Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, only Stephanie M. has that privilege. So please don't sue me, because I'm making absolutely no money from this.
Bella – 5 years later
Slipping between trees and foliage, my feet barely touched the ground as I ran. Sunlight gently filtered through the cloud cover illuminating my path forward. With effortless grace, the whisper of my passing could barely be heard. I should have been untraceable.
Unfortunately, my pursuer had centuries of experience to aid them.
A flash of blond hair to my right caused me to instinctively duck and roll. My hand shot out and an arch of electricity shot from my palm, causing the trunk of a nearby tree to explode. Shards of wood pelted the area.
Scrambling to move, I found myself too late to act when my body involuntarily convulsed. Pain shot through my nerve endings and caused my muscles to lock, unceremoniously dumping me face first to the ground. Before I could even think about recovering, my adversary had me pinned and subjugated.
It didn't help that they were literally rubbing my face in the soil.
"I hate you." I growled between mouthfuls of dirt.
"No you don't." A musical laugh said in my ear as they completely foiled my every attempt at escape. Even with three years of martial training, I still hadn't won a single match.
"Yes I do." I reiterated, renewing my struggles before huffing and giving up. "Kaaatteee." I whined, resting my forehead against the damp earth. "Let me up already."
"Not until you surrender." The blonde Denali stated; keeping my arms firmly locked behind my back. "Last time I gave you the benefit of the doubt, you tackled me from behind." I couldn't help but smile, remembering the incident in question.
"Scar says the key to victory is catching your opponent by surprise. Not my fault you let down your guard."
"That's fine and dandy when you're in a life and death situation, but in a sparring match, it is poor conduct."
"Fine." I groaned, since it was obvious she wasn't going to let me up otherwise. "I surrender. Happy?"
"Yes." Kate was instantly on her feet, completely smug about having beaten me. Again.
Slowly getting to my feet, I attempted to brush off my cargo pants and blouse. Despite Alice's fanatic attempts to get me to dress more fashionably, I never sparred or hunted in anything really nice. Something told me I'd be stalking deer in high heels and cocktail dresses if I let her have her way.
"Did you really have to shock me at such a high level?" I asked, rubbing my shoulder where she's tagged me with her power.
"Consider it payback for trying to blow me up. If my reflexes were any slower you could have seriously hurt me!" I blinked and ran a hand through my thick auburn hair.
"You know I wasn't actually aiming for you right? I was hoping the exploding trunk would surprise you long enough for me to recover. We both know how well that worked out." I sighed and began walking back toward the house, Kate keeping pace beside me.
"Don't feel too bad Bella. You've significantly improved since we've started. Instead of taking you down in the first five seconds you've got me running you down in an hour. That's progress." Kate nudged me with her elbow and I gave her a grudging smile.
"You're right, considering how old you are, I shouldn't be surprised you know a few tricks." I grinned and avoided her answering swat to the arm.
"Children have no respect these days." Her tone was admonishing, but her smile gave away her mood. "How is your father by the way? Still in good health I trust?"
A wide smile crossed my lips as my chest welled with excitement.
"Charlie's doing great! He's settling into marriage with Sue quite nicely, and I found out last week that they're expecting their first grandchild! John and Leah have been trying for so long to have a baby, I'm really happy for them. I know Leah was afraid she couldn't have children because of the phasing. I just can't believe I'm going to be an Aunt!" I exclaimed, unable to contain my enthusiasm. Kate smiled indulgently.
"I'm glad that they're doing so well, I remember you telling me how upset you were when you had to leave Forks."
"Yeah." I sighed, thinking back to the day.
Victoria carried me out of the woods. Her hold was firm and gentle, probably in an effort to save me further pain. Which was strange considering she'd just had her arm torn off; I was more than a little concerned about whether she should be using her limb so soon after sustaining such an injury. If it bothered her, she showed no sign of it.
Eventually we arrived at the house and she carried me inside. Settling myself on the couch, still a bit drowsy from the medication now that the adrenaline had worn off, I watched Scar perform a systematic inspection of the house. I think having so many life threatening situations occur within the last 24 hours had her more than a little on edge.
