A/N: Well, this took longer than I anticipated, but as it's 15 pages and has a ton of important info in it, I hope you won't mind too much. Thanks to Lulu_m5 and bonnysammy for the beta job. Also, thanks to rae for helping me make this funnier, though it's still pretty dry. It had to be done. More crack soon!
Ch 13 – Dial 666
"Hey, I wasn't supposed to stay with him … was I?" Tanya asked, winding a finger through one of her reddish curls. That may have worked on some of the other guys, but I'd known Tanya too long to fall for that bullshit. Plus, Rosalie would have my balls in a not good way. A reallynot good way.
Rosalie glared at her, irritation marring her perfect face for a moment before she grabbed my hand, and we went back inside. Carlisle and Esme followed us, looking worried. We started toward the main room to use the emergency bullhorn for an announcement, but we were shocked into stillness the minute we reached the doorway.
The Bieber!zombie was clutching a marker in his half-rotted hand, scribbling all over the pieces of paper, posters, CD cases, and boobsthat were thrust his way.
The Bieb was signing autographs. God dammit, if the Bieb was signing autographs, I wanted one. I didn't drag his ass all the way back from Brazil just to let the humans have all the fun! , and I wanted one.
Rosalie shot me a look that clearly said, I know what you're thinking, followed closely by one that said, don't blow your cover, asshole. I thought about asking herto go get an autograph, but again, that would lead to my balls in a very not good situation.
Poor balls. They're always so threatened.
Anyway, once I had restrained myself from jumping up and down and begging him to sign my man tit, and Carlisle had recovered from walking straight into me when I had stopped short. We entered the room. Rosalie, of course, had some choice words.
"Are you humans fucking crazy?" she screeched, dragging one of the fourteen-year-olds away and pulling her shirt back on her shoulders. Edward had followed us toward the main room, but was now cringing in agony on the floor of the hallway–I'd guess he wasn't too happy with the mental images flooding his mind at the moment.
"But Rosie," the girl protested, sounding breathless, "it's Justin Bieber! He's so dreamy." Her voice trailed off as the others around her nodded enthusiastically. Edward moaned and twitched again, and suddenly the entire room started laughing.
"Dammit, Jasper," Rosalie said as everyone giggled.
"Sorry!" he muttered, looking a little guilty. I had to feel for the guy–he had a right to have his own emotions. It wasn't his fault that he accidentally sent them to the rest of us. The group of girls looked pissed as they stopped laughing at themselves, and Jasper had the sense to look contrite. No one could resist his puppy dog eyes and grin–the boy was a charmer, and he knew it.
"Jasper!" Edward hissed, sitting against the wall behind us. "That is disgusting, and she's only seventeen! What would Alice think?" Edward glared at our brother, obviously appalled.
"First of all, I'm technically only twenty, so it's totally legal. Second, Alice got there even before I did!" He grinned roguishly as Edward clamped his hands over his ears.
"Ain't that right, baby doll?" he called over to Amy. She grinned before turning around and pulling down the back of her jeans, showing a tattoo in pink and purple that said, never say never! My eyes lingered at the tantalizing bit of bare flesh, but Rosalie smacked me and Jasper just grinned.
"Justin, will you sign my stamp?" Amy asked in a sweet, innocent voice, and the Bieber!zombie's eyes bugged out for a minute. I was a little worried they'd literally fall out of his head, but he just held the marker and waved his arms, making her move in front of him to make contact.
"Is that zombie…following instructions?" Carlisle murmured, and the rest of us stopped and stared at him.
"No, really–he's already showing remarkable motor skills, being able to hold an object, and he seemed to react to her voice. Something fishy is going on here," our father figure mumbled to himself, and Rosalie started to laugh.
"Yes, very Fredfishy!" she added, and everyone, including me, looked at her like she was insane.
"Oh, come on," she said to me, tugging on my shirt sleeve. "You can't expect the Fred thing to stay a secret, now that we all just saw Bambi ta—"
"Call you on your complete bitchery?" Tanya finished, and I thought, for one blissful second, I was going to see another of Rose and Tanya's infamous catfights. It usually ended with shredded clothes, and all the men in the vicinity rushing off with their mates, or a few magazines, to take care of business. The girls never seemed to let the fights stop their friendship, tumultuous as it was.
"Can it, Tanya," Rosalie growled, bristling visibly. "I'm not the one that left a zombie in a room full of humans! You're an idiot!"
