Author's Note: All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. No infringement intended. This is just a fanfiction. Enjoy! And puhleeease review!

NEW MOON EPOV – Part of 'VOTE'

"You can leave me. The Volturi, Victoria... they're nothing compared to that."Her voice broke.

It hit me so hard that had I been human, I would've collapsed. How much had I really hurt her? I remembered her reaction clearly in the dark chamber; it would forever haunt my mind. Shaking with fear and hysteria… all because of me – and that was nothing… Nothing? Could I ever gauge the depth of the wound I'd inflicted on her. Could her pain really be anywhere close to the agony I'd felt away from her. That wasn't possible. And yet… yet… I realized too late that the torture raging inside me was plain on my face.

"Don't," Bella whispered, touching my face, her touch soothed me a little. "Don't be sad."

I had hurt her in the worst possible way and all she was concerned about was comforting me. I had never felt more unworthy of this angel. I truly loathed myself now. I tried to smile for her, not quite managing it right. I needed her to understand, I had to get it across. "If there was only some way to make you see that I can't leave you." Believe me Bella just this once, "Time, I suppose will be the way to convince you."

She agreed with me, "So since you're staying, can I have my stuff back?"

Ah, she was trying to distract me. Why did I have to be so undeserving of her? It worked, I was distracted in spite of myself. I gave a reluctant chuckle, "Your things were never gone" I had been too selfish for that. "I knew it was wrong, since I promised you peace without reminders." When had I ever kept my promises to her? Promises of never hurting her. "It was stupid and childish, but I wanted to leave something of myself with you. The CD, the pictures, the tickets – they're all under your floorboards."

"Really?" Her face lit up. It was so soothing to see her smile again. That would be my mission in life now – to never let that smile falter. "I think," she continued, "I'm not sure, but I wonder… I think maybe I knew it the whole time."

I was lost momentarily in the depth of her eyes, in the smile on her face. Bella was truly here with me. I recovered a little. "What did you know?"

She seemed to ponder over it, "Some part of me, my subconscious maybe, never stopped believing that you cared whether I lived or died. That's probably why I was hearing the voices."

I felt myself turn to cold stone. I did not trust my voice yet. When I felt I was in sufficient control of myself, I demanded "Voices?"

"Well, just one voice. Yours. It's a long story." I could see that Bella was instantly regretting having said anything. I could not allow that. Maybe, if I could remain calm. I had to try very very hard. "I've got time." I struggled to keep my voice even.

"It's pretty pathetic."

I waited. She began "Do you remember what Alice said about extreme sports?"

That was the last thing I wanted to think about now. "You jumped off a cliff for fun." Did she seriously expect me to buy that?

"Er, right. And before that, with the motorcycle–"

Stay calm! Stay calm! Stay calm! I repeated the mantra to myself, placing futile hope in its effectiveness. "Motorcycle?" I quoted her. Hadn't she promised me she'd keep herself safe? How could she break that promise? Of course, I was one to talk, I thought bitterly. I couldn't even be mad at her. Who was I to question her promises when I'd left so much to be desired myself?

"I guess I didn't tell Alice about that part."

"No."

"Well, about that… See, I found that… when I was doing something dangerous or stupid… I could remember you more clearly, I could remember how your voice sounded when you were angry. I could hear it, like you were standing right there next to me. Mostly I tried not to think about you, but this didn't hurt so much—it was like you were protecting me again. Like you didn't want me to be hurt. And, well, I wonder if the reason I could hear you so clearly was because, underneath it all. I always knew that you hadn't stopped loving me."

As she said the words, she became very still as if trying hard to concentrate on something. I was surprised that I noticed, I would have put it beyond me. I was too caught up with what she'd just said. My breathing was too ragged. It felt like a thousand or more knives were piercing through my heart, were burning the jarred pieces in acid. She had almost killed herself over trying to hear me… I flinched convulsively as I considered that. I, who had put her in danger time and again, who had made her suffer excruciating pain, who was so selfish as to still crave her presence, the burning need to be with her. And she was killing herself over such a despicable monster. If it was possible, I would've been crying.