"Scar," I murmured, drained and tired. "Come sit next to me please." My lover was beside me in an instant. Climbing onto the sofa, she allowed me to lean against her marble frame. We sat like that for several long minutes before the sound of a car pulled into the driveway.
Victoria's head immediately whipped around and a low growl rumbled in her chest as she watched the entrance of the house. Her sudden movement had me tensing sharply as we listened to the knob rattle. The door swung open and…
Charlie shuffled over the thresh hold.
Speckles of dried blood covered his collar from when his scalp split open, and he was now sporting a bandage on his head, but otherwise seemed ok. He had his police jacket slung over one shoulder and a white pharmacy bag clutched in his hand; no doubt pain medication.
"Dad!" I croaked, and would have lurched awkwardly off the couch if Victoria hadn't stubbornly kept me from falling.
Charlie's eyes zeroed in on me, and immediately began to water with relief.
"Bella!" He exclaimed, dropping the bag to pull me into a hug. He didn't even care that he ended up inadvertently hugging Victoria too, since her body language made it clear she had no intention of letting me go.
Of course, he was very aware of my arms, so despite his enthusiasm it was still rather tentative. Sitting in the presence of two of the people I loved most I could finally breathe easy, knowing that for the most part they were both unharmed.
"Dad, are you ok? You were bleeding a lot when Dr. Cullen took you to the hospital." I asked in a concerned voice.
"I'm fine Bella." He gruffly remarked, touching his head with a slight wince. "Just a mild concussion and a cut scalp. Head wounds always bleed a lot. Carlisle was kind enough to issue prescriptions to the both of us once I recovered from the knock to the head." Charlie finally seemed to remember Victoria, and his expression softened slightly. "I'm glad the boys down on the reservation didn't hurt you. As a sovereign nation, I wouldn't have been allowed to interfere in how they handle criminal affairs on their land."
"Thank you Charlie." Victoria murmured and for the first time since I'd gotten home, noticed how dark her eyes were. "May I ask what happened?"
Charlie gave a short bark of laughter.
"Made the stupid mistake of tripping over a coffee table and into a china cabinet."
"That wasn't your fault." I interjected, still more than a little pissed at Edward. "You wouldn't have tripped if Edward hadn't pushed you when you tried to keep him from going after Rose."
"What?" Scar's voice suddenly became deathly serious. "He attacked his sister?"
"To be fair, she hit him first. Couldn't tell by looking at her, but that girl packs a wallop." Charlie muttered. It was easy to see that his manly pride had taken a bit of a beating about being physically outclassed by Edward when his sister so easily knocked him down.
"He deserved it. He practically admitted to framing Victoria for Paul's," I choked, unable to say the word 'murder'. "death." I finished weakly.
Easing himself onto the couch beside me, Charlie put a comforting hand on my leg.
"That was an accident. Although, I'll be honest, I don't know how I'll be able to protect you from this Bella." Charlie seemed to age ten years as he looked at me with an anguished expression. Reaching out, I took my father's hand. My fingers burned with pain, but Charlie was more important. Looking at one another, a silent understanding seemed to pass between us.
"Unfortunately it gets worse." Victoria's soprano voice, slightly husky from thirst, broke the moment. "When the Quileute's learned the truth, they basically banished us from Forks. If we don't leave within a week they'll expose Bella's secret and Paul's murder."
Charlie stared blankly at Victoria before he hunched over, covering his face with his hands. Victoria and I waited patiently for him to absorb the new information. Eventually, he dropped his hands and sighed deeply.
"I'll put in my notice, and start packing up the place. It'll be tough finding a new home, but we can do it." I blinked, taken completely off guard. For some reason it hadn't occurred to me that Charlie would be included in this exile.
When mom left he stayed in Forks; he didn't pack up everything to move several states over to be near me. It was something that I always resented both my parents for. Renee for taking me away; and Charlie for not following after.
Yet here he was, offering to do just that. My eyes began to water and I sniffed and blinked in an attempt to ward off tears.
"Dad, it's fine. You don't have to do that. I'll go live with Renee. I know how much you love Forks." Charlie smiled tiredly.
