A/N: Lots of thanks to my fantastic betareader, It'sTimeToDance!
It was early summer, but the weather didn't seem to realize it as it sent a chilly drizzle down over Mike Newton's campsite. He grimaced at the clouds above and put more (somewhat) dry wood on the fire. He'd been hoping to get in some quiet camping time to himself over the weekend, since his mother was so excited to have him home from college that she never let him alone, and the news had said it would be sunny. Apparently, though, they had lied, and for the sole purpose of ruining his getaway. He ate his overcooked lunch in silence, pulling his raincoat tighter around his body and wondering why his food didn't really taste like food. Sighing, he swallowed last couple of mouthfuls and rinsed out the bowl with water from his canteen.
Then a noise in the woods behind him made him freeze.
Frowning, Mike stood up and pushed the hood back from his face, squinting through the damp air. The hairs on the back of his neck had stood up, but there was nothing to be seen among the dense vegetation. He shivered, dropping his bowl next to the fire, and took a couple steps towards the direction of the sound, listening as hard as he could. The only sound was the drizzle lightly hitting the leaves of the surrounding trees, and yet he couldn't shake the feeling that he was unsafe… Slightly irritated at the most recent addition to the list of things that had gone wrong with his trip, he tried to push the uncomfortable premonition to the back of his mind as he repacked his dishes in his backpack so they wouldn't collect water overnight.
He was startled by the sudden thudding of hooves behind him, and he whipped round just in time to leap out of the way of a massive buck deer as it came crashing right through his campsite.
"What the hell?" he swore as he watched the galloping buck disappear into the forest. The deer's strange behavior made him even more nervous – they usually went out of their way to avoid humans, even if a predator was chasing them. Hell, even the predator would avoid people. What on earth could be in those woods to drive the deer to behave against its instincts?
Still on the ground where he'd landed when leaping out of the animal's path, Mike was hit by wave after wave of goose bumps, and he turned his head to watch the forest where the buck had emerged. Something was in there, and he was absolutely sure that he wanted nothing to do with it.
After several moments of tense vigilance, an unfamiliar man strode out from beneath the green canopy of the trees, heading straight for him. Frowning, Mike stood up, growing increasingly agitated as the dark-haired stranger neared him, walking with unnatural speed and grace and seeming as though he was constantly on the verge of dropping into a crouch.
"Can I help you?" Mike ventured.
The man was directly in front of him much faster than Mike would have thought possible, and smiling in a way that made shivers race up Mike's spine. His teeth were a blinding white, perfectly even, and he possessed an inhuman beauty that for some reason caused Mike's stomach to flip over a few times in fear. "I think you can," the man said, his voice like velvet and his eyes a startling burgundy.
"Maybe you have some food to share?" a syrupy sweet female voice cut in.
Mike whipped his head around – a woman had materialized directly behind him, regarding him with the same unnerving red gaze and malicious smile. She was also unearthly beautiful, her waves of black hair falling nearly to her waist.
"What is this?" Mike asked, looking back and forth between the two of them and trying to keep his voice from trembling. Despite their fluid grace and beauty, he knew in his gut that these people had no intention of being friendly.
"What do you think, Sasha?" the man asked his fair accomplice, speaking as if Mike were not there. "Should we find something else with more…bulk?" The stranger's crimson eyes ran up and down Mike's frame hungrily, making him feel even more creeped out, if that was possible.
The woman's voice dropped to an eager husk as she said, "Not a chance. I'm hungry now."
Mike? Can you hear me? a honeyed voice called in the distance, muffled as if through a wall. Mike? He was barely aware of a cold hand on his forehead, a soothing touch. He attempted to mumble a reply, but it felt like his lips were glued shut, and his throat was dry and scratchy, as if he hadn't had anything to drink in several days.
Carlisle, I think he's waking up, the voice said.
Don't rush him, a second person spoke, this one male. I'll be right back.
Mike's whole body felt exhausted, as if he'd just hiked up a mountain with no rest stops. Gradually he realized that the reddish glow he saw was light shining through his eyelids – was it daytime? He struggled to open his eyes, but his lids felt weighted down. His brain scrambled to find his most recent memory – he could remember the clearing, camping, the rain, the deer thundering right past him. After that was nothing but blurs.
He groaned again, giving another attempt at opening his eyes. This time, they cracked open, and at first he saw nothing but blinding white.
"Mike?" the first voice said again, much clearer now. "Hey. How are you feeling?"
"What happened?" he slurred, trying to adjust his eyes to the brightness.
"You don't remember?" the melodious voice asked, soft with concern.
"Um…" He blinked a few times, finally clearing his vision, and frowned when he recognized the girl leaning over him. "Bella?"
She smiled. "Hey."
His forehead creased in confusion. "You're different," he said. He was right – it was definitely the Bella he'd known in high school, whom he hadn't seen since just after graduation, but she was…breathtakingly beautiful. Eerily beautiful. She regarded him sadly; the chocolate brown eyes Mike clearly remembered were gone, the irises turned bright butterscotch. He sat up, leaning his back against the wall behind him, a nagging in the back of his head screaming that something was not right – not just with the girl looking him in the eye, but with himself. With everything.
Finally, he looked past Bella's face at the room he was in. Two walls were invisible behind bookshelves packed completely full of aged volumes, and the wall to his right was made of glass, overlooking a green, rainy landscape. He saw that he wasn't actually on a bed, but instead stretched out over a divan. It appeared as though he was in some sort of home library.
