Chapter 10 -

The Lights

Edward Cullen -

Afterward, Bella seemed content to lie motionless with her nose pressed up against my chest, still straddling my waist with her knees on either side of me. We both breathed deeply, albeit unnecessarily, and I simply skimmed my fingers along the bones in her spine and listened to the sounds of the waterfall.

The calmness radiating off of Bella was intoxicating, lulling me into a trance-like state. With her most pressing hungers sated for the next few minutes, she was finally able to relax, think. I was hesitant to interrupt her, but something ate at me.

"Bella?" I asked quietly, trying my hardest to keep the tension drained out of her.

Unfortunately, her shoulders stiffened slightly regardless, and she began to stutter out, "I'm not sure that I -"

"Shh," I gently scolded her, tightening my grasp on her and pushing her face further into my chest. "I need to tell you something, important...and I think that now would be a good time to say it."

"Why now?" She asked, curious but sad.

I breathed in her scent deeply, she smelled like rainwater and minerals and still slightly of soot, of course; but, her recently scrubbed body was fragrant with that uniquely appetizing and floral flavor that was undeniably Bella. When she was human it had made me uncontrolled, hungry, irrational. Now it made me lustful and somehow desperate. As always, it made me whole.

"Right now you are very in control of yourself, I can feel it. For newborns, social interaction is always easier after hunting." I smiled into her hair. "It's easier to be in control of yourself when all of your monster's wants are satisfied."

"I don't feel like I'm in control, right now or ever," she mumbled into my chest.

"You will, Bella. It gets easier. And I don't tell you this enough, but you're doing wonderfully." I squeezed her in my arms to emphasize my words. "I'm very proud of you."

She scoffed at that, and was silent for a moment. "How do you know the difference?"

"Hm?" I questioned, my face still burrowed in her hair.

"How do you know when I'm Bella, and when I'm not? I wish I could see it, or feel it." She finally turned her face away from my bare chest, lying her cheek against my skin and casting her gaze to the ground beside us.

I sighed. How did I explain the psychological trauma that changing causes us all? How could I make her understand that while she was so different, she was ultimately the same? Did I dare admit to her how much her confusion was my own selfish doing, my own failure at raising her?

I guess I had to start somewhere.

"Bella, when you're not in control, or when you're angry or particularly hungry or overwhelmed do you ever feel disgusted with yourself?"

"Of course," she whispered.

"It almost feels as if you're split in two on the inside, like there's this new part controlling you and nothing you can do can stop it. You feel like a prisoner." I raised my voice at the end to turn my statement into a question, and I felt Bella's head nod on my chest.

"That other part, the part that feels disgusted and helpless, all of those other parts that aren't the monster...that's you, Bella." My answer seemed oddly simplistic. Sure enough, it didn't satisfy her.

"So that's it? There's just me and the monster. What about all the pieces of me that I lost, all of the human parts? That's just gone?"

She was starting to get upset and I knew that her angst wouldn't help anything. While her temper might be slowly improving, her patience was still thin and her anger was explosive. I couldn't push her too far today.

"By your logic then, Bella's gone." she snapped at me.

"No love, that's exactly why she's not gone." I sighed again, rubbing my hands along her back in an effort to soothe her. "I'll never be able to tell you how sorry I am for letting you believe that, even for a second. It was cruel."

My last statement was apparently too much for her, and she began to push away from me, breaking through my hold. Still struggling in my grip, she looked at me and nearly spat, "I'm so tired of the apologies Edward. Seriously. I get it. You're sorry."

"Wait, Bella. Stop." I continued to grasp at her, unable to let go, and she reluctantly stayed in my lap - mostly, I think, because she was scared of disturbing my bandaged legs below her. Finally, she stilled and looked at my face.

"I know I've apologized, but I want to do it now, while your really here with me. I want to apologize to Bella."

She began to struggle again. "Edward, its not like that. I might not be totally savage right now but I still don't think-"

"Listen to me" I cut her off again, praying she didn't shove off of me for my rudeness. I pulled her back into my chest, burying my face in her hair again. It was easier for me to think this way; maybe the same was true for her as well.

"I'm sorry that I hurt you, and I think that its pretty clear that it was never my intention. More like my worst nightmare. I'm sorry for putting us in the situation to begin with and I'm sorry that, and...fuck. I'm humiliated and disgusted with myself, but I'm working on that." By the end my words strung together, trying to finish before she interrupted me. "I'm sorry for the way I acted after, I haven't taken the best care of you and I definitely haven't taken very good care of myself."

