Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.
A/N: I'm going to try to tweak this later, but as it is, I don't have enough time to take care of that now, and I don't know when I'll get another chance to work on it, so I'm going to post this now. Enjoy, and feel free to make suggestions on how I can improve this.
Bella Swan gripped the steering wheel more tightly, glancing cautiously around the road in front of her. She had never driven on rural road before- there had never been the need in her beautiful, metropolitan Phoenix. However, since exiling herself to Forks, Washington, she realized that was all there was in the northern Olympic Peninsula.
There was a wall of towering trees on either side of her tiny car, a parting gift from her mother. The greenery was a far cry from the barren desert she had driven through only a few short hours earlier.
As Bella became slightly less agitated by her surroundings, she allowed her mind to drive to the events that brought her here and the life she was leaving behind. It was true, she didn't have many friends back home, and likely wouldn't keep in touch with the few she had made, but that wasn't what she would miss about Phoenix, anyway. Of everything she had bid farewell to, she would miss the sun most. The feeling of the blistering concrete on her bare soles, the heat waves dancing above the asphalt, the cloudless expanse of sky: all things she left behind, as well as her summer wardrobe, when she decided to move to Forks.
Most people couldn't see why she was moving to a town she so clearly detested, but her mother's happiness played a large role in her decision. Renee's new husband was a minor league baseball player and constantly traveled. Her mother stayed in Phoenix with Bella, but she was clearly unhappy. She became more scatterbrained than usual, as if her mind were somewhere else entirely. The only time she seemed herself was when Phil called each night. She would drop whatever she was doing, which usually wasn't much, and talk animatedly about the events of the day, which usually weren't many, but Renee made them seem as though they were significantly more fascinating than they actually were.
She remembered the phone call she had made to Charlie, asking if she could move in with him. Although he hadn't made a big deal of it, Bella could hear something close to excitement in his voice.
"Who was that, Bells?" her mom asked after she hung up.
"Charlie," Bella replied, then added, "I asked him if he would mind if I moved in with him for a little while until Phil gets signed."
Although her mother had protested, saying it was entirely unnecessary, she finally agreed.
"But don't feel like you have to do this for my sake," she added, sticking her index finger in Bella's direction for emphasis.
A raindrop plopped on Bella's windshield, pulling her from her thoughts. Great, she thought, rain. As if she wouldn't see enough of it in the next few months. Bella gazed down, fumbling to turn on her wiper blades, a feature she hadn't had a need for yet.
When she finally discovered how the wipers worked, she lifted her eyes to find a deer had wandered in her path. Panicking, she grabbed the wheel with both hands and swerved, barely missing the deer as her car began to spin out of control. It careened off the road and rolled into a ditch.
Stupid deer, Bella thought before she lost consciousness.
Edward all but flew as he darted among the trees, trying to put as much distance between himself and civilization as he could before he began hunting. He knew Jasper was somewhere behind him; he could still hear his thoughts.
There was the faint smell of blood. Edward thought little of it. It was only as he drew closer that he realized that it was human blood. The scent was positively enticing, calling to him more than any other human's blood had before. He stopped running, stopped breathing. He could hear Jasper's curious thoughts, then his realization as he caught the scent of the blood as well.
"Keep moving," Edward instructed, his voice inaudible to anyone but his brother. Jasper acknowledged Edward with a nod and then ran deeper into the woods.
Edward moved forward slowly, cautiously, as the burning sensation in the back of his throat grew increasingly more intolerable. In time, he stumbled upon an overturned car, knowing there was no chance that its occupant was still alive. It weren't as if he were killing a defenseless human. Nevertheless, it would be a shame to let this delectable blood go to waste.
He reached the mangled car, flipping it over with ease. In the driver's seat sat a young girl, probably beautiful at one point, although there was no way of telling with the sheer number of lacerations on her face. As he pulled her from the car, he was able to detect a faint pulse. She was still alive, but it was likely she would die before any help came. It wouldn't make much difference if he killed her now, except that her suffering would end. So really, his intentions were solely humanitarian.
It was as he contemplated this very idea that he caught a glimpse of something in her face, something that fostered in him the need to protect her. He knew he couldn't let her die without trying to save her.
