A/N: aaaaaaaand so it begins… blah…
You know, I was reading New Moon this afternoon and I got to the part where everyone was getting the stomach flu or something and then Jacob got sick I wondered if perhaps Jacob's changing was making those around him sick and that when humans come in contact with them before they change humans get sick in reaction. However, I then remembered that there's no way that could be the case because Meyer is fucking stupid and not smart enough, clever enough, or creative enough to come up with something like that.
Eat that, Twilighters. :D With Love.
Also, Blaze is at the door making lots of noise meowing at me to pay attention to her and feed her. =3=;;
The man in the car was the very image him. His face was as angular as the photograph of Maes and his family, wife Gracia and daughter Elicia. His beard was the same, sparse and running along his jaw line. His hair was even slicked back the same as the man she saw the photograph of. The only difference was that the photograph was in black and white and the man before her had vivid green-gold eyes that looked so unnatural as to be inhuman. He was pale, his eyes had circles under them much like the Knights and Bells, and he was wearing a regular suit and tie rather than an old British military uniform. He also didn't have glasses on his nose like in the photograph.
There was only one problem: he was supposed to be dead.
A sort of realization dawned in those unnaturally greenish-gold eyes for they widened when the window rolled down and he turned his gaze onto Amber. He looked between her and the bush the girl had skittered under to hide from the sun as though trying to figure out what was going on himself. Amber spoke finally and waved a hand to him, "Hey! Hey! Hey, sir! May I speak with you?"
But the window rolled up immediately as she spoke and he drove backward away. She frowned as she watched and looked to the bush. It was unoccupied now. In the distance Amber could see the white hair bobbing as young woman ran away into the safety of the woods behind the school. Amber stared after her and then looked to where the car had left to. This was definitely getting much more suspicious and clearly something that could not stay secret much longer if she was definitely seeing the dead come back to life. Al and Ed Bell might have been a coincidence, just a pair of young men who happened to resemble strongly her great-grandfather when he was younger and her uncle before he died. There were enough people in the world that she could run into anyone sooner or later that looked exactly like her.
However, could the same be said for Ed and Al Bell and the mysterious stranger who was watching the back of the school right where a girl who was burning alive in direct sunlight was skittering away to safety?
This was something she needed to tell her dad and quickly. Who knew if the Knights and Bells, that white haired girl and the Maes look-alike were not some sort of creepy coven like one might read in a crazy paranormal romance novel or something? Even worse, it could be like Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and they could be some strange mutant form of vampire that was out scoping the school for potential food sources. No, she definitely needed to get home and quickly.
She ran inside as quickly as possible, jogging down the hallway with the pass in her hand and ran into the safety of the class room behind Fred and George. When class let out, she packed her things, went to her locker, took out what she needed and stuffed it into her backpack before heading off at a dead run to her bicycle. The rest of the kids in the school would be heading to their next class. She was usually a very good student regarding attendance and school work, she was sure she could get away with skipping at least part of a day of school with her record like that. She just needed to get home as quickly as possible where she knew she could at least keep track of what was going on.
She reached her bicycle and unlocked it with shaky hands, adrenaline rushing through her system like a tsunami. She somehow managed to get the lock off and put away and pulled her bike away from the bike stand without injuring herself from her hands shaking as badly as they were. Her ankle was still quite swollen so she couldn't peal out the way she probably would have wished or even ridden for as long as she wanted without taking a break for her ankle, but by God she was getting out of there as quickly as she was able. Things moved too fast inside her mind to keep up with. Ed and Al Bell both in her dreams and in real life, Avalon Knight speaking to her in her head as well as coming to her house in the middle of the night to deliver some sort of message, Astra Knight and Tom Knight, the Maes Hughes look-alike, the burning, white haired girl behind the school; it all added up and kept adding up to the greatest and most mind shattering conclusions inside her mind. Amber wasn't stupid. She knew there were most likely things in the world that were not recorded by science or would never be recorded by science. She knew that not all things could even be seen by everyone. She knew so many things and yet right then she felt like she was going crazy from the very conclusions she was coming up with.
How could actual, true to life, vampires be real? How could they be real when they were supposed to myths? Truth be told she knew that all legends and myths stemmed from something that started them, something extraordinary, but something so extraordinary as what she had been seeing since she had moved to Forks, Washington? How could any of it be possible? It was all totally impossible and yet it was all staring at her in the face!
