Summary: Disoriented after her transformation into a vampire, Bella struggles with amnesia. As she learns to control her new powers and abilities, she must also come to terms with what she is ... and with the vampire she doesn't remember marrying. Bella/Edward.
Rating: R for future chapters. Beginning chapters are PG.
Author's Note: This story stands completely on its own. However, it is technically a sequel to a previous story, Spiral Static. If you have not yet read it, you can read this story without a problem. If there is any backstory new readers need to know, I will be sure to explain it in full detail. Or you can read Spiral Static first. Up to you. Hope you enjoy.
"Wash me away. Clean your body of me.
Erase all the memories. They'll only bring us pain."
Citizen Erased – MUSE
Written by Coquette
I awoke ... flying.
Colors sped past my face – vivid, painful, straining to be heard more than seen, bleeding together in maddeningly streaks of green and gold.
My legs pumped, strong and tireless beneath me, my arms stretched out as if to shield myself from something I couldn't see. As my mind pulled itself out of the thick, hazy mire of nonexistence, it occurred to me that I wasn't flying at all.
I was running.
My vision cleared. Sharpened like my eyes had somehow crystallized into focus. Everywhere there were lines. Jagged edges. Details screaming at me with mind-numbing clarity. I could see the spider thin veins on the leaves of the tree far in front of me. I could hear the trees drinking water from the earth. My eyes caught sight of a bird in the sky. I watched as if in slow motion as it darted between branches, searching for shelter as if some sort of predator had frightened it. Its tiny heart fluttered faster than its wings.
I was in a forest, it seemed.
Beyond that, I knew nothing. Only that I needed to run. Far, far away from the torment of my existence. Burning, writhing, possessing. Wrapping me in its cocoon of venom and bile. I could feel every pore on my body. Every hair. Every cell. Awake. On fire. Turning to crystal. Freezing me in time.
I felt as though I had slowly been turned into stone.
My first thought was that of desire – desire for death. I wanted to die before I had even begun to live. I think perhaps I did die. Or maybe I was born. It was all very unclear to me in that moment.
Someone was chasing me.
I could hear them, all around me. Their footfalls in the forest were as silent as mine and fast. Yet still I heard them as if they were running right beside me. Without even knowing why, I quickly veered left to avoid my pursuers.
And stopped dead in my tracks.
There, in a clearing of trees, stood a boy.
But he was so much more than that.
I stared at him, utterly fixated. And he stared right back at me, but with a much different expression on his face.
His golden eyes seemed to shake. I could see them quivering in their sockets as he gaped at me, dumbstruck with horror. He was about seventeen or eighteen years old with untidy, bronze hair that seemed to stand on end. Hardly a boy, but not yet a man. Handsome. No, beautiful. His eyes burned into mine with niggling familiarity. His perfect skin, pale as death, sparkled in the sun like a multi-faceted diamond. I wondered for a moment if he was an angel. It wasn't that far of a stretch. I had just died after all. Or perhaps he was the one who brought me to earth as I was born.
The wind shifted, and his scent hit me like a slap to the face. It sang to me, enthralling me, beckoning me closer. And yet I couldn't move. Fixed in place by that unbearable gaze.
I opened my mouth for the first time, and somehow I knew how to speak. "Who are you?" I asked. My voice sounded peculiar in my ears. Strangely musical, lilting like a windchime blowing in the breeze.
He flinched, somehow stung by the question, but said nothing in reply. Just stared at me in silent anguish with those piercing eyes. What had him in such a state of torment, I couldn't begin to guess. But it comforted me in a way to know someone was in as much pain as I was. But even that was starting to fade. Every moment, the pain grew less and less, only a vivid memory now, forever burned in my retinas.
I tensed, straining my sensitive ears against the sounds of the forest. There they were again. The rapid footfalls of my pursuers, closing in on us both now. I backed away from the boy, suddenly suspicious of that hauntingly angelic face. Eyes widening in panic, he took a step toward me. So very pale, like ash riddled with diamonds. His face was choked with emotion. I wondered if he was ill.
I had no reason to trust him. "Don't touch me," I warned, still backing away from him.
He persisted in his approach, hands raised, palms outward to show submission.
"Stay back..." I warned.
Before I could do anything else, someone – not the boy – slammed into me from behind, locking me in an iron grip. Thunder rolled overhead. But there were no storm clouds in the sky. It was as if the sound had come from our own bodies colliding.