"Girls, please!" Esme scolded, shaking her finger just like how I'd imagine a fifties housewife would reprimand anyone that said her pie wasn't perfect, or who tracked mud on the floors.
"Alright already. Let's get the humans out of here and contain the zombie before someone gets hurt," Carlisle said in an authoritative voice. We nodded and moved in sync to flank the zombie. He just looked at us passively; it appeared getting the girls away from him would be much tougher than prying him from the human flesh.
"Rose, you take the right side. Emmett, you take the left. Alice, Carlisle and Tanya, flank them. Esme, cover the door, and I'll come straight on. We're going to have to separate and flush him out of the room before the humans know what's going on, or they're going to put up one hell of a fuss," Jasper said matter-of-factly, and I was amused to see him applying all his military know-how to a stealth extraction of a teen idol.
Alice apparently agreed with me, because she sprang to attention and saluted him. "Yes, sir!" she said in her perky little voice, but Edward just groaned.
"Oh, you'll pay for that one, minx," Jasper muttered, looking predatory. Apparently Rosie and I weren't the only ones affected by the lack of private time when we were out on the road. Jasper had one thing on his mind, and once again I was glad I wasn't Edward. The more I learned about Alice and Jasper's sexual deviancy, they less I wanted inside the guy's head.
Alice's face went blank for a second before she turned to me and Rosie. "They're going to be out for blood, um, metaphorically speaking, once we get him out of there, so you two stick around and do crowd control. Tell them we'll set up supervised visits once we've got the new people settled in. That should keep them happy. Personally, I think it's disgusting–they're throwing themselves at someone who is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Ick."
"Well, to be fair," I interrupted, "so is Bella, and we don't judge her." Alice just rolled her eyes at me.
"Edward is not rotting.And, just … ew, Emmett!"
"Apparently his 'sex appeal,'" Rosie added, drawing finger quotes in the air to emphasize her sarcasm, "overrules common sense. I mean, really – I know he's an icon and all, but I'm surprised they'd be this close to him. Don't they have any sense of self-preservation? Where's their survival instinct?"
"They apparently depend on us for that," Jasper interjected, bringing us all back to the matter at hand. "Let's do this."
Alice put her fingers together like she was holding a gun, and I almost laughed at how much she looked like one of Charlie's Angels. She winked at me and coyly cocked her hip, but Jasper was focused on his mission. He flicked two fingers forward, and we darted into the room, grabbing the Forsaken and zipping him out.
"What the—?" Lauren stated, putting her hands on her hips and literally stamping the floor. "Oh hellno! You bring Justin Bieber back right now!" she demanded, until Rosalie snarled at her.
"He's a fucking zombie, Lauren–he could have hurt any of you. Where are your brains? Oh wait, maybe that's why he was so well behaved–you don't haveany!"
I just sat back with my arms crossed and let Rosie work through her head full of steam. She wasn't wrong–being anywhere near the Bieb had been incredibly risky. For all her bluster, I knew she actually cared about the humans' safety.
"Whatever, Rosalie, not all of us have a big hunk of man meat like Emmett. I'll take the Bieb even if he is a zombie!" Lauren retorted, puffing her chest out.
"Man meat?" Rosalie screeched. "Did you just call my husband man meat? You better back off, Lauren, before I claw off your pretty little face!"
I resisted the urge to laugh and stepped calmly between the two girls. "Enough. Lauren, ladies," I said, turning to the rest of the crowd, "I appreciate the fact that you are Justin Bieber fans. Rosie here is too."
Rosalie threw me a look of pure venom, but I couldn't help it. I liked poking sleeping bears, both literally and figuratively. Rosie may be taking the rap for me on the Justin Bieber fan thing, but I knew I'd pay for it later.
You know how we always say never bet on Alice? Well, this time I totally should have. Before I could explain the rest, about how we'd set up visitation for the girls to spend time with Justin, they converged on us like a pack of wild dogs.
And people say Rosie's a bitch.
Three hours later, Rosalie and I finally made it to our room.
"Motherfucker," Rose yelled, kicking at the bottom of our bed, which promptly splintered into a thousand pieces. Alice walked through the door, glaring, and handed me a two by four to replace the bottom leg. She turned and walked from the room with her nose in the air, and I had the strangest image of a flouncing cat with its tail high in the air as she exited the room.
