Here we go! All different languages are put into italics for this chapter.
The Beginning of the End
The whole school sat in a thick silence as Mrs Cast fumbled with the video player and T.V. We were in the large gym hall; I was at the back, leaning against the wall staring sullenly at the fuzzy screen. The whole school was squeezed in there for a speech by Principal Peirce. Over the speaker system he hadn't said what the talk was going to be about but we all knew anyway.
Two days and she still hadn't turned up. Police kept searching the school campus and they were starting to search the area around the school. Nothing. She was nowhere. I'd watched the television incessantly for any word and called the Cullens non stop all through the weekend. They didn't know what had happened to her either.
"The police have asked me to show this to you all," Peirce said solemnly, "Pay attention and listen carefully."
A reporter's face flicked onto the screen, a look of mock sobriety on her face. I'd seen this before, watched it a dozen times, I nearly knew the words off by heart: "In recent news: Neve Murray-Cullen, a girl from the town of Trinity in the Washington state has been missing possibly kidnapped for two days. She was last seen enjoying her High School Spring Dance when terrorists broke into the building and cause two explosions. Her adoptive father, Dr Carlisle Cullen has released an appeal on Sunday morning."
The T.V screen flicked to Carlisle Cullen's sombre face as camera's flashed in his eyes. He spoke evenly and smoothly, only someone who knew him well could hear the anguish carefully covered underneath. "My daughter was last seen at Trinity High School's annual Spring dance last Saturday at 9:31pm. While there she apparently saw several intruders amongst the crowd and sounded the fire alarm to evacuate the building. She was unable to leave with everyone else as it became clear that someone was holding her hostage when at 10:10pm the terrorists delivered a message to everyone outside the building to stay away and to not help or contact Neve during the entire night. While she was inside the building, two explosions happened. She was thought to have been in the rooms of both explosions and was severely injured at the second. However it has become clear that someone had removed her from the premises soon after the second explosion. She hasn't been seen since."
Her picture suddenly flashed next to his face as he spoke: "She has dark brown hair at shoulder length, grey eyes, medium build, pale skin and, if you hear her talk, she has a Scottish accent. If you have seen her, contact the police immediately. My personal message to the person who has taken her is that you please bring her back. We just want her home. And if you're listening Neve," this time you could hear the quaver, "Just…we're doing everything we can sweetheart. Just…hold on for us." His jaw clenched and his eyes shone before the screen flicked back to the reporter again.
"Neve's biological family died in a fire at her home in Scotland. She was a suspect for arson but all accusations were dropped. Neve moved to America when Dr. Cullen and Mrs Cullen decided to adopt her. She lived in Trinity town for a month before her disappearance. If you see her or know of her whereabouts, call the hotline below."
A series of numbers in flashing red blinked across the bottom screen and that was when Mrs Cast paused the video tape.
Peirce stood up and walked to the podium, his face set in hard lines as he began to speak, "Neve Murray-Cullen, as you all know, helped to evacuate the building before the terrorists attacked, thus saving all of us, all of you. She is the reason why we still stand here today. And now she is missing. People could frown on me for saying this, but it could very well be the truth: she could be dead," I flinched at the word 'dead'. Corey's hand gripped my shoulder tightly before letting go, "It is our duty to find her. Many of you did not like her because of whispered rumours. Many of you did not know her because she was one of those people who kept herself to herself. But that doesn't mean you should pay any less attention to her sacrifice. If you hear anything, see anything you alert someone immediately. Her family wants her found. Her friends want her found. I want her found. She deserves better than to be forgotten."
His words echoed around the draining silence. We all stared back at him with emptily coloured eyes. Truth was, no one knew where she was and he knew that.
Oh god, they haven't.
I nearly vomited in the middle of the corridor when I saw her locker the next day. Pastel coloured cards and flowers were pinned to her locker, overflowing onto the floor. Her picture had been stuck amongst the white and pink monstrosities, large grey eyes glittering with mirth and that bright happy smile of hers spreading from ear to ear. It was a picture taken on the very same night, the blue swirls of make up decorating her cheekbones. So beautiful. It seemed vulgar to have it put next to the cards and flowers.
Messages were scrawled across cards from people who never met her. All the wrong types of flowers were there: white lilies and roses. She hated white flowers. They reminded her of funerals. In fact, she'd have hated all of it. I felt like giving a testament to Neve's character and ripping it all down. She wouldn't have wanted to have been fussed over like this. She'd have stomped her foot and say exasperatedly, "Stop bloody writing poetry about my loss and wasting your money on nasty flowers I don't even like and come find me already!"
I was only half aware that I had stopped among the streaming people when Corey came up next to me and said, "Come on, geography next. You know how Mr. Staves is like."
"Right," I mumbled, allowing him to pull me away from the ghastly garish pillar of synthetic mourning.
Oh God Neve, where are you?
