Title: Complexity
Fandom: Twilight series
Pairing: eventual Marcus/Seth
Part: I. Decisions
Prompt: oo1. your choice (coercion)
Words: 7253 words
Summary: Volterra was his prison, an entire city, but it didn't make up for the fact that he was alone and tortured. There had to be something to make this death sentence worthwhile.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Twilight series, and I don't claim to own it either. It belongs to Stephanie Meyer, and I only write these things to satisfy the muses and make nothing from it.

I. Decisions

Aro was someone who was always looking for something new and fascinating to add to his collection. And once again, Carlisle had proved that his... alternate lifestyle could be very useful to aiding that goal of his. He had discovered was a clan of humans who could change their shape into that of wolves at will, and this had Aro's curiosity roused.

He wanted one of those wolves, desperately.

It would take just a little bit of manipulating, but they had the laws on their side, along with the advantage of numbers. A few little falsehoods, since really they weren't lies, would secure the cooperation of the wolves. He didn't actually truly fancy the idea of attacking them to get what he wanted. If he could secure one of them in a more or less willing way, it eliminated a lot of the nastier bits of kidnap and having other vampires turn on them for perhaps even violating their own laws.

"It seems you have amassed... quite a flock of allies Carlisle." Aro kept his voice light and even. Edward wasn't there yet, and Aro needed to smooth out the details of his plan before he did. "But the question is, have you held up your end of our little deal?"

A little coercion would go a long way.

"Edward and Bella are on their way, they should be here any moment." Like Aro, Carlisle kept his voice level simply because it wouldn't do to betray any form of weakness or hints of nervousness to the unofficial leader of the Volturi. Aro's position went unspoken in the clan, after all, he was the original member; the Volturi was his creation, his dream, his vision.

"Oh good! I look forward to seeing Bella again! Has she been well? Did the change go well for her?"

One of the wolves bared its teeth and growled as those words slipped past Aro's lips; apparently, this was quite the sore spot between the Cullens and this mysterious wolf pack. Aro had already viewed Carlisle's thoughts, and he was anxious for Edward to return so that he could get on with his plan, which he would have to keep carefully veiled and hidden with other, much less useful thoughts, ones which wouldn't betray his plans.

"Aro." Edward's voice was the opposite of the light tones which Carlisle and Aro used. His voice was cold and hard with barely concealed fury. Beside him was a pale Bella with glowing gold eyes.

No longer a weak and pitiful human, Bella was now a beautiful pale goddess. Nothing about her had changed but everything had at the same time, it was amazing how much a little vampire venom could do to change a person until they were almost recognizable. Her now golden eyes revealed just how much she'd changed in the first few years of her new life. The last time Aro had seen her, almost three years before, Bella had been very human, hiding behind the shelter of her mate, Edward.

Face lighting up with true delight, Aro greeted them both cheerfully, "It's wonderful to see you both again! I can see that you're both doing very well. I hope the change wasn't too much of a shock for you, Bella."

Unlike before, now Bella met his eyes with a confidence that she hadn't had before, "It was very painful, but it was definitely worth it."

She reached out a pale hand and took Edward's hand in hers, giving him a small smile and his hand a quick squeeze to offer him reassurance. He no longer had to worry about her, she was no longer the frail, pathetic human who was constantly in need of his protection to keep her safe and breathing. And her scent had lost much of its old appeal, having settled into something decidedly less mouth-watering, it was still a heavy draw, though, and very distinctive.

Aro's smile didn't falter, but Edward frowned in concentration. The plan was carefully tucked away, and Aro was focusing completely on how delighted he was that Bella had made the change, and his curiosity at what gift it was that she'd brought with her into this life from her human one. After all, she was the most promising person that they'd come across since Jane and Alec.

"Why are you here, Aro?" Edward asked, his voice didn't lose its cold edge. "You didn't just come here for idle conversation."

Aro's continued to smile, refusing to show any weakness or show of anything other then the utmost confidence, "Out of curiosity... what is her gift?"

This time, Edward smiled in return. It wasn't one of joy or a cheerful one, but one of vindictive pleasure; clearly he was very proud of his wife and her new-found ability. The confidence in whatever it was that Bella was now able to do, made Aro just a tad more wary.

"How about a little demonstration?" Edward held out his hand, an obvious sign for Aro to take it.