"Sorry," Rosalie muttered, preoccupied with the scratches on her arms.
"No problem, babe. I mean, who knew Lauren had titanium in her fake nails, right?"
"Ugh, don't even get me started," Rosalie said, hissing as she pulled out a talon that was embedded in her marble-like flesh. "Why would someone do that? And I mean, where would someone get that? It's not like you can ask the little Asian lady at the nail salon to whip that up, can you? What the fuck, is she some sort of mutant Wolverine we don't know about?" The scratch instantly mended, but there was no fixing Rosie's mood. Then again, perhaps I could work this to my advantage.
"No, Emmett," she said, slapping my wayward hand away. "I told you, doing it in front of Fred would be like doing it in front of one of the kids. It's just not going to happen." I moodily plopped on the foot of the bed, glaring at the fish bowl.
"I never should have told you he could talk. He's seen us do it before, you know." As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew they were a mistake.
"He what?" Rosalie asked, her golden eyes narrowing so far they were no more than slits.
Fred placed a flipper over his face. "Tactical error! Retreat!"
If only that were an option, Freddyboy.
"That…fish…has watched us have sex?"
"Well, of course I have," Fred interjected. "It's not like you two are discreet, and I have been living in here for over a month. You two are like rabbits!" he said, his voice slightly muffled as he was still hiding his face with his fin.
"Oh hellno!" Rosalie exploded, grabbing Fred's bowl with one hand and flinging the door open with the other. Alice reappeared, still glaring, to hand me the epoxy I'd need to repair the cracked wall before stalking back toward the stairs. I swear she'd become like Esme in her home makeover diligence.
"Rose, wait!" I wailed, following her down the hallway like a little boy being scolded by his mother. "Where are you going? Put Fred down – you're going to hurt him!"
"Oh, for heaven's sake!" Rosalie snapped, turning to face me as she walked up the stairs. "He's going back in Carlisle's office. There is no way I'm going to keep a spying, voyeuristic fish in our bedroom! It's bad enough as it is, having to keep quiet for the sake of the humans – there's no way I'm giving up sex entirely!"
"Voyeuristic?" Fred asked indignantly. "Madam, I have seen sexier things at the bottom of Lake Crescent!"
"Oh, can it, fish stick, before you become dinner for the bears!"
"She's not joking," I muttered, tugging the bowl gently from her hands. "Look, Rosie, Fred will get lonely up in Carlisle's office. Can't we just…uh… put a sock on the doorknob when we want to get busy?"
"And what, I'll walk out and entertain myself?" Fred replied scathingly, finally appearing from under his fin. "Just put me in the main area, there's always someone milling about in there."
"No way," Rosalie protested. "There's no way the humans will feel comfortable around a zombie animal. I mean, zombie Justin Bieber is one thing…"
"I think he's right, actually." Another voice came from behind me, and I nearly jumped out of my skin – I'd been so intent on the Fredtastrophe that I hadn't been paying any attention to what was going on around us, which could have been a fatal mistake. Carlisle ignored me and continued speaking as he took the bowl and stared at Fred.
"Bambi talks. Fred talks. The, er, shaggy-haired young man seems to follow directions. Something is going on here, and I'm going to figure out what it is. I'll feel better if they're all out in the open where everyone can keep an eye out for anything suspicious."
We had reached the main hall, and Carlisle carefully sat Fred on one of the tables at the front near all the extra utensils. "I'll make an announcement at dinner – if this fish so much as blinks, I want to hear about it."
His statement was met with Fred sticking his tongue out. I went to check on Bella in the kitchens while Rosalie filled Carlisle in on everything Fred had told us before, about being more human than fish.
"Hey, E-dawg," Bella greeted me, pointing to a counter covered in cans and jars. She and I had an arrangement – she hooked me up with the salacious human gossip and I opened all the stuff she couldn't get open in the kitchen.
"I got a text from Charlie," she told me as she chopped carrots finely. Charlie had been in Atlanta undergoing questioning since the outbreak began. The CDC seemed to find him a "person of interest" and was considering him a biological terrorist until they could prove otherwise.
"He's fine – says it's a bit boring, locked up in a cell, but one of the staff took pity on him and started playing cards. Charlie says if he keeps beating the guy at poker he's pretty sure someone will sneak him a file or a shiv so he can bust out. Winning cards is good for his street cred."