"-and I was like, 'Alexia, you need to lose weight or I'm dropping you from the team. I can't have fatties on my cheerleading squad. It ruins our whole look.' And she was like, 'you can't do that, I'm not fat.' And I was like, 'really? You do seem to be packing an extra tire these days.' And then she was like crying and wailing and screaming and it was so embarrassing. I had to have her taken out of the gym because it was getting really annoying." Brianna popped her bubblegum, her breath smelling oversweet as she sat next to me. Corey was on the other side of her, also looking like he wanted to shove his burrito into her mouth to get her to shut up.
She continued her in-depth analysis of the cheerleading squad hierarchy. I tuned her out until she was only like the faint buzz of a radio and focused on what I had been obsessing with since the beginning of this week:
Whoever had taken her had to be as strong as she: they wouldn't have been able to overpower her. She might have escaped them though. She might have run away and won't come back for fear it would lead her enemies to those she loved. She wouldn't have gone back to Scotland: no passport or money. She wouldn't have gone out into the wilderness: she knows how dangerous it is. She might have gone to any of the big cities: they'd be a good place to hide. She wouldn't have left without telling us though. She promised me that she'd say goodbye if she knew she had to go. Neve kept her promises.
I'd somehow managed to sneak past the police tape cordoning off the chemistry lap that had blown up. The walls were now black with soot, the furniture mere stumps of blackened charcoal.
They're saying now that it was Neve who started it: turning on all of the gas taps and lighting a match. "Suicide," they said simply, "she saw no way out and, rather than have herself given over to the terrorists, she set off a blast that would have incinerated herself and the intruders. A very brave thing to do. But we're not looking for a person now; we're looking for a body. There is no way she would have survived that." Wrong, all wrong. She's alive. I know it. I feel that fact burning inside me within my heart, reminding me every time it beats.
…But I just had to see it. I just had see the last place that she had been.
I stepped carefully towards the place where Neve's body was thought to have lain last. Back of the desolated classroom I half expected to see an imprint of her body. And there was, strangely. I could see where her head had lain. There was a scrap of blue silk lying forlornly on the floor next to a yellow evidence placard. There was a dark stain on the floor, where her blood must have seeped from some miscellaneous wound. I crouched down and picked up the scrap. I sniffed it, hoping that some sort of scent had remained. There wasn't. All I could smell was sharp smoke. There was nothing left, just the kiss of fire.
Oh God, it was Dad all over again.
I dropped it with disgust and fled the room, fighting the urge to start sobbing.
I stared sullenly at the preschool doors, willing for Ruby to come out soon so we could go home. Ruby understood me so well; I found being with her helped put my mind off Neve, if only for a little while.
"Hey," I snapped my head round as the quiet and calm voice reached my ears. Jenny Barter smiled warmly at me, blue eyes locked on my face. I hadn't talked to Neve's friends. Whenever I tried it was painfully awkward. I only knew them because of Neve and now that she was gone there was nothing linking me back to them. God knows they remind me too much of her.
"Hi," I said, swallowing thickly, "How are you?" A crust of politeness covered my words and they tasted too formal on my tongue but they had to be said.
"I'm…fine, thank you," she replied sidling up to me and sinking onto the hood of my car next to me. Crap she planned on staying, what to do? "How are you?"
I blew out all my breath before saying, "I've been better."
She didn't reply but stared at the doors of the preschool. After a pause she asked, "So…what are you doing this weekend?"
"Nothing," I said flatly, "Prob'ly spend sometime with my family. You?"
"Going out with the others on Saturday, mooch about the Mall for a bit maybe," she murmured, "We thought we should distract ourselves…" she trailed off and I could almost hear her swallow. Another long silence.
"I miss her too," she said quietly, before a nostalgic smile crept tentatively across her face. "The one thing I miss the most about her is her accent. We used to make fun of it and she would always reply with saying that we were just jealous of her. 'Ma aksent soonds waeey cooler thaan yoors dus,'" Jenny imitated Neve's voice before giggling quietly to herself. My jaw was clenched so hard it was beginning to become painful. She sighed a little and then rolled her neck so that it clicked.
"What do you miss the most about her?" she asked, eyes flicking nervously towards me. I didn't have to answer her, the doors of the preschool slammed open and a torrent of happy children flowed out, making their ways towards their parents. I quickly pulled away from my car and Jenny and strode forwards, looking for a girl with blonde curls, "Jay!"
"Rubster!" I called smiling warmly for the first time that day as Ruby ran on unsteady legs towards me.
"I learnt all about Global warming to day," she said seriously, as her small warm sticky hand placed itself firmly in my dry callused one, "Did you know the earth is like this big giant green house which reflects heat on the inside?"
"No I didn't know that," I said, as we walked towards my parked car. Jenny had disappeared of to find her brother I suppose, "Tell me all about it."