The run home seemed much longer than usual as he could feel her body begin shutting itself down. The burning in his throat grew more intense, but he pressed forward, desperate to reach Carlisle.
"Is it snack time already?" Emmett joked as he held the door open for Edward. Edward ignored his brother's comment, setting the girl on the sofa.
His sister Alice glided to her side, hovering protectively over her. "God," she said, "she smells really good."
Carlisle came down from his office, running his hand through his blond hair. Alice stepped aside as he began to examine her.
"I think you got her here just in time, Edward," Carlisle said.
Alice smiled. "Good. Bella and I are going to be best friends."
Edward's mouth twitched into a half-smile. "Bella…" he mumbled.
"Chief Swan's daughter?" Carlisle asked, although he already knew the answer.
"What are we going to do about him?" Alice asked.
"I don't know yet," Carlisle said.
Carlisle leaned forward until his face was just inches from Bella's. His mouth was nearly to her throat when Edward called, "Wait!"
"Edward, we don't have much time."
"I want to do it."
Carlisle turned to look at his son. "Are you sure you'll be able to stop?."
"I don't know, but I have to try."
Carlisle nodded. "Just remember: we'll love you no matter what happens."
Edward bent over her body, pushing a lock of hair out of her face before his lips touched her neck. He parted them and bit into the soft skin. His eyes widened as her blood filled his mouth, and he briefly worried he would be unable to stop until her body was completely drained.
"Edward! That's enough," Carlisle warned.
Edward knew he was killing her. It took every ounce of willpower he had to pull away. He felt Carlisle's hand on his shoulder, congratulating him. After one last glance at Bella, who he knew would soon be in excruciating pain, he ran as fast as his legs would carry him from the house and deep into the forest.
Bella's neck was on fire; the pain was unbearable. And it was spreading. Slowly, but surely, it was spreading. She sincerely hoped she wasn't dead. It really wouldn't be fair to be in so much pain after dying. All she could do to keep from losing her sanity was crawl inside her mind and hide until her suffering ended.
Edward sat beside Bella as she writhed in agony. Even now, he could tell she was beautiful. Her beauty would, of course, be enhanced during the course of her transformation, but that was a different sort of beauty, an unreal sort entirely unlike the understated elegance she possessed already.
He began humming, unaware of the fact that he was doing so. The melody, however, had been running through his mind since he had returned from his run. He knew this was his best composition, and it had been inspired by a human with whom he had never spoken. And the oddest thing happened: the humming began to calm her cries. Bella liked her lullaby.
His adoptive mother Esme sat beside him, watching him. He knew she was smiling without looking at her; he could hear it in her thoughts.
"Where's Rosalie?" he finally asked.
"I don't know. You know how she feels about this matter, though."
"I didn't have a choice. I couldn't just let Bella die…"
"I know, son. But Rosalie…"
"I understand. I just wish she could see my side."
Esme embraced her son, knowing she couldn't do anything else. Edward leaned into her cold, hard frame, accepting the comfort she offered.
Esme eventually drifted away, and Edward was left to wait for the remainder of Bella's transformation.
"Hold on, Bella. It will be over soon."
Bella felt the fire subsiding. She was terribly cold. Her thoughts became more focused, and she was aware of a presence beside her. She could only guess how long it had been there.
Her eyes snapped open, and she sat up. There was a man beside her, stunningly beautiful and absolutely terrifying. She leaped, landing in a crouch on the far side of the room. She regarded him warily, unsure if she should trust him.
It was then that she noticed the burning sensation in the back of her throat, as if she hadn't had water in days. But her thirst, she realized was for something other than water. Looking to her side, she caught her reflection in a large window. She gasped, not recognizing herself. The girl staring back at her had a surreal beauty about her, and yet, she was distinctly Bella.
Turning her attention back to the man, curiosity replaced her initial fear. She realized he closely resembled her, his skin the same shade of white as hers and his eyes a frightening blood red. He wasn't going to harm her, of this she was certain.
He smiled crookedly. Her heart skipped a beat. No, wait. Her heart hadn't beaten once since she had awoken.
He crossed the space between them in a few easy strides and wrapped his arms around her.