"You… were… risking your life… to hear—" I choked out the words.

She shushed me. "Hold on a second. I think I'm having an epiphany here."

She again began to concentrate hard. Her eyes and face had both lost focus. They had that far away look of trying to delve into another time, another world. She was absolutely captivating to watch. Just looking at her face was comforting. I tried to forget my mental anguish for a minute and instead focus on watching her. The relief I felt was stronger than what a heroin addict would perhaps feel, were he to get his dose after a long interval. A dying man would be less satisfied with a sudden strong gust of oxygen. Her brows were furrowed in concentration, her nose wrinkling up for effect, her full lips drawn. I lingered on her lips a little longer, remembering the last time we kissed. Suddenly, I had this mad overpowering urge to kiss her again. I was about to act on the compulsion when her expression cleared. "Oh!" was all she said.

I was confused. "Bella?"

Again, just an "Oh. Okay. I see."

I was wary now, remembering what she was talking about earlier. "Your epiphany?"

"You love me," her voice was full of wonder and awe.

A sensation so sweet washed through me that I was left dizzy in its wake. Finally, she knew. She'd seen truth. I gave her my happiest smile. "Truly, I do."

Her heart pounded audibly against her ribs and her eyes widened in fascination. My desperate desire from before flared stronger than ever.

I secured her face tightly between my hands, very careful not to hurt her, and kissed her fiercely, wishing to take all her pain away through that one kiss. Her soft yielding lips warmed the very core of my being. Heat rushed to my cold non-existent heart and made it beat once more. I could almost hear the pulse. This was my addiction. I could never let go of her again. I was too weak. I had missed her too much. More importantly she had missed me, had hurt over it. I wouldn't think about that now. I concentrated on the warmth of her lips again, of what it was doing to me. I wanted to make it up to her. I knew it was impossible but I had to try. I wanted to keep on going forever but of course, Bella was already faint. I pulled away willing my breathing to return to normal and saw her doing the same. I hid my smile. Bella would never treat me as a monster, as the other. She still loved me despite all that I'd done to her. It was impossible to comprehend but I was so grateful to her for it.

"You were better at it than I was, you know," I informed her.

"Better at what?"

"Surviving." This wasn't so difficult to comprehend though. She was ten times the person I could ever hope to be. Of course, she'd try to care for her father, facing all odds. "You, at least, made an effort," I continued. "You got up in the morning, tried to be normal for Charlie, followed the pattern of your life. When I wasn't actively tracking, I was…" crumpled in pain. I'd phase it better for her "…totally useless. I couldn't be around my family—I couldn't be around anyone. I'm embarrassed to admit that I more or less curled up into a ball and let the misery have me. It was much more pathetic than hearing voices. And, of course, you know I do that, too." I smiled at her. I had heard just her voice every single second that I was away. That was the only music that could have kept me sane. She was so much more than what I deserved. I wanted to hold her tight and keep her in my arms forever, away and safe from the cruel world. Even forever with her didn't seem like enough time. And she had actually thought that I was going to leave her again? Absurd! I had made her doubt herself. I cringed again. That was unforgivable. I wanted to kill myself a hundred times over for it. What wouldn't I do to erase the past nightmarish months from her mind. Still, she had come to save my life, risking her own and expecting absolutely nothing in return… Could an angel be more selfless? I loved her so much. All the hearts in the world combined could not hold the love I felt for her.

"I only heard one voice," she smiled, pulling me out of my reverie.

I had to laugh at that. She was so intoxicating. How had I survived for so long without her? I pulled her tight against me and began toward the house. Then I remembered what I needed to remind her of. "I'm just humoring you with this. It doesn't matter in the slightest what they say." No one would dare change my Bella. I was keeping her human self and her soul intact.

"This affects them now, too," she whispered.

I just shrugged in response. Bella deserved so much more than wanting to become one of us. I wouldn't let anything harm her, not even herself.

I hugged her more tightly and led the way to the open front door.