She slammed the door of her house and leaned on it, breathing quickly as she took in the safe confines of her home. This was what was real. The house, the things in it, the people who lived inside it, the photos on the mantle, the television set in the living room, the furniture, it was all real and part of reality. It was normal. It was logical. It was sane.
She began to calm down while leaning against that door and eventually left it to make sure all the other doors and windows were locked as well before heading up to her room with her school books. She would have to get homework from the teachers the next day and give the excuse that her ankle was bothering her. Certainly it was throbbing a bit from both the ride and her running on it, or really she was more or less limping really fast on it, but not enough that she couldn't dull the pain with some mild pain killer and soak it for a while to help lessen the swelling that no doubt was starting up again in her ankle.
She found the necklace from earlier on her dresser and picked it up to look at it again. The very suddenly real possibility that the people that were so unnatural in Forks were something other than human still raised one question inside her mind: how could a vampire stand to wear a cross? She knew there were some novelists that wrote that vampires liked crosses and didn't sleep in coffins or they slept in coffins, but the powerful among them all could wear crosses. However, those were novels not real life and at that very moment those things were suddenly becoming a very real worry in her mind.
She waited, looking out the window occasionally to see if she could spot the gray car, the black car of Tom Knight, or the blue car of Astra Knight. She saw none and waited still, keeping to her bed where she did her homework as well as she could to keep her mind off of it for the time being until she heard the police cruiser drive up into the driveway and park. Then, and only then, did she come out of her room and look over the banister to watch her father walk in and lock the door. She limped carefully down the stairs, her ankle hurting, as she knew it would from the activity she gave it, as she made her way down to ground level.
"Hey, Ambs, what's up? Did you just make it home?" he asked.
"No… I… My ankle was hurting so I came home early," she said, "I'll get my homework tomorrow from what I missed."
"Odd, you don't normally let stuff like that bother you," he said, frowning faintly at her, "Are you sure that's all that's bothering you? You look like you've seen a ghost or something."
"Dad, I need you to sit down and talk with me… very clearly," she said in as even a tone as she could make herself use. He frowned more and walked over to the couches and sat down. She sat down across from him and put her foot up onto the coffee table, looking at him with her gold eyes into his blue ones as she tried to find a way to voice what chaos was inside her mind.
"Amber, you know you can talk to me about anything, honey," he said softly, smiling faintly at her.
"You remember I told you that there were two boys at school that looked oddly like Great Grandpa Edward and Uncle Alphonse?" she asked.
"What if I told you that they weren't just look-alikes but actually were Great-Grandpa Edward and Uncle Alphonse?"
Hughes frowned again and stared hard at Amber. "I… don't really know how to answer that, honestly," he said, eyeing her carefully, "What evidence do you have to prove this claim?"
"Never mind that for the moment, dad," she said, "I've got more." She took a deep breath and looked at him squarely in the eyes as she spoke. "It's not just them, dad," she said, "Tom Knight has been stalking me, even threatened me not too long ago. I have been noticing him watching me from every place I am and every time he shows up I know he's there because I have a... a-a feeling that runs up my spine when he comes near enough. It's not just him, though; the other Knights in the Knight family give me similar feelings when they come near."
"What do you mean Tom Knight has been stalking you and what do you mean by 'feeling'?" he asked slowly.
"Tom came by here when it was still snowy outside. I saw his car parked outside the house and I went out to confront him and tell him off for stalking me and that I would press charges if he continued to do that. He grabbed me by the throat and lifted me off the ground," she said.
"Well, you've always been a light girl," said Hughes softly.
"But that isn't all, dad. He said it had been a long time since he had eaten human meat and when he did that he started bleeding from his nose this odd… very odd blood that was so dark it was almost black and it sizzled when it hit the light," said Amber, "And then he dropped me and left quickly after that."
"All right," said Hughes, still watching Amber carefully, "What do you mean it sizzled."
