I don't own Twilight.
Jakob POV Part Three
I sat on the corner of a rock, letting the fresh oxygen replenish my strained muscles. Leah flopped down next to me, catching her breath. We pushed ourselves hard from our village, and while Alice looked as refreshed as when we started, my wife and I had run low on steam. We were still human, after all, and as such, were at the mercies of our bodies.
Our vampire companion paced back and forth in front of us. I noticed she had a natural bounce to her step, but it was subdued, almost sad. Back and forth she walked, keeping her eyes averted into the trees. Her nervousness was evident.
"We need to make a plan," I told the women. We had to have a direction to proceed.
But Leah ignored me, watching Alice make two more passes in front of us.
"You're hungry," she said to little Alice, who paused and looked apologetically at us. "I packed us some snacks, but I imagine you wouldn't be satisfied with a bit of granola."
The vampire smiled. It was only a partial grin, the corners of her red lips curled up only slightly, but it was still there. "I don't want to impose," she said softly.
"Nonsense," Leah insisted with a casual wave. "Jakob and I need to rest and the cabin is just over the next rise. You have time to feed yourself."
Alice nodded. "I'll stay nearby," she whispered, and almost too fast for my enhanced senses to see, disappeared into the trees.
Leah and I sat in the silence, listening for the sounds of nature to commence. Things had an eerie way of hiding when a vampire was near. Instinctually, even the frogs and flies had enough sense to disappear when one of the undead was in the area. My own senses were on alert, listening, anticipating anything out of place, even in the pressing silence.
Leah shifted, but only to lean against the rock. I let my muscles unwind, settling lower into the ground. But I stayed diligently aware.
"I like her," Leah said softly. "I see something in her I never expected. It makes me rethink things."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Like how many others are like her? Was that other female like Alice?"
Leah's eyes were closed. Her dark lashes wrapped around her lids like a soft blanket. Her skin glistened with perspiration. My hand reached toward her relaxed jaw. Slowly, I traced my finger down the length of her cheek. She opened her eyes a bit and smiled. She was the most beautiful creature alive. I sighed.
"I don't think anyone is like Alice," I joked, but with a husky edge to my voice and eyes still locked with hers. "But no. I don't think that female was anything like the Cullens."
There had been other vampires in the area recently. Though we had tracked two of them to the castle grounds, we didn't get a glimpse of the male. But the first one who'd come through this area had passed very close to the village. Leah, Seth and I had been on patrol that evening, and chased the female vampire until we could go no farther. We'd had a very good glimpse that one, with her long legs, dark hair, and blood red eyes. She'd dodged past us and gone straight for the castle. We hadn't caught her sight of her since.
Disbelief crossed her face as she sat up a bit. "But how do you know?"
"The eyes, woman. It's all in the eyes." I shot her one of my million ruble smiles.
My wife playfully punched my shoulder so I ducked in for a quick kiss, sealing my lips with hers. Soft and familiar, she let me linger for seconds longer than normal.
A slight breeze rustled the leaves around us, and I caught wind of something else. As quickly as I had relaxed, I was back into position, on my feet and looking everywhere for the source of the smell. Something unknown was creeping close by. It was unfamiliar, unknown, and therefore an immediate threat.
A low growl sounded through me, my arms beginning to tremble at my sides. Leah was next to me, staring into the forest with her dark exotic eyes wide and searching. Her hand rested lightly in the crook of my arm, holding me with her, but I could feel her tension quivering through her arm despite the calm touch.
A figure, light hair seeming dark in the shadows, stepped out only twenty meters away from us. My body crouched lower. The growling became snarls as bits of sunlight prismed from the surface of his exposed skin. An arm wrapped fiercely around Leah's waist holding her back. While just as capable as I was in a fight, she was my wife. I wouldn't be taking any chances with her.
"Who are you?" I growled through clenched teeth.
A sudden wave of anger washed over me. I felt it hit my skin, and infect my mind. It was almost too much and my body tried to hold off by trembling violently. Leah's grip on my arm tightened.
"Where is she?" the figure demanded taking a step closer, casting his face out of the shadows.
His eyes were black, raging, and his perfect white teeth were bared and sparkling with venom. What was most unnerving was his skin. The undead flesh that had glittered in the trace light moments ago, now revealed scarred and puckered flesh. A thousand teeth marks over every surface of his exposed body told me I was staring into the face of a warrior.
"Where is she?" he repeated, this time with rage in his tone and followed by the threat of his growl.
"Who?" asked Leah before I had the chance to let go and take him out.
