Disclaimer: Sparkling vampires, girls who forget to breathe, and other characterizations typical of the Twilight series belong to Stephenie Meyer.
The below italicized passage is from New Moon, pages 111-112, and various canon quotes are used throughout this story. No copyright infringement is intended.
. . . . .
Notes: This story hasn't just been edited; it's been rewritten. Even if you've read the previous versions of the first few chapters, I'd urge you to check out the new ones. A lot has changed.
I'm getting the sloppy kisses out of the way up front, and then I'll just shut my mouth until the final chapter (At which point I'll probably cry and ramble. Well, okay, not cry). So:
Thank you to Project Team Beta (Extra squishes to Lulu M and McGee42 for all their hand-holding) and hearyoumee for helping me with earlier versions of this work.
Then there's my beta, solareclipses. All I need to say is: you all wish you had her working her wonderful, sarcastic magic on your story. Too bad for you, she likes me more. I spend much time thanking the sky-lords for it—almost as much time as I spend thanking them for Batman (Almost).
And Daffy . . . here it is, chicky.
"Keep your promise." The voice was slipping away, as if the volume was being turned down on a radio.
I began to suspect that I was having some kind of hallucination. Triggered, no doubt, by the memory—the déjà vu, the strange familiarity of the situation.
I ran through the possibilities quickly in my head.
Option one: I was crazy. That was the layman's term for people who heard voices in their heads.
Option two: My subconscious mind was giving me what it thought I wanted. This was wish fulfillment, momentary relief from pain by embracing the incorrect idea that he cared whether I lived or died. Projecting what he would have said if A) he were here, and B) he would be in any way bothered by something bad happening to me.
I could see no option three, so I hoped it was the second option and this was just my subconscious mind running amuck, rather than something I would need to be hospitalized for.
. . . . .
So close—I was so close—but I had been since the beginning of this surreal sprint.
Edward, don't do it. Edward, I'm here. Edward, I love you.
Would the last fact even change anything for him?
The clanging dong of metal on metal hijacked my breath and near-ended my life. There was nothing else. The noise of the horde became static, the colors of the festivities a muted wash, and there was nothing but pale skin, dark eyes, and the constant ringing reminder of our demise.
On the seventh ring, I was still running, searching the depths of my mind for an optimistic version of myself. I wanted to live with her in a world of rainbows where I wouldn't be too late.
I probably would be too late.
At eight, I reeled in my scattering thoughts. There wasn't time for it to matter, and there wasn't room for me to care. All my attention needed to be put towards not tripping.
Nine found me out of breath and without energy. I could hear echoes of past admonishments—You're only human, Bella—and I knew it was time to let the vampire catch me. I threw my body forward, forgetting about balance and the need to place one foot in front of the other.
In a fashion that had been achingly absent in my dreams, arms hard as the stones I'd have fallen to wrapped around my torso as the tenth peal of the bell came to a reverberating finish. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. I remembered this—breathing and air could be sweet relief. The process of living didn't have to be shallow and labored.
Don't get used to it. Shallow and labored are all that's waiting for you at home.
His silver tones wove through the intricacies of the eleventh chime. "Amazing. Carlisle was right." A spike of adrenaline rocketed through me—his voice!—and I struggled to push him into the shadows where he could speak more. Where I could listen without distraction.
His "adrenaline rushes" could save me from out-of-control, skidding vans; mine were decisively less affective, and it was only with his cooperation that, during the twelfth and final dong, we shifted further into the alleyway. Once again, he spoke over the deep ring, "Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, hath had no power yet upon thy beauty. You smell just exactly the same as always. So maybe this is hell. I don't care. I'll take it."
Silence. No bell. Him here. Silence.
"Ed-Edward, I'm not. N-not dead." I pressed the words into the hard planes of his flesh, unable to look up yet—unable to meet his eyes.
But a rich growl ripped my silence apart, and I startled instinctively and pulled away from him, eyes turning to his for reassurance. They were black, but a soft black—fuzzy around the edges—and they were warm and . . . oblivious. He had no reaction written on his face. Hadn't he heard that?
"What, love?" He didn't look concerned at all; he merely watched me with his habitual intensity, strands of my hair splayed between his fingertips. Could hair follicles have nerve endings? Mine did, and they frizzled under his touch.
My focus returned as the rumble grew, and I watched his lips closely for signs of movement. It wasn't him. The Volturi, maybe? No, as absent as Edward seemed to be from our situation, there was no world in which he would ignore such a threat.
"Bella." Velvet wrapped around gravel and assaulted my ears, simultaneously pulling me in with its purr and repulsing me with its snarl. My eyes never left the still mouth of the vampire holding me.
I knew this voice—it was unmistakable and an irremovable part of my psyche.
But Edward hadn't said anything.
"Bella," the voice snapped again, "you promised. Nothing stupid."
Edward was speaking now—disillusioned ramblings of how swift his death had been, how painless—but I struggled to concentrate on his words. This voice—it wasn't Edward, but I knew it.
"He's a vampire, Bella, and dangerous. Get away now. Keep your promise."