"You're right. I do love Forks. I love the town and the people. I love the forests and the rain; but you know what Bella? I love you more."
Unable to contain my emotions any longer, I let out a choked sob and flung my arms around Charlie's neck. I vent my anxiety and relief straight into his shirt. Until that moment, I hadn't realized how afraid I was that I'd lose him on top of Jake.
"Shhh, It's alright. It'll be alright Bella." He mumbled while rubbing soothing circles on my back.
"You might not have to sell the house and give up your job. I have a possible solution if you're willing to hear the details." Victoria started, her voice taking on a contemplative tone.
"What did you have in mind?" Charlie inquired, curious but obviously still weary.
"At this point in time, you have two options. Send Bella back to Renee or quit your job and move to a new place. Since Bella is underage, she can't live on her own, and two weeks really isn't enough time to make such a huge change.
I've got an apartment in Port Angele's, It's far enough from Forks that the Quileute cannot complain, but close enough for you to visit on a regular basis. You can keep the house and your job. If you're still determined to move and maybe get a transfer, you now have time to do so."
I could tell that Charlie wasn't thrilled with the idea, but he grudgingly agreed.
"I'm still not allowed in the city limits but Charlie and Sue visit every couple months, and call regularly so I don't feel too bad about it. Dad just about threw a fit when Victoria and I decided to move to Whitehorse when I turned eighteen but…" I smiled sheepishly, "Charlie wasn't too keen on letting us have our privacy."
Kate laughed and placed a finger to her mouth with a coquettish smile.
"So you're telling me that you moved all the way to Canada just so you could have steamy vampire sex without being interrupted?"
Had I been capable of blushing, my face would have been several shades of red.
"Basically." I stated bluntly.
Hanging out with the Denali sisters for the past four years or so had made me largely immune to embarrassment of a sexual nature. Still, for the most part I liked keeping my private life just that. Private.
"But enough about me," I said, trying to change the subject. "How are Irina and Tanya? Carmen and Eleazar sent me an email full of pictures from their trip to Spain, so I know they're doing well; but nothing from either of your sisters."
Chuckling to herself, Kate slung an arm over my shoulder as we walked.
"Irina is in France right now. She loves the countryside and is enjoying the attention of a particularly charming poet. From what she tells me, he has excellent oral skills." Kate winked, and I groaned and laughed at the double meaning.
"Tanya has her hands full running the gallery. Since she started hanging up your works she's been bombarded by requests for more. She's been organizing showings and soiree's left and right.
Most of the time we open new businesses just to help stave off the monotony and keep ourselves from becoming stagnant, but I think this time Tanya is really enjoying herself. If your painting and charcoal pieces continue to sell well, I think she'll ask you to showcase your work in person."
I balked at the suggestion.
"I'm not sure that's a good idea Kat. I've gotten a lot better with my control lately, but I don't think I'm ready to stay in a room with a bunch of humans for hours on end."
Kate's smile dimmed a bit, but she squeezed my shoulder reassuringly.
"You underestimate yourself Bella. Sure, you've had your moments, but you're much better off than the average newborn. You've only been a vampire for three years. These things take time. With experience comes control."
"I wish I was as confident." I sighed before we broke from the tree line.
The house that came into view was an eclectic blending of modern and European homes. It was composed mostly of natural stone and concrete. It had three levels, including a basement, with a second story deck made of rich mahogany that provided shade and shelter to the first floor while simultaneously bestowing a lounge for those on the second. With large windows and sliding glass doors, overall it had a warm Zen-like appearance that complimented the surrounding forest.
The ground floor had a living room, kitchen, garage, and laundry room. The floor above contained the master bedroom, two spares and an office/studio where I painted and Victoria kept her filing. The basement was Victoria's territory and had a fully outfitted lab.
Most if not all of the living areas were furnished comfortably, soundproof walls and sturdy furniture were a given.
I felt a rush of affection as I remembered pouring over designs with Esme and building each floor and section with my own hands.
Eagerly rushing into the house (our doors were never locked) I flew up the stairs and into the study.