Her delicious breath was ragged against me and I didn't know if she was angry or sad, but she was still quiet so after a few tense moments I continued.

"I know that you characterize yourself as three beings right now, and while I can't say that I've ever seen of heard of anything like it, it seems to be feasible under the circumstances. Bella represents all the things you lost - she's your humanity, and she was something real and understandable for you to grieve for. For us to grieve for." I wanted to apologize again, for the wallowing and enabling that I'd done, but I swallowed it down and stayed my course.

"But I don't think that its true Bella, at least not on the level that you see it now. I can tell you for a fact that it's totally normal to want to separate yourself from what happened to you, from your 'monster', so to speak. The change was hard for all of us. I know what its like to feel like you've lost who you are."

I let the thought sink in for a moment, and she was calm again, breathing in and out against my chest.

"Your humanity is gone." My voice was filled with finality but also comfort. It was a sad, simple truth. "But not everything that you were as a human is gone. All the things that made you Bella are not gone. I think, that after what happened to you, you hid a lot of your old self away, sort of a last ditch preservation effort." I sighed again and gave her body another gentle squeeze. "And now I'm going to help you, and we're going to put all of the pieces together - the old Bella and the new Isabella and even the predator that we'll learn to control."

"I hope you're right," she finally answered quietly. "I don't see how it will get better but I'll try to trust you."

"Thank you. Truly. And you're doing fine, love." I soothed her. My heart swelled at our closeness and I brushed my hands through her damp hair, causing her scent to swirl in the air around us. "I swear, it will get better. Easier. I'll show you."

Isabella Cullen -

I wanted to stay curled into his chest for hours, but unfortunately my extreme actions had made extended alone time much harder for us. I could smell Carlisle and Esme everywhere on the island around us, almost as if they'd coated the entire jungle with their scents, but I couldn't help but push my obligations aside for a few more short moments.

Not all of Edward's musings made sense to me, but they did all provide me with comfort, even if it was just because I truly thought he believed what he said. Bella Swan was changed, but not gone. Isabella and Bella were one in the same, she had been right here the entire time, silent and suffering.

Could it be true?

"If what you're saying is true, then I have something to say too." Edward leaned his head back when I cocked my head back away from his chest, and we looked into each other's eyes.

"I'm sorry too. I'm so, so sorry for what I did that night."

"Bella," Edward dismissed my words with the tone of his voice. He pulled our bodies back together. "You don't have to say anyth-"

This time I cut him off by pressing my lips to his, and his voice was indeed quieted and his eyes shocked and glazed when I pulled back.

"No, if you get to apologize, then so do I. If I'm still Bella, if we're really the same, then I want to say that I'm sorry for what she - I mean, I - did. I knew better than to try something like that, it put you in an impossible position."

His eyes were closed when I finished, and he sighed and pulled our faces together again, pushing our foreheads together. His voice was so quiet I barely heard him say, "You're forgiven, Bella."

"I'm also sorry for your legs," I added quietly. I knew that he was trying not to think of them, but I also knew that the pain must be significant. Just the sight of his scorched shins caused some primal part of me to cower.

He just chuckled softly. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I can't believe I did this to myself." He looked down, then back up at me through his long, bronze lashes. "I wont be able to care for you alone, anymore. Carlisle will never allow it."

I hadn't thought of that, and my instinctual reaction was defiance. More watchers meant less freedom. I had power and influence over Edward that I doubted would carry over to the rest of his family.

My anger must have been evident because I heard Edward whisper, "I'm sorry love. I know it's the opposite of what you wanted."

His words struck a chord with me, and my angers leaked away.

"No, its fine." I stated glumly. "It's probably best that the others will be here. I need all the help I can get, I guess. It's hard, it seems wrong to me...but I do need the supervision. I just want to be normal again."

"You will be", he said with confidence. "And its normal to crave independence, its part of who we are."

who we are. My mind reverberated with his words.

"We'll have to move on as well, if we're all going to stay together", he said. "One newborn every five decades or so is one thing, but Isle Esme is too small to support all of us, especially with your appetite." The left side of his mouth turned up, but his heart wasn't in it.

I couldn't help but frown again, and I pushed my face back into his chest to the refuge of his scent. When I was this close to him, his essence seemed to overwhelm my senses of taste, smell and touch. My monster waited impatiently in her chains, sated but never satisfied, but I was able to focus marginally when my concentration was supplemented by his overwhelming presence. I wondered absently how long we could exist in this limbo, between my hunger and lust - hiding from my anger.

