DISCLAIMER: SMeyer owns Twilight. I own nothing but debt. Seriously. I don't even own my kid outright.
I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin'.
I see bad times today.
Don't go around tonight,
Well, it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise.
I hear hurricanes ablowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.
So don't go around tonight,
Well, it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise.
Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like we're in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye.
- Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Alice slid gracefully behind the wheel of that gleaming yellow Porsche, starting the engine back up with one fluid movement.
Bella hesitated on the curb for a moment, taking one last nervous glance from left to right before climbing in herself. The interior, spotless and smelling strongly of leather and broken promises, looked different today somehow. Perhaps because the car was no longer acting as a knight-errant, whisking in to save her in the nick of time. Instead it served as a harbinger of destruction and disaster, much like the wisp of a girl piloting it. As Bella buckled herself in, her eyes traveled slowly over the cockpit like dashboard until they finally settled on the profile of the determined girl seated next to her.
Much like the last time, Alice seemed to be a girl on a mission. Without so much as a glance in Bella's direction, she pulled a sharp u-turn and headed towards the end of the street, her jaw ticking slightly under the pressure of where she obviously had her teeth clenched.
Without a word, Alice turned off of Bella's street, turning in the direction of town. The silent treatment did little for Bella's already frayed nerves, nor did the direction in which they were traveling. Town meant more people. More people meant a greater chance for Bella to be spotted riding shotgun in a ridiculously expensive foreign car and in the presence of 'questionable' company.
Forks was a small town. People talked. A lot and one of their favorite subjects was other people. And who better to talk to than the familiar neighborhood mechanic? Especially one who was readily available. Like a bartender without the bar, or a stylist without the shears.
Just as Bella opened her mouth to voice her concerns, Alice abruptly pulled off the main road and onto a small dirt packed service trail, commonly used by the local police to camp out and wait for speeders. The sight of it sent a pang through Bella's already mangled heart.
"This will work, I think," Alice commented softly, breaking the silence between them.
She seemed to contemplate her words for a moment before continuing.
"It's coming," she stated matter-of-factly, her eyes never leaving the pitted trail in front of them.
Bella turned slightly in her seat to face Alice fully, her eyes narrowing slightly.
"What's coming?" she asked, confusion lacing her voice.
"I'm not sure exactly," Alice replied, her tone dark, the words careful and slightly defeated all at once. "It comes in bits and pieces, like a film with crucial scenes cut out. I can't see much, but what I do see.. it's -- it's not good, Bella. Not good at all."
Bella's breath caught forcefully in her throat, her mind and stomach rolling and churning simultaneously.
"You have to give me more than that," she forced herself to choke out after a silent, terse minute.
The sense of impending doom, of fire and brimstone, of destruction and annihilation, ever present as of late, clawed its way up her chest. Sinking its mutinous talons in, it settled heavily in the space her lungs normally occupied, forcing them back sharply against her ribcage.
"I know it's Jacob, Bella." Still, Alice didn't meet her gaze. "You don't have to hide it anymore."
Bella's attention was momentarily diverted to the steering wheel, which was vibrating in Alice's grip. White knuckles strained against flawless pale skin, the tiny doll-like hands twisting slightly against the dark leather; the contrast between the two was extreme. Like the bleached moon against a midnight sky.
"I didn't try to hide it," Bella heard herself protesting weakly. "I just -- didn't offer it up."
"Something is going to happen," Alice continued, either ignoring Bella's feeble defense or not hearing it at all. "I'm not sure when exactly, but the time is coming. I can feel it and it's coming quickly."
Bella forced her eyes away from the hypnotizing sight of those marbled fleshed hands and back on Alice's face.
"I don't understand," she tried, her voice unfamiliar and calm. Too calm. It was the voice of a stranger. A baffled yet rational stranger who was only politely interested in the bizarre conversation at hand.
"What's going to happen?" she attempted again in that too-calm, too-rational stranger's voice.
"I don't know, Bella, and that's the most distressing part of all. I've tried piecing it all together, we all have. Edward in particular --"
"Don't," Bella interrupted in a strangled voice, in control of her own responses if only for a moment. Hearing his name was more painful than before, if it was at all possible. Being in such close proximity to him, all those weeks ago, yet still so far away, had torn at the edges of that wound in her chest, leaving it gaping and larger than ever. Hearing his name was like salt being poured unmercifully into it . "Just -- don't. Please."