Confused by the much younger vampire's offer to venture into his mind, Aro briefly wondered just how this was necessary to showing off whatever it was that Bella could do now. But seeing that too gleeful look in Edward's eyes, Aro shoved those thoughts and doubts away, and pressed the tips of his fingers to Edward's palm firmly.

The expected waterfall of thoughts didn't come.

Aro frowned, focusing more and putting more effort in, but he still had nothing. Edward's mind was absolutely silent, he couldn't get even a wisp of a thought from him, or even a feeling from him. It was as if he was trying to read a stone wall, his extra sense felt muddled, and Aro pulled back after several minutes of pure silence. Well, that had been uncomfortable.

Funnily enough, the moment that Aro pulled his hand away from Edward's, the feeling that he'd had cotton shoved into his ears vanished. How decidedly... strange.

The grin on Edward's face was almost malicious as he stepped back beside his new wife, taking her hand in his and giving it a squeeze. Well, that would make sense. Obviously, Aro had nearly missed the demonstration of Bella's new vampiric power.

"Ah, I see." Aro considered that, then, "So she can block the powers which work within the mind... how very useful."

Beside him, Jane twitched, her angelic little face turning into a sadistic smile. Her eyes automatically focused on Edward, wondering if her own ability would be foiled as well. But, of course, Aro knew that she'd be extremely angry when she learned that she could do nothing to the vampire standing in front of her. She still hadn't forgiven or gotten over the fact that Bella had foiled her once before when she'd first showed up in Volterra to save the vampire she loved.

It didn't take long for her young face to twist into one of absolute hatred and malice. A guttural snarl ripped from her dainty lips, and her concentration obviously doubled, but that gave no effect either and it only made her more upset. Jane didn't take too well to being foiled and it was very likely that she would take out her frustration out on one of the humans who they would prey on, or another suitable substitute. No matter how unangelic she was in actuality, Aro still valued her and her power above all others, including her brother Alec. It was something that Jane took pride in.

"Now, now Jane, dear," Aro told her, placing his hand on her shoulder. "There's no need to get so frustrated, her and her powers still continue to mystify us all."

Jane's tiny head bobbed once in acknowledgement, but it did nothing to quell the rage of lividly loathing thoughts which flowed through her mind and to Aro.

That little bitch! How dare she?! How could she?! I am the only one who could ever satisfy every and all of Aro's needs, I belong to him, I am the only one who truly does. Aro is... Aro is my master, he couldn't be more interested in her then in me. I'm much more important then she is, it's only because of that damn ability of hers...

Jane, though, listened to Aro despite the angry whirlwind of her thoughts and stepped back just a hair. She was still close enough to act as a bodyguard, if the need arose. Her passionate love and loyalty to Aro was what made her one of the best guards of the Volturi. But despite that, she was horribly prone to jealousy and was very possessive of her place as Aro's right-hand as well as his most treasured and favourite of all the guards. Because of that she might not, though, take too well to the, newest arrival if all went according to plan.

"There is no problem, I hope, if I ask a few more questions?" Aro asked politely. He was indeed curious to know more about her gift, its limitations and such, but also to better understand it by knowing what it actually was capable of.

Bella looked to Edward briefly, met his eyes, before looking back to Aro and nodding when she saw something in his eyes that told her it was fine, "Yes, that's fine."

"What exactly is it? From what I've seen, it can block the powers of ours which work within the mind, similar to Bella's shield which is constantly raised around her own mind." Aro shifted just a little, hands folding across his chest. He kept his tone nonchalant.

"I can nullify any one person's gift if it works within the mind," Bella explained.

"How many...?"

"Only one," Bella replied, evenly. "I can only stop the gift of one person."

Aro nodded, satisfied with the explanation, "It's still a very fascinating gift despite its limitations."

"Thank you." Bella inclined her head slightly, her manner stiff and wary; as were all the Cullens. Somehow, they seemed to know that Aro had something planned, even though it was just a feeling, but with Aro, it was better to err on the side of caution and assume that there was something more that he wanted. He had, after all, made a new discovery regarding the La Push pack...

"We have, as promised, held up our end of the bargain. Bella has been turned, as per your instructions," Carlisle was taking charge of the situation once more. Or at least, he was taking charge of his coven. "That should mean that you have no more reason to be here."

"I wish it was that simple, Carlisle," Aro replied, feigning regret. "But, unfortunately, it seems as though that same broken law which brought us here, has been broken again and that situation will need to be corrected now because we cannot afford to leave it unchecked."

