Disclaimer: Twilight no mine. Is sad. I cry.
Author's Note: Another idea that's been nagging at meh brain. This (obviously) takes place before Twilight, is in Edward's PoV, and… well, is probably completely implausible. But I couldn't help it. :3
Please enjoy it for what it is:D
Dedication: For Andrew. Thanks for your help in both perfecting this idea and my character voices! (PS. Waste. X3)
There were so many reasons why I shouldn't have been there. It was Quileute land, for one—they owned the sand and the shore; the lush forest surrounding the beach. They would have killed me (or would have tried to) if I had been caught. There was also the fact that La Push was not, in any way, shape or form, Alaska, where I was supposed to have been: with Tanya, Carlisle, and the rest of the clan. I knew I'd be in trouble, when I got back, for having left without a word, but I was bored of snow and tired of bickering with the Rosalie and Tanya's "children;" I figured a break would do me some good.
Of course, having a destination in mind would have been a smart idea. Or having the sense to avoid the La Push reservation. But I supposed sense was something I lacked; I'd done many, many senseless things before, after all.
Trying to push the gloomy thoughts from my mind, I concentrated instead on the thick trees, the jade-green leaves, and the overabundant, mossy brush. It was beautiful; beautiful, and so much more filling—for the senses, I mean— than Alaska had become for me. I'd always preferred Washington… The rain was soothing, the colors bright, and the scenery even older than I. It was… oddly comforting.
Though, admittedly, I'd have felt more comforted away from the Quileute lands. Why had I stopped here, anyway? Why? I wasn't suicidal— not quite yet. I wasn't hunting, either. I wasn't even hungry. So what was I doing? It was true that I hadn't had a plan to begin with, but I'd figured I'd end up traveling down to Forks—the tiny, cloud-covered town a ways down the road— to visit a spot in the forest that I loved. That's what I normally did. But no… instead, I'd parked my car a few miles from the coast and hiked here, into the Quileute woods, as if to wait for something.
I remembered, suddenly, the strange look that Alice had shot me last night, the same moment I had made my decision to leave in the morning. A peek into her mind had shown me a flash of teal water, a swirl of marine life... and small, pink tennis shoes abandoned on a rock.
Was I subconsciously looking for her vision?
A small smile tugged on my lips. It was a possibility, of course. Free time is overrated; life gets dull when you've had as much of it as I… A mystery—some danger, some excitement—was exactly what I needed to refresh my weary brain.
Will I find what I'm looking for? I wondered, amused, as I reached the edge of the forest. Beyond the last row of trees, beyond the sanctuary of the forest, would be the tide pools: bright spots of color and life on slippery lips of gray stone.
Well, we'd see, wouldn't we?
I began to lift my foot—
—and froze, instinctively shrinking into the shadows. A human approached; I could hear him, smell him. Middle aged—male. Not a threat: average intellect, average build. His thoughts were nothing spectacular, either… they were full of musings of fish and worry for his young daughter. A typical father.
Hidden by weeds and an oak, I watched the balding man start off on the human trail, yelling towards the shore as he went. "Don't get any closer, honey," he shouted, cupping his hands around his mouth as he walked, backwards, down the mulch-wood path. "Not until I get back. I don't want you falling in."
From the direction of the pools came the sound of a little girl sighing. "Aw…" she murmured, disappointed. I shot her a quick glance from the corner of my eye: a typical human child. Short, round, cute… perhaps five. Her chestnut-colored hair had been pulled back into pigtails with red-bobbled rubber bands; her tiny body was bedecked in overalls and an unzipped purple windbreaker. Beneath the overalls I could catch glimpses of a lime green bathing suit. "Okay, daddy."
The man continued his backwards stride, keeping an eagle eye on his daughter. "I'm going to get my fishing gear from the car. Do you want me to get you a juice box? Or your lunch?"
She shook her head exuberantly; the pigtails slapped her rosy cheeks. "No… I'm okay."
"All right then… I'll be back in five minutes," her father said loudly. "Don't go near the water until I'm back!"
And then he was gone. But judging by the jolly demeanor he'd left with, I doubted that he'd heard the little girl's irritated grumble, or seen the way she'd rolled her doe-brown eyes. Her reactions to his words rather amused me; I watched her, noiselessly, from behind the tree.
For a few moments, she waited patiently on the rocky beach, just as she'd been told. It was a feat that clearly pained her, but still, she tried… For a while. Of course—as with most children— it didn't take long for her to grow bored. Fidgety. She twirled her hair, tugged on her overall straps, and hummed distracted little tunes, watching the overcast sky.
We reached the four minute mark.
A frown marred her face—mischievous and sly—as she checked her surroundings for spies. Her humming grew louder; her eyes scanned the shore.
Thus assured that there was no one around, she bent down to untie her pink tennis shoes.
Her pink tennis shoes.
My eyes widened; I leaned subconsciously closer. What was going on?
With growing nerves, I watched the barefooted girl toddle down to the water, bright eyes on the pools. She slipped once, landing hard on her rear end; I expected her to cry, but she merely stood up again—leaving her shoes behind her, abandoned on the rock.