"I've got her!" It was the voice of a young female – right behind my ear, painfully loud. "God, she's so strong! Edward, help me!"
But the boy, Edward he'd been called, just stood there. Three others ran into the clearing. Two males and another female. Each more perfect and graceful than the next. I froze when I looked at the girl – barely a woman, her blond hair whipping in the wind – she was the most breathtaking of all. Fiercely beautiful, like an angelic warrior.
"Emmett, Jasper!" cried the girl who held me tight from behind. "Help me hold her! Edward's gone catatonic again."
I was quickly surrounded on all sides by stone walls – hands, faces, and bodies – held firmly in place between them, though I struggled and protested. Together they managed to bring me under control.
"Shhh, Bella," soothed the girl who had slammed into me. I could see her face now. Shorn, black hair adorning a perfect, elven face. "It's okay. You know we would never hurt you. We're family. Try to remember. Emmett, be gentle with her. She's terrified."
"I'm trying, Alice. She's strong," growled Emmett, who held me the tightest.
"She's a newborn," said the other male. Alice had called him Jasper when he ran into the clearing. "What do you expect with all her human blood still in her veins?"
"We need to get her back to Carlisle. He'll know what to do with her."
They started to walk, all gathered together in a group with me in the middle, struggling. I craned my head back toward the clearing in the trees. The boy – Edward – still stood there, frozen in place.
"Edward!" hissed Alice. "Snap out of it and move. We can't do this without you."
Edward seemed to sway on his feet, lips parted, eyes wide and unblinking. But he followed, stiffly yet somehow gracefully, always twenty or so paces behind the rest of us. His grim, yellow eyes never left my face. They frightened me just as much as they fascinated me.
"Do you think we could run with her? Someone might see us out in the sunshine," said Emmett. "The trees are sparse ahead. I think we can still manage to all keep a hold on her."
"No," said Alice firmly. "We'll just frighten her more. Let her adjust. Can't you see how disoriented she is? Don't you remember what it was like?"
Murmurs all around.
I stopped struggling eventually. It was useless. Besides, as I stared into their faces, familiarity nipped at me. They weren't unkind. Just ... insistent. Family, Alice had said. But wouldn't I remember if I had a family? No. I had only been born from pain. I tried to calm myself, but my body refused to let go of the tension. Perhaps I really had turned into stone.
"I can walk on my own," I said, sounding more confident than I really was. "Let go of me."
"Sorry, Bella," said Jasper. "Carlisle will kill us if we lose you again."
Again? I had no recollection of that.
Who were these statuesque people – beautiful and terrifying, their skin sparkling when we passed through patches of sunlight? Who was the boy that still trailed behind us? Who was I? Question after question burned in my throat like venom. I swallowed with difficulty, pushing them back. A house was in view up ahead, and the sight of it startled me. I shouldn't have been able to see it from that distance, though I couldn't exactly say why. It was as if I had a vague memory of it coming into view ... only much, much closer.
It took a while to get there with them all gathered together around me, each with their unrelenting grip on me. I was taken into the house, guided to a couch, and urged to sit down. They loomed over me, watchful and wary.
"I'll get Carlisle," said the other girl. The blond one. "Edward, stop standing there like a boulder and help with her. This is all your own doing, you know."
"Rosalie, hush," muttered Jasper, still holding me down with a hand on my shoulder. "Leave him be. You know how hard the last few days have been on him."
"I won't run," I told them. I was still afraid, suspicious, but curious enough to stand my ground. "You can let me go."
Something in my voice must have convinced them. Alice gave Emmett and Jasper a quick nod, and their hands released me. Alice's face was kind as she knelt before me. A little sad, perhaps worried. But she smiled as she touched my cheek. "Carlisle is coming now, Bella. He'll explain everything to you. You're just a little disoriented right now, is all."
There was that word again. Bella. They kept saying it when they addressed me. Was it my name?
Alice rose to her feet as a man and woman came down the stairs, Rosalie following gracefully at their heels – another pair of pale angels, beautiful like the others. A bit older, perhaps. The man, I assumed, was Carlisle. The unnamed woman stood to the side, smiling at me, though caution shone in her eyes amidst the compassion. "Jasper, if you would be so kind as to calm her," she said in her musical voice. "No need for her to sit there in a panic."