Victoria was hunched over one of the workbenches, scribbling away at a sheaf of paper as she muttered to herself. Her back was to the door and I felt a playful urge to surprise my lover.
Creeping as quietly as I could, I made a hushing motion to Kate (who was standing in the doorway behind me) and pounced.
Unfortunately, I was a little over enthusiastic, and instead of simply surprising my mate I sent us both crashing to the floor when the chair gave out under my strength. Sprawled awkwardly on top of Victoria, I was met head on with her narrow gaze.
"Oops." I said, looking guiltily at the broken remnants of the furniture. Meanwhile, Kate was in hysterics.
"Belllla." Scar sighed exasperatedly, pushing hair out of her face.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to jump quite that hard…" I trailed off, knowing it wasn't the first or last time I'd break something. "I didn't interrupt anything terribly important did I?"
Victoria's features softened and she wrapped her arms around me. Leaning up just a little, she rubbed her nose against mine affectionately before placing a tender kiss on my lips.
"Nothing is more important than you Firefly." Humming contentedly, I would have been happy to remain where I was if I hadn't suddenly remembered we had company. Stiffening slightly, I turned my head to gaze at Kate who, predictably, was smirking.
"Don't feel you have to stop on my account, I'll just sit here and enjoy the show." Her eyes were sparkling with mirth, but I knew she was only partially joking. After a thousand years of sexual escapades, Kate had absolutely no shame.
"Katrina!" Victoria grinned, absolutely delighted to see her. "Did Bella manage to beat you this time?"
"Hardly," She scoffed, moving further into the room to help Victoria and I to our feet. "but give her another hundred years and we'll have a fighter on our hands. Although with her current skills she would win nine times out of ten against the average vampire. Factor in her ability and she could probably rival a few of the Volturi."
"Music to my ears." Scar murmured, pulling me against her to place a kiss on my neck.
Trying not to get distracted by Victoria's close proximity, I picked up the paper that had fallen to the floor when I'd knocked her over. Scanning it quickly, I handed it back to my mate.
"Writing Aro another report I see. Is there some reason why you can't just email him the results?"
"Vampire royalty he may be, but computer literate he is not. Even though Aro has his minions keep up with current technology he insists that anything addressed to him be hand written. It's a weird quirk but not one I can afford to ignore considering who pays our bills."
"I still wish you'd taken Carlisle up on his offer instead. It's good that you're researching vampire biology, but I wish the funding came from somewhere else." I replied. Victoria huffed with amusement.
"As wealthy as the Cullens are, they don't have the capital or manpower required to fund the project and keep any potential 'mistakes' from seeing the light of day. You just don't like him cause he eats people."
"That's not true!" I objected, turning to grasp her hands earnestly. "It would be rather hypocritical of me to be okay with your diet but judge him for doing the same."
"Then what's the problem?" Victoria drawled, quirking her brow.
"The problem is how damn persistent he is." Kate interjected. "He's got a raging hard on for Bella to join the Volturi, and like a creepy stalker he won't go away. I wouldn't be surprised if you got the grant simply because he's trying to get in her good graces." Wincing, I sighed and looked at my mate who was obviously trying not to grin.
"What she said, except less vulgar; also minus the horrific mental images of Aro naked. It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't want to turn me into a killing machine that vaporizes people on command. You know I can barely tolerate killing animals let alone rogue vampires!"
"Okay, calm down." Scar crooned, gently rubbing my arms. "First off, while it's true that Aro likes to collect skilled individuals he doesn't really need you. With Jane and Alex on his side, you're basically just window dressing. As long as we don't join a large coven we're not a threat. Plus, we're already mollifying him by being in his 'employ'. As long as he feels like we are under his thumb, he'll be less likely to lash out."
Despite making a good amount of sense, it didn't really make me feel a whole lot better. Meanwhile, Kate had a strange contemplative air about her.
"Is that the reason you've never accepted our offers to join the family?" Kate eventually inquired. "I know the Cullens would love to have both you and Bella as permanent members of the clan, mine included, but you've always waved it off."
"Partially;" Victoria commented. "I also just like having Bella to myself as much as I can; besides, we have one of you dropping in on us every other day or so."