And she began to babble as I hoisted her car seat out of the boot and placing it in the backseat. She was still babbling as I clipped her in. But I was listening, all the time.
She fell silent when I began to drive home but when we were halfway there she asked, "Have they found her yet?"
I stiffened in my seat and the wheel in my hands quivered a little, making the car sway in the road, "No. They haven't found her yet." I said in clipped tones.
"Oh," she said and I could hear the disappointment, "Do you…do you think they ever will find her?"
I glanced in the mirror to take a look at her face. She was nibbling on her lip, a habit she had whenever she was worried. Her green eyes were reproachful and her hand tugged on her golden ponytail.
"…no," I said so quietly, I was sure she couldn't have heard it, "I don't think they'll ever find her."
I knocked politely on the Cullens' door, the cold wrapping me in a second shell. Mrs Cullen greeted me, smiling warmly at me. You wouldn't have thought that one of her daughters had disappeared. She was perfectly presented as ever in a green dress. "Jack, it's good to see you! Come in, come in. We have a few of Jake's… friends in helping with our own search. I'm sure they'd like to meet you."
"Your own search?" I asked as I stepped in, shrugging out of my jacket.
"Yes," she said as we walked towards the kitchen, "One that does not go by conventional means. We aren't exactly conventional people, now are we?" She smiled as if it was a private joke of ours but worry splintered in her eyes all the same.
"Yeah, I worked that out," I replied, grinning a little back. We entered the kitchen and I was met with the sight of several huge Native Americans sitting around the kitchen island faces set grim, with the Cullens interspersed throughout. "Hey Jack, long time no see," Emmett Cullen called, grimacing at me from the fridge, "you came in time for our little talk here."
"Who is this?" asked one of the dark skinned people, glittering black eyes set hostilely on me.
"Sam this is Jack Brooks, Neve's uh…boyfriend," Esme said, "He knows about us and won't tell, don't worry."
The Native Americans seemed to relax if only a little, "Jack, this is the Quileute Tribe. They have a… special talent that will help find Neve." Esme said, settling herself in one of the island stools.
I knew they weren't telling me everything but I didn't care. I nodded stiffly and said, "So what have you guys been doing? She's been missing for a week." I couldn't keep the accusatory tone out of my voice. Surely they'd be doing a better job than the police if they knew all about her?
The tribe bristled but Dr. Cullen replied calmly, "We're discussing that right now." He turned to the man called Sam and said, "So what areas have you patrolled?"
"We've started from the forests surrounding the school and worked our way outwards," he replied, his eyes now locked on Dr Cullen, "After taking a sniff of that jumper you had we've divided into groups of two and tried to find a trail. And there is one, it comes out from the school but disappears about ten metres into the forest. There's another sent clinging to it that we don't recognise but it smells almost the same. Like how you vampires smell of rotten fruit. These scents…they smell like fresh wind, like clean rain. Its odd…the person who took her was of the same species."
"It's the boy," Jasper replied, "the one that disappeared in Germany. Since they're supposed to be comrades they'll trust each other."
"Right, well as I said, it disappears about ten metres into the forest. There are no footprints anywhere either. It's like the runner was moving too fast to make any."
"Where could they have gone?" Bella asked, set in the arms of her lover.
"Anywhere, but I'm guessing somewhere to lick their wounds, so to speak. Somewhere safe and out of the way. I suggest we take a look at any caves in the area maybe take a look at the hills a couple of miles away from here."
"Would they have gone to the cities?" Edward asked.
"No," I replied, to which everyone turned to me. I swallowed and continued, "She wouldn't have done that, she would have come to say good bye. She promised."
Sam said, "We don't know that boy. Sometimes when you are a protector you have to break promises."
"You didn't know her," I replied, my body unconsciously taking the defensive, "she wouldn't have just up and left. She'd have left us a message or something, to le us know she's ok."
Sam raised his eyebrows at me and again looked like he was going to contradict me when Dr. Cullen, "He shares a bond with her Sam, rather like the bond you share with Emily."
The sceptical look in the leader's face was gone and a look of pity fell upon his features, "Sorry kid, didn't realise."
I stared hard into Sam's onyx eyes, "That's alright," I managed to say before falling silent, not trusting my voice not to break.
"Looking into the caves sounds like a plan," Jasper put in, turning everyone's attention to him, "it sounds like something they would do. Stay out of the way to cause no trouble. I know a few around here that are worth a shot."
"Good, we'll split patrols," Sam said and they began to talk of splitting groups. I stayed out of it, suddenly feeling useless amongst all of these people who knew what they were doing. "Don't worry Jack," I jumped at the voice of Mrs Cullen, "We'll find her."
"But its been so long," I ground out, twisting my fingers into painful locks.
"She's not dead, we know that much. You'd have gone mad already if she was dead. I think she is hiding somewhere and is just waiting for the right moment to come out."