Six months ago, that statement would have been met with hysterical laughter. Now, I just nodded sagely – solitary confinement could change even a law-abiding type like Charlie. He was a man against the law, and I doubted he'd ever fish again…
"Nothing else new to report, unfortunately. Or fortunately, depending on how you look at it," Bella added, scooping the veggies into a pot on the stove.
"It's so boring around here," I whined, picking up an apple and tossing it from hand to hand. "I swear, I thought repeating high school was dull, but this? We don't even get to go out and run anymore."
"You just came back from a scouting mission!" Bella scolded me, grabbing the apple in midair before I could accidentally squish it. The apocalypse suited Bella – she was more forceful, more confident, and definitely more coordinated. It was a shame the world had to almost end to see this side of her.
"I know, but that was yesterday."
Bella rolled her eyes and wordlessly pointed out the door. I sighed and hopped down from the countertop – getting thrown out of the kitchen was pretty much a daily occurrence. The hallways were quiet, the humans mostly relaxing during the downtime between chores and dinner, so I headed back to my room, thinking I'd read for awhile.
Rosalie was in there, fresh from a shower. Book, schmook – I pounced.
"No cockblocking fish!" we said in unison, and commenced with tearing each other's clothes off.
Rosie and I were relaxing while playing the questions game. It was surprising that after more than fifty years, there were still things to talk about. This time we had somehow ended up telling funny pet stories from our human days, and as she was telling me about Cookie, her white Persian cat that was considered a sign of wealth in Rochester at the time, Edward interrupted us.
"Meeting. Now. Carlisle's office." His voice boomed in my ears, but I doubted the humans could hear it – they'd all been asleep for hours. Something was up – he sounded, not terse, exactly, but distracted.
"On our way, bro," I said as we headed for the door. The constant proximity to humans had us moving at human speed more often, simply out of habit. The humans were no longer frightened by our sudden movements, but several had complained that us flashing by in a blur gave them motion sickness. It's not like it really mattered – without the room to run, it was more showing off than actual release. Still, Edward snapped at us the moment we walked through the door.
"What took you so long?"
"Nice to see you too, Edward. Still not getting any, I see. It makes you so cranky," Rosalie retorted. Jasper and I had to avoid each other's eyes to keep from laughing out loud. Rosie was harsh, but it was true – the minute Edward gave it up, he'd be so much easier to deal with.
"Anyway," Edward said, the edge in his voice growing harder. "Carlisle made an interesting discovery just now, and he wants to talk it over with the family before he introduces the idea to rest of the group. He'll be here in a minute."
Our family passed the time the way we normally did – according to Edward's whining, everyone envisioned sexually explicit images of their mates just to annoy Edward. He occasionally growled, but mostly tuned us out. Every once in awhile, Alice would look at Jasper and nod enthusiastically, and allof us groaned – those two were sexual deviants if I'd ever seen any.
Carlisle appeared after just a few minutes, the Bieb in tow.
"Thanks for gathering, everyone. I trust I didn't…interrupt…anyone," he added, though no one bothered to respond. He knew he hadn't, because he always had Edward check. Granted, that was more than scarring to Edward, but it was worth it to Carlisle to be able to plan his meetings according to who was "busy."
"My theory here is that the mutation that Fred mentioned to Emmett and Rosalie has continued over to certain aspects of the previously human population. Justin here has been receptive to basic instruction. However, just like I can't quite explain why some humans are resistant to the virus and others are not, this theory does not explain why some Forsaken run rampant and attack, like Mike Newton did, and others don't. I'm thinking—"
"Some just like to kill, you know. People are fucked up."
"Shhhh! Shut up, you idiot!" Fred added in his British twang.
We all glanced around the room, not quite grasping where the original voice was from. Fred glanced around anxiously.
"OMG! it's Justin Bieber!"I squealed as the voice clicked in my head.
"Oh, just bloody wonderful!" Fred sniped, and the Bieber!zombie rolled his eyes.
"What? You've been talking to the other two for ages. If you can break the restriction, so can I!"
"But how did you?" Fred asked, completely ignoring the fact that the rest of us were gaping at the two of them. "I mean, I got busted on accident, so the restriction kind of resolved. How did you get around it?"
"Because of you," Justin said proudly. "I couldn't say a word until we got back here and it became common knowledge you could talk. Then that deer started talking, and then bam – I could talk!"