"What do you mean?" Now his tone was wary, Carlisle obviously wasn't sure of what Aro had planned next, or what he was referring to, only that he had to have some greater scheme in mind.

A heavy sigh, "Humans aren't supposed to know of our existence. And, unfortunately, that law has been broken here." Aro gestured towards the Quileute wolves who were gathered on the edge of the clearing, on the right side of the Cullens. "They're human, as well as those humans who are involved with them. And all of them know about our existence."

Carlisle tensed, unsure of what to do or say for several moments. Then, his shoulder fell, and he asked, "What do you intend to do about it?"

Resignation seeped from every pore of the blond vampire's being, and Aro would've taken a bit of delight in that, but he was more concerned with seeing that his plan came to full fruition. After all, he had quite the lovely prize in mind, and he was excited to be able to get his hands on something new to add to his 'collection'.

"Law dictates that all of them who know of our existence must be... eliminated," Aro kept his voice in that tone of amusement, his mind clouded with trivial thoughts regarding the rules that had Edward's face turned up in an ugly scowl. "However, since our usual methods clean-up aren't possible without serious repercussions, then we will simply have to make a compromise on the matter."

Aro knew that Edward was frustrated with him hiding whatever it was that he had planned, and the frustration was clearly making it difficult for him to maintain his control. What had transpired between the Cullen coven and this pack of shape-shifters had clearly forged some sort of bond between them which went much deeper then Aro had anticipated at first.

Which wasn't too much of a problem, Aro appreciated a challenge every now and then. Some bonds were easily severed if the right pressure were applied to them, and he was an excellent manipulator, as well as having the advantage of numbers and skills on his side. He wasn't too worried that everything wouldn't play out in his favour and according to his plan.

"Just spit it out Aro," Edward's voice was rife with almost uncontrolled anger. "Stop dancing around the issue and tell us what it is that you want."

If it was appropriate, Aro would've pouted; but that wasn't behaviour suited to one of the Volturi's leaders nor did the situation merit such an action. So instead, his lips turned up into what would have normally been described as a cheerful and welcoming smile, but on Aro's face it spoke of dark and cruel intentions.

"The solution is very simple, actually. One of them," Aro gestured at the wolves, "must come with us back to Volterra."

Growls erupted from the wolves' throats, but Aro chose to ignore them. He then presented the alternative, "If that choice is not agreeable, then the matter is simple enough to resolve but unfortunately, would mean the death of quite a large number of young people as well as anyone involved with them who knows of the situation."

"You would kill all of them." Carlisle responded, his manner conveying that he understood the gravity of the situation and that rejecting Aro's offered compromise wasn't an option. Aro had backed them into a corner, one where he had given them only one way out.

The situation had an inevitable solution. Carlisle knew that Sam would have to make the decision based on what would keep the pack and all of the people who made La Push home safe. He couldn't deal with this as a person who cared about everyone, he had to be detached from the situation and judge it as a leader with the best interests of all of the people whose lives he was responsible for. Aro was offering him a way out, and was giving him the choice of who to send. One life in exchange for hundreds others who would be saved. It was too much for a young man to have to deal with, but Sam would have to.

It was an incredibly cruel play to make, but Aro was someone who would get what they wanted no matter what strings they had to pull or how many people had to die. He had set his sights on the La Push shape-shifters, and he wouldn't rest until he could add one of them to his vast collection.

"And if we... agree, you will keep your word and none of the people in La Push will be harmed?" Edward was once more acting as interpreter for the wolves, who couldn't properly express themselves when in that form. But they didn't trust the Volturi enough to appear in human form, and this was something that Sam needed to confirm before he made any life-altering decisions.

"Of course. One life in exchange for all of theirs." Aro patiently waited as the wolf's leader thought over the decision, expecting an answer that was guaranteed to come out his way.

Sam hesitated, thinking over the proposal. All of the members of the pack knew what his decision was before he'd even made it. And all of them were resigned to the consequences of what that decision would be; one of them would be leaving, forever. Because Sam had to think of everyone first, not an individual's, and if trading one of them would guarantee the safety of the hundreds of lives which were riding on his decision, then it was inevitable about what he would choose.

Finally, he answered, much to Aro's inner delight.

"We are in agreement then. Tomorrow at midnight one of us will be here to accompany you back to your city. In exchange, we expect that you'll hold up your end of the deal as well."