I nodded stiffly and said, "I'm going to kill her if she gets out of this."
"That's a bit counterproductive dear," Mrs Cullen said, "Mind you, you are reflecting the thoughts of her brothers rather nicely. She does have a knack for getting into trouble."
"You can say that again," I grumbled.
The door bell suddenly jangled and Esme murmured, "I won't be a moment." I nodded and she flowed past me. I watched the discussions go one, only half aware of what was going on in the hall.
"Oh my God! Neve! You're here!" Esme's startled voice carried into the kitchen. We all froze and bolted from where we were into the hallway. A bedraggled blonde haired boy stood awkwardly in the doorway as Esme was hugging a girl tightly to her chest and we could all hear her say, "Don't you ever do that again Neve Murray Cullen! Ever. Or so help me I will ground you for the rest of the time you live under my roof!"
"That won't be very long then," I heard a muffled reply. Mrs Cullen finally pulled away from her and I saw her for the first time. Thin and pale, hair hanging in rattails she stood alive and well. I was sure for a moment I was imagining things. But then she saw me, "Jack." She smiled, so beautifully then, it broke my heart. But it made me angry too. And I'm not very good at hiding my anger.
"Neve, you are in so much trouble!" I growled before lunging at her.
2 hours earlier
Waking up was like flicking a switch. One minute I was dead to the world the next I was fully aware. I was aware of the rock that pinched into my ribs, the cold clammy air I was breathing in, the water that was steadily dripping down onto my calf, the fact that my face was pressed against the heavy earth. I sat bolt upright, snapping eyes open…only to realise that there was absolutely no difference between my eyes being closed and them being open. "Crap," I whispered before groping around trying to 'feel' where I was. My hands met cold stone and damp earth. I guessed that I was in a cave far from any light. Crud. How the hell am I supposed to get out of here? Remembering my dagger, I felt for it and was relieved to find it again strapped to my thigh. At least I hadn't lost that. But where's Milo? Just as the thought passed through my mind, my hand landed on a warm squishy something, "Agh!"
A groan replied to my squeal and I heard something move. There were a few muttered words in German before I felt hot breath on my face "Are you awake?" the soft German words caressed my ears.
"Does it sound like I'm awake?" I replied irritably, "Where are we?"
He didn't reply and poked him in what I thought was his leg, "Well?"
"I'm thinking!" he said irritably, "Give me a chance! I don't remember a lot before passing out…"
Another pause before he said, "We're in the forest, in a cave, quite deep. I was so desperate to hide with you in my arms. I went as far as I could go before passing out. I might've dropped you, which I'm sorry about."
I laughed, "Better to be dropped than dying in an inferno. I don't think I've introduced myself. I'm Neve Rae Brina Murray-Cullen. Just call me Neve."
"Milo Bruno Adler, but just call me Milo. It's a pleasure to meet you Neve."
"Right back at you," I replied, "Thanks for saving my life and welcome to the team."
"I'll explain on the way out. Speaking of which, do you want to lead the way?"
Suddenly the cave was filled with burning flickering light. I gave a short scream and scrambled away, staring fearfully at the ball of flames that was Milo's fist. Milo stared at me shocked and said, "it's only to light the place. I'm not going to hurt you with it."
I took a deep breath and slowly edged towards him again, "ok, just…don't put it near me." I could finally see his features clearly for the first time. He had shining chocolate eyes and flaxen gold hair that glinted in the light even though it was greasy. Angular features and a lean frame clothed in dirty ragged jeans and blue t-shirt, he crouched in the tunnel, holding his fist aloft, the flames burning merrily. His flesh wasn't peeling off like mine did when it met with flames. It was hard to think of him as the enemy anymore. A part of me recognised him as my brother of sorts. I just knew I could trust him.
He nodded solemnly holding his fist aloft as it crackled with heat and light. "This way," he said, gesturing to the cramped tunnel, that lead away from us.
"Ok, you go first," I said gesturing in front of me. He gave me one last warm smile before beginning to make his way through the tight tunnel. I honestly don't know how he managed last night to drag himself and my body through these tiny tunnels and I don't think he did either. It felt like a millennia before we could see natural light reflect pale white on the wet walls. I was sucking in fresh air before I knew it, with Milo standing beside me, "It feels good to be out." I sighed, before turning to him, "do you- hey are you alright?"
I asked this because tears were glittering in his eyes in the pale dawn light. "It's nothing I just…I just realised I am free finally. I am not their pet anymore."
I smiled at him before patting him on the shoulder, "Yup, you're free permanently now. How did you manage to break away from them?"
He stared away thoughtfully for a minute before replying: "It was when I saw you. Unconscious on the floor of that classroom, half-dead. When I became under their control they would administer this drug that made me do what they wanted me to do. Seeing you…it made something snap inside me. It allowed me to disobey them, something that I simply couldn't do before, no matter how hard I tried." He paused before swallowing, "I didn't mean to kill your family. I remember the dowsed the house in gas and told me to set it all alight. I tried to fight it, I swear-"
"Shh…" I hushed, an angry cold beast inside of me threatening to break through my façade of calm, "I understand, just…don't go on about it ok?"
