Author's Note: So a few of you mentioned that it has been three months since I updated, which is unacceptable. My excuse is that Breaking Dawn made this fic AU (not to mention I have no inclination to include -- shudder -- Renesmee or most of the new canon). Alec's gift will be taken into account, and some of the other vampires could make an appearance, but everything else? No. So if that turns you off this fic, I'm sorry, but there's really no point in my trying to follow the new canon, since Will's very existence defies it.
I'm not too sure about the following chapter, but it is the last chapter that I finished, and you all seemed to want it very badly, so...
Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters and settings do not belong to me, as I would not have named the child (?!) of Bella and Edward "Renesmee." No offense to anyone who actually thought that name was anything but revolting.
Chapter Twelve: Pride and Prejudice
William was not looking forward to spending another seven or eight hours on a crowded jet plane, surrounded by what he perceived as walking bits of food, made worse by the fact that they hadn't been able to get seats in first class, since they were booking so late. But Aro wanted them back as soon as possible. The first flight, from Seattle to New York, had been just bearable, and possibly only because he had been sandwiched between the window and Carlisle Cullen, and by Alice and Jasper – they had finally got around to introductions before leaving – and Edward and Bella in front and behind them. Surrounded by vegetarians, although Jasper didn't seem to breathe the entire time.
He adjusted his sunglasses; it wouldn't do to have a human see his ruby red eyes. Rubbing his throbbing neck, he looked sidelong at Bella, who had been assigned to the seat next to his. At first, he had offered to switch with Edward, who was sitting several rows ahead with his sister Rosalie. But Edward had studied the two of them carefully for a moment before refusing to switch.
The fact that Edward had merely smiled and shrugged when Bella asked why certainly did not make her like William any more. She had thus far refused to speak to him, and still, William couldn't blame her.
The two of them sat in obstinate silence as the plane taxied and then took off. He had resigned himself to not talking for the next seven hours when Bella suddenly spoke. "You ought to know," she said levelly, in a voice only William could hear, "that it's not Edward's fault."
"What's not Edward's fault?" William knew, but he wanted to make sure. Bella knew something, or so he hoped fervently. He began humming the Charleston in his head again. It really was effective at keeping Edward out, though Edward probably was blocking everyone out because of all the humans on the plane. But it didn't hurt to be safe.
"He did care about you," she replied stiffly, as if it was only out of duty that she was telling him. "He told you about his rebellious years?" William nodded. "It all began when he thought you died."
He gulped. This seemed unreal to him. "And… and how do you know this?"
"Carlisle told me. He… he said that Edward visited you twice. The first time, he was the one to retrieve the box you threw in the ocean." A memory rose in William's mind: a young, pale man, his hat pulled over his face, hiding it. Could it have been Edward? "The second time, he came to see how you were doing after your trip to Europe. He heard you were dead, and when he went back to Carlisle and Esme, he couldn't remember much about his first eight years of being a vampire."
"He sent the charm," muttered William to himself. His brother had cared; he had been destroyed when he heard William was dead. He shivered, his throat tightening. If he had been human, he would have wept. Instead, he peeked over the seat and glimpsed Edward watching them. He
turned up the Charleston in his mind, then asked, "Why didn't you tell him? He's torturing himself, thinking there's something wrong with him."
"He needs to find out on his own. It's what Carlisle decided," she added when William opened his mouth to argue. "Why did you have to try and hurt him that way? You didn't know what he had gone through!"
William understood now. She didn't dislike him merely because he had tried to hurt Charlie. She disliked him for hurting Edward as well. "And you don't know what I have gone through," he hissed.
"You're right. I don't. But you know what?" whispered Bella angrily. "Even if your roles had been reversed, Edward wouldn't have done what you did. He wouldn't have tried to hurt his own brother, no matter how resentful or whatever it was he felt."
The barb hit its target, but William wasn't about to let her see that. Edward wouldn't have done the same thing. He would have jumped straight to thinking that perhaps he was lacking, as William had only done afterwards. It made him want to emphasize the difference between him and Edward even more. "And how!" he said with mock joy. "Unfortunately, while Edward is a prim little Victorian wet blanket, I grew up in the Roaring Twenties. And, doll, that makes a world of difference." He winced inwardly. That was how Henry used to talk.