There was a crack of a tree limb. The stranger's eyes moved away immediately, trying to see through the tangle of leaves and vines. It was the only opportunity I was going to get. I let the shudder tear through me, sounding like thunder in the air, and I burst free of my human confines, leaping forward.
Mouth open and ready for the taste of granite on my tongue, I was suddenly halted dead in my tracks. Alice stepped out from the area we'd heard the sound. With light, delicate steps, she danced to the man I was lunging toward. My paws hit the damp earth, and I dug my claws in as I watched her step in front of the strange man.
"You've kept me waiting," she whispered to him.
Her back was to me, and I knew she was physically incapable, but it sounded like she was choking on tears.
I saw the man smile a sad, weary smile, never taking his eyes off the little vampire.
"Sorry, ma'am," he said with a dip of his eyes.
Then, Alice threw her arms around him, lacing her fingers in the blonde waves at his neck, and kissed him long and deep. The anger that had rushed me earlier was absorbed by something else, and I turned my head sheepishly and backed toward my wife.
Leah met my eye with a stern look, then bent down and took a pair of shorts from the bag she'd been carrying. She shoved them into my mouth, muttering something about hypocrisy, and stood up. Alice and the stranger were otherwise still engaged, so I pushed with my humanity, rolling it through my body until my bones realigned, my muscles compacted and I took my natural form again. I easily slid into the shorts just as the couple broke apart.
They spent another moment just staring at each other, before Alice turned to face us. She looked nothing like the woman I had been seeing previously. Her face almost seemed to glow, with a smile so wide, it looked painful. Her eyes were bright, much lighter than before. She just seemed beautifully wispy, and more at ease, more complete than I'd had the pleasure of seeing her.
"Sorry about that," the man said, an impish grin settled into his own features. He hardly appeared to be the maniac of moments ago, either. "I just…er,"
He couldn't seem to find the words. Alice turned and patted his cheek lovingly.
"This is Jasper," she said, smile still in place. "This is my husband."
"Alice," I feigned shock, bringing my hand to my chest. "You didn't tell me you were married."
The tension so thick when this man had barged in on our rest now dissipated completely. I was immediately at ease with the situation.
Almost immediately, he asked, "Where's Carlisle?"
"I don't know," his wife answered.
Possibly detecting the pain of her admittance from her voice, Jasper's arms curled around her small shoulders. She didn't say anything right away. We fell silent, but together, began walking over the hill to where the cabin was situated in a natural alcove.
There was a small meadow with flowing knee length grass. It waved a bit in the breeze. Vegetation grew over the wooden cabin, the way it will if left unkempt. It smelled of molding timber and turned earth, but it was the only option for now. I still didn't think we'd be here long, anyway. The rest of Alice's coven was already arriving.
After the sun set, the moon rose bright and luminous in the velvet of night. We settled in and though I'd never admit my surprise that the vampires sat so close to it, we built a fire. It was apparent there was no time to spend on uselessness. We had to get down to the bottom of things before it was too late.
I looked over at the vampires through the crackling flames. Alice reclined between Jasper's long legs, resting her head against his chest, while he was propped up by a thick tree trunk. The tree was one of many of the older, larger ones in the entire valley. It had no bark, no branches, and was layered with ancient char, forever in its perpetual state of burning.
"They're up to something," Alice whispered, eyes unfocussed on the flames. "Stefan is simply mad, and Vlad, well, Vlad is scheming. I don't know how else to describe him. At first, we all wanted to think he was simply crazy, but now I'm not so sure. I don't know what they're up to, but it isn't good. And somehow they got Carlisle and Edward."
"How did you get away?" I asked her. Even if she didn't want to talk about what she encountered, it was necessary.
Alice sighed loudly. "We got back from meeting with you, Jakob," she began softly, "and Carlisle and I were discussing why my abilities had been blocked. Edward wandered off. Hours passed by and he didn't return. Carlisle specifically told me not to leave the bedroom, and he left, too."
Her breathing was quick, on the verge of hyperventilation. "They didn't come back." Wide eyes flashed with the flickering fire, like she was reliving those terrifying moments. "I waited and no one came."
When she paused in her memory, the only sound was the crackling fire and the crickets chirping in the forest. Everything else was silent. Even Leah and I held our breath, waiting for her to finish. Jasper's arms tightened their hold on his wife. A relaxing vibration echoed through me, and I saw Alice react to it, too, falling even further against her mate.
"I wondered," she began again, voice barely audible over the sound of nature around us. "I opened the door, knowing I shouldn't, knowing Carlisle told me to stay put, but I couldn't help myself." She tensed again as she spoke.
