DISCLAIMER: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters. Stephenie Meyers is the genius behind it all. The only thing that I own is the plot. Also, no criticism for the non-canon pairing.
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That Edward was not happy with me would have been a severe understatement. He had never truly understood my desire to join him in a life of immortality, even if it did mean that I would have to overcome my aversion to blood. He was stubbornly set on any path that involved me remaining human; something that I protested vehemently.
To be fair, I never understood his desire to keep me human. I am weak, clumsy, and most importantly, dying. We are soul mates, even if he doesn't believe that he has a soul. We are meant to be together. He should rejoice in the fact that I am willing to embrace his existence instead of shunning me for it. I will never understand how he could possibly be happier existing with me for a brief time, only to have me die later, and then continue to exist for an eternity in mourning. It was inconceivable!
That was the main reason that I called the meeting with his family. I wanted a vote on my mortality because they were his family and would become mine as well. I didn't understand it, but Edward's decision was his own and he would just have to accept me in whatever form I took. His family, however, did not have to accept me. They were not bound to me in the way that the love Edward and I shared bound us together. It made me nervous as we approached the house. What would I do if they said no?
Alice, of course, was beyond thrilled that I wanted to become a vampire. Even Jasper agreed with me. Although, I suspect his decision was more to eliminate the fact that I was a temptation to his self-control than it was to appease his wife. Esme and Carlisle were both supportive as well. Edward, obviously, was strongly opposed as was Rosalie. Rosalie thought that I was acting rashly and was jealous of my mortality. How someone so beautiful could be jealous of me I would never understand. Emmett was almost as excited as Alice was at the prospect of me being changed.
His reaction was what set off the chain of events that led to where I am now. Rosalie was angry with me but more upset with Emmett. She felt betrayed that he had chosen my side over hers. Great, as if I needed another reason for her to hate me.
The two of them left the room, to argue I suppose. The tension of the night was ebbing away at the strange high that I rode temporarily at being accepted by the Cullen clan. Edward walked out of the room with an angry huff. I knew he was mad, but I wasn't worried about him staying that way. It wouldn't be long before I was a vampire as well and I could chase after him any time he decided to walk away. He loved me enough that he would never really leave me. I knew that now; the force of my epiphany still running strong.
"You don't know what you are asking for, Bella."
Edward's voice surprised me. I hadn't realized that he had come back into the room. His eyes were cold and calculating. I didn't like that look. His thoughts were always two steps ahead of mine planning diversions and half-truths.
"I am asking for an eternity with you, nothing more, nothing less," I replied.
"It's still going to happen, Edward." Alice's voice carried from somewhere upstairs in the house. It was still unnerving to know that she only spoke aloud for my benefit. Edward could "hear" her just fine without spoken words.
"Never!" he cried. "You can't want this anymore, Bella. You just can't! I'm leaving so that you don't have the choice to give up your life. I love you. I'll always love you. But I can not allow you to throw away your life for me."
The words cut open a raw new wound in my heart. I ached to make them untrue, to not hear what he spoke. I stared back at his pitch black eyes willing to see the love shining back at me the way they had only hours before. Still, even in that moment, even having my heart sliced open in front of his family, he was beautiful. His pale skin contrasted perfectly with his tousled, bronze hair. That beauty would be the death of me.
Edward disappeared into the night. I tried to convince myself that he just needed time, just a few hours, to come to terms with the end of my human existence. He loved me. He wouldn't leave me forever, again. I knew how hard it had been for him to exist without me. More than that, he knew how I had only barely managed to survive without him. He would never subject either of us to that kind of intolerable emotional torture again.
Rosalie left shortly after Edward. Her icy glare landed on me for only a fraction of a second before she slid out the door, but it was long enough. I knew that I was the reason for her departure. Though she wasn't my favorite person in the family, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of regret that I was forcing her away from her life by trying to interject myself into it.
From there the mass exodus had begun. Jasper and Alice left to hunt and for him to escape the emotional turmoil in the house. Esme and Carlisle left in search of Rosalie and Edward. They hoped to talk sense into them and convince them to stay. Even though I willed it not to be true, I couldn't ignore the sickening feeling in my gut that told me that they wouldn't find them. I had ripped apart the family. So much for being a welcome member. The once inviting home was not empty save for Emmett and I.
I looked over at Emmett. He was always so easy going and smiling. Now, he was slumped over and looked defeated. This was entirely my fault. I had to make this better, if not for me, then for Emmett. No one deserved to lose their mate over my decision. To be fair, Edward was also to blame for the misery inflicted on the family, but I couldn't bother myself with that detail. All that mattered was that Emmett was hurting and I had to do whatever I could to make him feel better and to avoid slipping into despair myself.
