Chapter 18:"Have You Ever Looked Fear In The Face and Said I Just Don't Care?"
a/n: I've begun writing for this story again and have finished what comes to just shy of two chapters. I'm including about 1/3 of that material in this short-ish update, with the intention of updating again by this weekend. I am hoping to finish this story with smaller installments for each chapter. I have a tendency of updating with too large a chapters, then I need to take months off to recuperate. Lol If you are still reading this, thanks. If it's been too long, I understand that too! Been there done that, myself. Xoxo
a/n: Below in italiacs is a summary for the last several chapters if you would like one. If not, move past this long ass piece until you get to the quote.
memory joggle from previous two chapters:: Bella goes to the Cullen's house to enact Alice's plan to cover Edward's killing. Bella is Edward's alibi for why he's been missing for the last week. Once there, Bella is overwhelmed by the reality of what the Cullens are. She breaks down in front of Esme, who offers comfort but also a warning - that her body's tense reaction to their presence is a gift that she should never attempt to stifle. Those reactions will be needed to keep her alert if she is to exist among their kind. Emmett gets a moment with Bella to warn her as well - that she is in over her head and playing with fire. Bella responds willfully yet clear headedly, gaining Emmett's respect. She finally sees Edward's bedroom. It's full of journals and clippings, testaments to his previous life a century earlier. Bella wonders for a moment of Alice's offer - to turn Bella which in turn would solve all the problems before her. She wonders for a moment if she will be able to make some memory journals of her own if she chooses to turn - that way her memories can stay intact. The visit seems like a success - as they bid everyone farewell, it's clear that the Cullens have come to understand Edward's attachment to this human girl. But then a mere mental slip of a thought from Jasper catches Edward's attention - Jasper silently muses that Bella is ready to be turned. Edward's temperment changes on a dime, thinking the worst of his family - assuming that they were working together to influence Bella to become one of them. Edward accuses them of trickery - Carlisle promises that is not the case. He also adds however that if Edward truly wants Bella for a mate, she would need to become one of them - it would dangerous to not do so otherwise. Edward leaves the home with Bella in his arms, holding her possessively, with a note of warning to his family - Bella will not be turned under any circumstances, and vows so over all their dead bodies. He bolts into the woods with Bella, who insists for him to put her down. She chastises him for treating her like a child in front of his family, after she tried so hard to convince them she was anything but. She also tells him that no one can make her mind up for her - and if she chooses to turn it would be her decision. Edward tells her she can't make a decision without being better informed of what the circumstances. After being prodded, he finally explains his meaning - he confesses what had happened in the woods the night of the murders. Not only did he take lives, but he was visited by Death himself(last part of chapter 17):
"I saw IT."
IT had been so quiet lately, I thought It had left. My guess had been Edward had scared It off - he could be a mean bastard when he wanted to. And most importantly, It had no power over Edward, an immortal of sorts.
But It had never gone anywhere. He simply changed strategies - or targets. I'd grown stronger with Edward, felt infallible lately. And It let me feel that way, all the while working on my sweet Edward. Edward, the boy who never felt worthy enough for us. Edward, who needed little encouragement in thinking the only way to love me properly was to obliterate himself in the process.
A memory of us talking about his earlier life sprouted up just then. Before his mother's death, before the epidemic even, he had experienced his first love.
"She wasn't as pretty as you, of course," he'd joked. It wasn't even a she in the traditional sense - Lady Liberty didn't count as a real, live broad. But Edward conveyed how all the boys his age had dreamt of joining the war effort, and being a part of the glory of battle. The romanticism of his age of sacrificing all that you had for an ideal? Was the ultimate aphrodisiac for young men who had yet experienced their first kiss.
All It needed was an opening to plant seeds of such romantic grandeur and bullshit. Edward gave him just that with the three men in the woods.
It all made so much sense now. Why he didn't want me to change - couldn't let me change when my only reason for doing so was to be with him. Why a part of him was holding onto to what happened last week with so much gravity. Edward was going to save me, even if it meant drawing from the darkest parts within him to fight off the devil Itself - and all that It threw at me.
"You're leaving me behind, then." My tears were forming now. Edward hated to see me cry.