But it wasn't his unfamiliar surroundings that disturbed him so much as the fact that everything was clearer than crystal, each minute detail of any object in his line of sight emphasized tenfold. His ears picked up a symphony of sounds – the light drizzle outside hitting the trees, soft footsteps from a room somewhere below them, and what sounded like a scolding squirrel in the branches a ways off. He should not be able to hear any of those sounds. Yes, there was undoubtedly something very wrong.
Mike jumped when a man appeared in the open doorway. He recognized Dr. Cullen, someone he'd occasionally run into at the hospital during his routine checkups but not somebody he was familiar with. "Oh, Michael, you're awake. Good. How do you feel?" the doctor asked, sounding as if it really wasn't good at all.
"Weird," was Mike's hesitant answer. "Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on?"
Bella and Carlisle exchanged a look that made the bottom of Mike's stomach twist into a knot. "Bella, why don't you let Michael and I talk for a few minutes."
She nodded, casting a furtive glance at Mike and giving him a gentle pat on the leg. As she left and Dr. Cullen took her place, Mike noticed that the clothes he was wearing were not his own.
"What happened to my clothes?"
"We had to lend you some of Edward's," the doctor said, not really answering the question. Mike blinked in surprise when he noticed that the man's eyes were the exact same color as Bella's new ones.
"Edward?" Mike echoed, his brows knitting together. "Where are we?"
"You're at our house, on the outskirts of town."
"Why?" he almost spat the word, making it clear that he wanted nothing more than his questions to be answered.
"Michael, I'm going tell you something, and I want you to listen very carefully," the doctor said, the solemnity of his tone making Mike's stomach twist even tighter. "You cannot go back home."
Mike didn't respond for a moment, frozen in place. "This has to be some kind of sick joke," he said, failing to keep his voice steady. "What the hell are you playing at?"
"I'm so sorry, Michael, but this is real." Mike clenched his jaw as the doctor continued. "The people who attacked you in the forest…tried to kill you. But Bella and Emmett stopped them. They saved you."
The memories came surging back – the taunting strangers, the pain, the fighting…
"But saving you came with a price."
"What?" Mike breathed. "What are you talking about? What price?"
Dr. Cullen placed a steady hand on Mike's shoulder as he spoke. "Michael, you are one of us now. Now, you may leave if you choose. We won't force you to stay. But your current condition will be permanent, and this is the best place for you to be."
"Will you just tell me what's wrong with me, for Christ's sake!" Mike yelled, frightened by the deep-throated growl beneath his words. That hadn't come from him, had it?
Despite the fear raging in his brain, Mike couldn't help but let out a short laugh at what the doctor said next.
"A what! Look, Doc, if you were going to play a prank, you could have at least picked a plausible story."
Dr. Cullen sighed, his mouth set in a grim line, and he stood up, saying, "Come with me, please."
Frowning, Mike stood up, surprised at how little effort the movement took – the exhaustion was gone, disappeared as if it had never been there. He followed the doctor out of the library and down the hallway until he stopped beside a door, gesturing for Mike to go in. Still confused, Mike entered to find himself in a large bathroom, spotlessly clean and well lit. For a few moments, he had no idea why the doctor had sent him in here…and then he saw the mirror, and froze.
A young man stared back at him, flawlessly beautiful even with his face creased with horror. He bore Mike's pale blond hair, the same build, the same facial structure. And yet…it wasn't – couldn't be him. The freckles on his cheeks were gone, the tiny mole on his neck… his face was completely unblemished, as pale as a corpse. And his eyes. The baby blues his mother had always fawned over were gone, too, and in their place the irises were a blood-curdling red.
"I'm so sorry," the doctor said again from the doorway. Mike had forgotten he was there.
Without knowing what he was doing, Mike screamed, drawing back his fist and slamming it into the deceitful reflection. The mirror shattered, silver shards cascading down as Mike tore past the doctor, his bare feet carrying him as fast as they could through the house.
"Emmett!" Dr. Cullen called in warning as he ran after him.
When Mike reached the bottom of the stairs, he suddenly found himself locked in Emmett Cullen's superhumanly strong hold, his arms wrapped around Mike's torso as he thrashed. "LET ME GO!" he snarled.
Two ice-cold hands were suddenly cupping his face, forcing him to look an unfamiliar woman in the eye. "Michael, listen to me," she said, loud but gentle. "You are safe here. Do you understand me? We will protect you. There is nothing you can do right now, except stay and hear us out. Please," she added, almost as an afterthought.
Suddenly, the hysteria that was gripping every corner of his mind evaporated like water on Arabian summer sand, and he was able to absorb every word she said.
"Thank you, Jasper," the doctor said from behind them.
Emmett released his hold on Mike's body, stepping back and giving him a little more room to breathe. He looked around and realized that he was surrounded by the rest of the Cullens, and as the fear began to bubble in his stomach again, another wave of tranquility washed over him. His eyes flicked from face to face. All beautiful, all watching him with the exact same anxious topaz gaze.
It was the single most frightening thing he had ever seen.
A/N: So, before you start sending me a cascade of flames saying that Mike should never, ever, ever under any circumstances be a vampire, let me explain exactly where this idea came from. When Bella became a vampire, she obviously knew a lot about their lifestyle before she was landed in it herself, so she was relieved off all this extra baggage that usually comes as a package deal with the change. I wanted to see how somebody who had absolutely no clue that these creatures even existed would handle it. And before you ask, "Why Mike?", I chose him because I like him, and I think he deserves some plot dedication :) That being said, flame away, although nice reviews would also be welcome.