The Beautiful Ones
Note: I apologize for the incredibly long wait between updates for this story. In all honesty I have been suffering so much from writer's block, and Supernatural has totally overrun my mind, so there's little to no room for Twilight, but this chapter wouldn't go away.
This chapter wasn't beta'd - I'm sorry for mistakes, and I'm sorry for the overall crappiness of the chapter, but at least it's an update, right?
Now on with the show.
It wouldn't come as a surprise to find that no one was exactly thrilled about being accompanied by a vampire to Chicago. Bella only told a few people, but somehow the news was spreading like wildfire and, by the end of the day, everyone had heard about it, and was shouting and screaming and hollering like demented farm animals, protesting against the choices of their leader at allowing a predator into their midst.
Bella sighed heavily, shutting the heavy-duty Blitzkrieg fashioned curtains – they shut out all the light and, in the same way planes wouldn't see the cities, bright lights didn't draw the attention of unwanted guests – in her living room, and turned to face a very smug and satisfied-looking Jacob.
"Not now," she muttered, knowing from the all-too-giddy look on his face that he was fully prepared to launch into an 'I told you so' speech, that would no doubt last several minutes and leave Bella feeling chastised, guilty for wanting to believe that the creatures they had lived in fear of for so long might not be all-bad.
Edward, for his safety and the mental health of the camp, had agreed to be left in the Gym, surrounded at all times by at least two werewolves. He had been surprisingly amiable about the whole thing, merely smiling in a very disconcerting way of his whenever verbal or attempted physical abuse was thrown his way. It was like he'd taken on the attitude of; 'I know I'm stronger, I know I'm faster, and I know that I can kill you all with hardly any effort. Nothing you do will change that, so can you please just leave me alone?' All in all it was a little unnerving, and Bella seemed to be the only one immune to the natural fight-or-flight of humans.
"I'm just saying, Bella, you can't possibly have expected everyone to just go along with this fool-hardy plan. We're not meant to mix, you know; werewolves, humans, vampires. Hell if it weren't for his kind then my kind wouldn't even exist, and you'd keep on being ignorant…and now you're proposing a treaty with them? Why are you helping him?"
"I'm trying to look out for the greater good, Jacob," Bella snapped, finally losing a little bit of her cool as she rounded on her friend. The fact that he was almost one hundred pounds of muscle heavier than her and at least a foot taller seemed insignificant at that moment. "If this works, if we go to Chicago and he manages to get out to the rest of the vampire population that they don't have to kill us all, and it works, can't you even imagine it? We could be free again. We wouldn't have to rely on things that are stronger than us to protect us! We don't have to constantly look over our shoulders, knowing that there are creatures of the night lurking and even then trusting other creatures of the night to take care of us! You know, when I agreed with you and your Pack to protect us, there were protests too. But we learned and we adapted and we trusted, and you've done your part, you've protected us well. Why can't we extend the same courtesy to vampires?"
"Because they're the things we had to protect you from!" Jacob yelled, a ripple of anger shuddering through him, there and then gone before it could take hold. "They're the reason any of us are here in the first place! They're the reason half of the United States are dead!"
"That was the virus, Jacob!"
Both friends stood in the middle of that tiny room, shaking with barely contained rage. The fact that one of their rages was far more devastating than the other's did nothing to deter either of them. The most frustrating fact was, with how obstinate Bella could be and how everyone was following her orders with the blind faith of sheep, Jacob knew he was fighting a losing battle.
Finally Bella sighed, and all the anger was draining out of her posture, leaving her exhausted. "I need to know if you're with me, Jacob," she said, casting her dark eyes back up to his face, searching, pleading. "Are you with me?"
"Of course I am," he replied without hesitation, but his tone was snappish and angry. "Someone has to look out for you and your stupidity."
She smiled. "Thank you, Jacob. I'm going to go check on Edward. Do you think the pack could go find something for him to eat? He must be thirsty by now."
Edward was, in fact, ravenous. The last proper meal he'd had was…way too long ago. He'd lost count of the minutes, the hours, the days. Fact of the matter was, when surrounded by so many human scents, it was hard to keep his wits about him. He was trying – Dear God in Heaven was he trying – to keep his desires under control, but why did they have to put him here, where all the humans gathered when they were supposedly under attack? The entire building was saturated with the delicious scent of fear and adrenaline, completely untouched by werewolves unlike the rest of the compound. Edward could hardly keep track of the venom he continually had to swallow down, to prevent him drooling like animal.