"I mean it sizzled as though it were boiling and then disintegrated like it was nothing," she said. "The same thing I saw in the girls' bathroom at school when I went inside after the crash. I found a trail of blood to the girls' bathroom that was quickly disappearing before my eyes and in the bathroom was Astra Knight with a broken leg so bad that it was protruding through the skin and she was bleeding like a stuck pig. Again, the blood was disappearing as soon as it hit the air practically and making a hissing sound as though it were oil in a frying pan. Fred and George got to me before I could really ask her anything, though," she said quickly, "Dad, I was thrown from the wreck to safety by someone who had remained and I heard the sound of bone breaking."
This time Hughes remained silent and just nodded his head to wait for more information. "They look like they're half dead from lack of sleep and lack of sunlight, they all sit together alone, they all eat food, but only the meat from their plates. They all have special lunches made just for them. They didn't come in today at all. We all heard the growling outside and the fighting and in the neighbor's yard, the one across from us, was a spot where someone had been laying for a while and the grass has died completely. In that same spot I found a silver necklace with a cross shape cut out of it. And Tom's eyes change color to red every now and then, especially when he was threatening me."
"Sounds a bit like he might have been on something if his eyes were red," said Hughes, though he didn't sound convinced by his own admission.
"No, dad, not red like bloodshot. I mean red as in devil eyes, slit pupils and all," said Amber.
"Might've been a trick of the light," said Hughes, his voice growing quieter.
"And that's still not all, dad," said Amber quickly, "Avalon Knight has been around here as well. I found a bow and a bit of lace on the fence where she had got her dress caught on it while leaving. I've got the bow and lace still upstairs. And it isn't just her coming around here, but I get dreams where I see exactly what I missed from conversations between the Knights and the Bells. There's always a warning with them that I'm in danger and always having Tom in them shown to be stalking me and getting into fights with his brothers and sister. She doesn't go near people at all and outright avoids physical contact at all costs except that she gets from Al Bell.
"And then there's what happened this afternoon," she said after a breath, "This afternoon I saw someone skittering from shade to shade with the same sort of white hair Astra Knight has except it was messy and curly, like she's not combed it in ages and has been living under shrubs. Her clothes were dirty and torn and she was curled up and rocking like some mental patient or a scared little kid."
"Maybe she was?" asked Hughes softly, his expression more or less that of disbelief at what he was hearing, his mouth open slightly and his brows furrowed a bit.
"And that's not even the strange part," she said in a firm tone, "When the sun hit her skin she burned… the skin bubbled and turned red immediately as though she were burning alive. And when she got to the shade it healed up right there. She moved faster than I could see, too. One moment she was curled up, the next she had ducked under a bush. She looked a bit like Astra, too, which was also strange. Her face had many of the same features. And I also saw a guy in a car behind the school, watching… and do you know who he looked like?"
"Maes Hughes," said Amber, "He wasn't wearing glasses, but other than that he was like a clone of him. Just like Ed and Al Bell look exactly like you took the photographs of Great-Grandpa Edward and Uncle Alphonse and put them in color and made them wear modern clothing."
Hughes sat silently for a little while before he spoke again, as though he were processing everything that Amber had told him. He likely was; Amber's intelligence ran in the family. Hohenheim Elric had been practically a genius with chemistry, science and mathematics. Alphonse had worked with his brother Edward when they were little more than little children on various chemistry projects that they did out of boredom from their father's books. Edward had been high ranking in schools, practically at the very top. However, they had stopped playing with chemicals and their father's books when their mother fell ill and died.
"What you've just told me is… impossible, you realize," said Hughes slowly.
"Yes, I do realize that. I just saw the impossible in front of my eyes and all these other things have been adding up to it since then, dad. It's only now I tell you these things because I am scared out of my mind and am wholly out of my element," said Amber, staring hard at her dad with those gold eyes of hers.
Hughes knew better than to think Amber was lying or imagined it all. By her admissions this had been building over time and only now did she speak because clearly she could not put logic to it enough to keep her mind straight anymore. That meant that whatever she saw was as fantastical as she had said it was and that meant that whatever was happening had moved beyond simple "maybe it was this" or "maybe it was that" to the realm of paranormal possibilities. The only problem Hughes was truly having was that he couldn't come up with a name for anything that Amber had spoken to him about. What sort of people were these Knights and Bells?