She only stared at him, her face mirroring her disgust. He felt his annoyance build. Had she been expecting him to be a saint? No, just Edward. Then again, Edward was better than a saint in some respects. He hadn't got past a peck on the lips with Isabelle before he had "died." William wondered if maybe that was why Bella was so uptight. Because she wasn't getting any. The thought made him snort, although it made him feel a little guilty to be thinking such things about Edward, now that he knew what had happened.
"What's so funny?" snapped Bella. She wasn't even trying to hide her dislike for him anymore, and in a way, he still couldn't blame her. He was being difficult, after all. But it was too late to try and get off on the right foot.
"It's not proper for me to say," said William, his nose up in the air. He sat up ramrod straight and folded his hands on his lap.
"What is wrong with you?" she hissed.
"What is wrong with you?" he countered, suddenly tired of trying to get a rise out of her. "I didn't know he cared! Imagine this, Bella… losing your brother, thinking he's dead, and being sent to live in a new city with a bullying cousin that your brother no longer can protect you from. Imagine having the perfect future but wanting none of it. Imagine taking the trip you and your brother were supposed to take together, having things go awfully wrong, and killing the only good friend you made on the trip, a friend that may have been able to replace your brother. Imagine living a half life in the shadows for eighty years with a woman who you cannot love
back because she just doesn't live in the same world you do, because you're so far removed. Imagine this, Bella, and maybe you'll understand why I'm not like Edward!"
"Edward's had his share," said Bella, but weakly. Her eyes were full of pity now, and William didn't want her pity.
"Oh, yes, his share. He told me about playing God after he thought I had died. So maybe we're equal in that respect. But he's lived these past ninety years with a family, and he found love. But you know what? I'm glad that this is the way it is. Edward was always the pure one. Our mother thought he could do no wrong. He stumbled, yes, but he's still untarnished for the most part, and I'm sure that makes our mother happy. It makes me happy."
There was a long pause. "I'm sorry," she said finally, and she looked defeated. "Forgive me. I did the thing that I was accusing you of doing."
"Well, I did do it," he said stiffly. He felt tired, a strange sensation for a vampire. His neck was throbbing harder than before. "And I apologize for my words. They were inappropriate and completely against decorum."
"Apology accepted." She smiled, tentatively, and he felt his dislike for her lighten slightly. Maybe Edward had been right in choosing her after all. There was an awkward silence while both of them contemplated suggesting that they start over. "I think we got off on the wrong foot," she said finally.
"Yes, we did," he agreed. "Shall we start over?"
"Okay." She held out a hand for him to shake. "Isabella Cullen, though everyone calls me Bella. At school, I go by Bella Swan, Edward's longtime girlfriend."
"William Masen," he replied, taking her hand. "So Edward and I didn't get to talk much about our lives… er, existences after we were separated. How long have you two been together?"
"About three years."
"That's not very long. Where were you before that?"
Bella looked confused for a moment, then she giggled. "I wasn't a vampire before that," she said, grinning. "I've only been a vampire for a little over a year."
William felt slightly stupid. "Oh. Right. I forgot," he said sheepishly. That was why they were there, after all.
"So, um, you lived in the Roaring Twenties?"
She hesitated, then asked, "What was it like?"
"Er, well, it was interesting," said William. His memories of that time were mostly blurred. "I was a good boy until I met this girl, the daughter of one of my aunt's friends. She, ah, brought me to a speakeasy on the day we met. I don't think I was ever so out of my depth as I was there, but I did learn the Charleston that night. I use the Charleston to keep Edward out of my head, you know."
This amused her, and she laughed. It was a nice laugh, and William liked her more for it. Edward needed someone like her, someone who could laugh at themselves and occasionally, him.
"It's my turn now," he said.
"Right," said Bella, slightly wary.
She blinked. "Why not Edward?" she asked finally. "He's kind, intelligent, talented, wonderful—"
"— Not to mention impatient, domineering, and with very little sense of humor at times," interrupted William. She opened her mouth to retort, probably to defend her husband, but he held up a hand to stop her. "I know my brother, Bella. And believe me, he was my hero when I was growing up. But you gave up your humanity to join him. And I don't even know if I would want to spend eternity with Edward," he added jokingly.
She thought for a moment. "I don't know what to say," she admitted after a long pause. "There's just no way to describe it. It's like… there's no one else for me, like it's a fact of life. I had no other possible future – it's either I'm at Edward's side or I don't exist, simple as that. Do you know what I'm saying?"
