Alternate Ending: Red Sun

Edward's POV

All it took was one tiny little nip with my inhumanly sharp teeth to accomplish what escaped me two years ago in an alley in Texas.

All of this happened in a matter of a heartbeat. Bella hissed in pain and surprise when my teeth made contact with the delicate pale skin covering her jugular. In the background I heard the rumble of the thunder, which was nearer now. The first few drops of her blood touched my tongue, and I rejoiced in my triumph. Bella's blood tasted better than any other's. There was no comparison to be made with human food, but it felt like drinking chilled water after days in desert, combined with the passionate kisses of one's true love. It was glorious, and as I pulled at the wound in her neck, I could feel my strength returning to me tenfold. She was my perfect victim, the one whose blood would revive me and would make me stronger than any other vampire in existence.

She gasped and choked, fighting weakly against my clutches, but I knew that she knew she wasn't going anywhere. I took another drink, slowly, to prolong the flavor. I knew I would never have another human who tasted half as good as Bella did right then.

"Ed…ward. Stop it," she begged. "Please! I love you!" In a last desperate attempt, she pulled her head away from me, but I stopped her with a firm hand against her temple…

Surprisingly, Bella stopped struggling. She was still conscious, but she remained perfectly still, as a deer will cease thrashing when it knows the fight is over. The silence of the lamb, knowing the lion has led it to slaughter.

I let the savage victory sing through my body, strength following the progress of Bella's blood into my own system. I continued to suck gently at the wound in her neck, ignoring the protest of my personal Mr. Hyde, who wanted to gulp it all down immediately.

No, I thought to the monster. I will savor this. Even as she finally went limp in my arms, I felt myself smile viciously in my triumph over my prey.

After five minutes of drinking, I had finally sucked the girl dry. Looking up to the sky, I let out a loud roar that sent swallows flying. I let go of her and jumped straight into the air, high with conquest. With a little more than a gallon of perfect, strength-giving blood in my body, I felt as though I could run fast enough to turn the world backwards.

And then I looked at the girl's body, lying wilted in the wet grass.

The monster within chuckled and receded yet again to the recesses of my twisted, animal mind. The other me – Dr. Jekyll – screamed in torment. As if nature was playing a cruel trick on me, the clouds broke suddenly away from the sun, letting a single ray illuminate a lonely drop of blood on her neck.

I moaned and slumped to the ground, all strength forgotten. Cradling her head, I rocked back and forth over the cold, absolutely dead body of Bella. I touched her face, hoping to find a trace of warmth left over in her cheeks.

There was none. Her once blushing cheeks were flat and gray. Her hand was as cold as the silver ring that still encircled her finger. Forcing myself to look in her eyes, I cringed and gasped at what I had done – the mud brown irises that didn't see me were dull and dead where once they had been chocolate-, coffee-, and chestnut-colored, swirling in a flurry of life.

Bella had been all that represented life to me. And now she was gone forever. In a moment of stupidity and weakness, I had ended it all.

My heart was made of stone and still it had broken. Unable to hold the torrent back, I wailed and sobbed, clawing at my own treacherous throat in grief and anger. Seeing and feeling the death of my one true love – at my own hands – I wished to the heavens above that I could cry. Drops ran down my face, but it was water from my wet hair and nothing more.

The rain had ended, damn it. Birds began singing, the little wretches. The sun shone warm and bright upon the scene of horror and death below it.

I cursed the rain that had made Bella look so appealing. I cursed Carlisle and Esme for even letting us stay here alone. Most of all, I cursed myself for taking up this stupid experiment in the first place. If hadn't pushed it, Bella wouldn't be laying cold in my arms. Though no tears fell, my sobs continued, escalating until I was screaming her name, over and over again.

I turned my face back down to Bella's. I tried to remember what it felt like to kiss her, but the laughing Mr. Hyde refused to show me anything but replays of the animal I had been, slowly killing my innocent little doe, taking her life from her drop by drop.

All the others came back to me, too. The girl in Italy – Francesca. Mike Newton. Louisa…Mariel…Claude…Joseph…Elaine…Paul, Julia, Elizabeth, Heidi, John, Nicole, Thomas, Matthew, Kate, Marie, Luke, Amelia, Russell, Joshua, Alberta, Natalie, Patrick, Margaret, Lacy, Kristen, Lauren, Shane, Eddie, Desiré…

I thought I had forgotten most of the lives I destroyed. No – I remembered the names of all nine hundred and twelve of them. The remorse of nine hundred and twelve murders racked me, and the blood of nine hundred and twelve people appeared on my hands. I felt the pain of every single one of them come back and tear another piece of my heart into shreds.

