A/N: This takes place after Chapter 12.
I couldn't believe that I was doing this again. It felt like I had spent the past eleven months chasing after Bella Swan and now here I was, after I'd sworn that I'd stop, trying to find her in this frozen tundra. I know I had told her that I was a sucker for lost causes but this was officially crossing the line into pathetic. Not that I was really expecting to find Bella, anyways. She must be a vampire by now; I doubt she would have waited long after that sham of a wedding. And I wasn't even sure I wanted to see her. I didn't want to remember her like that, all cold and marble, when I much preferred the clumsy, rosy-cheeked girl I had fixed motorcycles with. But the Cullens had experience with these Italian bloodsuckers and they might know how to get them out of Forks. I could go through with this if it meant keeping everyone safe.
Sometimes doing the right thing really fucking sucked.
However, it would be nice to find out what the hell she was thinking by sending me those blank postcards. It's not like I didn't know they were coming from her, she was the only person I knew who would ever want to go to Alaska. It was almost as if she wanted me to find her, although I couldn't figure out why. She chose Edward and the bloodsuckers and I really wished she would stop shoving that in my face. And to be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure if I would be able to stop myself from attacking the Cullens once I saw her, the girl I loved so much, as one of them. It didn't matter that Sam had put down an injunction stating that the Cullens were not to be harmed, I was pretty sure I would be able to break it if it came to that. I tried to push those thoughts from my mind, just in case her mind-reading bloodsucker was nearby.
I had been in Alaska for almost five days, searching for the Cullens, but they knew the best ways to stop anyone from finding them. I had to wonder if this was why the Italians were in Forks, the Cullens had known they were coming and hid away like a bunch of cowards, forcing the Italians to look for them at their last known address. I couldn't see Bella condoning this, though. I mean, her father still lived in Forks! There's no way she would want to put him in harm's way, especially after what her rushed wedding had done to him. She couldn't have changed that much. And then finally, after scouring the hidden corners of the Denali National Park for what felt like the twentieth time, I finally came across the sickly sweet scent of a vampire. It was foreign, not one that I had ever come across, but I decided to follow it anyway, hoping it would lead me to the Cullens.
It was a faint scent, but it got stronger the longer I followed it, leading me to a giant house. I think it was supposed to look like some kind of log cabin, the outside was composed almost entirely of dark wood, but it was simply too large to be anything but a mansion. There were two large windows that seemed to take up most of the front of the house, their light spilling out onto the snowy front lawn. Something white blurred across one of the windows and I knew then that I had the right house.
Before I could phase back into my human form, the front door opened and three vampires stepped out. I recognized Edward instantly as he took the point, but I didn't know the other two that fell into place behind him. One was tall and lean with a faint hint of an olive complexion underneath his pale skin. The other was a woman who was simply gorgeous, if you were into the undead. She was kind of short, with wavy strawberry blonde hair that fell to the middle of her back. They both had the same topaz eyes as the Cullen family, which must have meant they were also "vegetarians," and they did not look welcoming at all. Their lips were pulled back over their teeth as they looked me over. Edward glared at me as he asked, "What are you doing here, Jacob?"
I would have rolled my eyes at him if I could. Did he really think that I had come all this way, by myself, to fight him?
"I wouldn't put it past you," he answered.
If I wanted to hurt you, I would have already, I thought at him, not even trying to keep the bitterness out of my thoughts. You and your little flunkies wouldn't have been able to see me coming. I thought back on all the fantasies I'd entertained over the summer, while I'd tried to forget about him, Bella and the invitation I should have never received. I pushed them out of my head quickly when Edward stiffened. The other two picked up on his body language and they both let out a small hiss. Will you call them off? I just want to talk.
Edward made a face, as if he would like nothing more than for me to leave and never come back. He reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose before he asked, "What do you want, Jacob?"
Really, I just want to talk, I thought. There were these Italian bloodsuckers in Forks and the pack thought –
Edward interrupted me, which was actually pretty rude. "Wait, what Italians?" Instead of saying anything, I replayed the memory of finding the scent with Quil and Embry and following it to the road that lead out of town, where we found the two vampires cornering Liz. Edward broke me out of my thoughts when he said, "That's Demetri and Felix."
The man behind Edward stiffened. "The Volturi? What about them?"
Edward ignored him. "They're in Forks?" I nodded as best as I could. The other two vampires looked alarmed by this. Edward sighed, "Why don't you come inside, Jacob?" Then he turned to the woman on his right and said, "Go find Carlisle. He should hear this. But… someone should stay out there with Bella. I don't know if she'll be able to handle this." She nodded and took off into the forest.
I was confused. I didn't know if he meant she wouldn't be able to handle seeing me, or seeing me without trying to eat me. I found that I didn't really care to find out, either. I didn't want the image of Bella as a vampire to mar the memories I had of her as a human. Edward, who had been on his way inside, turned to look at me one more time, an unreadable expression on his face. He turned and walked into the house before I could make any sense of it. I couldn't help but wonder if this was a bad idea as I phased back into my human form and pulled my shorts on.
The house was just as elegant inside as it was outside. The dark wood made up the high ceiling of both the foyer and the living room I followed Edward into. The whole room was as white as the snow outside, from the paint on the wall to the plushy carpet under my feet and the couches and chairs that were scattered around the room. The room was full of vampires, ones I recognized as part of the Cullen family and others that weren't. The short, black-haired fortune teller was sitting with her blonde husband. She was looking at me in interest while her blonde counterpart wrinkled his nose. The gorgeous blonde was looking at me in disgust while her burly, curly-haired boyfriend simply looked like he was ready for a fight. The olive-skinned man was there as well, sitting next to a woman with a similar complexion. There were also two woman who looked a lot like the strawberry blonde, one had dark black hair that contrasted against the white blonde of the other. They were sitting close to each other and I couldn't help but notice the way they were eyeing me, almost as if they appreciated what they saw. I was torn from their staring when the blonde Cullen asked, "What is he doing here, Edward?"