"But you don't," Carlisle interrupted, absently toying with the bottom hem of his lab coat. "You haven't talked to any of the humans, or I'd have heard about it – so far, all they've seen is that you don't eat anyone."
"Well, yeah, but the point is that once you've broken the spell, it's broken."
"So, wait…are allForsaken intelligent?" Carlisle asked, and I knew he'd finally asked the $64,000 question. God, I really missed the Game Show Network when I was away.
"Well…not intelligent…per se…" Fred said uncomfortably, and he and the Biebs glanced at each other. "Just…cognizant."
"What's the difference?" Alice snapped, looking irritated – I could tell Alice hated her visions not working, just like they didn't with the wolves. We'd come to rely on her visions throughout the years, and I could tell she didn't like feeling useless.
"Okay, wait," Carlisle interrupted. He grabbed a notepad off his desk and started scribbling at vampire speed.
"Let's do this logically. Yes or no answers – no room for ambiguity. Can all zombies talk?"
"Yes," Fred and Justin replied in unison.
"And you communicate with each other through talking?"
"No, we sniff each other's butts," Justin retorted, and Carlisle glared at him. "Yes, we communicate through speaking."
"Do you communicate in other ways?"
"Well, we do play charades sometimes," Fred added, netting yet another glare from Carlisle.
"Look, you little freaks of nature – you're going to tell it to my husband straight, or I swear I will serve BOTH of you for dinner, one to the humans and one to the vamps, and I won't tell you which is which!" Esme burst out, and the entire room stopped to stare at her.
She looked embarrassed and primly straightened the apron over her blue dress. "Right. So, enough with the smart-mouthed answers. We need to know this."
"Did a vampire just call usa freak of nature?" Justin whispered to Fred, who wisely didn't respond. It was likely he knew how proficient Esme was at making sushi for the humans and he knew not to push his luck.
"We have similar communication patterns to humans," Justin finally answered. "At least, the previously-humans do. I'd imagine communication for fish is similar to what it was before the turning."
"It is," Fred confirmed. "Light and sound, mostly, as we don't talk under water any better than you do."
"We Forsaken have lots of non-verbal cues, though, just like you do," Justin finished, looking resigned to the fact that he was officially on Q&A duty, being the only human-zombie in the room.
"Do you eat brains?"
"Yes." This was met with a lot of groans around the room. I think the rest of the family had convinced themselves that if the zombies acted semi-human, they wouldn't eat other humans, but I wasn't sure about that. Still, it was worth the question…
"What kind of brains?" Rosalie asked, and I could tell she was tuned into my wavelength. I loved my babygirl.
The two zombies glanced at each other for a minute, seemingly having a wordless conversation. It was almost as creepy as watching Alice and Edward "talk."
"Brains are brains."
"I knew it!" I burst out, gesturing at the Bieb. "Fred doesn't eat human brains, and neither do you! Your eyes are all…golden…like ours!"
"Yeah, well, that might be the rigor mortis," Justin shot back, but I knew we were on to something.
"Why can't you tell us straight?" I asked, squeezing Rosalie so tight she smacked me to let me know I was almost hurting her. I relaxed my grip and shifted with her in my lap, leaning against the chair behind us.
"I'm..." Justin's voice trailed off, and he looked kind of confused. "I'm not sure, actually. I mean, I already broke one law, so I don't see what difference it makes. I don't eat—" His voice cut off, sounding choked, and he looked at Fred.
"That's what it sounds like when we try to talk to you with the barrier in place," Fred translated, and Justin nodded, looking supremely uncomfortable.
"Okay, that's fine," Carlisle said, patting Justin on the shoulder, which squished underneath the weight. Carlisle made a face and wiped his hand absently on Esme's apron, not noticing that she was looking affronted until she took it off and threw it at him. It draped neatly across his head.
"Sorry, darling," he added absentmindedly as he kept scribbling.
"So you communicate, and your diet is undetermined." Fred and Justin both nodded.
"Any idea why this barrier is in place?" Carlisle continued his questioning, not even bothering to glance around the room as he continued making notes.
"Ew!" Edward suddenly exclaimed, practically jumping out of his chair. "That is disgusting!"
"What?" Carlisle asked, looking alarmed. I immediately felt a little guilty, as I had let my thoughts wander to free time later with Rosalie, but he wasn't looking at me.
"I did notneed to see that, kid." Justin stared at him with blank eyes.