I forced Edward's earlier thoughts to sing in my head, I swear, it will get better. Easier.

"Where are we going?" I asked quietly, already resigned to leaving.

He was hesitant. "I've been thinking, that maybe it would be best if we went back to a colder climate." He felt as well as heard my sudden intake of breath to argue. "Just let me explain first, love, then you can have your say. I think that when we were in Alaska, it was easier for you to control yourself. I didn't think of it before we came here, but I imagine that this environment is particularly overwhelming for a newborn. The animals population is unnaturally dense here, exotic, and the humidity and ocean winds don't help much, I imagine. In Alaska, scents were more muted. The air was easier for you to handle."

It was true that I felt more primal here in this jungle than I had in the frozen forests. I contributed the difference to my introduction into hunting. Once I let my monster out of her cage, it was nearly impossible to cowl her again.

Was it possible that the environment was a causation of my wildness? At least one of them?

Even if it was true, the thought of that dark wooden cabin made my chest fill heavy. I didn't want to go, my monster was thoroughly against the idea.

Still - following my own instincts had nearly driven Edward and I both insane, it had cost us Esme's beachhouse, it had mutilated my Reason.

"I didn't like Alaska, but if you all think it's best I'll go back." Even though I knew it was right, my submissive words burnt on my tongue.

Edward tilted my face up. "We don't have to go to Alaska, love. We'll compromise. We can talk to Carlisle."

There it was. His casual mention of his family brought me back to our harsh reality. It wasn't fair for me to continue to huddle in the woods, avoiding what I'd done. I sighed and began the process of untangling myself from Edward's limbs. As soon as my nose left the haven of his chest, my mind swirled with sensory information, thrust at me and filed away at a speed that was still strange to me.

Once on my feet, I held my hand out for Edward and he took it, allowing himself to be hoisted off of the ground. The white pants he had on were already filthy from our time in the mud by the waterfall, and he pointed out a white dress to me a few feet away. I slipped it over my slightly damp hair and then put my arm around his middle, supporting his weight again.

"Do you want me to carry you? Or perhaps you would you like to try riding piggyback?" He threw his head back and laughed at my words, and I felt a sense of accomplishment, then love. I was startled by my feelings, but I was utterly stunned by my instant recognition of them. It was something that I had definitely felt before.

"I think this will do for now, love. Though if we have to do any serious traveling on foot, I might take you up on your offer."

And so once again we began to pace into the trees, keeping our pace human and gentle for Edward's benefit and clinging to one another tighter than was strictly necessary. The burning of my throat was beginning to distract me, but I pushed the need back down and tried to bottle it up in my chest. I wasn't entirely successful, and I knew that in the end it was merely a stall tactic. But for now all I could hope for was that I could hold on to some semblance of myself long enough to tell Esme and Carlisle how sorry I was.

Then I knew that my predator would break loose again, and I would turn back into something that I couldn't control or fully understand, something that I'm not sure I can ever fully accept. She will take what's hers and leave what doesn't appeal to her, and she will use Edward because he is willing and beautiful and belongs to her.

I tried not to be afraid, or angry of what would come. As we walked to my next act of repentance, and I contemplated future sins, I tried to only think of Edward's promise.

I swear, it will get better. Easier.

Edward Cullen -

In the pristine wilderness outside of Forks, Washington, Charlie snored softly with his chin resting against the rough flannel of his shirt, his neck bent at an awkward angle that may have felt uncomfortable given a more civilized location and less alcohol. His fishing pole balanced precariously in his hand, limp with sleep, and fortunately no fish had happened by to jerk the line - and subsequently, the pole - into the frigid river.

I, myself was also balanced rather precariously, high in the fir trees that lined the bank on the other side of the river. I'd been watching this drunken fishing expedition for hours, listening to the soft snores and occasional jagged intakes of breath that blended evenly with the moving water. I made it a point to listen intently for the sounds of approaching animals - for my own safety - but so far I had heard nothing. Though my family had avoided the detection of human law enforcement those months ago, not everyone was so easily fooled. The Cullens would never be welcome in this part of the country again, the excommunication was completely expected and warranted, and we wouldn't fight it. With the small exception of this trip and two others, no vampire had set foot in Forks, Washington since the night that Carlisle and the rest of my family disappeared with a U-haul and a luxury car carrier into the night.

I watched his posture become more and more slumped as he collapsed further into his camping chair, his eyes lidding themselves as the bottles in his cooler were drained one by one.