"Edward?" His head snapped up, his attention drawn by the soft voice outside the door. Her voice. Oh God, don't let her come in…If she came in, with her stupid divine blood, he had no idea what he might do. "The Pack's brought you some blood, if you need it. Can we come in?"
The Pack. Yes, he could smell them now. Four of them, and accompanying it…Blood. Dirty, tainted by their scents but he could push past that for the sake of sating the burn in his throat. As long as he didn't drink from humans, he was alright with anything they gave him. He was lucky to still be breathing.
They didn't wait for his answer. Instead the doors were thrown open – Edward hissed and drew back at the sudden brightness, the energy efficient bulbs not providing nearly enough illumination for such a bright contrast outside – and a small grey wolf came in, dragging the carcass of a deer between her teeth. She set the animal down, quickly backing to leave the room before the vampire could feed. A wise move – when bloodlust set in it was almost impossible to distinguish between food and friend, and though the werewolves smelled disgusting, the humans in their charge most definitely did not. He waited until the doors closed again before practically diving for the carcass, eager to get to the blood flow before it cooled completely.
It was like drinking ice, and he didn't even care. Ice had no taste, but it burned almost as badly as the fire. It felt good for a split-second before he was overcome with a shaking he could not control. Still he drank, desperate, willing the uneasy feeling that was consuming him to go away, but he couldn't. Once he'd finished he felt like he'd been drugged – perhaps he had, after all, you never know. But he was still cognizant; his sight nor his sense of smell was not impaired. He could stand, could walk, and could move. But he was shaking uncontrollably…almost like he was…cold.
Impossible, of course, but still worrying.
In fact, it was oddly familiar. This feeling. Not to him, of course, he'd never felt like that before after feeding, but someone he'd known, someone else. Realization struck him with enough force to send him to his knees, although that could have been a direct result of his sudden cold, clammy feeling. Jasper. Jasper had felt like this once before, after a hunt that was so successful, the entire Coven had managed to be allowed one human to themselves. Jasper's had been infected with that virus that was meant to cure cancer, the whole freaking reason for their way of life now. Of course, with his empathic abilities everyone in the family had felt like they'd been sick, but Jasper had been the sole sufferer.
This deer had been infected with the same virus. That was the only explanation.
Could animals be infected?
He hadn't thought so. Then again, it wasn't meant to kill anything. Maybe it had evolved, just like everything else, to survive off of any host. Maybe Edward was infected himself.
He shot that thought down before it could get any further. No, it can't survive off of something that's dead.
But he could be a carrier. He could infect others.
For the briefest of instances Bella's face flashed across his mind. The thought that he would be responsible for her death if he infected her made his breath hitch, pain unlike he'd known before – except with the abandonment of his family – washed over him. No. He could not make her sick. He was mistaken, he had to be. There was no way that he was infected, or that he could carry it on. Besides, if Bella weren't immune to it then she'd be dead already, he was certain.
When he got to Chicago he would endeavor to learn as much about this virus as possible. Maybe he could make himself useful there, another incentive to keep him alive while he tried to convince the rest of his kind that the human didn't have to die. After all, if he could detect it then maybe he could help cure it. Better than drug trials.
He'd work out the details in his mind later.
The shaking had just managed to calm down – not a permanent effect, that was good – and he was leaning against the wall, temporarily sated and tired when there was another knock on the door. He sighed once again, turning his head and bracing himself for the influx of light. He could smell who was outside; Jacob, and where Jacob was Bella wasn't far ahead. He followed her everywhere like a good little puppy. He fought the urge to laugh.
"Come on in, Bella," he called, loud enough for her to hear, and heard the way her heart momentarily fluttered in surprise, that he'd known it was her. Silly humans.
She pushed open the door, aided by the Alpha werewolf and the small grey who'd brought in Edward's meal. He smiled half-heartedly at her but she merely pinned her ears back and bared her teeth. He fought the urge to laugh. Silly werewolves.
"How are you feeling?" Bella asked, sitting down a few feet away, though by the look on the Alpha's face even that distance was too far. Edward couldn't blame him; the boy obviously knew what his kind was capable of and was wary. It was intelligent to be wary. It was stupid to be aggressive and possessive. Just because Edward was kicked out of his Coven and was on his own didn't mean he would just roll over and take abuse like a good boy from werewolves. He still had his pride.