Alice frowned slightly.
"Well, in any case, we've tried to put it all together, to make sense of the disjointed images, but it's been next to impossible."
Bella could feel her head shaking, whether in denial or disagreement, she wasn't sure.
"I don't understand," she said quietly. Though she did. She understood perfectly. Alice was seeing the fragmented scenes of what Bella knew was bound to happen. What she could feeling creeping along the edges of the future.
"No," she whispered, as if speaking the word out loud could change fate by sheer force of will. "No," she insisted more firmly.
"Yes, Bella." Alice's face was the picture of remorse. "Jacob is--"
"Things are different now," Bella interjected. "He's different. I didn't think it was possible, but I've seen it for myself. That last time scared him. You just saw it at its worst anyway --"
"Did I?" Alice questioned with disbelief. "I saw it at its worst? So the old marks and fading bruises --"
"He hasn't even drank since then!" Bella finished loudly.
Alice sighed and rubbed a frustrated hand over her face.
"It's the calm before the storm, I assure you." And she looked like she hated to be doing it. "Make no mistakes, Bella. That's all it is. The storm is coming and it won't be pretty. You might not weather it if you chose to stay."
The words were almost mystical, phrased like that. Like the fortune teller at the carnival that promises an early grave, but spins the message and manages to make it sound lighter than it truly was. The underlying truth was still the same, no matter what way it was worded. Death. Alice was saying through tenebrous metaphors and clever phrasing, that there was a very likely possibility that everything would come down to the 'Last Man Standing', and that person wouldn't be Bella.
"Come with me," Alice pleaded, her voice full of quiet desperation. "Please, Bella. I'll take you home, you can pack and we can just.. Leave. We'll meet up the rest of the family and we'll go away. The boys can come back later and they'll -- you won't have to worry about Jacob finding you."
The slip at the end had stuck out like a sore thumb to Bella. Alice was offering up Emmett, Jasper and .. Edward as immortal hit men. She didn't come right out and say it, not in those words, but the message was still clear. They'd sneak back to Forks after the others had fled with Bella and kill Jake. Kill him so Bella wouldn't have to live in fear of him tracking her. Could they know the truth? What Jacob really was? Did Alice know, have the slightest inkling, what kind of war would be started if pack blood was shed?
Could Bella live with that blood on her hands?
The stranger was back and once again answering for her. Both to the question spoken aloud and the internal one.
Alice looked as though she expected no less than that answer, yet was determined to change it.
"Please, Bella," she all but begged. "If this is about Ed -- my brother, please. I'll make him stay away for awhile. You won't have to see him until you're ready. No one will make you. You have my word."
The stranger was still calm, still in control.
"It's not Edward," it replied through Bella's lips. Nothing more. No elaboration. Just flat, deadpanned words. A stark contradiction to the tangle of emotions and turmoil waging war inside.
"Then what is it?" Alice asked, finally turning to search Bella's face. "If it's not Edward then what? You can't possibly love the mutt."
So they did know. The choice in name wasn't a coincidence. Not with the way it was spat out, disgustedly, as if the word and thought behind it tasted vile. That was… interesting.
They knew, yet were willing to start a war for her.
It was something to put up on a shelf and bring down later to examine. When she was alone and not surrounded by confusion.
"Aren't your visions subjective, Alice?"
Alice looked puzzled over the abrupt change in subject.
"Yes…" she answered slowly. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"So, you could be wrong," Bella pointed out.
You're not, you're not, I know you're not. But I need you to be. I can't make a life altering decision like this. Not right now. Not spur of the moment.
"Where is this coming from?"
Bella shrugged lightly.
"No, I'm not wrong, Bella. I -- I wish I was and my vision have been known to shift in the past, but this time --"
"Could be the same," Bella finished for her.
"Why are you so afraid to leave?" Alice asked sharply. "Why are you more frightened to leave than you are to stay with a monster that could very easily kill you? He's capable of it and you know it!"
Bella arched an eyebrow in response.
Alice shook her head, as if to clear her mind, reminding Bella strongly of an etch-a-sketch erasing a picture on its screen.
"Look, it doesn't matter. Just trust me. You need to get out. Come with me. In fact, forget your things. I'll buy you new stuff. We can leave right now."
"No, Alice," Bella told her, still too calmly, too rationally. "I'm not going anywhere with you. I appreciate what you did for me that night and everything since then, but I'm not leaving."
Alice looked pained at the words.