"No, Bella. I'm not leaving you behind. I'm following you into places you can't go alone. And when I can't follow anymore, my family will. You will never be left alone. I promise you that."
Two ships passing in the night, not eternal lovers after all. How quickly my options changed from one minute to the next with Edward.
"Put me on your back, Edward. Like old times. Put me on your back and run as fast as you can. And when you tire of it, take us back home. I'll read to you and then you'll hold me 'til I fall asleep."
He didn't argue with me. Within seconds we were on the move again - just like old times.
"Two ships passing in the night," I whispered into his ear. His breath caught, as he pulled my legs even closer into his body.
Time seperated us by a century. Nature seperated us by predatory lines. And yet we fought against both long enough to recognize one another, finding shelter and even love in the process.
My kind could make vows too, I reckoned. We could be reverent with our ties too.
And in that stretch of silence as Edward hauled me up yet another sharp cliffside, I made a pledge myself.
If we could outsmart time and nature, this bastard It was going down for the count too.
quote: "Distract me, please. "-Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 8, p.163
-"You're holding back - FASTER!"
These were the words that came from Bella, just minutes after telling her everything was about to crumble all around us.
Tearless words, full of enthusiasm and abandon. As if what I'd revealed was a free trip to Disneyland. I should have known better than to wonder outloud how she could be so "You-just-won-the-Super-Bowl, what-are-you-going-to-do-now?" at a time like this. She didn't miss a beat in her reply:
"You're Disneyland and a Tiger Beat centerfold all wrapped into one, Edward. Why wouldn't I feel like I'd won the Super Bowl?"
She wanted me to run with her - just like before. Bella wanted me to hike up cliffs and bolt down them quickly. And in between all her dictatorial commands, she'd kiss my cheek and laugh in my ear. Squeal and heel me hard on the legs to move along me faster.
If the world was watching her just now, they'd lock her up in a padded cell. She was completely out of touch with reality, they would say. In denial, delusionary, or worse: a girl with a death wish.
They were wrong. They were unable to see her clearly like I could.
I saw a girl who'd seen mortal danger up close and personal before. She knew what it looked like, how it shoved it's way to the stage and demanded one's attention. And here she stood, looking it square in the eye - even calling its bluff.
Bella wasn't always like this. There was a time, she assured me, when she was the reasonable half of a dynamic mother and daughter duo. The ever-capricious Renee was full of ideas and notions bigger than her and life itself.
"I, on the other hand," added a fondly reminiscent Bella one night," was like her Jiminy Cricket. Not for moral compassing, but for reality checks."
Not just reality checks either.
Bella learned how to balance a family checkbook before she hit the teen years. Learned how to successfully file for unemployment with her mother by fourteen. Yet high school came and went, and all those Jiminy Cricketing hours took time away from things girls her age were learning. How to be interested in the "Rochesters of the world" for instance; so that when Heathcliffs began tapping on her window late at night, she would have known better than to open up her world to them.
"You and me, we're the same in some ways, " Bella once said. "Both on the cusp of bigger things when something came in between us and the future."
No, this girl wasn't out of touch with reality. She wasn't sick. Bella was simply a girl who'd cheated death and lived to tell the tale. A tale I'd survived for a century, but hadn't truly championed until she came along.
She'd earned the right to be irreverent, giving fate the middle finger and chasing it down…all the while on the back of a willing monster she'd picked up along the way. We cheated death, continued to exist, and now even found love amongst the ruins.
I wondered if I indulged her too much. That I should tell her this wasn't one of her luridly romantic tales that end with a fairy godmother to save the day, and a prince to kiss you back to life.
No fairy godmothers. No magic spells. No awakening from death's grasp with true love's first kiss.
But it would have been a lie. Because Bella awakened me from my dark dreams and realities every day now. And she kept waking me up from those impulses that had been demanding more and more of my attention lately.
I stopped at yet another ledge, letting her look down the deadman's drop before continuing. She took it in with a smile.
"If I had more of a penchant for writing and drawing, I'd make a comic book about you." The words were light, but my tone was serious.
Her eyebrows arched in skepticism.
