Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. This sick, twisted plotline is all me.

Thanks to KnittingVamp7 for beta'ing!

The woods were thick and dark. Edward's skin was so white that it nearly glowed under the canopy of trees. He walked slowly at first, but stopped several yards up the trail. He turned and looked at me.

"Do you want to run with me again?" he asked with a boyish grin on his face.

"I more glide than run," I said.

"But do you want to?" he asked again.

"You really like it, don't you?"

"Yes, it's one of the few things that I enjoy about being what I am," he said. He was still smiling. "The speed is exhilarating; it takes my mind off of other things."

"Then by all means, you run and I'll fly," I said.

His grin became impossibly broader; he looked like a boy. I couldn't help but smile back. He turned and began running.

It only took a moment for him to run far enough ahead that the edge of my boundary caught me. I sensed it approaching and jumped in order to propel myself into the air. I flew through branches and leaves. A tingle passed through me as I passed through the canopy. I couldn't see Edward through the dense foliage but I knew that he was still moving.

My flight didn't last long. Edward stopped on the edge of what looked like a clearing ahead. I flew over him and landed in the middle of a meadow. I glanced at him and found my own smile echoed in his. The tall grass and flowers tickled my legs just as the trees had done. I spun around a bit, before noticing that Edward was still standing under the cover of the trees.

I held out my hand to encourage him to walk forward and noticed that I could barely see myself in the sunlight. I wondered if he could see me. What little color my skin had possessed in life seemed to be completely washed out by the sun.

"Can you see me?" I asked.

"Of course," he said. "My vision is much better than yours."

I had forgotten for a brief moment that he was a vampire.

"What happens if you come out in the sunlight?" I asked. I noticed a cloud moving swiftly to cover the sun. Sunshine was a limited commodity in Forks.

"Do you want me to show you?" he asked.

"It depends, will it hurt you?"

"No," he laughed, and stepped away from the trees. The sunlight glinted off of his skin and reflected back in prisms. My mouth hung open as I openly gawked at him. I didn't understand the expression that came over his face.

"You're beautiful," I whispered in awe.

"No, Bella. You're beautiful. I'm a monster." Instantly his face made sense: he was disgusted. The clouds once again obscured the sun, and Edward visibly relaxed.

"Me? I am plain, and boring, and pale as a sheet despite the fact that I came from Phoenix earlier this week, and now I'm more than just a little transparent. You, on the other hand, are obviously the descendant of a Greek god, and your skin sparkles like diamonds in the sunshine."

"It's just camouflage to draw you in, to bring you closer so that …"

"So that you can …"

"Yeah …"

Neither of us wanted to say it.

"It's actually quite superfluous, really," he stated. "We're fast, and unbelievably strong, and venomous. Beauty really shouldn't matter under those circumstances."

"Venomous?" I asked.

"Yes, had I pulled back when I meant to, then you would understand that better." He sighed and adjusted his stance. "We secrete venom, it replaces all of our saliva and blood."

"So … I would have died anyway?"

"No." He shook his head. "The venom would have changed you into one of us. It would have immobilized you by causing excruciating pain first, but then it would have converted all of your blood, changed your body, and made it unnaturally perfect …" he trailed off.

"You would have hurt me either way," I whispered.

"Yes, but it would have been the last time I hurt you, unlike this. My mere presence seems to cause constant pain."

"As does mine."

"But you're not the one to blame," he said. "I have no right to feel pain over what I've done. I should never have tried."

"I think that you meant well." Why exactly was I assuaging his guilt?

"I did, but that's no excuse," he protested. "I made a choice and took something that wasn't mine."

"I'm pretty sure that in that moment, I would have given it to you freely," I confessed. "I told you that I was yours."

"You didn't know what that meant." He was standing unnaturally still, unblinking, unmoving.


"See, and this is my punishment." He looked at me. "I have to be near you every day, every hour, and I can't escape. You're like a personification of my guilt – all of my sins thrown in my face everyday just by being near the ghost of the innocent life that I took." He stepped closer and passed his hand over the edge of where my cheek should have been. His fingers barely passed under what would have been skin.

"I wanted, and I took, and I drank what was forbidden. There is no forgiveness for me." I could feel his heart aching. It was like his pain was a part of me. It was too intense and I silently begged for it to stop.

"Whatever happened to, 'We all make mistakes'?" I asked. It seemed that he subscribed to a double standard on this issue. "You said, 'we' earlier, but now it sounds like you didn't mean that. Don't you believe that you have the opportunity to be forgiven and do better?"

"I'm a vampire, Bella. Forgiveness is kind of a moot point when you're damned." He shrugged and shifted his stance.

