A/N: Hello. I don't know what to say...I don't have a reason for not updating. I just don't have a thing for Twilight at all but this story isn't Twilight so I realized you might want to still read it. I was cleaning out my laptop and found this chapter. I figured I'd upload it since there are one or two of you that have wanted it. So I figured it couldn't hurt. So here it is.
Disclaimer: I borrowed the characters from Twilight. If they want to go back after their done this adventure, they can. But I doubt they'll want to.
Chapter 27: Somebody That I Used to Know
"You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I'll admit that I was glad it was over" -GOTYE
Henderson, Nevada. 4am.
Even though the map was old, the roads still connected where they were supposed to connect, and highway 93 brought the Ford truck to an idling position about 100 yards from its destination—a lonely vampire.
But under the dark sky of the early morning, the figure wearing combat boots and a dark jacket looked like any other faceless stranger wandering the barren roads of the post-apocalyptic age. At least that's what Edward thought as he stared at the twenty-something-year-old loner, someone who almost looked like a common human, even though he was far from it.
Bella didn't notice when Edward slowed the truck down at first. She was overtired and restless, cranky from the lack of sleep and even crankier from the painful bullets rubbing against her ribs. It was one of those moments when she knew that she was doomed. Doomed for pain if she let the bullets be extracted, and doomed for pain if she didn't let them be extracted. Of course, one was worse than the other, but it was difficult to concentrate on which one was worse with all the noise coming from the cab of the truck. The boys were fighting. Over stupid things too. Like the speed of the truck. Whether to keep the headlights on or not. Whether to mention Bella's wounds or not.
That last one pissed her off. She was no ones business. She could take care of herself, and that's why she was about to tell them to shut up—to back off—when the boys suddenly grew quiet. The world was silent. The sky was breathing.
Bella had been staring at the stars when the truck stopped. She didn't know why they had stopped moving—they couldn't be there yet. She looked over her shoulder and peered into the small window between herself and the boys in the cab. Edward had his fists tight around the wheel. He hadn't let anyone drive for hours. Demetri was sitting beside him. He was sitting way too straight. Austin was in the passenger side, cupping the back of his neck with his hand.
"What's going on?" Bella asked. It took a second for her to stand up because her body ached from lying on her back for so long. She used the cab to support some of her weight. Her body was really starting to ache and every little movement felt like the bullets were digging deeper and deeper. She should never have let them heal over and now she was dealing with the consequences. But she pushed her mind away from the pain for a second. Her mind was distracted by what was blocking their way down the road. It was dark but she could still see.
Way out, about fifty feet meters away, the end of the truck's headlights lit up a tall, dark figure. He was alone. Completely vulnerable. A lot like me, she thought. She didn't know why she thought that just then. She wasn't alone. Not really. But you didn't really need to be alone to feel it.
The scene was quiet. Everyone wanted to say something but nobody did. They couldn't because they didn't know what to say. Who would walk out first? Who would take the risk and introduce themselves? What would they say? What would they do? Everyone had these thoughts, expect it was Bella who finally said them out loud.
"How do we know if it's him?" she whispered. She couldn't see any of the boys' faces but she knew they could hear her. Everyone could hear everyone. "Kind of dangerous, don't you think?"
Bella didn't wait for an answer. Something happened before anyone could say anything.
It was a simple shift in the wind. An ordinary but overlooked thing. It came from the right of the truck, the direction of the mountains, and quickly blew Bella's hair across her face, hiding her view of the scene. Without really even thinking about it, Bella swiped her hair out of her eyes, just like she always did when her long hair got in her way. But, in that quick motion, between one second and another, the scene changed. No, it hadn't actually changed. The figure was still alone. He was still in the distance. He was still vulnerable. But to Bella…somehow…he looked…clearer. It was like he had stepped forward from out of the darkness, even though he hadn't taken a single step.