He clenched his jaw and noddedbefore I began to speak loudly, "So what should we do now then? Hmm…maybe we should head for my house and take things from there. We can freshen up and refuel. I don't know about you, but I am starving."
He nodded his head and replied, "Do you want to walk or…run?"
"Walk," I said simply, "I need to explain a few things to you. We can start running when it's taking too long to get there."
We began to tread across the forest floor, both of us barefoot and shivering in the cold morning air. I told him the whole story: our ancestors and my own and he listened carefully, without interruptions.
After I was done, he said, "So…we're meant to save the world?"
"Looks like it," I replied, as I stepped gingerly over a log, "And I'm supposed to help lead our merry band of fighters." I grinned at him but he was still frowning in thought.
"So…so that's why I deserted them. In loyalty of you."
I stopped to think about it for a moment before replying, "That sounds about right. It's like with Jack, I can't see any other guy apart from him now and he can't see any girls but me. An undying faithfulness…" I then swore under my breath as I thought of Jack, "Oh god, he's going to kill me."
Milo chuckled, as I had already told him what I'd done to Jack and replied, "I'm sure he'll forgive you."
"Oh no he won't," I sighed and plonked myself on a tree trunk, "Especially after I leave after this."
"We're going to leave here?" Milo asked, sitting down beside me.
"Well…unless you have any other plans?" I asked him, "I just…I don't think I can just go back to my life like everything is normal again. Not after that."
He nodded in agreement and said, "To be honest…I don't think I can either. I have to…pay them back for what they did. I'm just so…furious." His voice quivered and his temperature seemed to rise to such an extent that I felt it coming off in waves.
I smiled grimly, "Good, you need to be angry to do this job properly. If we are going to start this, we are never going to be more ready than we are now."
"Are we the beginning?" he asked, staring up at the lightening sky, "Are we going to start this? Are we the first?"
"It has to start somewhere," I muttered, "Why not us? Shall we?"
There was a pause before: "Sure, we shall." He grinned at me and held out his hand, "Shake on it."
I grasped his calloused hand and replied, "We'll start where our ancestors left off. We'll find the others, bring them together and finish what should have been done years ago."
We shook hands firmly before breaking away, "Welcome to the Seven," I said before saying, "I suggest we go to my house, smooth things over with my family, freshen up, grab supplies and get out of here. We'll work something out afterwards."
"Fine," he said, pushing himself off the log and holding his hand out to me, "Shall we go?"
I grabbed his hand and let him hoist me up. I scanned the area and took a deep pull of air through my nose, "Judging by the smell of tarmac, I'm guessing the road is that way." I gestured through the trees, "I suggest we go to the road and follow it till we get to my house."
"Can we run? It's been so long since I last ran like that…" he asked, eyes shining.
"Sure, stretch our legs for a bit." I set off, running at full tilt. I heard the thrumming of footsteps close to me and knew he was following. We made it to the road and using the landmarks, I roughly worked out which way to go home. We ran through swaying trees next to the road as daylight took its firm grip on the world. It was literally minutes before we reached the house. I saw Jack's car parked in the driveway and internally groaned. This was going to be an even bigger nightmare than I thought. I turned to Milo, who was only a few feet behind me, "I must apologise in advance, this is going to be a little crazy and I'm going to have to act as translator. They're vampires but they have been very kind to me. They mean you no ill harm, not while I'm here. Just tell the truth and act cool. Alright?"
He nodded, before we both trekked up to the front door. I reached absentmindedly for my purse before realising I'd left it last night in the gym hall. "Crap," I muttered, "We're going to have to ring the doorbell. I lost my keys."
I thumbed the doorbell and we stood waiting. I shivered, the cold morning starting to get to me. It was Esme who answered. She stood frozen for a moment, staring at us like we were a hallucination of hers. Milo tensed up beside me and I knew he was fighting the urge to run. Esme finally moved, she gave a yell "Oh my God Neve! You're here!" and then pulled me into a hug so tight, my ribs cracked. "Don't you ever do that again Neve Murray Cullen! Ever. Or so help me I will ground you for the rest of the time you live under my roof!"
I couldn't help but mutter, "That won't be very long then." She pulled away and cupped my face, eyes shining. I noticed the people now standing in the hallway behind her. But the only face I saw was Jack's. I couldn't help but smile as deep peace and calm rolled through me. His face reflected my feelings for a fraction of a second before a look of deep fury, "Neve, you are in so much trouble!" he growled.
