Author's Note: In this story, all characters are human. It is mainly Bella/Edward, but may contain other pairings.

Thank you for reading, and if you like it, please, please review!

Also, check out my other two fics, Pulse (complete- Nessie/Jacob) and The Island (WIP- all canon pairings)

"They're vampires." sneered the boy, unperturbed by the soft but steady rain that was matting his black hair to his head. The sky was almost pitch black with heavy rain clouds, the sun lost somewhere in all the slate gray. The little girl peered up from under her umbrella to see what her friend was talking about. They were passing a large house on their way home from school, and in the window of the attic she glimpsed a pale face with golden eyes. The face quickly disappeared, but she didn't look away, hoping that the face of the little boy would return.

The house they stood before was beautiful, but people rarely ventured near it for some reason. It was set apart from the others, with a large, shady yard. The house was made of stone and had an ethereal quality to it, as if it had been pulled from the pages of a fairytale.

The little girl finally looked away from the window, which remained disappointingly empty. "Vampires?" she echoed, looking at her companion. He led her away, but she looked over her shoulder at the house. For just an instant, she thought she saw a flash of the pale face looking curiously back at her, but just as quickly it was gone.

"The Cullens." said the little boy, splashing his foot in a puddle. "They don't ever come outside, except for the parents. The kids all stay in the house. I heard that they sleep in coffins and drink blood!"

Instead of being disgusted, the little girl only softly smiled, thinking of the face. Vampires? Could there really be vampires? She wondered silently, twirling the umbrella in her hands absentmindedly. Her large brown eyes were wistful and unfocused. As she strode forward, the toe of her mary-janes caught on a crack in the sidewalk and she stumbled, falling to her knees. The umbrella flew from her hands and the rain poured softly down on her as tears welled up in her eyes that she refused to let overflow. The little boy was quick to help her up, apparently used to such behavior.

"Look where you're going Bella." he chided impatiently, holding the umbrella over her head for her while she gingerly dusted off her hands and knees. There was a fresh scrape on her elbow from the stumble, but it blended in with the others. There were already scratches on her hands and knees from recess that day, a few yellowing bruises from stumbling last week, and an angry red welt on her shin from running into the coffee table the day before.

The little girl took the umbrella back and they continued walking. "I'm tired of how much reading we have to do!" complained the black-haired boy, apparently no longer thinking about the boy in the attic or the girl's fall. His mind was on the recently assigned book report from their elementary school teacher. For a moment Bella didn't know what to make of his statement. She was still thinking about the boy she had seen, wondering why he didn't go to school with them. She had to think about her friend's statement for a moment before it made sense.

"Oh?" she said, somewhat disinterested. She shrugged. "I like to read."

A loud clap of thunder made them both jump, and the little girl's deep brown eyes widened in fear at the crash of bright lightning that illuminated the sky for a moment.

"Jacob, I'm scared!" she whimpered in distress, closing in on herself physically, drawing her arms in tight around her body, huddling beneath the umbrella clasped tightly in her small, pale hand. She hated to admit weakness, preferred to put on a strong face for the world that belied the insecurities she felt within, but lightning petrified the child. The little boy had no fear of lightning- in fact, he seemed to enjoy the weather. For Jacob, the storm was just another adventure, and Bella was his favorite damsel in distress. He reached out and grabbed Bella's empty hand, tugging her forward.

"Come on," he urged. "We're almost to your house!"They ran down the dark street as the rain began to pour harder. The little girl slipped and slid, but somehow managed to stay upright. Fear and adrenaline leant her an unnatural sense of speed she did not normally possess, and they quickly ducked under the porch of her house at the end of the street. She dropped the umbrella, doubling over with her hands on her boney knees as she caught her breath, eyes still wide and heart pounding. The boy looked out and up at the black sky, watching with fascination the lightning in the distance through the dark sheet of rain that fell all around them.

Chief Swan opened the door, looking down at his daughter and her friend. The two children slipped off their wet shoes and he ushered them in out of the weather and into the warmly illuminated house.

"You better stay here for a while, Jacob." said Bella's father. "I'll call Billy and tell him to pick you up later."

Jacob nodded, and when he did, water fell from his long black hair like a dog shaking water from it's coat. Charlie sighed but said nothing, walking back to the living room, where the sound of a baseball game drifted in. Bella was still cowering a little, her arms wrapped around her frail body as if she could shield herself from her fears in such a way. Jacob passed her and started for the stairs, as comfortable in her house as she was.

"C'mon, I wanna play." he said, stomping up to her room. His heavy footfalls on the creaky wooden floorboards didn't seem to match the slightness of his child's frame. Bella reluctantly followed, her own steps much quieter, almost cautious in nature. When she got upstairs, Jacob had upended her box of toys onto the floor and was rooting through them. She went and sat on the bed, not interested in playing. She reached over and pulled shut the curtains over the window, trying to block out the flashes of lightning that turned their faces to silver in flickering bursts. Another loud rumble of thunder shook her and she quivered, melting down to a petrified heap on the bed and covering her head with a pillow. She drew her knees up to her chin, lying defenselessly in the fetal position. After a moment she felt the bed shift with added weight, and she felt a warm hand on her back, patting her comfortingly. She could remember a time when he mother had patted her back like that and felt slightly more soothed. She closed her eyes tighter, trying to be brave. The thunder seemed to subside a little and she peered up from under the edge of her pillow at the black haired boy.

"Don't be afraid, Bella," said the boy, a confident smile on his face. "I'll protect you from everything."

Bella sat up, her skinny legs disentangling and then falling over the side of the bed, and he pulled her into a tight hug, which she weakly allowed. At school he wouldn't hug her or talk to her much. She was a girl, and he didn't want his friends to see him hanging out with girls. He didn't want to seem like a sissy. But away from school, Bella was his best friend, and she had been for years.

"Everything?" she repeated, breathing in the scent of his damp, long hair. He smells like a wet dog, she thought with a tiny smile. But in a way it was also comforting. She felt Jacob nod and pressed her cheek against his bony shoulder.

"Even vampires." he promised.

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