"You said 'we,' which indicates to me that at least somewhere – deep down – you think that you have a chance." I smirked at him. "If you think that there's the remotest possibility for redemption, then shouldn't you do better?"

"Are you attempting to apply Pascal's Wager to this situation?" he teased and smirked.

"I might be working up to that, yes." I smiled sweetly.

"Why they put that in mainstream high school curriculum but somehow can't manage to teach you children how to balance a checkbook is appalling."

"So… Pascal…" I started.

"I never said that I didn't believe in God, Bella. Actually, quite the opposite," he mused. He was challenging me.

"I think that you can apply the same reasoning to your situation," I said.

"It doesn't apply," he said and stared at me darkly.

"Keep staring vampire, I'll tell you when it deters me. I'm dead, what're you going to do, annoy me? You're already doing that," I folded my arms under my chest. We were mirroring each other. "Believing in some form of redemption benefits you infinitely more than believing that you're automatically damned."

"I can't decide whether I love you or hate you," he mused.

"That's not the topic at hand," I snapped.

He raised an eyebrow at me, and I stared him down.

"I really think that you could use some hope in your life," I said.

"I'm not alive," he huffed.

"Neither am I," I imitated his childish tone and flounced onto the ground for good measure. He came and laid down next to me. We weren't touching, just laying close enough that I could sense his body.

I felt the grass and realized that it was kind of soothing. It was almost like a being, all of the blades in the meadow were linked together through their root system. It gave off a sense of peace and harmony. I let it course through me.

"I like it here," I whispered.

"Me too," Edward responded in a velvety tone. He sounded almost sleepy. "Sometimes I come here to get away," he confessed. "Hearing everyone's thoughts all the time can be stressful, and sometimes I need to escape from them. No one is ever out here. It's the one place where I have complete silence."

"I can't even imagine."

He turned, propped himself up on his elbow and looked at me.

"I've always had quiet. I'm an only child with no real friends to speak of … No one ever bothers me. Sometimes it's like being a ghost hasn't changed anything. In a few weeks I would have blended into the background and they all would have ignored me anyway." I could feel tears welling up again.

"Don't cry," he tried to soothe me. The tears came anyway. It was sad to acknowledge the insignificance of my existence. I tried to stop, to turn them off and choke them back down but the sheer weight of my revelation was too painful. It crushed me into the ground. I could feel it echo through the grass and in turn the green surface below me fought against it. The grass wanted to be happy. It was like the roots throughout the meadow were banding together to support one another through my grief, drawing comfort from the far corners near the trees.

"If I hadn't been responsible for your death, I still never would have forgotten your life," Edward said. He was somber. Once again, he reached out to touch me and stopped himself. "I lo-"

"Please don't," I sobbed. Those were words that I couldn't hear. He couldn't speak them to me; it would have been too cruel at the time.

"I'm sorry." He rolled back onto his back and shifted away to give me some space.

I lay there for a very long time and stared at the expanse of gray clouds covering the sky. The clouds were forlorn looking, depressed, and completely unremarkable … like me. The sky slowly darkened from light gray to a subtly darker tone. The change was gradual. Every once in a while I held up my hand and watched it become a bit more solid looking.

"Edward?" I called.


"Can we please try to find someone who may know about ghosts?" I asked.

"Bella, we've been over this …"

"Please?" I tried again.

"I just don't want you to get your hopes up only to be crushed by some charlatan," he sighed.

"I promise not to get my hopes up. We'll test people thoroughly before even talking to them," I whined.

"It's not a good idea and that's final."

I hated that I couldn't do anything with out him. Or could I? Perhaps if I could get one of the other Cullens alone, or one of the kids at school in the computer lab, then I could search on the Internet. It wasn't likely that I'd find anything, but I could try. It was better than nothing.

"What are you planning?" Edward was studying me. "I know that you're up to something. There's too much going on behind your eyes."

"I'm not planning anything," I sighed.

"Don't lie to me," he growled and leaned forward.

"I'm not afraid of you." I rolled away from him and got to my feet. "We should probably go. We've spent the day here and you family will be wanting the car."

"Fine, but I'm watching you." He pouted and stood. I followed him as he huffed out of the clearing and under the cover of the trees. He began to run again, and I allowed myself to be pulled along. The trip seemed shorter, like he was running more for speed than fun.

We didn't talk on the way back. I sat in the backseat with my knees pulled up to my chest, looking out the window and planning. I just had to get one of them alone. How exactly was I going to do that? The last thing I needed was for Edward to notice that I could possess his family.

Actually, I wasn't sure if that worked with everyone. Humans seemed to react differently. Could Esme have been an anomaly? I really needed to try that out on another vampire to test it out. I wondered how long I'd have to wait to get to Alice or Rosalie without anyone interfering.