An image of Bianca flashed in front of William's eyes. Did he know what Bella was saying? Did he love Bianca unconditionally, to the point that he could not exist without her? The truth was that he didn't know if he loved her that way, which meant he did not know what Bella was talking about. "No," he replied softly. "I don't think I do."
Bella hesitated. "Edward told me what… what Demetri said back in Forks. If you don't mind me asking, who is Bianca?"
"She's – she's…" William searched for the right description. "She's the one who changed me."
She looked uncomfortable. "I'm sorry," she said. "I should mind my own business."
"No, no," he replied hurriedly. Bella was his brother's wife, and for some reason, he felt as if he could confide in her, as if she were a sister by blood, despite the fact that they were near strangers. "To tell the truth, I don't know if I love her," he admitted. "She changed me because
she saw me on the street, because she fell in love at first sight. You know," he added, "it's a bit like you and Edward, except I'm not Edward. I'm too selfish to love her back."
"Love is never associated with selfishness," murmured Bella. "I think you're just scared. One day, you'll realize that you do love her, and you'll admit it. I'm sure of it."
"Edward left me once," she said simply. He stared at her. "On my eighteenth birthday, there was a minor accident, and what happened afterwards convinced him that it was unsafe for me to be with him. He was scared, so he left me, telling me that he didn't love me. Obviously, he realized later that it was a mistake. And that was when I learned that I could never exist without him, not fully. I was a shell those months he was gone."
"I'm not Edward."
"Sure, sure. But you have more in common than you think. You're both overly melodramatic and have the tendency to think of yourselves as lower than you really are. The world has a way of working out in the end, no matter how messed up it seems at times. I really think vampires have a way of finding their perfect matches, the people who are more than soul mates to them. Bianca was drawn to you, which means that someone out there decided that you two were meant to be."
"How very… metaphysical of you," William teased. "You don't exactly strike me as the horoscope-reading type, though."
"I'm not. I usually think that kind of stuff is a load of crap. But werewolves have their imprinting; why can't vampires have theirs? We're all not supposed to exist anyway, so who's to say we can't be governed by rules that don't exist for other beings?"
"An admirable speech."
She pretended to bow. "Thank you." She sighed, and they fell into a comfortable silence. Suddenly, her face grew worried. "William, I have to say something," she blurted out. "And I don't want to tell Edward or the others. They'd just get agitated."
"I'm scared. I don't want to meet the Volturi again."
"There's nothing to be afraid of. They won't hurt you."
"I'm not scared for myself. But I don't want to join the Volturi; I don't want to drink human blood. I don't want to follow the bidding of Aro, Marcus, and Caius. There's no refusing the Volturi, and I don't want anyone to get hurt trying to protect me. I don't need protection, but no one seems to remember that. It's like I'll always be human to them."
He sighed. "You're right," he said pensively. "I won't lie to you. You can't refuse the Volturi, not forever. One day, they'll convince you to say yes. The question is if you say yes earlier or later."
"I can't say yes, though, William. No offense, but I can't watch innocent humans die, even if they allow me to keep my diet. I can't kill without a thought. Jane enjoys torturing people, and even Aro doesn't bat an eyelash when she does. He encourages her. The Volturi keep order, but they have no mercy; they're so fair, it's almost cruel."
William closed his eyes. "Yes," he whispered. "But what can we do?"
Author's Note: Right, so before any of you flame me for being so anti-Breaking Dawn sounding... I did actually enjoy reading the book, even though I found myself cringing a lot. I don't know why I enjoyed it, when so many seemed to be less happy with the last installment, but... Anyway, that's my second disclaimer, which I didn't want to take up space up top with.
Like I mentioned before, this is the last chapter that I have written. After this, I don't know when the next chapter will be posted, or if there will even be a next chapter. I am back in school now, and unlike last year, I have decided to cram into one semester every possible activity I can be a part of. And I have applied to study abroad in London next semester, so I could be very busy then too. Anyway, should I never update this fic, we can pretend that the Volturi bit in Breaking Dawn happens, except over Bella, not Renesmee. Yeah. But if I do update, please forget the crappy makeshift ending.
Please review -- I do still enjoy receiving reviews, even though I'm being a very mean author.