Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight. You knew that. Some of the text and dialogue from the book are lovingly used in this chapter with no copyright infringement intended.
Summary: Bella begs the Cullens to spare James' life at the ballet studio. James decides to repay them by telling Alice the story of her human life - a story he knows all too well. This story is rated T for now, but may change to M later. You know how I can't resist a good lemon now and again.
"He's someone who had a broken heart;
someone who's had people in his life and ends up alone at the end of the day."
~ Cam Gigandet on James
"Bella? Bella?" She'd called to me in fear. And then the TV screen went blue.
I turned slowly. He was standing very still by the back exit, so still I hadn't noticed him at first. In his hand was a remote control. We stared at each other for a long moment and then he smiled. He walked toward me, quite close, and then passed me to the remote down next to the VCR. I turned carefully to watch him.
"Sorry about that, Bella, but isn't it better that your mother didn't really have to be involved in all this?" His voice was courteous, kind. And suddenly it hit me. My mother was safe. He could have found her, as easily as he'd found me, but for whatever reason, this monster had spared my mother's life. For that small token of mercy, I was grateful.
"Yes," I answered, my voice saturated with relief. I lifted my head to look into his pitch black eyes. He was standing a few feet away from me, looking at me curiously. There was no menace in his face or stance. It was odd to look at my murderer and find him strangely handsome now that he wasn't snarling and snapping at me. His long, dirty blond hair was pulled neatly into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. He wore a pale blue, long sleeved shirt and faded blue jeans.
"I'm impressed by your bravery, I'll give you that. I suppose you think that your boyfriend will avenge you? Or do you think he'll realize I'm doing this for his own good?" His voice was harder now, anger beginning to seep through the fascade.
"His own good?" I couldn't even begin to comprehend how James could possibly think this madness was for Edward's own good.
"Yes, you see, I understand Edward better than you think. I was once just like him, a stupid naïve vampire in love with a human girl. She ran away from me and took everything I loved with her. Just like you all do. You want to know what I think? I think he'll thank me one day for disposing of you before you could break his heart." James began circling me now, casually. Was he comparing me to this mystery girl? Was he just deciding the best way to go in for the kill?
"You look a little like her, you know," he sneered. "She was beautiful in an unassuming way, too. It's just another trick to lure us in. To make us do anything for you; to make us want to live for you, make us want to die for you. But I've been fooled once before, I see the signs now."
I suddenly felt myself flying backward, then heard the crunch as my head bashed into the mirrors. The glass buckled, some of the pieces shattering and splintering on the floor beside me. I was too stunned to feel the pain. I couldn't breathe yet. He walked to me slowly.
"She left me when I needed her most. Just at the moment I thought we could share eternity together. I won't let that happen to anyone else. I am going to kill you now, Bella. I'm going to save Edward from sharing my fate."
He was over me at once, his foot stepping down hard on my leg. I heard the sickening snap before I felt it. But then I did feel it, and I couldn't hold back my scream of agony. I twisted up to reach for my leg, and he was standing over me. I expected to find him enjoying this, but instead his face was contorted with…sadness?
"It doesn't have to be like this, James. I'm not the one the one that hurt you. Please don't kill me for her mistakes," I pleaded.
"No! Don't you talk about her! Don't you EVER talk about her!" He grabbed my head and smashed it into the mirrors behind me. Over the pain of my leg, I felt the sharp rip across my scalp where the glass cut into it. And then the warm wetness began to spread through my hair with alarming speed. I could feel it soaking the shoulder of my shirt, hear it dripping on the wood below. The smell of it twisted my stomach. This was it. He wouldn't be able to resist the blood. It would all be over soon.
"Tell Edward I love him," I begged. "Please." I closed my eyes and waited for death. I was not prepared for what came next.
"Oh, Bella, what have I done? I'm so sorry." James voice swirled in my head with a tone that sounded remorseful and panicked and words that didn't make sense. "This is going to hurt, but it's the only way. But you have to promise me something first, Bella. You have to promise me that when you wake up, you won't run. You'll stay with Edward. Promise me!" James growled.
A voice that sounded vaguely like my own whispered "I promise" as I sunk deeper and deeper into my strange dream. So this is what it felt like to die. Where I floated, under the dark water, I heard the happiest sound my mind could conjure up.
"Bella! Leave her alone, you bastard!" I was brought back to the surface by a sharp pain slashing my hand.