"We're here," Edward murmured from the front seat. I blinked and saw the campus of Forks High School come into focus, bathed in the hazy gray afternoon light that sifted through the clouds. We'd spent a lot of time quietly together. I hated to admit it, but Edward was fairly comfortable to be around when we weren't arguing. I really needed to hate him more, because liking the guy who murdered me was just sick and wrong.

"Bella," he prompted.

"Yeah, I heard you," I said and moved out of the car just in time for his siblings to waltz our way through the throng of students eagerly heading for the parking lot. They all walked and dressed like runway models, it was a wonder that no one in town had figured out their little secret due to the fact that they were just so odd. I could see the camouflage now that I knew what to look for. They were all a bit too perfect, the student body seemed both fascinated and frightened by them. It was apparent by the way they watched the vampires but also parted around them, leaving enough room to feel safe.

I saw Jessica and Lauren exit the school. They seemed a bit stiff but were still walking together. It didn't seem like I'd done any permanent damage to their friendship. Tyler walked a little too closely to them for a moment, and I saw Lauren jump. That was certainly interesting.

"So, that was discreet," a voice chirped close to me, as the door to the car creaked open.

"I needed to leave, okay?" Edward responded.

"Alice," Jasper warned the smallest vampire.

"Fine, but next time try not to seem completely insane before you peel out of the parking lot. It was entirely too conspicuous," Alice continued.

"What do you want me to do, Alice? Forget her?" Edward spat. I turned to look over my shoulder at him. He was still sitting behind the steering wheel, but now his shoulders were hunched. "I can't."

"You're just going to have to get over that." Rosalie folded herself into the car. I wondered how she did that. If I were as tall as she was, getting into the car would have been a much less graceful affair. "Everyone here, other than me, has made mistakes …"

"You are just as much a murderer as I am, Rosalie Hale," Edward said frostily. His eyes met hers in the rear view mirror. I could sense the tension from outside the car. Jasper was tense. He hadn't gotten in yet, and was shifting from foot to foot outside.

"Ya know, Edward, at least you tried not to kill her," Emmett said, suddenly appearing in the front passenger seat. "There have been times when I didn't even think twice about sinking my teeth into some poor, unsuspecting human."

"Please don't show me," Edward growled in response and turned the key in the ignition.

Jasper finally slipped into the car and we were driving back to the house. Oddly, it almost felt like home when we pulled up. I pushed that thought to the back of my mind. I did not need to form any more attachments to the vampires. It was bad enough that I had slipped into liking Edward rather than hating him.

Everyone filed into the house quietly. It seemed that no one wanted to discuss their potentially insane brother any further. Although, things seemed a bit different, the day before they had all been content to allow Edward to stew on his own. Suddenly, there was always another one of them with him.

First it was Alice and a seemingly futile chess game. I watched for a while, fascinated by the fact that she was seeing the future and he was reading her mind. It took fifteen minutes per move and finally ended with him tipping over his own King when none of her pieces were near it. They set up the board and did it again.

I used the opportunity to search for an unaccompanied vampire elsewhere in the house. I wasn't lucky. Jasper was in the same room with Edward and Alice, reading a book and sporadically glancing at the game. Rosalie and Emmett were… occupied. There were noises and I really didn't want to investigate further. Esme and Carlisle were discussing something in the kitchen. It sounded like they might have been talking about how to handle Edward and it seemed that he wouldn't be getting any time alone in the near future.

My search had been futile. I didn't want Edward to figure out the full extent of my ability, nor did I want to reveal myself openly to the others just yet. I wasn't sure if they'd put the facts together and come up with the solution that I was real or not. Perhaps they would just think that they'd all ingested some bad elk or something.

I would have to wait for an opportunity at school. I sighed and settled in to observe the Cullen household from the top of Edward's piano. He eyed me occasionally throughout the night. It would be so much easier if I could convince him to search for help. I lay down on the black surface and let my mind wander until morning. There just had to be a way to change the mind of a stubborn vampire.

End note:

The blog has been updated. There's a preview of Viewer 2-5-8, which is a story that I'll be coming out with in another month or two. It's something that I started writing a long time ago but as it turns out it translates beautifully to Twi-fic. drs, of Operation LOVEs Recovery has graciously volunteered to beta and has already been hard at work.

Manuel the Wonder Llama/Doc has gone ahead with his CivilWarSper fic, "The Home Guard." It's a little dose of history with your Twi-fic, worth checking out. He's as bad as I am about making sure that things are thoroughly researched.

Check out the Plot Bunny Contest, LadyRip is doing one set on Tybee Island GA titled, A Ray in the Dark. I've been checking facts for her for about a week.