He suddenly flew at me, grabbed me painfully around my waist and hoisted me up so I was crushed against him. "You stupid girl," he snarled into my face, before crushing his lips against in mine for a painful kiss. Teeth clashed and gums tore, iron stung in my mouth. It was a punishing kiss, full of anger and torment. He tore away, grabbing my face and making me look into his burning embers of eyes, "You are stupid, silly, arrogant, selfish-"
I wrenched myself away from him and held back my urge to slap him, "What? Sacrificing myself is selfish? You have some bloody nerve!"
He didn't stop, "lying, stubborn, inconsiderate, stupid-"
"You've already mentioned that," I said coldly, before pushing away from him.
He grabbed me again and pulled me back to him while I struggled. "Well it was stupid and selfish," he snapped back, "You were missing for a whole fucking week and you come back now! Tell me what is not selfish or stupid about that?" he didn't let me answer him before crashing his lips against mine. This time it was more desperate, I could taste his strained relief. He ripped his lips away and cradled me to his chest; his head resting against my shoulder. He still didn't allow me to speak, crushing my ribs in a tight hug, rocking me backwards and forwards. Tears soaked into the lab coat I had donned and a hand stroked my hair tenderly. My eyes stung and I rubbed his back, planting a kiss upon his temple, "I'm sorry," I whispered, one crystal tear rolling down my cheek, "I didn't mean to scare you. I'm sorry."
He pulled away and set me down only to hold my face again, stroking his thumbs across my cheeks. "Don't you ever do that again," he murmured urgently, "ever. Do you have any idea what it was like?"
I frowned, "you said I was gone for a week?"
"Yes a week, ever heard of a phone?" he snapped, not letting go of my waist.
I scowled at him and snapped back, "Well its not like I could pick up a phone while comatose in a deep dark dank cave in the middle of the bloody forest, can I? I didn't know it was a week! I thought it was only for the night."
"You were unconscious all that time?" Carlisle suddenly asked and I only noticed the others were all there. Relief washed through me as I counted them all here. The Volturi had kept their word.
"Yes, honest to God we would have come back if we were conscious," pulling away from Jack I quickly grabbed Milo's hand, dragging him into the house and said to him, "Apparently, we've been gone for a week."
His eyes went wide and he replied, "A week? How could we have slept for that long? Barely felt like a minute…"
I nodded before glancing back to the others again, "Guys this is Milo, the boy who saved my life. He doesn't speak a lot of English and be careful, he's not so fond of vampires for obvious reasons.," I quickly turned my head and changed languages, "Milo, this is my family I was telling you about. They're not like the Volturi so don't worry."
He smiled uncertainly and he pulled himself a little closer to me. "Are you hungry?" I asked, feeling starved myself.
He nodded and I turned to Esme, "Since we've been unconscious for a week, we're a little hungry. Could we tell you the story over some food?"
"Of course," she said, "Come this way."
We began to walk to the kitchen, which was when I noticed the several large Native Americans also in the hallway. "And you guys are…?" I asked as we moved into the kitchen.
"We're friends of Jacob, came to help look for you," said what appeared to be the leader, glaring at me.
"Uhm…wow, thank you for coming. I know that you guys have a territory to protect 'n' all."
The corners of his mouth twitched upwards which was probably all I was going to get out of him. Jack pulled me away and we then sat at the table, Jack to my left and Milo to my right. Esme began to make scrambled eggs on toast while Milo and I shivered on the stools. Jack shrugged out of his jacket and draped it around my shoulders, "What happened to your dress?" he asked.
"Burnt off," I said, "white lab coat was the closest thing to hand."
"Tell us everything Neve," Jasper said, staring intensely at me. I took a deep breath and narrated the entire night to them, from the moment I realised the Volturi were in the building to the moment Milo picked me up from the exploded. IN the middle of my talk Esme set plates down in front of us. Milo all but ate his plate and cutlery while I took little bites between my talking. "Milo then ran through the woods until he found cave before collapsing, falling into the same type of coma as mine. We've been there all week. What do people think happen to us?"
"People are starting to think that you're dead," Jack said. He gripped my arm painfully tight for a moment before letting go again.
I smiled suddenly, "Well at least something good has come out of all this mess."
"What?" Carlisle asked sharply, "Why would that be a good thing?"
"Takes us out of the system of course," I said, as if it was obvious, "Won't have to deal with identity stuff while we are out on the run." I quickly translated for Milo and he nodded furiously in agreement.
"Neve you are not going on the run! Don't be so silly, you're only sixteen!" Esme said firmly.
"Oh so I'm supposed waltz back into school as if nothing has ever happened? Explain how I managed to survive a blast that should have had my guts splattered all over the place? Great plan, just bloody brilliant."
"We can figure something out," Carlisle said, "You're still too young."
"What has age got to do with anything? Haven't I just proved that I am more than capable with dealing with the big bad world? And we can't figure anything out and you know that. To the world at large I am gone, dead and that should be how it is. Lord knows, the world has been trying pretty hard to kill me anyway."