"I should have listened. The whole castle…it…it smelled like them, like their venom. I don't know happened. I smelled them in the air and I ran. It took me days to find the pack, but I couldn't make myself go back. I couldn't face it again."
A scowl shot over Jasper's face. "No one will blame you for that. You did the right thing," he told her softly. "They'll understand." He took a deep breath before continuing.
"I spent the last few days with Vlad," he said.
Alice turned and glared. "You've been with Vlad? Where?"
Looking a bit uncomfortable, Jasper said, "He was on Montecristo when we went to hunt, and we took him back to Volterra with us."
"Where is he now?" Alice's voice was inching back to hysterical again.
Jasper didn't answer immediately. "I don't know," he finally admitted. "We lost him back in Volterra."
We could all see there was more to the story than what he was saying, but he couldn't ignore Alice's imploring eyes.
"Shit, Ali, everything went wrong. First, Vlad shows up on the island and Bella's acting all gaga for the guy. Like she can spend time with him and not want to jump his bones. Then we get back to Volterra, and even if Bella says there's nothing there but a string of weird memories, I know what I felt. It was too strong to deny. There is a definite connection between them."
"Between Bella and Vladimir Tepes?" Alice asked. "You're joking."
"I wish I were," he groaned. Jasper continued gravely, pushing his long blonde hair from his face. "That's not all,"
He didn't elaborate right away, even after I cleared my throat to provoke him. It wasn't until Alice turned all the way around to face him did he finally speak again.
"Esme." He choked on the name and I was immediately aware how important the woman was to him. When I saw the same look of terror pass through Alice, I knew she was special to both of them. It only me a moment to realize I'd heard the name before.
"Carlisle's wife?" I asked. Leah inched a bit closer, her fingers lacing through mine.
Jasper nodded, but stared into his wife's eyes. "I don't know what happened. I don't know if she's ok. We left her alone and…"
He seemed unable to continue, and leaned into Alice's chest, muffling silent grief for the matriarch of his family. Alice's thin arms wrapped around him and held them together tightly. They made me wish to grieve for their loss, though I didn't know more about the woman than her name. I did, however, know Carlisle and knowing what a miraculous soul he was, I knew she was like to be the same.
I turned and looked at Leah's eyes, shining with her own sadness. Her fingers clutched tighter to mine as she noticed me staring. Our grief was palpable.
But Jasper and Alice broke apart. He started speaking again.
"When I read your letter, I couldn't help but think something was wrong. I didn't hear from you in two weeks, and you write a letter to tell me you aren't coming home. That's really why I came, because I'm not sure of Bella's part in all this. Judging from her feelings, I'd say she knows more about things than she's letting on."
"That makes no sense, Jazz," Alice interrupted. "Bella wouldn't lie to you. Me, maybe, but not to you. Besides, she loves Edward. She does. Absolutely. I have no doubt they're meant to be together. You should know that better than anyone."
Jasper cocked a disbelieving eyebrow at her, so she went on without a pause.
"Vlad is nasty, Jasper. Trust me on that. Vlad and his creepy little brother are noxious. They're up to something. Bella has to be a pawn in all this. Have faith, baby. Please."
Jasper sighed, his shoulders slumped a bit. He stayed quiet.
I cleared my voice and they both looked at me. I saw how similarly dark the rings under their eyes were. Alice's eyes were lighter now, but the darkness in her mate's were edging in. He needed to feed. I made to stand up, pulling Leah up with me.
"I think you eat. I have a feeling we're at the last stand, here. When this blows, we all need to be at top performance." After I said it, I felt a bit sheepish. I was used to commanding my brothers. These were free willed beings. I couldn't tell them to do anything.
"Right," Jasper agreed. "When we get back, I'd like to discuss some of the avenues into the castle. We need to strategize before we get into this."
"We won't need to go far," Alice said turned and said to us.
They began to walk away, but had only taken a few steps when Alice spoke again to Jasper.
"What letter?" she asked him.
"Hmm?" came the mumbled answer.
"I didn't write a letter," she said.
Disbelief crossed Jasper's features. "You didn't write a letter saying you wanted more time to better research the pack?"
Alice shook her head. Black hair moved with the brisk action. "We wanted to come home," she told him. "That castle is horrible. The wolves were the only thing keeping us sane. It was almost like we were being kept prisoner there. And for some reason he'd let us come here, but otherwise, it was lockdown. And Carlisle and Edward didn't get out this time. Oh my god! They didn't make it out!"