And then there was Bella. Bella was worse than all of them combined. Whatever heart I had left, she had nursed it back to health, slowly but surely. But I had torn it apart again, so that nothing remained except a dark, festering hole. Staring at her lifeless body in my hands, I knew.

I had no heart anymore.

-X-X-

The mound of Earth, perfectly rounded and smoothed, stood out against the golden-green of the grasses in the meadow. I had taken Bella's body to our favorite spot back in the woods, and I buried her there, along with her engagement ring, the silver charm bracelet, and all the crumbled pieces of my soul.

There was nothing else to do now. I knew I should tell her parents that she was dead. I could tell them we were at the beach and she fell off a cliff and drowned. I could tell them a giant cougar carted her off into the woods. That would be appropriate. I could tell them a multitude of things, except for the truth.

So I had decided to tell them nothing. I would tell Emmett nothing. I had already broken my phone in half and thrown the pieces a hundred yards into the woods. I would go somewhere where I could be alone with my guilt and my grief. Then, if I ever felt like my punishment had gone on long enough (which I thought would never happen), I would offer my services to the Volturi. At least it was something to do. After one last look at the sorry bump of dirt that marked the grave of the most beautiful woman I had ever known, I left the small meadow, where the creek still burbled happily and the flowers were bright and pretty. Screw them.

Choking back tears that weren't falling, I walked slowly away from the meadow. The sun was just starting to set over the pines, and I was in no hurry to go anywhere. Where was there to go?

So I walked back to the large, empty house. I took Bella's things as well as mine from the bedroom and hauled it all back to the car in one load. When I came across my favorite blue sweater of hers, I collapsed against the wall and sobbed yet again, unable to move for a couple of hours. When I locked the door behind me, I forced myself to look away from the piano.

Even as I walked down the steps of the porch, I didn't think anything would break me out of my guilty cage, but the sound of a motor coming towards the house puzzled me for a moment. I leaned against the porch rail, waiting for whatever would come my way. Two minutes later, a Seattle Police Department cruiser pulled next to my car, and I recognized Officer Black's face through the tinted windshield. I thought it was oddly appropriate, that I should commit murder, and have the police show up in time to arrest me.

I wished there was a punishment terrible enough to match the crime. As I watched the Black get out of his car, wielding a long stick of some sort, I laughed humorlessly to myself. Living without her would be punishment enough.

But I couldn't stop the next words from coming out of my mouth anyway. "I hope you're here to kill me."

-X-X-

Billy Black's POV

I raced as fast as I safely could down the Cullen's drive. If what Jasper told me was correct, Edward hadn't fed in a very long time, and this was all a perfect setup for the girl's murder. It had been two days already. I didn't want to waste any more time.

The sun was low over the trees when I pulled up next to the vampire's car. He was leaning on the porch, with a face as unreadable as a blank page in a book. With the light so low, I couldn't tell the color of his eyes, so I reached for my stinger just in case. Making sure it was charged and ready, I got quickly out of the car, leaving the engine running.

When he saw me, a bitter and ironic smile appeared on his face. "I hope you're here to kill me," he said grimly.

I said nothing, suspicious. He was alone. All the lights were off in the house. There was no noise. As I approached, I finally caught a glint of gold in his eyes, and I knew I was too late.

I hurled myself forward. That was my policy with the bloodsuckers. Stab first, ask questions later.

-X-X-

Edward's POV

Officer Black said nothing to me, just walked casually toward me with the weapon-thing raised. Then a flash of recognition moved across his face, and he lunged toward me.

I could have dodged him without effort. But I didn't. What was the point anymore? I had plenty of time to watch as he pressed the gold-plate end of the stick into my stomach. I had enough time to calculate when and where the thing would hit me, and even how much force it would deliver.

The stick hit me in the stomach, right below my ribs, and I cried out. Whatever it was, it had jolted me with a white-hot bolt of electricity. It felt like I had walked into a power line. I fell down on my rear on the porch.

Officer Black brought his arm back and smacked me again, this time in the chest, right above my recently absent heart. Another shock powered through me, but before I blacked out, I felt a feeble thump come from my chest.

-X-X-

I came to a while later. My vision was blurred and dark, so I shook my head and blinked, hoping to clear my head. Nothing happened.

I was next aware of the pounding in my ears. Still somewhat incoherent, it took me several moments to realize what it was – a pulse. I sat straight up and twisted by body frantically to figure out what was going on. I felt the skin on my face and arms, and it was soft and flexible. By the weak light coming through a window, I could tell my hands were tanner as well.

"Wha-wha…what's going on!?" I shouted. It seemed once again that nature was playing a bad joke on me, making me see things that shouldn't be real, like I was in a dream.