Why did she recognize the figure in the road? She couldn't decide where she had seen him, or why he was sending her back—way back—to a time that no longer existed. But the more she stared at him, the more she went back. And then she knew for sure. It was the way he was standing. He stood with a straight back. Straight like an arrow. Yet his shoulders were slouched. Slouched like someone who didn't care. Slouched like someone who no longer cared. Slouched like someone who never cared. Slouched like the boy from the hills who stared into nothing. And like the boy in the hills, his head was tilted to the right and slightly back. Confidence. Apprehension. Or plain exhaustion. Maybe all three.
She knew who it was. It was a boy from somewhere else. Another time and place, here for her, just like before.
Neither Edward, Demetri, or Austin knew or recognized the figure standing in the road. He looked how they expected him to look—like someone in the middle of nowhere. That's why none of them saw the revelation go on over their heads, or expected Bella's sudden reaction.
As soon as Bella realized she recognized the figure she didn't think about anything else. It was like she wasn't in control of her body—her emotions were taking over. Without warning, her body flew down the windshield, thumped onto the hood, and then disappeared below the headlights.
"Jesus Christ." Edward grabbed for the door.
Demetri grabbed Edward. "Wait," he said.
Edward saw what Demetri finally saw. The figure wasn't just some random. There was no such thing. It was something from Demetri's past—Bella's past, and not his. And when he looked away from Demetri, there was the proof right in front of him.
Running hug and everything.
She still had that bright aura about her. It was something he had never seen. Only this hybrid had it. And here she was. Running towards him. Like nothing had happened. Like the whole world hadn't disappeared. Like they were back in Ireland. Back to staring at stars.
Derek closed the last few feet. And then she was in his arms. Wrapped tightly there. Feet off the ground. Body crushing body. She inhaled and he felt it, and it was the first thing he felt in awhile. He closed his eyes and went back to every moment they had ever had, every moment that made it worth it to still be living. Their relationship had found itself again. It wasn't rare. But it was definitely special.
Derek spoke first. He pulled away from the hybrid and stared her dead in the eyes. "Well Bella…"
She laughed and then her gaze fell to the ground. She wanted to cry. She smiled to hold it back. But when he touched her arm she really lost it. Her shoulders shook and she had to take a step back. She needed room. Room to breathe. Room to think. Room to look at him. She looked at him through the tears. Through the darkness. Through it all—because that's what they had been through.
"'Well Bella what?" she asked finally, dragging her hand across her face to wipe away the tears. The old routine was easy to fall back into. It made her want to cry even more. She was alive because of him.
Derek shifted his footing. Straightened his shoulders. Like someone had suddenly gotten his attention or something. But they fell back down quickly, back to that comfortable place. And then he fell back into the banter from the past. "I was just going to comment…" he began, rubbing his jaw lazily. He paused, purposely dragging out the moment, and then said it. "You look different."
Bella choked. It sounded that way, anyway. She covered her mouth and closed her eyes, the tears falling down the sides of her cheeks.
Derek pulled her back into his arms and pressed his lips to her hair. He felt like his heart had been unlocked. He felt light. He felt free. He felt like a human. That's how Bella had always made him feel.
"I could say the same to you too," she said, looking up at her long lost comrade. "Where have those sad eyes of yours gone to?"
"I just found out my best friend was alive," he said. "What's your excuse?"
Bella smiled…because she had gotten her best friend back too. And for once, even though the old 93 highway was astonishingly long, the world was shockingly small. So it seemed.
"How does that taste in your mouth?"
Edward glared at Demetri. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Demetri pictured Derek and Bella. They were doing what they always did—running off. Demetri knew their intentions, but the way he painted it in his head for Edward made it look less platonic and more romantic.
"I know what you're doing."
Demetri shrugged. "You shouldn't be worrying about what I'm doing." He nodded at Bella and Derek, who were making their way back to the truck. They were side by side. "He's the guy that should be on your radar."
Edward glared through the windshield at the two former Guard members. They were making their way towards the truck, and neither of them could rip their eyes off the other. They were deep in conversation, and even though Edward couldn't see what Bella was thinking, he saw it all written on her face. She looked happy. Genuinely happy. Like she had been given something that no one could ever give her. And that was just great for Edward. Just great.