"I'm sorry," I whispered to him.
He looked up at me with drooping eyes. "Don't worry about it, Bella. This was bound to happen eventually."
"Your wife, your mate left you because of me."
I flopped back into the couch next to him and wrapped my tiny arms around his large frame in a comforting embrace. The coolness was familiar and comforting. He peeked at me from the corner of his eye. The hint of a grin reappeared on his face as he placed his own bulking arm over my shoulders.
"You always were a strange human," he teased. "Why would a human try to comfort a vampire?"
"Please! I'm trying to comfort a man with a broken heart who just so happens to be a vampire."
"I don't have a heart," he countered. His expression was abruptly serious.
"You have a heart, it just doesn't beat anymore." I rolled my eyes. None of these Cullens got that.
He chuckled, finally. "You know, if Edward believed that then we wouldn't be in half of this mess right now."
I let our a deep, resigned sigh. "Yea, I know."
We settled back into a comfortable silence for a few minutes. Neither of us knew exactly what to say to one another. How do you tell someone "I'm sorry that your soul mate left you because you are friends with a human?" Or, "I'm sorry the love of your life doesn't love you enough to spend eternity with you just because I want to join your immortal family?" There aren't words for those types of situations. Too bad, Hallmark could make a fortune right now if they knew how.
"Do you still want to become a vampire?"
"Of course." I answered without hesitation. On this point I still never faltered. "I love Edward. I want to spend my entire existence with him. And I love the family, too. I want to be with all of you as well."
My answer seemed to spark something within him. His eyes began to twinkle again in that mischievous way that made me nervous. Emmett was always easy enough to read. His thoughts generally involved Rosalie, wrestling, playing a prank, or finding a way to make me blush. Seeing as Rosalie and wrestling were out of the picture at the moment, the odds weren't looking good in my favor.
"I could always bite you right now," he offered with a smirk. I could tell he was teasing but the thought sent my heart into overdrive.
"Oh sure." I snickered and rolled my eyes. "I heard what happened to the last human you bit."
His laughter roared through the house. It was much nicer to hear than all the arguing earlier in the evening. "I wasn't trying to change the last person I bit. They were just a snack to pass the time."
I grasped at my neck in mock horror. "How do I know that you aren't getting a little thirsty now?"
He eyed me speculatively. "You're right." His tone was far too serious.
His eyes began to darken as he eyed my neck. My heart rate sped up exponentially faster in response, giving away my fear. My breathing became heavy and irregular. I pressed myself farther back into the couch as if it would help me to escape him. Logically, I knew that Emmett wouldn't hurt me. However, for once in my life, I seemed to be having an appropriate response to a vampire and all I could feel was fear. Fear that he might kill me, fear that Edward wouldn't return, and, worse, that Edward wouldn't care to return this time. Finally, I shut my eyes and prepared myself for the worst.
Emmett's low chuckle from across the room finally caused me to open my eyes. He was doubled over and pounding his knees in a fit of laughter on the opposite end of the room. His eyes were back to a sparkling amber color, no traces of thirst visible in them. After a moment to recover myself I felt indignation and irritation color my cheeks.
"That was not funny!" I scolded. His laughter was his only response. "I am not amused," I whispered, mostly to myself. I huffed and crossed my arms over my chest.
In an instant, Emmett was standing over me prying my arms apart. "I'm sorry, Bella," he apologized. His eyes were still playful. "I didn't mean to scare you…"
"Yes, you did."
"Alright, maybe I did." His eyes were still twinkling with his good humor. "I couldn't resist. All this time, you never found a reason to be afraid of Edward. I finally made you afraid of vampires!" He sounded quite proud of himself.
"You didn't make me afraid of vampires. I was just afraid to tell you that your breath stinks."
He laughed loudly again. "Ever the odd human."
Alice breezed into the house then and stared back and forth between us with a bewildered expression before fixing a glare on Emmett. I could only guess what she had seen and the reson for her alarm.
"So, Emmett and I were playing a harmless game of scare-the-human."
She didn't appear to appreciate my attempt at humor. Her lips pulled back over her teeth. She narrowed her eyes at me and took a step back before her eyes glazed over as she lost herself briefly in a vision. It was a long moment before her eyes cleared and she scanned the faces of everyone in the room. When she focused back on me, a small smirk appeared.
"You're more than alright."
I love Alice dearly. She is my best friend and the sister that I never had, but her mysterious behavior and cryptic words always confused me and frustrated me to no end. There were days that I literally wanted to wring her neck to get more information out of her. This was no exception.
"Can you not be so mysterious?" I asked her, voicing my frustration.