"You and zombie Selena Gomez going at it like rabbits! Aren't you a bit youngfor such behavior?"
"Oh come on – you're just a prude!" Justin protested, causing Bella to duck behind her hair to hide her smile. The kid wasn't wrong. Suddenly, though, she reappeared from behind the shiny curtain and looked curious.
"Uh, Edward?" Bella said, cutting off Edward before he could respond to the Forsaken.
"No, Bella, we are not talking about this right now!" Edward snapped, placing a hand over his eyes. He rubbed at them for a moment before taking a deep breath. "We'll discuss our sex life later," he added, and Bella frowned.
"Lackof a sex life, more like…" she muttered. "No, really, though – did you just hear his thoughts? I thought you couldn't hear zombie thoughts…" her voice trailed off as Edward's eyebrows shot up.
"You did!" Rosalie cried, leaping off my lap. I was most displeased, because it left the whole family able to view my boner, but they were used to it at this point. I yanked her back into my lap, and she rolled her eyes at me.
"You couldn't hear Newton's… does that mean he doesn't have a brain?" Rosie continued, and I laughed.
"How did you do that?" Edward demanded, ignoring the rest of us and looking squarely at the Bieb.
"Do what?" Justin responded, and he looked genuinely baffled.
"I can read minds, but I can't read zombie minds. Yet I just saw you and Selena… uh…" If Edward could have blushed, I'm pretty sure he'd have been redder than Bella ever was.
"You saw that?" Justin squeaked, looking horrified. "That's private!"
"Yeah, well, welcome to our lives, kiddo," Rosalie muttered, and everyone laughed.
"Can we focus, here?" Carlisle asked, sounding annoyed. "Edward, what is different here? What did you see?"
Edward paused for a moment, thinking hard before responding. "It was weird. If reading a human's thoughts is like a movie, this was like watching TV on a badly tuned set. It was fuzzy in parts, seemed to kind of flicker in and out…Emmett stop that right now!" he yelled, and I nearly dumped poor Rosie on the floor.
"Stop what? I wasn't doing anything!" I shot back, feeling a bit frazzled.
"You were doing dirty things to Rosalie in your mind and sending it straight at me!" Edward accused, looking homicidal. I think my dear brother was starting to lose his mind.
"Actually," Fred interrupted, looking chagrined, "that was me. I was just wondering if it would work, and it was the freshest image that came to mind."
The whole family stopped and stared at me and Rosie, but she stuck her nose in the air. "What? It's not myfault the fish is a voyeur," she snapped.
"But that wasn't fuzzy," Edward commented, looking even more distraught.
"Hmm," Carlisle said, jotting things down. "Perhaps it was because of the inherent differences in human and fish brains? I mean, having Fred speak broke one barrier – maybe it broke another?"
"Maybe," Edward and Justin responded at the same time. Justin continued, looking thoughtful. "I don't know anything about thought restrictions, but then again, it's not something I could really test. Being able to read minds isn't exactly common."
"No," Carlisle agreed, "it's not, which makes me wonder if these restrictions are somehow directed at us – it seems that's a rather specific thing to control."
We all nodded thoughtfully.
"Sweet!" Alice yelled suddenly, and Edward grinned.
"Ladies and gentleman," he said before we could ask, "I think Bieber is the key to all of this."
"Did you see something?" Jasper asked, grinning, and his hopefulness spread around the room.
"I did – and it's pretty simple. With the spell broken when it comes to Justin's speech, all we have to do to continue to break the spell is take him with us. Apparently it transfers."
"No way!" Justin and Rosalie said together, though she looked happy and he looked pissed.
"I am nota vampire lapdog," he sneered, which made Bella start laughing.
"No," she agreed, "that's Jacob!" The entire room dissolved into laughter, including the zombies.
"Man, he smells bad," Justin added.
"That's ripe, coming from you," Rosalie retorted, but she was still smiling.
"Alright, enough," Carlisle said, trying to suppress his smile. "So, we're in agreement these restrictions are oddly specific? Add the fact that the outbreak started here in Forks, and I think we're on to something. Alice, would we really be able to communicate with the others if Justin is present?"
"Yes," Alice, Fred and Justin all responded, eying each other suspiciously.
"That's creepy," Jasper and Bella said together.
"Stop it!" Rosie and Tanya finished.
"Okay, that is reallyfreaky," Edward commented, pulling Bella closer. "I think we've spent entirely too much time together.