"Are you going to say hi or what?" Austin asked. "He's Jude's brother."
Edward shook his head but got out of the truck anyway. When he slammed the door, both Bella and Derek looked over at him.
Bella looked at the ground and then at Derek. Derek straightened his back.
Edward held out his hand. "I'm Edward."
Derek reached out and shook his hand. "I'm Jude's brother. Derek."
"She never mentioned you." Edward stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked at Bella. He didn't know which girl he was talking about. But he noticed Bella's glare. And that told him he wasn't in a good spot. Already. It had been two seconds of knowing the guy and Edward wasn't making a good impression. He didn't know what a good impression was though. It didn't matter. Because while Derek scanned his new comrades, Edward noticed the way his thoughts were laced with ecstasy—like someone in love.
"We have a lot to discuss." Bella nodded at the cab. "Of course," she said, pointing at Demetri. "You know him already." She looked at Derek, and he gave Demetri and unimpressed nod.
Edward noticed the way Derek immediately started thinking about all the times Demetri had gotten in his way. It was almost funny seeing the memories from the past, old grudges that weren't so old now. Edward thought he was the only one who didn't get along with other people. That wasn't the case apparently. Demetri had the same feelings for Derek. He hated him just as much.
"It's been awhile." Derek nodded at Austin. "Who's the other little guy?"
"That's Austin. You're sister's boyfriend, apparently." Edward just had to stick that in there, and it was worth it when Austin sunk a little lower into his seat from seeing Derek's reaction.
"Well she's never mentioned him, so, who knows," Bella said. "And they haven't even seen each other in a long time…things change."
Edward noticed how Bella shot her eye at him when she said that. Things change. Things did have a tendency to change. But had they changed? Had they ever really had something to change? They weren't' exactly a couple, him and Bella. Nothing official, anyway. There was no such thing as official these days, when a world didn't exist to confirm anything. And by the way Derek was lusting over Bella—who knows how she felt about him. Maybe they really did have something.
"She didn't mention him." Derek moved on. "I think there wasn't really time to talk about such things, given the circumstances."
"And what kind of circumstances were those?" Edward asked.
Derek sighed. "I shouldn't call it a circumstance at all. Pure luck was what it was. Pure luck."
"Pure coincidence then."
"Yes. Coincidence. Fate, as it were, that both of us ended up there."
"Where?" Edward pressed.
Derek didn't want to talk much further. But he kept it short. "The Guard's grip," he said lowly, getting a quick glance at Bella, "gets everyone, and not everyone gets out." He sighed after, and then perked up a bit. "But I'm sure you've heard it all before, seeing how you've been camping out with The Guard's number one mistake."
Edward knew who that was. That mistake was standing right next to him, arms crossed, eyes somewhere else. But what was getting irritating was hearing these stories and rumours from everyone else—from everyone else but the person who had lived through it all. And that was frustrating since he and Bella were supposed to be close. He didn't even know Bella and he was in love with her. How was that even possible? Neither of them really knew each other, really. Demetri had been right all along.
Bella left them standing there right after Derek's comment. She kind of just slithered away, and Edward watched her climb into the back of the truck. She kept her back to them, the usual Bella thing to do.
"What'd I say?" Derek asked. "It's true."
Edward looked at Derek. Even though Derek had probably seen and been through it all with Bella, he didn't seem to know the little things about her. Like how she didn't like to talk about the past. Or herself. Or her family. Those little things—huge really—were what mattered the most. And he knew that and that's why they had got along in the first place. Well, used to get along. For a bit, anyway.
"Are you going to tell us where Jude is, then?" Edward asked, changing the subject.
Derek shrugged. "Who knows where she is now. I'll show you guys to my R-Base. It's a couple miles from here, and maybe we can send out some messages over the radios to the other base camps to keep an eye out for her."
Edward shrugged. "What exactly happened out there?"
Derek shrugged. "She's Jude, you know?"
Edward didn't say anything. He knew what that meant. Not because he knew Jude, but because he was dealing with the same situation with another wild girl.
