a/n: Thanks to all my readers. You guys made this story happen.
Stephenie Meyer owns everything, and I am enchanted by her work.
The news reports were gruesome.
I always knew they would be, and I tried hard at first to shield her from them. Years later they were cold case files, fodder for afternoon TV. I caught her watching one day. There was a snapshot of me. WANTED. There were crime scene photos: the woods behind the school, that clearing above the beach, the house where I allegedly held her captive... And finally her bloodstained bed, just as her father must have found it: rumpled and red from my uncontrollable lusts.
She hated that I was wanted for all the murders. She hated the injustice of it, but I saw no injustice at all. I had committed the very foulest crime of the whole mess. I had killed her.
And to pay for that heinous crime, all I had to do was stay out of the continental US for fifty years or so. That was nothing. I had her. Those months without her were too painful to dwell upon. That's when I paid for my crime. I paid in advance. And then I decided that I had suffered enough, selfish creature that I am. I couldn't stay away from her. At first I told myself I'd only look. But then I smelled her and I knew that I had been lying to myself.
I knew that if I abstained from her any longer, I'd only be postponing the inevitable. I knew my limits. I knew my weaknesses. What was the point in kidding myself?
I've only ever been dominated by two things in my life: a lust for blood and a lust for Bella. That night I fed them both.
I was the vilest glutton, the wickedest man, the luckiest soul on earth that night.
Years have passed, and though I have definitely been hounded by the sins I committed, I have never regretted committing them. She has never regretted them either.
If she had, I suppose I would be tormented like I should be, but Bella never blames me or holds it against me or falters in loving me. She never shies from my touch or loses patience with my temper or is disgusted by my appetites. She is so much better than me.
I used to chide her for her language and the way she leaves her shoes just inside the door or any number of other petty little things, but then I realized I was finding fault in her because I was hating myself for what I did to her. She didn't deserve any of it. So now I move her shoes carefully out of the way so I don't crush them, and one day I asked her to teach me all the myriad vocal inflections she could attribute to the word "fuck" that could turn it from a verb to a noun to an adverb to a question to a statement to an exclamation to an admonition. She was a patient teacher with those lessons. I'm still learning. She is always patient with me.
I check the status of her friends and relatives online for her when she asks me to, even though it always makes her melancholy. I let her make plans for all the things we'll do and the places we'll go once the Forks Killings are a distant memory to everyone who had to live through them. I put up with the way she tells Rose and Alice some secrets that she won't tell me, even though she knows I'll probably find them out.
We became one big dysfunctional family. Eight vampires. It sounds worthy of a sitcom. Carlisle could no longer practice medicine, on account of being an accessory to my killings, and we had to lay-low, since half of us were wanted by the FBI and the other half of us were murder victims.
Therefore we retreated to an old mining ghost town near some friends of Carlisle's in Alaska. We lived in hundred-and-fifty-year-old run-down wooden structures, but we didn't need heat or running water or electricity because we didn't get cold, we could wash the blood and mud off in the snow, and we could see just fine in the dark. So it was actually alright for a few years, til everyone got bored of a life full of snowmen and rich, fatty blood from arctic beasts. There was no internet, or TV up there for us. We got newspapers once a week from Carlisle's friends who would either run up to visit us after hunting, or one or two of us at a time would risk the run down to the little village they shared with humans to spend an hour or two with them. Alice frequently dragged Jasper out for that errand. He was even more sullen then than he is now, and his broodiness made little Alice crave relief from the monotony of our ghost town the most. After all, Rose finally had Emmett, so she was fairly content most of the time.
Emmett proposed to Rose and they were married on the one-year anniversary of that cold December day when they both were killed. Bella didn't understand why they wanted to commemmorate that day because to her it was truly traumatic- overflowing with violence and terror- but to them, it was the concrete beginning of their happily ever after.
Jasper and Alice don't quite have the blissful exuberance of Rose and Emmett, however. They're deeply in love, of course, but his guilt and shame from the murders he committed has turned him into a bit of a gloomy homebody and stunted his emotional relationship with Alice to some extent. Ironically, it turns out that he has a special skill with other people's emotions, and he can amplify and quell the feelings that people around him are experiencing. We all sincerely want him to be happy, for Alice's sake as well as for his own, so we do what we can to support him on the melancholy days. It helps that Emmett doesn't remotely hold a grudge about Jazz murdering him. Alice is exceedingly patient and gentle with him. She sticks to him like glue and can always make him smile, no matter what's going through his mind.
Carlisle and Esme have been generous beyond belief as their family suddenly swelled. After my help with getting everyone together in Alaska and finding the deserted little village for us to call home for a while, I was no help to them at all. I was broken without Bella, so that left Carlisle and Esme completely alone in guiding everyone else. I shirked all of my duties to hole up in the dusty attic or (once everyone began passing the neverending nights with neverending sex marathons) polar bear caves to mope and brood and miss her.
When I couldn't stand being away from her any longer, and when I was sure that the FBI presence in Forks had backed off enough that I could get Bella out of that town, and when I was able to find a way to escape from everyone else long enough to get too far away for them to bother chasing me, I went back. As I had promised.
I took everything from her. She gave me everything. I still look at her in awe and wonder, marvelling at how generously she gave me her body and her life. She still maintains that she came out ahead because she got me, but that's the Stockholm Syndrome talking or something.
I'm watching her now, catching bunnies in the little clover field on the hill. Catch and release. Catch and release. Too small to eat. My heart overflows with her. She's like a child sometimes when the sun is shining, and the ewes are lambing and the heather starts to turn our whole world the rich pink color of her lips. She loves it here, even though she misses Alice and Rose.
We needed some time alone together after all the years of hiding out and new identities and all eight of us attending university together and patiently waiting for Carlisle to finish medical school so he could get a license to practice under his new name- even though I tried to convince him to forge the documents because I had been so sure that the tedium of med school with his experience would kill him. But he thought it was all excellent fun, and the environment brought smiles to Jasper's face sometimes, and Bella, Rose, and Alice thrived with so many new things to learn, and...
After all of that, we just needed this. We just needed each other for a while.
And now I'm where I have needed to be since long before I ever knew I'd need anything at all outside myself. I'm in an open field on the other side of the world from where I killed her, and the sun is shining in her hair and sparkling on her skin as she nuzzles soft little rabbits against her face. I'm in the perfect place. I'm with Bella, and she's with me. My Bella. Forever.