…that's it? I thought, thunderstruck— and mildly annoyed Nine yards away, the child lowered herself into a crouch, watching the tide pools with a grin on her face. Pudgy fingers skimmed the mirror-smooth surface of the water, shattering the reflection of the sky. That's all Alice's vision was? A foretelling of this girl playing at the beach? What does that matter? How on earth could the life of this child have anything to do with—
I straightened, the hair on the back of my neck pricking. What was that? That noise… Though I doubted she could hear it, I could: the sound of slick skin slipping beneath wet stone. She was about to fall again— and I could tell by the look on her face that she knew it, too. It hadn't been a big deal before, when she'd been trekking carefully along in the very middle of the jutting rock…
But now she was falling, face first, into shallow water and hard rock. It was just the right size to get stuck in, too— narrow, deep, vertical. The perfect trap for a child: if the blow to the head didn't kill her, the attempt to escape would.
"Ah…!" she squeaked, sticking out her hands to try and catch herself—
But stopped in midair, having been seized by the back of her overall straps. I blinked owlishly, as did she; I hadn't even realized I'd moved.
There was a moment of silence…
And then she gasped, twisting her head to stare at me with a dropped jaw. "Wh— where'd you come from?!" she squealed, horrified, in an adorable, high-pitched squeak. Her little limbs pin-wheeled in surprise; I released her, setting her gently—and safely—on a section of smooth, dry stone. "Who're you?!"
"I— that is…" I struggled for a moment, only half paying attention. My mind was a blank; why did I save her? I knew I was no monster—or I tried my best not to be—but what did I care if she'd fallen in? She probably would have been fine…
She gawked at me, in the unabashed way that children do.
"I… I'm a stranger passing through," I finished lamely, but graced her with a smile all the same.
Her little lips curled downward as she flinched away, whimpering. "My mommy and daddy say not to talk to strangers," she told me bluntly. "Strangers are bad people. Are you bad?"
I couldn't keep a small, sardonic smirk off of my face. "Yes," I admitted flatly. "And your mommy and daddy are right to tell you that. So I'll go away now, so you won't have to disobey them." I turned to walk away—
But a small fist grabbed by sleeve.
Bemused, I shot the girl a sideways glance. Judging by her averted eyes, she was embarrassed… but determined about something. "What is it?" I asked soothingly, turning to face her once more. When she didn't respond, I lowered myself to her level—on my knees, hands on her shoulders. She watched me wordlessly, her index finger in her mouth…
I noticed, as close as I was, how very good she smelt. Shockingly good, really, for a child: their blood, much like their bodies, had yet to mature. But her's… it was intoxicating, floral and sweet. She would be hard to resist in a few years; I felt bad for any vampires she ran across.
Though hopefully—for her sake— I would be the first and last.
"What is it?" I repeated gently, puzzled when she didn't answer. On impulse, I pushed a strand of her hair behind her ear; the softness of her cheek reminded me how delicate humans are. "What's wrong, little one?"
Under my ministrations, her bright eyes had narrowed. "You're lyin'," she said brusquely, placing a fist on her hip and brandishing a reprimanding finger. It was a pose she'd clearly learnt from her parents. It caught me by surprise. "That's naughty."
I gawked at her, unsure of how to respond. After all, I'd just been chastised by someone nearly 97 years younger than me. "I…" I hesitated, torn between finding the situation humorous or irritating. "Uh… excuse me?"
Her small feet shuffled; her gaze, again, lowered. Then, quite abruptly, she offered me a shy smile. "…thank you, mister," she murmured, bashful, sticking out her chest and tucking in her chin. She rocked back slightly on the balls of her feet, lacing her fingers together behind her back. "For catchin' me… it woulda hurt if I fell in. You're a nice stranger."
And then—so suddenly that even I couldn't stop her—she leaned forward… and pressed her sugar-sticky lips upon my cheek.
I gave a small jolt, jumping backwards in shock. What did she just—?! Unthinkingly, my fingers drifted upwards, as if trying to touch the kiss. The warmth of the gesture—and of her skin—stunned me…
As did the strength of her wordless affirmation.
She giggled, and I felt myself grinning along.
"Wanna watch the tide pools with me?" the little girl asked, beaming, as her pale face darkened to a cheerful shade of scarlet. "We can play while my daddy fishes."
Still flabbergasted, I felt my golden eyes soften. "Thank you, little one," I breathed, "but I should probably—"
There was a sudden thrashing in the woods: faint, but growing louder. I recognized the older male's scent… closely followed by (my stomach dropped) the stench of Quileute blood. Three— two children and an elder.
"Bella?" her father hollered, though in a voice too faint for any human ear to hear.
Not good. Furious and hissing, I stiffly backed away. My sudden mood-change caught the girl by surprise; she stumbled, knocked off balance by my hasty retreat.
"Mister…?" she gasped, brown eyes wide and hands stretching for mine. She seemed confused—hurt. I tried to ignore the guilt clawing at my gut. "Mister what's—?"
Before she could finish the sentence, I was gone. To her, it must have seemed that I vanished in thin air; no—I was simply running. Well, not simply… running for my life, really. I didn't particularly feel like being killed, or inadvertently killing my family by breaking the treaty.
I brushed past the traveling party like a breeze… and a breeze was probably all they felt when I rushed by. Unable to block them, the humans' thoughts poured into my mind as I flew through——again, dull… mostly of fishing and of the child in pink tennis shoes.
But as I caught these musings, I realized something odd:
I hadn't heard anything when with the little girl.