Derek sat up front with Edward and Austin and directed them where to drive. He told them it was only a couple miles away, but that they'd need to take some precautions. That's why he had Edward circling the area first, just in case, and then Austin got out the walkie and radioed his base. They gave him the clear to come in.
"Get off this road."
"Where? There's no connecting road."
"That's the point."
Edward did as he said. He pulled the truck off the cracked pavement and drove across the plains instead. It was wide open space, and in the distance, to the east, the sun was slowly crawling out from behind the mountains, lighting the way to nowhere. He tried to go around the pot holes and bumps, but when he tried avoiding one thing he almost always hit another. That sent the hybrid in the back up into the air, landing on the metal with a string of curse words.
"You should have sat up front," Demetri said.
Bella didn't say anything—wouldn't even look at him. She just wrapped her arms around herself and tried to make it look like she wasn't holding onto the pain.
"It's getting worse, isn't it?" he asked.
She stared out into the open land. Her hands balled into fists.
Edward watched Bella in the mirror. He noticed how she was sitting. It was like she could barely hold herself up. It took a lot not to stop the truck and check on her. He watched her in the rear-view mirror until she caught him looking at her. Her eyes pierced into his and then he turned back to looking at the road.
Edward didn't know how Derek knew where to go. He would have thought he was guessing if he didn't see Derek's calculations in his head, something the guy kept going over and over from several trips back and forth between Guard camps and resistance ones. The guy's mind was insanely complicated. He was always thinking about something different, always jumping from one thing to another. It was exhausting trying to watch, which was why he tried to stay out.
"How do you keep going back and forth between sides without getting caught?" Edward asked. He was curious but he was also trying to distract Derek from thinking about Bella, which he had started doing in between planning and calculating miles.
Derek wasn't expecting such a blunt question. Especially from Edward, who was someone he wasn't quite sure about. He saw that he had good intentions, but those intentions were unclear—like someone who still wasn't sure of themselves—and that made Derek question what he was about. His kind was typical—mind reader who thinks he's all knowing. Derek had seen it all before though, and that was the problem. He wasn't intimidated by Edward's ability. Not even in the least bit.
"You're a mind reader," he said. "That's exciting."
Edward smirked but his eyes stared through the windshield at nothing in particular. "I'm just wondering how you do it."
"Go back and forth."
Derek chuckled but there wasn't anything funny in the sound of it. "I'm not a flip/flop, if that's what you're asking."
Flip/flop. He wouldn't have known the term if it wasn't for Demetri calling Bella one only a few hours ago. And like Bella, it was something Derek was offended by. No one wanted to be in two places. Everyone wanted to have a home. A place where they belonged. A side that they belonged to. That was difficult when you were crossing over two, straddling a line, telling one side something, and one side something else.
"I know what you're thinking."
Edward looked over at him. "Oh yeah? You're a mind reader too?"
"I don't have to be. It's all on your face."
Edward didn't say anything else. Only because that's when Austin chimed in.
"How did she look?"
"What are you talking about?" Derek eyed Austin strangely, accusing him of something when he had done nothing. It was something any older brother would do when meeting a love interest of their younger sister. And since Jude wasn't around, he could be especially difficult to him. He had failed at being an older brother back then, but it wasn't to late now to try it again. Which he intended. And so far, he was judging the poor little hybrid pretty well. To him, Austin was just as questionable as Edward. Only there was nothing special about him. He was just a hybrid with shade all over him. More human than Bella.
"Jude. When you saw her. Was she okay?"
"What's it to you?"
Austin moved his body so that his shoulders were facing Derek. "I'm worried about her."
Derek looked at him. "How do you two even know each other?"
"She's somebody that I used to know."
Derek chuckled. "Everyone is."
"She kept me alive in The Guard. Gave me something to live for. Gave me a reason to get out. I owe her everything."
"Jude was never in The Guard."
That wasn't the point. Austin told him that. "She's too smart to fall for something like that."