Edward shrugged, smiling graciously at Bella. Again her heart stuttered in her chest. Really? Seriously? "I'll admit that this is the most welcoming anyone's been to me," he said, half-joking. A snort and muttered few words drew the pair's attention to the Alpha, then back to each other when they both chose to ignore him. He chuckled, making light of the fact that he was unwanted everywhere, except in this strange human girl; "When are we due to leave?"
Jacob tensed, then relaxed, coming up to stand behind Bella, so close that his chin was touching her back. She frowned up at him, but read the 'Don't start' look in his eyes and let it go, looking back with a smile at the vampire. "We're packing up as we speak. We should be able to start on the road by tomorrow night. It's difficult when all the cars are out of gas and we'll have to pull our own wagons."
Edward couldn't help laugh, smirking up at Jacob. "Are your fierce warriors unwilling to become beasts of burden?"
"Fighting becomes a lot more difficult when you've got a bunch of crap strapped to your back," Jacob snapped, his body momentarily tensing again before he relaxed. "Maybe you could magic up some more of your veggie friends and help pull the carts."
"Or…" Edward cocked his head to one side, "we could catch some animals and use them."
"That's a fantastic idea, Edward." Bella grinned widely. Jacob growled. And Edward was just amused at the fact that the Alpha was so pissed off and obviously couldn't do anything about it.
"So, how exactly do you plan to make these wild animals pull a cart?" Edward was getting really pissed off with the sarcastic voices circling around in his head, amplified with the presence of the three other pack members Jacob had chosen to bring with him; the small sandy one – Seth – and two larger ones; the Beta, a chocolate male named Quil and a slightly smaller brown names Embry. Edward and Jacob took up the lead, the Alpha unwilling to lose sight of the vampire or have him behind any of his Pack.
"Well, animals tend to be pretty submissive when you make them think you're boss," Edward muttered, before suddenly slashing his hand through the air and skidding to a halt, signaling the others to stop as well. His nostrils flared as he looked around, eyes narrowed to focus as he tried to catch another scent, another waft of the one he'd found. A substantial pack of deer – if they managed to catch them all there'd be more than enough to pull the carts.
The thought of deer pulling wagons was a weird one at best. But then again there is Santa Claus.
"This way," he said, shooting off in one direction, almost too fast for the werewolves to see. But they were quick to catch up, and Edward bolted through the trees, muttering instructions on the way; "I smell six, but there could be more. Don't kill them, obviously, make sure they can walk. If we can take down one each it'll be a start."
They burst into the clearing, the sunlight streaming down and sending the sparkling diamond brilliance every which way. The deer looked up, ears pricked, dumb consciences full of alarm, but they were too slow to avoid their inevitable death. Edward barely registered the others' movements as he ran forward, heading immediately for those on the outer perimeter – if anyone was over-zealous they needed to guarantee at least a few animals for labor. His first kill was just that – he landed on the animal wrong and snapped its neck. Edward cursed, but wasted no time and took off from the clearing after the animal's supposed mate, and instead of pouncing on it, grabbed for the head and forced it to the ground. A low growl was enough to force the animal to stop struggling – weird, normally they kept moving until he'd killed them. Perhaps this animal was just a little smarter than the average.
He grabbed the deer by its short antlers, keeping the head low as he hauled it back towards the clearing. There were two other deer there, being wrestled into submission by two of the Pack members, Jacob and Embry the ones still as Wolves, ears cocked for his return.
"Well, we got three. That's something," Edward muttered to himself, taking a hold of the deer Seth was wrestling, and the animal immediately stilled under his touch. Huh. Maybe he was some sort of Animal Whisperer now.
If only that worked for humans, vampires and werewolves.
"Let's get these back to the compound," he said, pulling the animals along with no problem while Quil kept the third in his grasp. Bella was overjoyed at the quarry they'd brought back, and the deer were relatively compliant when Edward was nearby. They managed to make harnesses for the animals, to make sure they were safely and securely strapped to the wagons, but in the meantime until the time came for them to move the deer were being kept in the school's main office. Edward returned to the Gym once again, unwilling to face the confrontation of Jacob forcing him back there. No need to ruffle any feathers, after all.
Edward was being brought one step closer to his goal. That was worth a few muttered words and dark glares.