Her musical laughter filled the room. She skipped over to the couch and landed lightly in the middle with her legs tucked underneath her. She tapped her finger to her chin thoughtfully with one hand and beckoned me forward with her other. I hesitantly joined her, already suspicious of an ambush, but desperately eager to know what she had seen.
"Bella, Bella, Bella," she hummed. "At least you aren't falling apart this time."
"That is what this is about?"
Emmett's question broke through my impatience. I had all but forgotten that he and Jasper were watching Alice and I. I smiled back at him apologetically, though I wasn't sure why. He had more years dealing with Alice than I had. By now he ought to know how to deal with or ignore her.
"Of course," she replied. She looked over at me then. "Why aren't you falling apart this time?"
"Because the rest of the family is still here. He has to come back eventually." Because I'm here, I wanted to add.
To be honest, I should be more upset over this. Edward and I had barely reunited for forty-eight hours and already he was running off and abandoning me again. To be honest, it still didn't feel real that he had returned with me from Italy. Even less that the rest of the Cullens were here as well. Yet, the fact that all of the Cullens were here meant that they were coming home. It didn't matter than Carlisle and Esme were miles away searching for their wayward children, they would come back. And so would Edward. He could not stay away from them forever, they were his family. They were as much a part of his life as I intended to be. He would return to them eventually, and in so doing, return to me. It was the last shred of hope that I had and I would cling to it with my entire being to avoid the empty desperation I had felt the first time he left.
"What if he doesn't come back?"
Alice's question left my confidence shaking. I didn't want to think about that possibility. The outcome wasn't good for me.
"Is that what you saw?"
"No," she replied bluntly without bothering to elaborate.
"He will be back," I whispered. "He has to come back."
"What if it isn't soon enough, Bella?"
I looked up at her. Her expression was soft and concerned. Almost as if she were trying to tell me without words that my hope was, indeed, lost.
"What did you see, Alice?" My voice quivered as I spoke.
A wave of calm and peacefulness washed over me. From the corner of my eye I saw Jasper move fractionally closer to me. I almost felt guilty for what my emotions must be doing to him but the calm kept everything else at bay.
"I saw you." I raised my eyebrow, encouraging her to continue. "You were happy." I rolled my eyes at her. Getting a straight answer was like pulling teeth.
"You were happy with… someone else," she finally admitted.
My heart paused mid-beat. "Happy?" I reiterated. She nodded to confirm the foreign word. "With someone else?" She nodded again. "As in, not with Edward?" Again, she nodded her head slowly in confirmation. "Who?"
Before she had a chance to answer, a stronger wave of calm swept over me and Jasper moved to my side. I could feel his cool, marble hand on my shoulder. Alice looked over at me sympathetically and nodded at Jasper.
"Sorry ladies. Didn't mean to interrupt, but Bella here seems a bit stressed."
Both his thick southern drawl and his hand moved further away from me as he said it.
"It was my fault," Alice announced. "I've been going between love, excitement, fear, anxiety…"
She was trying to make me feel better and I knew it. I was borderline hysterical over the bombshell that she dropped on me. Why on earth would she have seen me happy, with someone else, just hours after being abandoned for the second time by the love of my life? It didn't make sense. Fate must have been trying to play some sort of cruel, malicious joke on me to allow me to believe that Edward loved me as I loved him. That must have been the reason. Why else would I no longer belong to him?
My epiphany from earlier in the evening, of being so sure that he loved me even in his absence, was fading quickly. The blackness, the hollowness, threatened to seep back into my veins.
"Alright," I sighed. "What exactly did you see, Alice?"
She glanced at me nervously and shook her head no. "We should take you home. You need some sleep now."
I stood to protest but already Emmett's large hands had pulled me back into him and restrained me as he carried me out of the room. As he ran past the door, he grabbed a jacket and threw it over me while he ran out into the night with me tucked safely into his arms. I closed my eyes and buried my face into his chest. He chuckled softly, giving off gentle vibrations.
The wind rushing past me stopped suddenly and the biting cold of night was replaced by a soft warmth. I opened my eyes to find that I was already in bed and tucked under the blankets. Emmett was grinning at me from the rocking chair.
"Sleep, Bella," he commanded gently.
I nodded my head and lay back down, surprisingly exhausted after the nights' events.
That night I dreamt of Edward. He was standing in our meadow, smiling up at the sun. His skin sparkled like thousands of tiny diamonds. He opened his eyes to see me and extended his hand as an invitation for me to join him. As I stepped out of the shadows my skin matched his and sparkled brilliantly. I looked down at myself and smiled in amazement. When I looked back at him his expression was horrified for a brief moment before he turned and ran swiftly into the forest. No matter how hard I tried to chase after him, my feet were locked in place. I tried to call after him but was unable to produce a sound. I was alone, I was paralyzed, and I was exposed.