"True enough;" Kate remarked with a smile. "but enough about Aro and the Volturi. How is your work coming along? From the way Bella tells it, you've been holed up in your lab for the past three days."
Victoria's face brightened and a triumphant expression worked its way across her features.
"Well, as you may or may not be aware, while the Volturi are relatively up to date with modern technical marvels like phones and computers, they have almost completely neglected the biological sciences.
With their permission I've been conducting experiments with blood and venom. We know the effects of venom on humans to a certain extent, but no one has really done any research on how it affects animals.
It came to me, if a vampire with a regular diet neglects to kill a man after biting them, you simply get a newborn. If Bella were to do the same, would we end up with vampiric deer? It was really bothering me, because at least a human can temper their instincts with reason and logic. An animal cannot do the same. In effect, if transformation were possible, they would remain eternally in the 'newborn' phase.
A rabid blood crazed animal with super strength sounded like a horror movie waiting to happen, so I wanted to know for sure if it was possible."
Kate blinked, her mouth open in astonishment.
"You know, I never really considered it. Still, I've been surviving off this diet for nearly six hundred years, if it was going to happen it probably would have by now."
"Maybe, one cannot know for sure without empirical evidence.
First, I needed to know what venom really is. How is it able to completely remake a human being into an immortal? I've learned that while using the word venom to describe our saliva is accurate, venom is not the agent that starts the change. Our venom acts as a paralytic, to keep our prey from escaping, but it's the mutated virus in our venom that is the real reason we are vampires. I call it, the Eternity Virus; or EV.
However to make a long story short, I did a lot of experiments and compared the effects of venom on human and animal blood under a microscope. What I found was that EV does have an effect on animal cells. The difference between what it does to human cells is the rate at which it breaks down cellular composition.
Once EV reaches the nucleus of a human cell, it goes to work on the DNA. Effectively getting rid of junk strands and 'perfecting' everything else. It does this to every cell it comes in contact with. This is why it takes about three days for a human to become a vampire give or take a few hours.
In an animal, the virus works exactly the same except that the virus does not compensate for the change in species. It disposes of vital sections of DNA that, if the cell were human, would otherwise be unnecessary. As a result the cell ruptures and dies.
Every sample I've used so far, from chimps and dogs to birds and fish have concluded the same way. Humans seem to be the only exception to the rule.
It's really quite fascinating."
For a long moment Kate and I stared blankly, than shared a glance.
"Sooo," I started. "You're saying I don't have to worry about Bambi growing fangs anytime soon?"
Sighing dramatically, Victoria gifted us with a wry laugh.
"In a word. Yes."
"That's wonderful!" I exclaimed, folding my arms around Scar's neck in a celebratory hug. "One more victory for science!"
"Well I couldn't have done it without all those samples you provided me." Victoria purred in my ear. I felt my eyes dilate as I remembered the day in question.
Victoria had showed up after a particularly messy kill of mine, and proceeded to wipe blood off my breasts quite… thoroughly. Needless to say the samples weren't returned to the lab until several hours later.
From the smoldering look she directed my way, Scar was also remembering that day.
"Well, I think I'll leave you two lovebirds alone. Bella, I'll see you tomorrow, 3pm. Prepare to get your ass kicked."
"I'll be there." I murmured, waving her off.
I barely noticed the front door slam, signaling Kate's departure.
Nuzzling Victoria's jaw, I pressed myself against my lover. Sighing contently as her arms came around my waist. I turned my head and met her lips in a sweet kiss.
My life may have taken a turn into the bizarre all those years ago, but considering all I'd gained, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
A/N: And that's all she wrote. I hope that I hit on everything and resolved it to everyone's satisfaction. I'm really awed that I managed to finish this story; I'll admit there were a few times where I thought it would never end.
However, you guys kept encouraging me to continue and eventually it's come to this. If there was anything you felt that I left out or felt awkward please let me know. I'll take it under advisement and see what I can do about maybe giving you that little extra bit of closure.
Also, if there was something wrong about my whole science bit in this chapter please let me know. I try to be as accurate as possible but I do make mistakes.
As always, Read and Review