"We should wait for Carlisle," he said.
I could feel the tension building in the room and I didn't feel like sitting in it until Dr. Fang arrived. "These Italian bloodsuckers are looking for you."
Edward shot me an exasperated look and said, "The Volturi need to speak with us, apparently."
The fortune teller's boyfriend looked alarmed by that. "Are you sure it's them?"
Edward nodded. "It was Demetri and Felix."
Dr. Carlisle Cullen walked into the room them, silencing all conversation. I noticed that the strawberry blonde didn't return with him as he said, "What's going on? Tanya said the Volturi are in Forks?"
Edward nodded before turning to me. "What happened when you found them? Did they say anything?" I shook my head, briefly remembering the words they spoke in Italian before we attacked. Edward inhaled audibly and asked, "You attacked them?"
Frankly, I wasn't shocked by the fact that Edward thought we should have just let the vampires kill Liz. I already knew that the vampires didn't care much for humans, preferring to just see mortals as cattle raised for consumption. I could tell that he was annoyed with me because he didn't let me say anything. Instead, he explained, "I didn't mean it like that. By attacking them, you just guaranteed that the guard would come back with even more vampires that could completely decimate the entire town if they wanted to. It would have been better for the entire pack if you just let them kill the girl."
I felt my temper rising with those words. "We couldn't just let them kill a member of the pack!"
His brow scrunched up in confusion. "A member of the pack? I thought –"
I cut him off. "Imprints are considered a part of the pack."
An awkward silence filled the room. Dr. Fang diffused it quickly by saying, "I assume you know what they were doing in Forks."
"We're pretty sure they were looking for you."
"Why is that?" he asked.
"They mentioned you to Liz, the girl they tried to attack. And their scent was all over the woods near your place… including your home. Actually, they kind of tore it apart." I thought back to the way the house had been, the furniture ripped apart and the pieces scattered throughout the house.
He sat in a thoughtful silence for a moment. "Do you know what they said to her?"
I shook my head, recalling how messed up Liz had been once we killed the big vampire. I didn't get to say anything, though, because Edward spoke up once again when he heard my thoughts, "You killed him?"
"We had to," I said, glaring at him. And get out of my head.
The rest of them were looking at us in annoyance, obviously not enjoying the fact that they were missing part of the conversation. "They killed Felix," he said, probably answering the question that was filling their minds. They all looked alarmed and yet oddly impressed. The big muscled one looked almost put out, as if he wished he could have been there to take part in the fight. Then Edward asked, "What happened to Demetri?"
"The long-haired one?" I asked. "He ran off like a coward." Edward's expression became pained. "What?" I was becoming more annoyed with him by the second. Maybe coming to alert the Cullens hadn't been such a great idea after all.
"Demetri's a tracker." He sighed in annoyance at the confused tenor to my thoughts. "He can find a person anywhere in the world once he has gotten a look inside their mind."
It felt like someone had just thrown a bucket of cold water on me. "So these Volturi are gifted?"
The blonde-haired male – what was his name again? Jackson? – spoke up. "They are the most talented of our kind. The Volturi choose only the vampires with the best gifts to join their guard.
Well, that was just great. It felt as if my worst fears had just been confirmed. I had confidence in the pack's ability to take on a group of vampires but I wasn't delusional. I knew that we wouldn't stand a chance against a group of gifted bloodsuckers, especially if they had what was considered to be the best gifts in the vampire world. I was ripped out of my fear-induced despair by Edward. "What is she doing? She knows she can't come in here…" he trailed off before getting up and racing out of the house at a speed that blurred before even my eyes.
I could hear it then too. A soft, almost musical voice was stubbornly saying, "I don't care! If Jacob's here then I need to see him!" Her voice was strange, almost unfamiliar, but I knew it was Bella. And I felt it again, the strange pull that, while nothing like the pull of an imprint, led me to her every single time she was near. It didn't matter that she was a vampire, or that she might possibly be so out of control that she would try to suck even my blood, I just had to see her. I found myself almost unconsciously getting out of my seat and following Edward's path out the front door to the snowy lawn. I guess you could call it a morbid curiosity but now that I could literally feel Bella near me, I had to see if she was happy with the life she had chosen, the one I had let her choose when I ran away from it all last summer.
She was standing half way between the forest and the massive house. I could smell her, although it was different in the wrong kind of way, and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The sun was barely shining through the clouds and yet I could see it reflecting off her marble skin. It felt as if I had been kicked in the chest. She was not my Bella anymore; Edward had made her completely his. I thought I had been prepared but it felt like my heart was breaking all over again at the sight of this, the final nail in the coffin of what Bella and I had once had.
She was still stubbornly trying to get to the house despite the efforts of Edward and the vampire with the reddish blonde hair. At least I knew that there were some vestiges of the old Bella in there somewhere, although it did not lessen the pain I felt. I was about to turn around and go back inside, no longer interested in seeing this new Bella, when I saw her for the first time. She stepped out from behind Bella's legs, curious as to what her parents were arguing about. And she was so obviously Bella and Edward's child, even though she looked three years old and I knew that was simply impossible. And then she turned to stare at me, her small hands pushing her curly bronze-colored hair out of her face. One look into those chocolate brown eyes, so much like her mother's, and I was falling with no hope of ever hitting the ground. It was like I had tunnel vision and all I could see was her. Then there was a strange roaring noise – where was that coming from? – and something ran right into me, managing to knock me off my feet before I even noticed it coming.