Derek eyed Austin. It was an insult directed right at the both of them. And it was true. He'd left Alberta. Left his town. Left his farm. Left his scientific family and their scientific theories. Left Jude. And Jude was left with them. And Jude survived. And Jude didn't get involved with the Guard. And Jude survived on her own. The only member of their family that survived alone. No help needed.
It went against everything he had been taught, everything he had learned through The Guard. Kill or be killed wasn't the running theory. It was survive and thrive. Survive and thrive. And don't die. And Jude had done it all. Alone.
Edward stopped the truck when he saw nowhere else to go.
"Where am I supposed to go? There's nowhere else to drive."
That's what it looked like. It was mountains in front of the truck, and there wasn't anywhere to get around them or through them. Wide open spaces had closed spaces too.
"Head that way." Derek pointed west.
Edward did as he said as soon as he saw Derek's little calculations of miles and routes quickly appearing through his brain. He headed away from the rising sun, away from the barren lands and towards the mountains that were slowly beginning to look different. They weren't like the other mountains made out of the steep rock and jagged edges. They were like rolling hills of dried dirt, curved and smooth. It wasn't unusual to see mountains on flat, barren, land. They just seemed too soft. Not really like mountains. More like rolling hills. Rolling hills of dried dirt instead of green grass.
And then Edward saw it. Austin did too. There was a path. Barely. But it was there, from other tires.
"Go up that incline there." Derek pointed to the road that Edward was already headed for. "It snakes up the mountain slowly. It will bring us around the other side."
"How?" Austin asked. "It looks like it goes nowhere."
"That's how it's supposed to look."
Austin didn't understand until the truck slowly started the incline. It followed the winding trail up the mountain for ten minutes, slowly taking each curve carefully, until a fork in the road appeared. One continued to lead up the mountain, in view of everything, while the other took a short cut…through the mountain.
"I'm guessing that's where the camp is?" Austin said.
No one answered him and Edward steered the truck towards the cave. The truck disappeared into the mountain, and the sun disappeared behind them.
Bella laid down in the bed of the truck. The cave was completely dark and there was no point in trying to see anything. She even closed her eyes and concentrated on the noises around her. It sounded like Edward and Derek were arguing. She tried listening but she found that she couldn't care—didn't care, at all. It felt like her body was slowly falling into paralysis, and it felt good to lay back and welcome sleep, which she was trying to do when she heard a rifle being cocked.
Bella's eyes flew open. The truck had stopped and Derek's voice was yelling for his base members. It took only a few seconds for a flashlight to turn on, and three huge men appear from behind the truck. Bella flinched and Demetri chuckled at her nervousness.
"Hello boys—good to see ya again," Derek said, exiting the truck. The three men started laughing and Derek greeted each of them with handshakes that showed they were friendly.
"Where've you been there comrade?" one of the men asked, putting his flashlight on Derek's face. "You look worn out."
"I am. I found my sister…"
The flashlight moved to the cab of the truck, searching for the girl Derek spoke of. It scanned through Austin and Edward, who were slowly getting out of the truck, and then moved to the back of the truck. When the beam landed on Bella's face, the man whistled.
"She's a pretty little thing," the man said. Another man whistled in the background and then all three started laughing. The beam stayed on Bella's face until she held up her hand to block it.
"That's not Jude," Edward said, moving between Bella and the men.
The man with the flashlight looked at Derek. "Where's your sister then? And who the hell is she?"
Derek sighed. "It's a long story…but that's Bella Swan."
The men went silent.
Derek promised to explain everything once they got to the camp, which required a bit of a walk to get there. Edward didn't want to leave the truck but it was promised that it was safely hidden and could return to it whenever he pleased. Austin didn't care about leaving the truck—he wanted to sleep, and the sooner they got to camp the sooner he could pass out. Demetri didn't seem to care about anything. He had already made friends with the three men, and was enjoying a few jokes at Derek's expense. Bella on the other hand…well…she couldn't get out of the truck.
The three men and Demetri were at the lead, already walking off. Austin hung around in the middle, slowly following their lead. Derek was waiting for Edward, who in turn, was waiting for Bella. Bella wasn't waiting for anybody.