"Amber, I want you to stay home for now. I'll tell the school your foot got worse," he said quickly and took his tie off as he stood up in single, smooth motion. He unbuttoned his collar and pulled his pistol out of its holster to check the cartridge for how many bullets he had left in it. He hardly ever needed to use it in the first place, thankfully. Amber watched him, growing a bit anxious when she saw he was checking his weapons.
"I don't know if those will work on them, dad," she said softly, "They heal very quickly."
"It'll slow them down, though," he said softly, "If we need to use it against them I want you to run as fast and hard as you can to the nearest safe place, all right?"
"Dad, Astra saved me and if that's Great-Grandpa Edward and Uncle Alphonse in the family and Dr. Knight is as good a man as people say he is, then the only one we have to worry about is Tom, right?" Amber looked up at Hughes hopefully. She didn't want them all hurt. She just wanted something that made sense—and Tom's head would be nice as a trophy as well.
Hughes sighed and nodded, putting his gun away. "You're right, Amber," he said softly, scratching his cheek, "I… I really don't know what to do."
Amber nodded and got up carefully. She walked over to Hughes and hugged him tightly to her. "We'll be all right, dad," she said softly, "We'll be all right."
"I'll confront Dr. Knight about this, honey," he said.
"Thank you, dad, but what if he denies everything? I have no tangible evidence to make him talk," said Amber.
"You said you have a necklace and a bow from a skirt, right? If they are a part of his family then he should know what sort of clothes they wear and jewelry they wear, right?" said Hughes. "Just let me borrow them tonight and I'll go talk to him."
"Tonight?" Amber moved back a bit and stared up at her dad in shock. "No, not tonight, dad."
"Fine, then tomorrow, but you're staying here. Understand?" he said sharply.
"Thank you, dad," said Amber, smiling faintly. Hughes smiled a bit at her and hugged her tightly again. After a while, he let go of her and made dinner while she sat on the couch and mulled over what had happened. When she finally did manage to sleep that night it was fitful and full of everything she had seen since she had arrived in Forks, Washington.
"What the hell caught up with Tom?" Astra stood there staring at Tom as he lay in his bed, breathing through his nose as though to keep calm. She knew he hated her being there in his room. It was his territory and he hated her for being American and what he considered obese. Or, he just basically hated her because Dr. Knight favored her and because she didn't back down when he started a fight, got into his business a lot and any number of things he found beyond annoying.
"I was going to that school," said Tom evenly as he stared up at the canopy on his four poster bed. The dark green of the canopy and curtains were velvet and shimmered only slightly from the light from the curtained window. The room itself was darkened, the walls untouched with any sort of decoration save two photographs on the wall. One was of a woman from a newspaper clipping, a woman with stringy hair, a thin face and eyes that saw in opposite directions. It was a small picture from an obituary that had been offered up upon her death. The second photo on the wall was that of a young woman, more recent, her face thin and covered in freckles, her eyes bright green and her hair messy and black, glasses perched on her nose. Amber stood not far away as she watched the scene before her and stared at the photo, marveling at how the young woman looked a lot like her cousin's friend Harry Potter.
"You were going to school.. and?" prompted Alphonse.
"And I saw a head of white hair rushing to the side of the school," said Tom, "I thought it was Astra, back from her little escapade after I had my fun with her. Oh, did you enjoy being taken care of like some little princess by dear Edward, Astra?" There was only contempt in his tone as he barely acknowledged her.
"Fuck you," she said sharply, "Now tell us what the hell happened to you, Tom."
"So rude. I thought you were from a well to do family. I guess it's true that Americans are all just so very rude and uncivilized," said Tom, smirking faintly. Astra ignored him, clearly, because she didn't hit him.
"If you're quite through, Tom, I would like to know exactly why Benedikta was so worried when we got home," said Astra, putting her hands on her hips.
"I saw a head of white hair and thought it was you, Astra, but it turned out that I was wrong," he said calmly, his cold features unmoving, "She oddly enough looked a lot like you, except thinner and better looking even though she looked as though she were caked in a year's worth of filth. I suppose she had been running around like that for a long time."
Astra's face changed as she eyed Tom, frowning deeply, recognition on her pretty, pale face. "What… do you mean?"
"Curly, white hair, gray eyes, a pointy face, though she shared many of your features, broad shoulders, large tits and a broad ass," said Tom, "Why, does it sound familiar. Don't tell me she's your sister, I'll wonder what happened to shove all the horrible traits onto you."