I knew from thoughts overheard at his house earlier in the morning that Charlie's peace on this river bank would be his only slice of tranquility in the coming days. Sue, his on-and-off again girlfriend of the past several months, was staging what most would call an intervention, although the tribe was straying away from that exact phrasing. When Charlie returned in his police cruiser later this evening, still thoroughly buzzed and smelling of stale beer and bait, he'll be greeted by several of his lifetime friends, huddled shoulder-to-shoulder in his modest living room.

I tried not to think too much about that. I'd have to be gone long before then, not that I'd be greeted warmly by the participants anyway. The natives were the only ones in the tiny town of Forks that hadn't bought the story of Bella's disappearance. The scene of the crime had stank of our kind to them, and I knew if they caught me in these woods that there would be hell to pay.

Hell I rightfully deserved to endure.

Under slightly different circumstances I may have given myself to them. Hell, months ago I would have walked into their stronghold and started yanking on tails, provoked them into gifting me my death. But other obligations kept me from giving into that familiar, selfish grief. I concentrated on the man in front of me, leaving my own protection in the hands of my ever-lucid subconscious.

Charlie's thoughts had always been fuzzy to me, and his dreams were even harder to decipher. Mostly all I got were snatches of voices and colors, occasional flashes of faces. His sadness was unmistakable, it hung around his shoulders like a thick quilt. It was easy to hear in all of Charlie's mind, awake or otherwise.

Expectedly, he had taken the death of his only daughter with graceless desolation. He shed fat tears along with the weight that Bella's cooking had added to his frame. He'd pounded his fists into his walls until holes littered the upstairs, he drank himself oblivion on more nights than not. He threw himself into the investigation of the murder with disturbing ferver, much to the displeasure of his superiors. He drove himself nearly insane with pictures and documents, suspect histories, topographical maps. He broke down into violent hysterics when Eric Fieldman had refused to give up the location of his tiny, fragile girl, even if it was just her empty body now.

He'd been sedated for weeks in the beginning, self-medicated nearly constantly since. On some level, he would be miserable always. Unwhole. I was empathetic to his pain, even though it was incomprehensible.

My family did what they could for him, from a safe distance of course. Alice almost always saw his day-long benders coming and frequently intervened, tricking some member of Charlie's small inner circle into checking up on him or deterring him from some of his more dangerous detective ideas. Only one time had Alice shown up in person, at great individual risk, after she had a vision of him scouring mental hospitals in Juneau, looking for me. Well, not truly looking for me, but grasping for connections - desperately clinging to the memory of his daughter; his only precious child.

Alice had convinced him that a visit would destroy me, set me back months in my therapy. He relented, feeling guilty but illogically jealous that I had found any sort of relief at all.

Charlie's cell phone rang, startling him awake and causing his fishing pole to land in the dirt at his feet. With a red face and droopy eyes, he murmured illegibly and finally dragged his phone out of his front pant's pocket. After a few quick words with Sue, he hung up and began to gather his things. The past eighteen months hung like a heavy weight across his back - one that not even Alice could see dissipating.

I carefully hopped between tree limbs until I was safely blanketed by the trees. Then I dropped down to the forest floor, hissing as I landed, and took off at my oddly swift but awkward gait.

I would bring only good news to Bella, his health, his fishing trip, unless some specific question of her's wouldn't allow that. I couldn't lie to her (no more masks, she'd said in all solemnity a few weeks before...), but I would still try to protect her, if she'd let me.

Her determination was staggering, and I knew that I shouldn't be surprised but sometimes I couldn't help but be awed by her endurance and trust, her forgiveness of me. Could she really have forgiven me?

While I pondered, I continued my uneven lope through the forest, heading south. I had miles to go before twilight.

Isabella Cullen -

Eighteen long months had passed since the tragedy that tore all of our lives apart. In some ways it seemed like it happened yesterday, the scars were so fresh and sore and overwhelming. Sometimes it seems like another lifetime altogether that I was in high school, worrying about avoiding the advances of Mike Newton and blushing furiously at the slightest provocation from Edward.

Sometimes my human life doesn't seem real at all.

I know that it was...I believed that now. I'd heard a thousand stories from my family, some sad or embarrassing but many more that were happy and amusing, most of the time even vaguely familiar. Even though I no longer had the books, everything that I read in them, everything that I wrote, was still etched in my brain.