And then, inexplicably, my body went lax. They all stared at me knowingly. I couldn't explain what had happened.
"Hello, Bella," said Carlisle, kneeling on the ground before me. "You gave us all a scare there, didn't you? Lucky Edward and the others are such fast runners, or you might have slipped away. Forgive us for losing you. We didn't expect you to break through the walls, you see."
I blinked at him. "Break through ... what now?"
"Don't remember that part, do you? It's all right, Bella. We have very good contractors. They'll patch up the hole in no time. Sinkholes in the ground happen all the time in such a damp, wet climate. A good an explanation as any. We'll still have to dig the sinkhole, though, to make the story convincing."
"Weren't you there with her when it happened, Edward?" asked Emmett, a little heat in his tone. "You haven't left her side in days. You couldn't have stopped her? Held her down before she bolted?"
Edward turned his eyes away from my face for the first time ... and he aimed a cold, silent glare at Emmett.
"I seem to recall you having a bit of trouble holding her in the forest, Emmett," said Alice coolly. She went over to stand beside Edward, slipping a slender arm around his waist, looking up into his pale, drawn face anxiously.
Jealousy flared in my vision, crackling on the edges, red hot. "Hey. You," I said to her. "Get your hands off of him."
Everyone looked at me in surprise. Alice sniggered. "Relax, Bella. I'm his sister. You really don't remember anything, do you?"
I relaxed, though only a fraction. "Oh," I said in a calmer tone. "No. I don't."
I still eyed the arm she had around Edward's waist. His scent coursed through my lungs, filing up my body. I wanted to be the one pressed tight against him. I wanted to bury my face in his neck and inhale, not stopping until my lungs burst. But he was looking at me as though the very sight of me grieved him. Or angered him, even. I wilted under the weight of that cheerless gaze.
"See that, Edward?" said Jasper, grinning. "She has the hots for you already."
"I don't know any of you. How is it you seem so familiar with me?" I whispered, looking at each of them individually. I stopped when I got to Edward. Again and again, he drew back my attention, though I might try to turn it elsewhere. I tilted my head to the side curiously as I peered at him. I memorized his face in that moment, tracing each curve and dip with my eyes.
"I know," said Carlisle, acknowledging my question. "We anticipated that might happen. Don't worry, Bella. Your memories will return in time. It's part of the process, you see. Just know you're among family now, and you're safe. I imagined you're, uh ... hungry. Though admittedly, you're much calmer about that than I expected you to be." He shook his head at me as if in wonder. Then he turned to address the woman who had come down the stairs with him. "Esme, would you mind bringing her something? In a glass as we discussed. No need to frighten her with a hunt before she's ready."
Esme nodded and offered me a sympathetic smile before she slipped from the room.
"Disgusting," muttered Emmett under his breath, making a face. "It's terrible cold."
"I doubt Bella will care at this point," said Carlisle. "It's strange, though. You don't seem hungry at all. Most newborns are mad with it. The control you must have over your own mind is amazing, Bella. Your powers are already making themselves known."
His words made no sense to me. Powers? The whole lot of them were insane.
Though admittedly, I was hungry, just as he suspected. But there were more pressing matters at hand. Questions that needed answering. With iron resolve, I pushed the gnawing hunger to one side of my brain, shut the door, and locked it.
Everyone was staring at me, each with a different expression. Amazement, disbelief, wariness, amusement, affection ... and sorrow. Edward's face held the last one.
"Look at her hair," whispered Rosalie, speaking about me as if I wasn't there. "It's curled into ringlets. She never had those before. I ... I think they're going to stay that way."
I glanced down at my hair. Chestnut curls – slick and shiny like liquid glass – rested on my shoulders. I touched one of the locks. It was like iron-clad silk in my fingers. I think Rosalie was right. Judging from the feel of them, they were definitely a permanent feature. I focused my vision on the hand that held the curl up, and for the first time, I noticed my skin was as white and smooth as the skin of everyone around me. Nothing, not even my appearance, seemed familiar. I looked up at them helplessly, needing answers, needing comfort of some sort.
Alice was whispering back to Rosalie. My sharp ears easily picked it up. "Don't you remember the night that Edward turned her? How I was supposed to find a way to distract her from the fight? I took her upstairs and curled her hair with a curling iron to keep her busy with something. I didn't realize the curls would stay with her. I guess I was too busy watching other things to foresee it."