"Shut up," said Astra, but she didn't look interested in him anymore; she had grown paler, thoughtful. "No… no, please tell me it wasn't her," she said softly, her voice cracking slightly as pinkish tears filled her eyes.
Alphonse looked up at her and she calmed slightly, Amber feeling strangely calm herself as though Alphonse's very presence forced it on them. "Astra, calm down," he said softly, soothingly, "What's wrong? Do you recognize the description?"
"I… don't know. I haven't seen the person I'm thinking of since I changed," said Astra, trying to keep herself calmed.
Avalon's voice drifted into Amber's consciousness, whispering into her ear. "Stay away from Tom… and stay away from the girl," she said softly. Amber couldn't turn to see her, though she knew she was there, her gloved hands on Amber's slim arms. "Neither one is safe, Amber, and both will kill you if they find a chance."
"The girl? You mean the white haired one?" asked Amber softly, though she knew none of the others could hear her.
"Yes, that one," said Avalon. Then, Avalon's presence moved away from Amber as Alphonse put his hand out onto Astra's shoulder.
"My daughter, Dierdre," she said softly, "I haven't seen her since I changed. That sounds like… like what I imagine she might look like grown up. It's common on my father's side to be big breasted and my mother's side is pretty stocky. Dierdre's father… his mother is thin and pretty, all of them are pointy looking. I had a son, too, but I also haven't heard anything about him either. I tried to keep up with them, but it was hard."
"Do you think it's your daughter, Astra?" asked Alphonse.
"Dierdre… she wasn't all there in the head, I don't know what was wrong. Draco didn't want any of the doctors to look at her and didn't want to be embarrassed by having a defective daughter so he kept quiet about it. I took care of her, but she just never responded properly. It wasn't that he wouldn't take care of her, oh, no, he loved her dearly, he was just afraid to be seen with her and his parents as well."
"She sounded like a little child, speaking in third person and then got worse the more I berated her before her speech became a bit better and she tried to kill me, giggling madly," said Tom, "And Alphonse, stop trying to keep me calm, I hardly care about the spawn of this fat slob."
Astra brought her elbow down sharply into Tom's stomach and he coughed, blood spraying a little from his mouth. When she spoke it was a growl from her throat first and then her harsh tone, "Just shut up, you insane little freak!"
"Enough," said Alphonse, his tone finally becoming sharper. He pulled Astra backward and away from Tom's bed, going to the door. "We'll find out if this is the one that's been endangering out presence here."
Astra nodded after a moment, looking down at the floor. "The one that's been killing recently."
"Yes," said Alphonse. Astra nodded and then turned around, leaving. Amber sat, staring at Alphonse's back as Tom coughed and got his breath. "Tom, don't you ever say another cruel thing to Astra again. You're in enough trouble as it is without making me ready to hurt you further. You're going way too far this time."
"Sod off," croaked Tom, "I could care less what you say to me."
Alphonse didn't acknowledge him further and walked out, leaving Tom alone, or, at least to Amber, alone with her. She watched as Tom sat up slowly as the door snapped shut and locked and stood away from his bed on unsteady feet. He walked past Amber to the two photographs behind her and stared at them with a different look in his usually cold eyes. "So, mother, how do you like your son now? Is he quite what you expected? Surely you didn't think I would be like the very man that left you to rot. Don't worry, though, I made sure he was very happy to see you again to atone for those sins. Didn't I, mother?"
His eyes flicked to the other photograph and he picked it off and laid it face down, looking away. "You don't need to see this, Harriet. Just keep out of it, please. This is between mother and I." He stared at the floor as he pulled his hand away from the frame and then finally looked up at the newspaper photograph of what was clearly his mother, though Amber hardly saw any resemblance at all in the face. "So, mother, what more can an impotent thing like me do to satisfy your lust for carnage, to see humanity suffer for the sins they held against you and I for being different?"
At that moment, the ground shook under Amber's feet as Tom's eyes grew red. The dresser under his hand as he gingerly held it over the other photograph also shook and made a lot of noise until suddenly a vase broke, exploded more like, into a thousand shards that blew out everywhere. The water hit the floor in a big mess with the flowers that had been put into it falling haphazardly.
And then, Amber woke up.