"You are not leaving Neve," Jack snapped, "You've only just come back."
"I am sorry Jack, I can't stay," I said, wrapping my hand around his, "I can't-won't stay here any longer."
"If this has anything to do with not being able to be normal anymore you still have time," he said earnestly, "You're sixteen still."
"In Britain I can leave home, get married, get a job, leave school-"
"Don't give me that bullshit Neve. You're not in Britain any more," Jack replied, eyes hard, "You aren't leaving."
I glared at him and my eyes swept around the room only to be met with more stubborn stares. I whispered to Milo, "They're not fans of the idea of us leaving. Apparently we're too young."
He smiled, as if what I had said was only a minor obstacle, replied, "Compel them. Use your talent."
I scrunched my face up, "I don't want to force them like that."
"Its for the greater good."
"Neve, we know German, we know what you are talking about," Carlisle interjected dryly.
"Well you know that I really, really, don't want to use compulsion. But I won't rule it out. Either you let us go or I will make you let us go."
There was a pause, Jack was gripping my hand so tightly that my bones were close to cracking. "Please don't make me use it. Please don't."
"That's cruel Neve," Carlisle said quietly, "You can be quite manipulative sometimes."
I shrugged, "I'm only manipulative when I need to be."
He took a deep breath before saying, "Well…I guess you do leave us with no choice."
"No," Jack snapped, "You can manipulate the others but you can't manipulate me."
That was when I grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the kitchen, "Excuse us for a second," I called over my shoulder.
I pulled him along the corridor to the front door until we were on the front porch. I faced him and put my hands on his cheeks. His eyes avoided my face as I stared up at him, "Jack, look at me," I whispered, "Please look at me."
His blue eyes finally flickered to my face, and guilt slashed through me. He looked so angry, hurt and lost. "Listen, we knew this was coming," I said quietly.
"Not now though," he hissed, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me in closer, resting his forehead against mine.
"I know, I only made the decision to leave a few hours ago. I can't stay here Jack."
"Why?" Jack said quietly.
"For one, if I stay here another day, I think I'll go insane."
"Its not all that bad Neve. You've got your family. You've got me." He looked so heartbroken in that one moment, the guilt bubbled up again. I pushed it down again, I couldn't let it get in the way.
"I know, I know I have you but its not the place that is the main reason. It's this feeling that is telling me that I can no longer play the dumb teenager. I tried to ignore it before but every time I try its like the world pushing me backwards into the weird shittiness that is my life. And you know what? I'm just going to go with the flow. Do what I was born to do. If I wait any longer I will go insane and that won't be pretty, for me or for you."
"Well let me come with you then."
"We've been over this!" I cried pulling away from him and pacing to the end of the porch, "You can't. You're not strong enough, not like me. And unlike me you have people depending on you: your sister and your mother. You're lucky: your family is alive, you should take advantage of that! If I were you, I would," I turned to look at him a sad little smile gracing my lips. "Can't you see that I'm trying to buy you time? You can have longer time with normality."
"I don't want normal. I want you," he whispered, coming closer to me. He took my hand and placed it over his heart.
"We're just going in circles now!" I cried, fighting the urge to agree to stay for him, "I'm going and if I have to leave with you angry at me, I will." I pulled away and was about to enter the house before his hand caught my wrist.
"Neve," he pulled me back and cradled me to his chest again He looked at me, just simply looked, as if he was memorising my face. "Can't say I didn't try," he murmured before kissing my forehead and letting go of me and heading for his car, "Good luck, in whatever the hell you are gonna do. Keep the jacket, it might bring you luck but don't contact me again, it'll only make this harder." He smiled at me, but it didn't reach his eyes as he stood by his car.
"Wait," I said, remembering the vial of potion up stairs. I flashed upstairs, got it and was down before a second had passed, "Here." I dabbed the liquid across his forehead with my thumb, "So you'll always be safe."
"Right," he muttered. His trembling fingers raised to my face inches away from my skin, eyes tormented before his hand dropped.
I smiled back, trying to keep the tears back. This was goodbye, for a long time or a short time, I didn't know. I knew one thing: it still hurt like hell. I didn't know when I would be able to hear his laugh again or see his smile. The thought of being away from him twisted my gut.
"Keep safe, give a kiss to Ruby for me," I said, my voice quivering.
He nodded, his knuckles white as he opened the door of his car and got in. I waved as the engine roared, crashing through the silence that had seemed to descend on the world. I watched as he drove away letting the tears fall down my face silently before wiping them away. I took a deep breath and muttered, "Pull yourself together."
I was inside the kitchen within a heartbeat, grabbing Milo's hand. "We're off to shower. Could someone get clothes for Milo?"
I didn't wait for a reply before pulling Milo up the stairs, "You can shower in the guest room. There'll be clothes left for you when you come out."
