Disclaimer: I don't own Heroes, Twilight, or my furry feline companions – the cats, in fact, own me…
This first chapter, I'll readily admit, is relatively short and has nothing to do with Bella and Peter; instead it's an introduction to this story's Edward-centric subplot, just because I haven't written a single thing about how he fits in till now. I apologize for taking so long to post this, thank all you wonderful readers VERY much for your patience, and promise to get back to the B/P vs. Arthur crisis in the next chap.
In the meantime, please tell me what you think of Edward's entrance into my AU-verse.
Chapter 1: Sunset
Edward Cullen –Sierra Leone
He'd spent all day in the same position – curled up with his forehead against his knees, never moving a muscle. No human could have done that, but becoming a statue was easy when you were a vampire; convenient, since he wouldn't need to hold still so long if not for the fact that his vampiric skin would glitter conspicuously in the bright African sun, which was why he was effectively trapped in this dirt-floored, thatch-roofed hut.
Edward wasn't precisely sure where the hut was – somewhere in Sierra Leone, he thought, although he didn't remember exactly when he had entered the country. All he knew was that he'd been pursuing the latest lead on what was beginning to seem like a pointless hunt, and this was where it had led. Then the sun had risen, forcing him to hide in here until nightfall, which he noticed had almost arrived.
About damn time, he thought dully. Knowing that he would soon be free to leave the miserable little hovel, to resume tracking his quarry, brought him something like the barest hint of relief, but only that. It didn't please him – pleasure was unattainable. Over the last half year, Edward's entire world had been distilled down into two distinct mindsets: a gnawing sense of meaninglessness, emptiness, and despair that quite literally paralyzed him most of the time and, at night, when he was free to move about unrestrained by sunlight, an urgency of purpose that made it possible for him to get up and go on, if just for a little while.
Occasionally something else drifted through his mind, an insidious idea that kept sneaking into his thought no matter how hard he tried to banish it… I could go back. Edward had to beat that thought down, couldn't even let himself think it, because it was so tempting that if he did, he knew all his will to resist would drain away in an instant…
…And he would go back. Back to the cloudy little town that he still thought of as home – back to her. Bella. Edward closed his eyes, letting her fill his mind completely. The image of her face: her fair, ivory skin, those chocolate-brown eyes, her smile…
Picturing Bella's smile turned Edward's musings from soothing to sour; after all, the whole reason he had left was so that she could smile, so that she could live a life free from the danger their relationship exposed her to. Imagining Bella without him, safe – perhaps having moved on to someone like Mike Newton who couldn't hurt her, didn't put her at risk by his mere presence, who could give her the normal life Edward never could was like a knife through his dead heart. It was also his deepest desire, what he'd sacrificed his own happiness for.
My own pain is bearable, he reminded himself for the thousandth time, if only she can be safe, can live as a normal human the way she was always meant to. And I will finish what I set out to do and then… He paused upon the realization that he had no plans beyond the accomplishment of his current goal.
Returning to his family was an option, but one he knew he wouldn't take. What would be the point of forcing his own misery on them? Especially Jasper…and for the others to see him this way… NO! Rejoining the rest of the Cullens was definitely out, then. So what did he intend to do with himself? Nothing, he decided. My existence is already all but consumed by nothingness; I may as well let the submersion be complete-
His train of thought was abruptly derailed as he became aware of a change in the light outside – the sun had set, finally. Edward unfolded his body from its cramped position crouch and left his hiding place. Now the hunt began once more…
Edward assumed his target was most likely to be found near her food source of choice, so he searched each village he came across, always keeping to the perimeter until at long last he picked up the scent, mingled with that of fresh blood. So she has killed again. I hope she's enjoyed her last meal.
Sprinting at his maximum possible speed, Edward soon overtook his prey and pounced, driving her to the ground with his momentum. But feeding recently had strengthened her, whereas he hadn't hunted for food in well over a month; she threw him off easily and laughed as she shook her tangled orange hair out of her face.
"Well well, Edward Cullen. I was wondering when I'd catch up to you."
"You're mistaken, Victoria," Edward snarled. "I've caught up with you."
"Because I let you!" she sneered. "You're the most pathetic tracker I've ever laid eyes on! The things I had to do in order for you to find me… Do you have any idea how exasperating it is to have to stoop to something as obvious as purposefully spilling all that blood?" Her voice became a petulant whine. "After what you did, I expected better."
Edward was no longer listening. "You wanted me to find you – why? Surely you knew why I hunted you?"
"Of course I did." Victoria snickered. "It was for her – your precious little human pet. Such a shame that after all that effort, you couldn't save her-"
"What are you talking about?" Edward interrupted. "I did save Bella, or do you not remember? Funny, I'd thought James's death might have made an impression."
Victoria growled, her lips peeling back from her teeth. "I didn't mean then! Why do you think 'finding' me took you so long, even taking into account your pitiful tracking skills? It's because I just got here, you fool! Would you like to see what I did before?" Without waiting for an answer, she brought a certain memory to the forefront of her mind, where Edward could hear and see it in lurid detail…
Flashback – March 23rd, midnight
On her way back to her fledgling army, Victoria halted mid-stride as the sound of stony vampire flesh being ripped apart reached her ears. The wind's direction made it impossible to catch the scent of whomever was destroying her creations, but there was no doubt that someone was in fact destroying them.
Victoria's finely honed instinct for evasion and survival kicked in and she executed a quick about-face, running away from the massacre. It was pure luck that another scent met her nostrils as she fled: Bella Swan's. Her lips curled into a malicious smile. How very fortunate…
Getting to Bella was ridiculously easy; the single werewolf guarding her hadn't even phased yet and was less than completely focused. His presence surprised Victoria for a split second, but she put him out of mind as soon as she'd dealt with him, sending him through an unfinished wall with a well-placed kick. Then she leapt back across the room, catching Bella by the arm and dragging her along as she exited through the hole she'd smashed in the outer wall coming in.
It was disappointing that the time crunch necessitated abandoning her more elaborate plans for the sniveling little human, but that didn't matter so much – the end result would be the same. "…This will be just as effective," Victoria said happily, plunging her fist into Bella's chest. The human's sternum broke like a toothpick, and then Victoria's hand was inside her chest, clenching around her frantically thudding heart, crushing it…
Then Victoria withdrew her hand, tearing the ruined organ out. Now that there was no chance vampire venom could revive her, Victoria didn't hesitate to stick her face into the open thoracic cavity and quench her thirst by sucking the end of Bella's severed aorta as though it were a straw; then, once she was drained dry, Victoria vented her rage over losing James because of this insignificant, pathetic human one last time by crushing the girl's neck in her fist.
Now it's done, James. I've finished what you started, made her pay for getting you killed. Satisfied at last by that knowledge, Victoria took off, leaving Bella Swan's mangled corpse lying in a spreading pool of crimson-
Through the lens of Victoria's vivid memory, Edward saw the broken, bled-out shell that had been Bella and fell to his knees in an agony of grief and loss. "No…" His voice was low, almost a moan. "No…please no…oh, Bella…"
OK, here's an opportunity for you to put your two cents in on this story: having played with both BPOV and third-person narration in Resurgence and Reprise, respectively, I'm currently vacillating between the two for the parts of this fic that include Bella. If you have a preference, I'd like you to let me know, please.