"Why? Bella, why?"
And suddenly, the stranger and Bella were on the same page. No longer too-calm, too-rational, detached. The stranger was as furiously indignant as the real Bella was. For someone who could see the future so clearly, Alice was blind to the past.
"I can't trust you!" she exploded, her voice amplified magnificently in the tight confines of the car. "I can't trust any of you! God knows I can't trust him, but the rest of you aren't any better! You left me. Every one of you just left me."
Alice's voice matched her stature as she answered.
"We regret it. All of us. We should have talked him out of it."
"Yes! You should have! If you actually cared you should have come back!"
"Oh, Bella," Alice whispered. "Don't you see? We are back."
"Out of pity and a sense of guilty obligation. I don't need your pity and you have no obligation to me. You left." She needed to drive this point home, make Alice see. "You didn't come back. I always knew Edward wouldn't stick around. Why would he? It never made sense for him to love me like he claimed --"
"Edward still loves you," Alice cut in quickly. "He's dying inside --"
"But you, Alice!" Bella exclaimed, purposely ignoring her and the shooting pains that stabbed her heart. "I never expected you to just abandon me. I needed you! You were my best friend!"
Her voice broke pitifully at the end, causing her to wince.
There. It's all out on the table. Still want to save me now?
If Alice could weep, Bella was sure she would be doing it. As it were, her delicate face was contorted, tearless sobs escaping silently. It was like watching someone on TV attempt to cry with the volume turned down.
"I am your best friend, Bella," she whispered brokenly. "I want to help. I wasn't there for you before, I listened to Edward and I shouldn't have. But I'm here now and I want to help. Please, let me."
Bella turned her face away, refusing to look into those pleading abnormal eyes any longer. Her chest was heaving, burning and aching with emotion. She wanted to scream. She wanted to hit something. She wanted the physical pain, rather the ripping and tearing emotional pain she felt instead.
She wanted to kick Alice out of her own car. Anything. Anything to ease the suffering marginally.
"You're not using me to ease your guilt," she murmured, soft yet firm.
Alice's reply was just as immovable, just as vehement.
"I'm not trying to. This isn't about me, not at all."
Go go go. Run run run. Leave.
"I'm not leaving."
Stay. Stay. Stay.
"Please just think about it, Bella. Try to reconsider. Please."
They sat in a thick silence for a moment, Alice's eyes on Bella's profile now, while Bella stared out the window, trying her hardest to not think of Charlie. It was irrational to mourn him now, at this very moment, when there was nothing he could do to change her situation, to make it any easier or clearer.
Abruptly, Alice put the car into gear, reversing down the narrow road expertly. Bella turned and glared at her, pushing all thoughts of Charlie and anything else from her mind with force.
"Where are you taking me?" she demanded.
Alice smiled sadly at her, swinging out on the main road without breaking speed.
"Home. Like I promised. And like you were going to insist on in three minutes."
A/N: I can't tell you how much I looked forward to this chapter, for the simple reason that I knew CCR was going to be the lyrical choice. Oh? What's that? My homegrown is showing again? Yeah. I know.
I want to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who has reviewed, alerted and favorited this story so far. Seriously. You guys are amazing and made of awesome. When I started writing this, I didn't think so many people would be on board with the plot and the angst and overall depression that this story was and it's been mind blowing to see the responses and hear from so many of you that are like: "yeah, we sorta kinda dig abused Bella and abusive Jacob, just as long as you don't kill her." I can't thank you guys enough for all the love.
We had a slight technical fail with the last chapter's reviews. I'm having huge issues with gmail right now, both on my phone and my account in general, so replies were late and as of right now, I only replied to the people that have their PMs enabled and asked for an outtake directly. I apologize! I hate doing that. I usually try to respond to every review as it comes in, a lot of times from my phone. But as apparently my phone is only receiving direct emails at the moment, I wasn't able to do it last go around. If I missed you, I'm sorry! Every review means a lot to me and I try my hardest to let you guys know it.
Once again, huge huge huge thanks goes out to Lizbit, whose editing skills have amped everything up a notch and I'm EXTREMELY! grateful for her.
And that's about it, gals and gals. No whorage for this chapter unfortunately. I have other out takes and general teasers, but I haven't been able to type them up thanks to the craziness that is the holidays.
Click that button and tell me how much my taste in music sucks and/or rocks. Go easy on all my Linkin, though. I love those crazy tortured boys.