"Alright," he murmured.
"We need to teach you English," I said thoughtfully, "I'll teach you along the way."
I put him into the guest bathroom before heading for my own shower. I showered and changed into dark jeans, a blue crop top with a grey long-sleeved button up shirt over it. I pulled Jack's jacket on, filling my nostrils with his scent. God knows I'll need it to comfort me. After I shoved my converses on, I grabbed the rucksack I had arrived with, filling it with the basics: clean underwear, hair and toothbrush, the musical box its contents other things into the dark recesses of the bag. Someone knocked on the door and I snapped up. Carlisle stood in the doorway, holding a roll of what looked like dollar bills. "$500 in cash. There also should be a good amount of money on your credit card. If you need anything, you just call alright? If you need any I.D. we know this man who can set you up with one-"
He didn't manage to finish his sentence because I had whammed into him, hugging him so tightly, I was sure I would crush him. "Thank you, for all you have done. I would still be stuck in that god-awful care home if it wasn't for you. Thank you."
He stroked my hair before pulling away and folding my hand around the roll of notes, "You're welcome and don't hesitate to call."
I nodded before I tucked the dollar bills into the rucksack, "Where's Milo?"
"In the guest room. We've already packed a rucksack for him. You're all set practically, except for transport. His other hand now held a set of keys, the running horse of a Mustang flashing in the light.
"Oh Carlisle," I gasped, "You didn't."
"We bought it for you as present of sorts. We already have a license for you. All you need are the keys," he said smiling a little.
He dropped them into my palm and I smiled even wider. "Thank you. Just…thank you."
"You are more than welcome," this time he hugged me, I was surrounded by his cold sweet smelling body. "You take care now," he whispered before kissing my forehead and letting me go.
"Here," I quickly uncorked the vial and thumbed the pentagon shape on his forehead, "That should keep you safe."
I smiled murmuring, "You too." I hoisted the backpack up and stepped into the hallway. Milo was by the stairs, dressed in khaki trousers, a black t-shirt and a thick black jacket, a bag slung onto his shoulder. Esme was beside him, eyes glassy. "Ready?" I asked him.
He nodded before turning to Esme, "Dankeschön Frau Cullen."
"You're welcome Milo," she murmured. Her eyes flickered to me and a tight smile tugged her lips. "So this is goodbye," she murmured. I nodded, chewing on the inside of my cheek to stop myself from bursting into tears. "Oh sweetheart," she walked forward and hugged me, "This family is always open to you." She whispered before pulling away.
I quickly uncorked the bottle again and dabbed it across her forehead. "Thank you for everything you have done. I'll see you soon," I said before calling to Milo, "C'mon Milo."
We made it down the stairs to find the rest of the Cullens waiting, "You didn't think you could leave without saying goodbye to us surely?" Emmett said grinning widely.
What followed was a series of goodbyes and farewells that put a rather large lump in my throat. Emmett picked me up and swung me around, like I weighed nothing. Alice hugged me while chirping on about not having a little sister anymore to spoil. Jasper gave me more information about the Volturi and how they work before I manage to get him to shut up by hugging him. Rosalie kissed my cheeks and told me to be safe. Edward smiled as he shook my hand firmly. Jake threw me over my shoulder as I shrieked in surprise, he then put me down and ruffled my hair, gruffly telling me to be careful. Nessie burst into tears as she threw her arms around my shoulders, sobbing into my shoulder. All of them got the oil dabbed on their foreheads and a rather quivery, "I'll see you all soon, right?"
"Good luck," Carlisle said, "To the outside world, we think you have disappeared possibly dead. But to us, we know you will are being the hero you were born to be."
"Right," I managed to choke out, "I better go before I dissolve." They chuckled lightly as I turned to Milo, "Ready?"
"When you are," he replied, edging towards the door.
We walked out to the garage, and I saw the gleaming black Mustang with the white stripes going up the middle of the bonnet and across the car roof. Milo and slid into the seats, throwing our back packs into the backseat. Starting the car, the engine rumbled enthusiastically and I flashed a smile at Milo. "This sounds fun!"
He grinned back, "I quite agree." I put the car in gear and drove out of the garage. The family was standing on the porch and they waved as we passed. I waved back, with one hand on the steering wheel, even Milo waved as we set off down the road to what had to be the beginning of the end.
I finished this story! Finally! I am so happy! My first completed story! There will be a sequel but I am not going to start that for a while yet. Give my head a break from this story, let the ideas grow before I start writing them down.
Did you enjoy that as much as I did? Please tell me what you think as always!
Thank you to those who have stayed with me right from the beginning: xNadiiLiciiOus and SilverGoldsun - .Day. You guys have been so patient, i can't thank you enough for your encouraging comments, I don't think I would have kept writing if it wasn't for you, so thank you!
Anyway review etc. tell me what you think!
Until next time