"Really? What would a comic book want with me? Unless clumsiness could be used for good in some fashion, like tripping bank robbers accidentally as they ran from the scene of a crime..."
"No, silly girl. You'd be a superhero of the highest order, a female version of James Bond, smooth and clever and deadly, with a touch of Spiderman laddled in."
She frowned for a moment. Perhaps that wasn't the highest compliment for teenaged girl ears. Then a slow smile corrected it.
"That would make you my Bond Girl, which is perfect since you're prettier than me times ten. And I would rename you something crude and female chauvinistic. What's the male equivalent of Pussy Galore?"
I told her to quit while she was ahead, but it was too late.
She began to run wild with the possibilities, as I ran us wild down the cliffside:
So much sailor mouth from the face of an angel.
"My name's not important," I huffed out while maneuvering us through the thick woods. Woods that were quiet, but not serene. No, this land had been covered by the Visitors now, and was no longer the innocent playground it had once been. "You're the star of this adventure."
"What makes me special enough for a starring role," she asked aloud. " I don't have a radioactive spider or alien homeland in my backstory."
I couldn't help but laugh - sometimes her obliviousness was frustrating. Right now, it reminded me why I fell for her in the first place.
"Silly Bella, you're magic all on your own. No radioactivity required."
When her hands began to chill, I took her home. "Up through the balcony," she directed. No front doors tonight.
I waited until she had her feet back on solid ground before I started in.
"Bella...we need to talk-"
She cut me off quickly, reminding me not to break protocol. Strict adherence to our nightly rituals was of the utmost of importance to Bella now.
After a quick pj change, she made me read to her. She read to me next about the Little Prince and his rose - emphasizing the part about being responsible for all that we tamed. How often she'd been reading that passage back to me in the last week.
And then, and only then, did she allow me to speak.
"On one condition," she added, jumping underneath her covers and inviting me to join her with an outreached hand. "Closer. Come closer to me."
My head rested on her chest as I let the words out casually, as if I were asking her what she had for her lunch today.
"Do you remember once? When the young boy and girl from the tribe ran into your room? How badly it all could have turned about with them and me?"
Her eyebrows arched in sarcasm. "Uh...yeah, not something you forget easily."
Of course. Having (im) mortal enemies meet in your bedroom in the form of monsters was something that would stay with anyone.
"I threatened them, the boy first-"
"Yes, Seth. Then the girl - "
"Leah, of course. And later on that night, you asked me to never do that again. You never wanted others to be sacrificed for your own welfare. Do you remember?"
She nodded slowly, as if she was just recollecting our exchange: "Yes."
I waited a couple moments for her to soak in all that those frightful memories offered.
"If you become like me, Bella, your whole survival will depend upon that principle. And before you even realize what you're doing at some point, you'll bleed out someone because they smelled just right . It will be as impersonal as that."
She shuddered, but tried to cover it with an arm-stretching yawn.
"And once you're done, you'll realize that the carcass in front of you may be a mother, or a father. Or a daughter or son. Someone who was loved, and will be missed. Just as you miss your mother, just as I miss mine."
Only silence came from her end - a good sign. No flippant comeback meant I struck a nerve.
"The only thing that saved you from me that first night, Bella, was that you wouldn't let me forget that you had people who loved you. And it took me a century of discipline to even be able to stop long enough to hear you."
Bella stared at me for a long time, finally nodding in understanding. This was the only way to get to her: small nudges. Demands would only backfire, just as it did earlier tonight.
"Just remember that, okay," I whispered, before kissing her lips. "All the love you hold inside you won't be a match for the instincts you'll inherit."
I said that last sentence with conviction - even as I prayed silently that I was wrong. Because my only chance for surviving what was stirring within me was my love for Bella, and her love for me. I nuzzled in between her breasts with a sigh, concentrating on the softness and warmth. Not the strong, fragrant scent that rolled off her pores, and flared up my nostrils.
"It's Only half-past the point of oblivion
The hourglass on the table, the walk before the run
The breath before the kiss and the fear before the flames
Have you ever felt this way?"
-"Glitter In the Air"
a/n: Thanks to all of you who have written encouraging words to me throughout my absence, I really appreciated it. xoxo