I shot up in bed screaming at the top of my lungs when I finally awoke. A cool hand brushed across my forehead soothingly. I leaned into it and inhaled deeply. The scent that I was met with was sweet, but was not the familiar one I was expecting. Emmett sat next to me and looked at me worriedly.
"Are you alright?" The panic in his voice did not escape me.
"It was just a dream," I assured him with a nod of my head.
"That was not just a dream."
His hand continued to sweep across my forehead. My heart rate had finally calmed back down to a normal pace and my labored breathing had evened out. The coolness of his hand was a great comfort as well. Emmett's touch was as gentle as Emmett could be, but still less controlled than Edward's had ever been. I leaned into his palm. It was nice to have someone that didn't feel the need to treat me like a porcelain doll.
"Bella." There was an implicit warning in his voice.
"Sorry," I quickly apologized and pulled away from him.
My deep blush gave me away even as I hid under the blankets. He chuckled softly and pulled them back to look at me. His eyes held tenderness, even if they were too dark at that moment. I was all too aware that he needed to hunt and my blush was not helping the situation.
"You should hunt.:
He shook his head. "Another day won't hurt me."
"But it might hurt me."
He chuckled again. "Told you that you were afraid of me."
"I'm not afraid of you." Emmett stood up and walked to the rocking chair again. "I'm not afraid of you," I repeated.
"Edward was right. You really have no sense of self-preservation."
My heart began to ache at the mention of his name. Alice had hinted at the fact that Edward might not come back to me. She had told me that I would be happy; that I would be happy with someone else. I couldn't believe her. He had to come back. He had to come back to me, for me.
Emmett glanced over at me apologetically. "You're still hurting." As if I needed this confirmed.
"So are you."
"That's why I said one day without hunting won't hurt me. There are worse pains to endure."
His sullen expression was enough to make me forget my own pain. Emmett was never this depressed. I would give anything to see him in his normal jovial mood again. He radiated happiness to everyone around him. His goofy personality and dazzling dimples made it impossible for anyone to be upset around him. Well, anyone but Edward.
Emmett reminded me of Jake in that sense. They were big balls of sunshine in my cloudy existence. Now Emmett was hurting. I needed to find a way to make this better for him. Jake had been my sun, now I needed to return the favor for Emmett. Perhaps, then, I could find my own happiness in life.
"Do you mind if I just hang out with you for the day?"
I nodded my head enthusiastically. Spending the day with Emmett was the perfect way to try and cheer him up. "What would you like to do?"
"Well it is supposed to be sunny according to the know-it-all, so something indoors." He grinned devilishly, flashing me his bright white teeth. "We could redecorate Edward's room."
I laughed with him. "As much fun as that would be, I don't think I could."
"Yea, I know. Too soon to go there."
He was right, it was. Still, if he understood that I couldn't venture into Edward's room yet, it made me wonder if he was able to go into the room that he and Rosalie had shared. Odd to think that he wouldn't be able to roam his own personal space freely now.
"I could teach you to cook."
"Why would I need to know how to cook?" His puzzled expression was almost comical.
"Well, it seems that I am going to remain a human for awhile longer so someone needs to know how to make a decent meal for me when I'm too lazy to do it for myself."
He grinned lazily at me. "Sounds good to me. What's first on the lesson plan?"
Two hours later and we were in the Cullen kitchen while Emmett attempted to make scrambled eggs. Apparently, they are harder to make than one would anticipate. I gave him instructions one time and then was forced to sit quietly without telling him what he was doing wrong. He repeatedly scorched the eggs by forgetting to grease the pan or turning the heat up too high to cook them quicker. Each time he muttered something about human food needing to cook at vampire speeds.
One hour and two dozen eggs later I finally had an edible scrambled egg, even if it was a little saltier than I like to eat them. I congratulated Emmett on his success. He insisted that we give the kitchen a break before he ruined any more food in one day. After watching him get frustrated with the eggs, I was all too eager to agree with him. I cringed at the thought of him attempting something more complicated and pitied the poor food that he inflicted such punishment on.
We plopped down on the couch to watch a movie. Emmett had chosen Gone in 60 Seconds because he was in love with the cars. I fought the urge to roll my eyes at him. I still didn't understand the obsession that vampires held with fast cars. They made me nervous, but perhaps that was because I was still breakable and they weren't.
Eventually I began to drift off to sleep. Emmett placed a pillow on his lap, laid my head down on top of it, and covered me with a blanket. I was in a near dream state when I felt his hands stroking my hair. My heart raced at the contact and he briefly paused before continuing. Just before I fell asleep I felt a soft, cool kiss on my forehead.