"Hush now, girls," Carlisle gently scolded. "Too many details for her right now. She's getting tense again."
But it wasn't the conversation around me that had made me tense. Esme had returned, holding a dark-colored glass in her flawless hand. I couldn't see what was inside of it.
But I could smell it.
Hunger seized me, liquefying my insides, setting my whole body on high alert. I wanted to leap from my sitting position, snatch away the glass, and drink deep. But that would hardly do. I was more well-mannered than that. Again, I pushed the hunger back, mastering it with little effort. Then I rose from the sofa, walked over to Esme, and calmly accepted the glass from her. "Thank you," I said, trying to be courteous.
She blinked at me, bemused.
I drank slowly, still resisting the crazed scream of hunger deep within, letting it slowly calm itself and realize I was attempting to satiate it. Emmett was right. Whatever was in the glass was disgusting. Thick and congealed on my tongue. Barely warm. The rusty, metallic taste was enough to make me want to spit it out. But it felt amazing. My insides sang to me in relief and gratitude, regardless of the taste.
I looked at the empty glass, feeling a bit sick from it. "May I have more?" I asked, pushing the unpleasant feelings away. "I'm still hungry."
Esme took the glass from me and glanced at Carlisle, asking a silent question.
"I don't see why not," he said to her.
"Oh, great," grumbled Emmett. "Yes, let's keep feeding the crazed newborn. Give her even more strength. Why not? We have plenty more walls for her to knock down."
"She doesn't look crazed to me," murmured Jasper. "I'm not calming her down either."
I wasn't listening to them. I suddenly felt strange. The room had grown brighter. Louder. My ears reverberated with sound. My senses seemed sharper now that I had eaten something ... whatever that repulsive something had been. I groaned, closing my lids tight over my aching eyes.
"It's all right, Bella," Carlisle said in his soothing tone. "Your eyes and ears will adjust to the change with time. It's all part of the process."
"What's wrong with me?" I whispered, eyes clamped shut, hands gripping my ears. It didn't help. Light and sound seeped in anyway, bright and deafening.
"Perhaps... perhaps Edward would be the best one to explain it to you," said Carlisle, searching my face. "Yes, I'm convinced of it, especially since you seem to have such a firm handle on yourself already. You hardly need me here to supervise. What an extraordinary gift, to guard and control your own mind in such a way. I think, Bella, that before your change, you would have wanted to hear about this new life directly from Edward. You have quite a history together, you know, and it was he that brought you into our little family to begin with. There are rules he needs to explain to you. Things he needs to teach you. And I'm sure you have many questions." He turned to address the others. "Everyone, let's leave them be. If I know Bella, she isn't enjoying being made a spectacle of."
Carlisle was right about that. Perhaps he knew me after all. Their stares were unnerving. I felt like running away again, though I didn't even remember the first time. Did Carlisle really mean to leave me alone with Edward? The one who looked at me with such dismay, like I'd taken the life of someone he loved? Why not Carlisle himself? Or Alice or Esme? They seemed kind enough.
All of them began filing out of the room, Esme with the glass she'd forgotten to refill for me in her hand. I had to push back another wave of hunger and seal it quietly away in my brain. They left me alone with that beautiful, hateful creature, the only one of them that seemed to loathe me for reasons I couldn't begin to guess. But hadn't Carlisle claimed Edward was the one who had brought me into their family? Was that even a good thing? I couldn't make sense of it.
I also couldn't stop staring at him. I was entirely fixated on his eyes as if he held some sort of hypnotic power over me. It wasn't love at first sight. It was obsession. "Who are you?" I asked him, standing motionless as I gazed at him.
Edward flinched again at the question, as he had the first time I had asked it. He didn't answer. I was beginning to wonder if he was capable of speech at all. He didn't seem able to do anything but watch me with those hollow, soulful eyes.
He hovered there on the other side of the room like an apparition ... because nothing that hauntingly beautiful could possibly be real. Then after what seemed like an eternity, he finally spoke.
His voice was quiet. Silken. Like velvet slipping all over my body. So much more gentle and pleasing than I could have ever anticipated. But more surprising than the timbre were the words themselves.
They drove through me like a knife to the stomach.
"I'm your husband, Bella."
To be continued.