Eighteen long, trying months had come and gone while I coped with what my life had become. In that time I'd wished more times than I could count (well, that's not entirely true, I can recall every, single one) that I could physically cry. Humans are so blessed to be able to tangibly push their pain, or sometimes their overpowering joy or fear, from their body. He act was full of nostalgia for me, promised traces of comfort, but it was something that was wholly impossible for me, at least in the way that I craved.

Sometimes, being a vampire is about accepting things like that.

My throat was beginning to burn past the point of annoyance into pain, so I reached for the black water bottle at my feet. My hand was only inches from my prize when my head yanked back and stopped my progress.

"Stay still!!" Alice said above me, popping me brusquely with the curling iron still holding a lock of my hair.

"Ow! Fuck Alice!" I snapped, even though it didn't really hurt. My cursing had gotten much worse in the last six months or so, and although Esme disapproved, I figured it was a semi-appropriate outlet for my lingering newborn ire. "I'm thirsty! Let me lean down and get that." I pointed at the bottle.

Alice sighed as if I'd just asked to set fire to her hair products, and reluctantly unclamped my hair from the wand.

I snatched my bottle and drank greedily. I'd waited a full sixteen hours since my last meal, and I couldn't help but be a little proud of myself. I wanted to tell Edward, because I knew that'd he appreciate the focus that it took me, but he was currently indisposed. I sighed as Alice stuck her hands back into my wild hair, trying to coax it's anarchy into composed waves.

After a while she gave up, finally embracing my inner bed head and simply tousling my locks with seawater spray. I changed quickly then began pacing - another human habit that has stayed with me, much to the dismay of my siblings.

I stopped for a moment in front of the mirror. My riotous hair was my most distinctive feature, but my wide, yellow eyes were a close second. Alice had forgone makeup, for which I was grateful. My bright stare and wine-stained lips needed no enhancement. I was beautiful. It had taken time, but I'd come to accept that too.

I'd finally seen reason the day that Edward had made me stare in the mirror at our home in Finke, Australia. It was only a few months ago, and it was the first time I'd looked in a mirror since Alaska, when my eyes had been a brilliant, ruby red.

He'd had to literally force me to meet my own gaze in the mirror, after dragging me under the guise of horseplay through the house over his shoulder. He pinned my arms to my sides and forced my chin up, and there staring back at Edward and I was a wild yet striking woman with eyes that oozed and glowed like warm honey. I'd been entranced, and I stared in the mirror for hours, watching my deathly-still features, feeling Edward's hands as they began to move along my stomach, his head bending down to brush his lips against my shoulder.

The dress that I changed into was rather plain, in Alice's expert opinion. Rosalie agreed but Esme stood by me, as always, stating that there was sometimes little difference between plain and classic. I loved it, not really because of how it looked but because it was the one garment that I owned that I chose and purchased myself.

The trip to Alice Springs had been my first real test in a town. Before then, the only human scent I'd dealt with were a few delivery men and the occasional cloth or bauble that someone would bring back from civilization. However, on my one year anniversary, Edward stuck by me when I argued that the only proper celebration my family could give me was an opportunity for more independence.

All eight of us had descended upon the small town of Alice Springs and with Edward and Jasper by my side I walked into some nondescript retail store, took exactly six breaths, spoke four strained words to a sales clerk, and purchased my deep blue cotton sundress completely under my own power. Afterward Edward had nearly drug me to the treeline where he picked me up off my feet, pressing his lips soundly against mine.

That was the first night we made love. Edward and Bella. No monsters involved.

It was a huge victory for both of us still, even though it happened nearly six months ago and during that time I had graduated from quick shopping expeditions to local overnight trips. Edward was healing everyday, and he took almost as much joy from the excursions as I did, as they gave us freedom together, we protected each other.

After our move to Australia, it seemed as though everything changed. Living amongst so many others, being literally forced to interact with them, was something that I'd not even had to contemplate on the Island. It was hard and I got my feelings hurt and I hurt others. Carlisle and I spent a lot of time in his office those first few months, both for stern warnings and anguished heart-to-hearts. Sometimes I hated Carlisle, but during those times I tried to comfort myself with the thought that it was better than hating Edward.

Because I just couldn't hate him anymore. It was too mentally taxing to try, it hurt even more than just adapting. He had forgiven me for my transgressions in the jungle of the Isle, when he'd whispered that I was forgiven he'd truly meant it, and it showed in every thoughtful thing he did for me. He was my confidant and protector from the others when I needed it, he was my monster's outlet for the lust and agression that I felt. Since he didn't need to be my parent anymore, he finally, completely, became something else.