"Are you coming Bella?" Derek yelled, the cave picking up the echo. One of the men turned around to look at them. He stopped and the other two led Demetri and Austin back to camp.
"What seems to be the problem?" the man yelled. He pulled a flashlight out from the back of his jeans and slowly started walking back to the truck. He had on a cowboy hat that looked out of place with his leather combat boots and cargo jacket.
Edward jumped into the bed of the truck and leaned over Bella. "What's wrong," he hissed. "And don't lie to me."
Bella shook her head and then slowly got to her feet. She stumbled a bit and Edward's hands shot out around her waist to steady her.
She cut Derek off. "We're coming, we'll catch up with ya," she yelled.
"We can't leave you or you won't know where to go," he yelled. "Come on! You're slowing us down."
You're slowing us down. Bella gritted her teeth. It was one of the worst things to hear. But she physically knew she wouldn't be able to keep up much longer. Something was wrong with her.
"Come on Bella," Edward said. His hands tightened around her waist. "I've got you."
Bella nodded and let Edward jump out of the truck to help her down. He reached up and took one of her hands, expecting her to at least be okay enough to land on her two feet. But when Bella jumped, her knees buckled, and Edward had to intervene.
"What is going on with you?" he whispered so the others couldn't hear.
"Let's just get to camp," she said. "They're waiting."
Bella took a few steps and at first she thought she cold hold off the pain. But it sliced into her muscles and she found herself stumbling again. Tears poured down her face and she held back from screaming out.
"We're going," Derek yelled. "Keep up or you'll get lost!"
Bella looked up and watched the flashlight slowly start to enter into more darkness. It was growing lighter and lighter, and as they stood there, they eventually wouldn't be able to see it.
He didn't let her finish. With one quick swoop Bella was in his arms. He held her close to his chest and cradled her like a child. He started walking and followed after Derek and the other man.
"You don't have to carry me—"
"Yeah I do, Bella." He tried to keep his voice low. "You can't walk."
Bella didn't argue. She suddenly started feeling even weaker, and before she knew it, she was having trouble keeping her eyes open. She felt like she was swimming through a current, and somewhere in the distance, her name was repeating over and over again, until finally, she heard nothing but silence.
"Put her here."
They had reached the camp in under ten minutes. It was record time considering how hidden it was in the mountains. But they had a reason to hurry—Bella was unconscious.
"I don't know what happened," Edward said, laying her down where a woman camper had spread a blanket on the ground. The woman had a pail of water and a cloth already in her possession and started dabbing the hybrid's head.
"It's simple exhaustion," she said. But the woman had no clue that is was Bella Swan, and that her hybrid body wasn't as susceptible to exhaustion as the average human. But the woman was filled in once she saw the holes in the hybrid's sweater…and the dry blood stains. "What in God's name—"
"It's Bella Swan," the man wearing the cowboy hat said.
The camp, which consisted of about thirty people all spread out through the lit up cave, went nuts. They couldn't believe they were in the presence of the hybrid who had started The Resistance. Some of them didn't know what to think. Some of them were scared. Some of them were hopeful.
"The Volturi—they'll come looking for her!"
"She's doomed us all—"
"She's a hero!"
"She's a coward!"
"Get it out of here!"
The woman tending to Bella held up her hand. The cave went silent. "This girl needs help. And once we help her, then we can decide what is best."
Bella was slowly starting to regain consciousness. Her body ached and the pain was still too much for her to stay awake. "Edward…don't leave me" she whispered.
Edward kneeled beside the hyrbird's head and pulled a few strands of hair off of her forehead. Her skin was hot to the touch and it scared him. "I'll never leave you again and you know that."
"Where's the doctor?" the woman asked. "Doctor!" she yelled over her shoulder. "She's waking up!"
A man stepped out from the shadows. He had been watching the entire scene unfold. Bella saw a glimpse of him over Edward's shoulder.
"Young Bella," Jones said. "What have you done to yourself this time?"
Bella started screaming. She had completely lost her mind.
Song: "Somebody That I Used To Know" by GOTYE.