Jasper stepped forward to embrace his wife. I turned to leave them to it. Leah trailed behind in muted strides. When we were farther away and I was sure the couple had gone into the night, I asked her, "What's wrong?"
After a few feet she said, "Will you think less of me if I told you I was scared?"
Surprised by her admittance? Yes, but I could never think less of the powerful woman I had at the end of my arm. I turned around and flashed a wide grin.
"A little," I joked, my smile in full force.
As expected, she punched my shoulder, hard enough to hurt. And, as expected, she smiled a bit in return.
For awhile, we lounged outside the cabin in the field of long grass. Leah laid her head on my chest. She once told me the sound of my heart sounded like a hummingbird. I, of course, thought she could have used something more manly to describe it, but she found it endearing for whatever reason. I just never brought it up again.
I think she could have been dozing, when Jasper stepped over the rise and into view. He had a long arm wrapped around his wife's waist and led her. She stumbled along behind, eyes vacant. Leah and I rushed to them.
"What happened?" I asked, fearing the worst, fearing we hadn't been able to keep her safe.
Alice groaned. Leah leaned into her other side to help her mate hold the girl steady. Alice raised her pale hand. I was close enough for it to land on my shoulder and her cool touch sent shivers from the point of contact. With her eyes still glossed, she raised her head so she was facing me.
"He's using us," she mumbled. "He's using our gifts."
"Vlad?" came Jasper's quick response.
Together, we were able to bend Alice to the ground, and each stayed close. She reluctantly pulled her hand away from me, but Jasper's arm remained firmly around her shoulders. Then, she began sobbing, her face falling into her hands.
"He's using us!" she wailed again.
I looked to Jasper. I had an inkling of what had happened, but needed him to confirm it. He was looking up a bit, as if thinking over her words. Making sense of nothing. Or it seemed nothing to me. But I knew she had seen something. A vision.
"What happened?" I asked again, my voice soft under her harsh tearless sadness.
Jasper's eyes turned back to me. My muscles relaxed instantly, and I noticed Leah and Alice slump a bit, too.
"Bella said something about that," Jasper whispered to Alice. "She thought he was using our powers. I didn't believe her, but…" he paused for a moment. "But it makes sense."
"I told you Bella wasn't involved with that freak," Alice chided. "But this makes it worse. If she goes in there alone, he'll have her power at his disposal. Then, what are we going to do?"
"What's Bella's power?" Leah asked.
Neither of them spoke for a long moment, but finally Alice did, with a scared look in her eye. "She has enough power to destroy this mountain. She is stronger than the normal vampire. With that at his disposal, Vlad will be unstoppable."
Jasper ran a hand down his face.
"What is it?" Alice asked him.
"Vlad's not after Bella's power. Well, he probably is, but that's not what this is about."
"What then?" I cried out. They seemed to piece things together, but they were forgetting that Leah and I still knew nothing. If they wanted help from us, then we had to start getting real answers.
Jasper didn't turn back to us. He spoke to Alice when he answered my question. "He's after her. It's all about getting to Bella. And what's he done already? Taken nearly every other person who could keep her from him." Jasper smacked himself on the forehead. "Oh my God. Why didn't we see this coming, Alice? What the hell is wrong with me? I left her completely alone!"
The little pixie ran her fingers through her mate's hair. "It's not your fault. I know what it can be like for you," she told him softly. "I should have seen this. I should have looked harder."
"No," Leah said forcefully, cutting into the pity party starting in front of us. "This isn't either of your faults. That man is a nightmare. No matter what's happened to get us to this point is irrelevant. We need to act before he gets what he wants. Something tells me, that having this Bella is the last thing we want to happen."
"Tell us what you saw, Alice," I said and she met my eyes.
She stared at me for a moment too long. "Bella's going to go inside. She's all alone, and she's going to be pushed to the edge."
"That doesn't really tell us anything," I mumbled.
"It tells us everything," Jasper cut in. "If he gets Bella, we're lost."
"And she's about to walk right into his arms," his wife whispered.
"I can't believe I walked away from her," Jasper cursed, then sent an apologetic glance at Alice. She just reached up and grasped his hand tightly.
We looked at each other in silence. A feeling of despair settled over us, weighing on us. The night seemed to become darker, like there would be no dawn.
"Vlad has been using my premonitions somehow," Alice finally said before looking toward Leah and me. "I could see when I got far enough away from both you and the castle, but I only saw enough to know one thing."
I was breathing heavily. That was the only sound I could hear for several seconds, until I gathered enough nerve to ask the final question. "What do you know?"
"When we get there, it'll already be too late."