I opened my eyes and saw Emmett, Jasper and Alice circling James, not unlike he had circled me just moments before. James was not in a fighting stance; he was standing upright and perfectly still. He kept shifting his gaze between me and the vampires circling him. Emmett lunged and bit a chunk of out his shoulder, the keening sound tearing me from the shock. James did not fight back, just looked at me again and mouthed the words "I'm sorry" to me before turning his attention to Alice. Suddenly his demeanor changed; he was goading her on.
"Come on, Alice, do it already. Kill me." He held up his hand and curled his index finger as if to beckon her. He was smiling. Jasper lowered himself into a crouch and was ready to lunge when I screamed.
"No!" Don't kill him!"
"What do you mean? He nearly killed you Bella! He deserves to die!" I hadn't even realized Edward and Carlisle were at my side, Carlisle was looking over my injuries, which I was certain were extensive, but I couldn't focus on the pain. Edward looked at me with wide eyes, crazed with fear for me and anger for James.
"Please, don't kill him. I'm begging you, let him go."
"Shut up you stupid human!" James was suddenly angry again, and Emmett took advantage of the distraction by pinning James' arms behind his back. James' shoulders slumped and his head hung to his chest. "Let them kill me. I want to die, I want to die…." His voice trailed off as he kept repeating it like a mantra. Emmett and Jasper looked disgusted. Alice was staring at James as if seeing him for the first time. She looked confused.
"He. Deserves. To. Die." Edward growled through gritted teeth, his hands balled into fists.
I couldn't let them do this. Not only because I found myself feeling sorry for James despite everything he just put me through, but because they would regret it. This was not who they are. "Please. Don't turn into killers like James, not on my account." I was shaking my head frantically in protest. "He's not even fighting back!"
"Bella, No! We cannot take the chance that he will come back for you. He nearly destroyed you, Bella. He is not worthy of your mercy." Edward was furious.
I looked at Carlisle with pleading eyes. "He didn't really have my mother. He could have killed her, but he didn't. I don't think he will hurt me again. Please."
Carlisle looked at Edward and I could tell they were having a silent conversation. Edward shook his head a few times, then looked towards James and the other three Cullens. His seemed to be listening intently to each of them. Finally, he bowed his head in resignation and said "Let him go."
Emmett dragged James to the door and pushed him out forcefully. I heard James fall to the ground in a heap with a loud crash. "Get out of here, and don't you ever try to mess with my little sister again, or else I'll personally tear you to shreds and use your body parts for kindling."
The urgency of the moment gone, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. Or at least I attempted to. I suddenly felt all the pain I'd been ignoring. I cried out, gasping.
"Bella!" Edward cried.
"She's lost some blood, but the head wound isn't deep," Carlisle said calmly. "Watch out for her leg, it's broken." I felt a sharp pain as Carlisle pressed his fingers against my side. "Some ribs, too, I think," he continued. But the sharp pains were fading. There was a new pain, a scalding pain in my hand that was overshadowing everything else. It felt as though someone was burning me.
"Edward," I tried to tell him, "My hand hurts."
"I know, Bella. Carlisle will give you something for the pain."
"My hand is burning!" I screamed. I threw my head back in pain and closed my eyes against it. "The fire! Somebody stop the fire!" I screamed as it burned me.
"Carlisle! Her hand!"
"He bit her." Carlisle's voice was no longer calm. "See if you can suck the venom back out. Her injuries aren't fatal, and the wound is fairly clean." I writhed in the grip of the fiery torture, the movement making the pain in my leg flare sickeningly. Edward shook his head. "Edward, you must do it now, or it will be too late."
Edward's face was drawn. I watched his eyes as the doubt was suddenly replaced with a blazing determination. His jaw tightened. I felt his cool, strong fingers on my burning hand, locking it in place. Then his head bent over it, and his cold lips pressed against my skin. Slowly, my writhing calmed as my hand grew more and more numb. The fire was dulling, focusing into an ever-smaller point.
I felt my consciousness slipping as the pain subsided. "Stay, Edward, stay with me…Don't leave me…I promised James…I promised I wouldn't leave you."
"Sleep now, Bella. I'm not leaving you," were the last words I heard.
A/N: Obviously, I channeled a lot from the original story for this chapter, but it was necessary. So what do you think so far?