He still felt guilt and pain, and I think we'd both accepted that it would always be there somewhat. He promised to try to live around it, and he did try, and that had to be good enough for me. I accepted him, as he accepted me.

"Let's get this show on the road!" Rosalie suddenly yelled from the doorway, jarring me out of my musings. A few hours before I'd been impatient, then nervous. I'd been distracted the entire day, and I doubted that would change. But now, however, I also felt peaceful. Ready.

I followed Rosalie out of the room where Alice intersected us, falling in to line behind Rosalie. I followed a few steps behind them as we descended a small flight of steps. I'd have to remember to thank them both after this was over, they'd been so good about all of this, even though they were so adamantly against it in the first place. Such a classless locale, Alice had said.

In no time, I was standing in front of an elderly human man, wearing a pressed navy suit and a slightly obnoxious handlebar mustache. Emmett was literally vibrating in his seat, staring at it, and when he finally couldn't bear it, he let out a deep, coughing laugh - which earned him a nudge from Esme. The smell of the man was uncomfortable, but I refused to acknowledge it, I refused to even contemplate it.

Edward stood on the other side of the minister, his expression raw and real. There was no shadows or masks today.

I knew that you were Bella by what I saw in your eyes, he'd told me a few weeks after we left the Isle, his voice exasperated but still patient in light of the constant questions he'd endured for hours about how he'd known, for sure, that I was still Bella. Now as we stared at each other's eyes, I knew exactly what he had meant. I could see everything there, written in his darkening orbs. They said, I'm sorry, and I forgive you and I'm happy. They held love and devotion and barely any guilt, which was miles from where we'd come.

I don't think either of us heard many words the elderly human said, we had our own conversation amongst the loving stares of our families. Even though our abilities made the lights and sounds outside the chapel nearly theatrical, neither of us noticed anything outside the small space of tranquility surrounding us. As Edward slid a ring on my left hand, I fingered the slightly warped band that hung from my neck with my right. It was the same ring that Esme had returned to us, together, after we'd reappeared on the dock.

It was missing a few of the smaller stones, and the golden band was warped and tarnished. Alice had mentioned that some of the damage could be fixed, but it didn't seem appropriate. Instead I just kept the treasure in our room, safe in our family home. Except for special occasions like today, when I wore it on a thin golden chain.

I slid a matching golden band on Edward's long, pianist finger while his hand shook. We repeated simple, time-tested vows and when he kissed me, he did it with his eyes open.

The obnoxious signs outside of the chapel windows threw red, blue and green light on the opposite wall of the church. The night-sounds of Vegas swirled around our bubble of calm, and our small gathering of family clapped and hooted like spectators at a baseball game. Even with flawless, vampire minds we didn't comprehend any of it.

I did vaguely hear the elderly priest introduce me as Mrs. Bella Cullen.

THE END

AN: Well, that's it guys. As in, no epilogue. This chapter felt to final to do another epilogue kind of chapter. I hope I did right by you all, but this just seemed like the right place to end it. I've planned the end to be here all along, and maybe I should have been up front with that, but I thought it was more fun to keep everyone guessing. Good plan? Horrible plan? This is my first completed fanfic but I'd like to continue, so I'd appreciate any support or constructive critisism.

I would like to say sorry to the few people who I know will be disappointed with the end of this story. I've definitely learned on this journey that you can't please everyone *smile*. Some readers wanted instant relief, some wanted more blood and guts, some just wanted more sex, haha. I think I gave most at least a taste of what they wanted, or a valid reason why not, and I think its important to stay true to my vision of where this story would go, and make it as realistic as possible given the circumstances. I hope you guys got it.

Oh, and I reposted this entire story, as I've done a lot of work on each chapter since the first time I posted it.

If you aren't completely turned off by this point, then I gotta be shameless for a sec and encourage you to read my newest story, on my profile under the working title "Triggered". Something new and interesting for me, but still definitely in true MissusMelancholy style. Consider it the 'New Moon' adapation, where this was an 'Eclipse' AU story.

Also, if you want something a little lighter after all this angst, check out my one shot 'Deeper Water' - pretty self explanatory I think. A request, but I'm pretty happy with it. Consider it a nice lemon souflee after all this dark chocolate ;o)

Once again, thanks for reading and for those of you who review, you don't even freaking know how much you guys do for me. I'd thank you all individually but I'd totally leave someone out and that would be bitchy of me, wouldn't it?

Thanks for the encouragement!

M.M.