"Lay down," a gruff voice commanded me. Bewildered, I did as it said. A face appeared in my field of vision, and after a moment, I recognized the russet skin and dark eyes of Officer Black. "Are you hungry?"

I thought it was a ridiculous question, until I a large growl ripped through my stomach. "Here," he said, shoving a bucket of fried chicken under my nose. "I'll explain while you eat." I dug in, confused, while Black launched into a long explanation. Over his shoulder, through the large windows in the Cullens' house, I saw a red sun rising above the trees across the meadow. It was beautiful.

It was horrible.

-X-X-

"So what will you do?" Black finally asked me after he finished explaining. In the middle of his speech – after I had been convinced that I was human again but before he told me how he had found me – I started listening with only half an ear.

Everything had come rushing back to me, and grief numbed my brain, making it difficult to see or comprehend anything other than Bella's cold body in my murderous arms. I had to lie back again very abruptly.

"What are you going to do?" he repeated.

"I was going to marry her," was all I said in reply.

A rough hand grasped my shoulder. "What do you want to do about this?" Black pressed me. "Are you going to continue living? I don't like to shoot reformed vampires, but some have made the request before, and I'm willing to do it if you feel like it's the only right thing to do."

Understanding hit me, and the blood – Bella's blood – drained from my face. "You're offering to execute me?"

"Only if you can't cope with everything you've done." Black's face was stony and resolved. From the look in his eyes, I knew this was a man who had killed upon request before, and was willing to do it now, too.

I thought for a moment. Death would be an easy end – but I didn't know if the loss of my life would balance out nine hundred and thirteen others. Bella's dead eyes floated in front of my mind, and another wave of grief hit. "I really shouldn't care what happens now," I said, unsuccessfully holding back the tears that I was finally able to cry. "Since she's gone."

Black stared at me, waiting for my answer. I avoided his gaze. "But it seems that it's just too easy," I went on.

"So…?"

"No, I don't want you to shoot me," I said finally, with determination. "If you kill me, I won't suffer."

"Then what? Can you just go back to life as normal?"

I laughed hollowly at the notion. "There is no such thing for me anymore," I said bitterly, the words coming out rough on my new, human vocal chords. "And I won't help you hunt down more vampires."

Black continued looking at me with his even stare. "I think," I said slowly, a new idea forming in my head, "my penance would be best served otherwise." I finally met Black's stern gaze. "You're going to arrest me for the murder of Mike Newton and Bella Swan."

-X-X-

Two Years Later

I watched Emmett – now tan with ice-blue eyes – sit across the glass from me, and he lifted the receiver off the hook. I did the same. "Hey, there brosef. How's it going?"

I managed a small smile. "S'okay. I don't have any newly acquired tattoos, and none of the prisoners have cared enough to beat me up this week." As I said this, I fingered the healing split above my eye. Usually, I stayed away from everyone, eating, walking, and working by myself. This "antisocial" behavior was just an excuse for some of the others to take out their anger on me. But I took it. Because I knew I deserved it all.

"Lame joke, Edward." For once, Emmett wasn't smiling. "You know, with all your good behavior, they might put you on parole in forty years." Emmett looked hopeful. He had taken to the change much better than I had – but then, he hadn't killed his own fiancée.

"Yeah," I mumbled into the phone. "Just in time to see your grandkids." I chuckled dryly to myself. "Remember when fifty years didn't seem like that much time?" I asked him cynically.

Emmett's face looked strained, and he changed the subject instead of answering me. "Listen, I was talking to the lawyer about letting you come to the wedding, with an armed guard or something." He looked so eager and hopeful.

And I had to admit, the idea was really tempting, but I forced myself to shake my head. "You wouldn't want me there, Em. Rosalie's family wouldn't be comfortable. And I won't exactly be the best company, either," I explained resignedly.

"Still think about her, huh?"

"Constantly." I looked down at my hand, resting on the table. "Ed…ward. Stop it," she begged. "Please! I love you!" In a last desperate attempt, she pulled her head away from me, but I stopped her with a firm hand against her temple…

"Look, Edward. I understand how you must feel. But try to spend some time healing, won't you?"

As the guard stepped in to end the conversation, I sneered at the irony. "Time's all I have now, isn't it? It's come full circle."

He sighed. "I'll see you," he assured me before standing and leaving the small gray room. Her once blushing cheeks were flat and gray. Her hand was as cold as the silver ring that still encircled her finger…

As if on cue, my mind wrenched me back to the meadow. A uniformed guard led me – handcuffed and decked out in prison orange – back to my cell. The bars slammed, and I sat on the hard cot.

With a little more than a gallon of perfect, strength-giving blood in my body, I felt as though I could run fast enough to turn the world backwards…

If only.