broke the tree line.
As soon as he saw her, Jasper darted out the door, Edward following close behind. Her tiny frame raced toward them. Her brow was pinched tight, lips set in a frown, and her eyes wide, wild. Edward noticed two straps around her shoulders, a backpack she hadn't had when she'd left the house days before. One of her hands was curled tightly into a fist, gripping a card of some sort. They met Alice halfway through the clearing. Edward opened his mouth to ask Alice what was wrong.
"Hello?" Carlisle's voice sounded from the speaker of the cellphone still clutched in Edward's hand. "Edward?"
Alice snatched the phone from Edward and began running toward the house again, the boys only hesitating for one surprised millisecond before being right on her heels.
"Carlisle? You need to come home right now," she said. They burst back through the open door of the house, Alice flying past a frozen Emmett into the dining room. She was speaking instructions so quickly into the phone it was almost difficult for Edward to keep up, but in her thoughts he caught the gist of it.
In Alice's mind he saw bags of blood and Carlisle standing over a body in his scrubs. But not a vision, he realized, not an actual future Alice had seen – this scene something she was imagining, making up details rather than having seen them. O negative, she chanted in one part of her mind, rattling off how many pints of blood she needed their father to bring to the house.
"Alice," Jasper hissed. "Why do you need blood?"
Alice ignored him, placing the backpack that had been hanging from her shoulders on the dining room table as she continued to provide instructions to Carlisle. A floral scent wafted from the bag, something Edward couldn't place. It was a dark purple color with little decorative buttons and pins adorning the outside. Some had photos of sights like Yellowstone, others had corny slogans. One button in particular, Edward noticed, was a little crystal ball with the phrase Shit happens! appearing in the middle. If the scent from the bag wasn't enough to tell him it didn't belong to Alice, that pin did the job.
Edward was still looking at that little pin when he heard another set of footsteps beyond the trees. He'd been so distracted by Alice he hadn't heard Esme's thoughts coming, but now he did.
You're going to be okay, Esme thought. Her thoughts, like Alice's, were coming fast and tangled. Edward could only see another glimpse of brown. So brave. Have to be okay. Carlisle will make her better. Carlisle will make you better, sweetheart, just hang on.
Edward moved to the front of the house again, just in time to see Esme burst through the trees. She looked to be in one piece, Edward noted with sharp relief. That relief only lasted a second, as then Edward saw the reason Esme had been so far behind Alice.
In Esme's arms was a girl. A human girl with a rapidly beating heart, covered in blood.
Over the next day, after Carlisle's office had been transformed into an emergency room where he completed blood transfusions and tended to a wound like none he had seen before, it became clear that a correction in observation needed to be made. Edward was correct that Esme had in fact brought a bleeding girl with a speeding heart back to the Cullen home.
The girl, however, was not exactly human.