"I have a few more questions," Carlisle told the zombies, who simply shrugged.
Seeing a fish shrug is really, really weird.
"Do you have any sort of mental links to other zombies? For example, we can often feel our mates even if they are not immediately near. Do you have anything like that?"
"No," Justin added, "but we also don't mate for life. Zombie un-life is a bit more…free swinging."
"Again, ew," Edward muttered, glaring and closing his eyes.
"Sorry!" Justin said, looking anything but remorseful. "Not my fault you can't stay out of my head!"
"I wish I could!"
"Anyway," Carlisle continued, cutting over both of them in a louder voice. "No telepathic links. So you can't keep tabs on a zombie that's not here for us? It'd be useful to know what we were walking in to."
"Nope," Justin said, popping the "p," and I was nearly overcome with the desire to strangle him.
"Alice, what about you? Can you see any other zombie decisions?"
"No," she said ruefully, looking upset. "Then again, I don't think I saw that because of the zombieness – I think I saw it because someone was thinking about it. Edward, maybe? I don't know for sure, but we were all there."
"Hmm." Carlisle continued scrawling across the lines, now on his fourth sheet of paper. Where the hell had he gotten enough information to fill up four pages of notes? I must have missed something when I was dreaming about Rosie's ass.
"Emmett," Edward said in a warning tone, and I snapped my thoughts back to the topic at hand.
"I think that's enough for now," Carlisle said, completely ignoring us as he immersed himself in his research. "Alice, please see if you can pin down any information that would be helpful for a date. We're going to have to follow that scent trail and see where it leads, but we'll have to make sure the compound is on extra alert – the last thing we need is to walk straight into a trap and leave the humans at risk."
Alice nodded and stood up, tugging Jasper's hand in her own. "We're going for a run," she told the rest of us. "Jasper needs to feed and then we need alone time," she stated frankly, which made Bella blush all over again.
Alice winked at her and waltzed out of the room with her mate, leaving things feeling a bit melancholy in their wake – it was always hard to adjust to Jasper leaving abruptly, because even when he wasn't trying to make a large emotional shift, he made subtle changes. Having that yanked out from underneath you was a bit disorienting.
"Something tells me this isn't about zombies attacking humans, Carlisle," Edward mentioned, and several of us nodded.
"I mean, Mike could have attacked any number of humans. Justin had access to every female in the compound. And they just…didn't attack. I mean, yes, Mike went after Jess, but I'm actually convinced he could have hurt her if he wanted to. I mean, we weren't at the top of our game. He easily could have taken a bite of her, but he didn't. He seemed to back off when she screamed."
"That's true," Esme added slowly, remembering the day of the first attack. "And some of those new survivors told me they faced zombies who more or less left them alone. I wonder if maybe it's instinctual for them to chase, but not to actually attack?"
"Then how did the outbreak spread?" Rosie asked, which stumped us all.
"God, it's so simple," Justin said, startling us. I'd almost forgotten he was in the room. "First generation Forsaken were meant to reproduce. You'll find that they're all dead – zombies can, and do, die, you know. First generation has died out. Second generation has shifted. Our orders aren't to change and spread the virus, but to sit tight for further instructions. You asked if we have telepathy. Well, we don't – but she communicates with us. She's the one that set the rules about talking to humans, too."
Before anyone could respond to that mother lode of information, the door to Carlisle's study burst open and a team of human females, all dressed in black with pantyhose over their heads, seized Justin and ran out the door.
Carlisle sighed. "We should go get him back."
Edward nodded. "Also, he doesn't want them to know he can talk. I think he's enjoying being quiet, for once."
"I can see that," Esme added, looking thoughtful. "Poor dear can't have had an easy life. He was already living through all that insanity, and the outbreak just made it worse."
"You feel sorry for him? Two minutes ago you were calling him a freak of nature!" Rosalie grumbled, and Esme smiled guiltily.
"Perhaps I was a little harsh on him. Anyway, we know he won't hurt them, but theydon't know that – we really can't let them just take him back. It completely undermines our authority. Besides, who was this 'she' he was talking about?"
We all turned as a group to look at Fred, who seemed bored.
"I don't know," he said offhandedly. "Some chick named Jane."
A/N: *peeks in* Questions? Comments? Just plain sick of the riduclousness? I'd love to hear what you're thinking!