"Very well. I look forward to that time then."

Inside, Aro was jumping with glee, even though beside him Jane looked murderous.

.:-o-:. .:-o-:. .:-o-:.

"This is a life or death decision Sam!" Jacob yelled. "You can't honestly be deciding this by having us draw straws!"

Sam flinched at the harsh tone of Jacob's voice, "Those of us who have imprinted can't leave, that means that only Leah, Embry, Paul, and Seth will be drawing straws. Your leech won't have to deal with your loss, and I have to think of everyone else! Separating imprinted couples would do nothing but cause pain and premature death! I won't do that."

Jacob bit his lip, even though he stopped arguing, it didn't change the fact that one of them would never be coming back. He couldn't think of anything worse than being separated from everything you'd ever known and all of the people you loved. All of them would be reeling from this decision for years, and nothing would ever be the same around La Push or Forks. Jacob looked around the room at each of the wolves who would potentially be leaving home forever to spend the rest of their life, and possibly eternity, as the prisoner of vampire royalty.

In the corner, Leah sat with her knees drawn to her chest. She fully expected to be the one to go, after all, because of all the pain and suffering that she'd inflicted on the rest of them. She was angry that Sam was even considering sending Seth, but it was a fact of the matter. She would have to deal with the pain if... if her brother was the one to go. But she hoped it wouldn't be that, he was too young, he was only barely eighteen. It wouldn't be right to send him, not with his whole life ahead of him.

Seth had said nothing, he was just as resigned to his fate as the others. Unlike his sister, he was accepting the fate that could possibly await him, and all he hoped was that it wouldn't be too painful. In fact, he was wondering if it would be better for him to go, after all, he was the one who could always make the best out of even the most bleak circumstances.

Embry and Paul were angry about the decision, the latter twitching and constantly on edge of slipping out of his human form and into his wolf one. Embry was taking the decision slightly better, but he was pale and shaking with worry. He didn't want to leave his mother behind, or his friends, they were his life. He couldn't imagine being separated from them, and his mother clung to him so badly as it was; he was all she had.

Then his eyes travelled back to Sam's, and there was a look of pained resignation in his eyes. This decision was weighing on him, but the only option that they had was to go along with the Volturi's deal and give up one of their own. Sam didn't like this anymore than any of them did, and he would have gladly gone in one of their places if he didn't have a family who relied on him.

Emily was expecting their first child in several months, and she would need Sam there through that difficult experience. As her husband, Sam had a duty to her first before he had one to his pack. And without an alpha, the pack would fall prey to all sorts of problems.

And separating any of the couples who had imprinted would be cruel and unkind, even if it would keep all of them safe. Jacob knew that if he was separated from Jasper that he'd either try to escape his captors, or just kill himself; that is, unless Jasper decided to go after him, which was something that the blond vampire would probably do.

Sam looked down at the ground, his fists clenched and shaking, in a softer voice, "Just go home Jacob, there's nothing that you can do here. I'm sure that your leech is waiting for you, and you shouldn't make him worry anymore then he already is."

For several moments, Jacob wanted to argue with Sam. He wanted to stay there, stay there so that whoever was picked, he could say goodbye too before he'd be cut-off from them forever. But there was a look in Sam's eyes that told him that it wouldn't do any good to stay.

And then, an image of Jasper flitted before his eyes, and Jacob knew that he'd have to go home because he couldn't leave the vampire hanging. He couldn't leave him needlessly worrying about whether or not they'd be separated. Jacob wasn't used to being the center of somebody's world and he was still adjusting to that knowledge; it was all new to him.

Decision made, Jacob turned away and made to leave, "Fine, I'll go. But only because Jasper will be worried." After that, he left them to it.

Silence once more descended on the room, and then tension built up again.

"Here." Emily walked into the room. In her clenched fist were four straws, each was cut to a different length, but their lengths was hidden by her hand. You couldn't tell by looking at them which was the shortest and would be the decider of who was sent. "It's time."

The four wolves who ran the risk of being the Volturi's hostage stood up and walked over. Emily smiled at them as reassuringly as she could, but the pain lingered in her eyes as she waited for them to draw their straws which would decide on the course of the rest of their lives. Whoever drew the shortest straw would have the next twenty-four hours to say good-bye to their friends and family, before they would have to leave to meet the Volturi and become their prisoner.

Again, the pack was being tested, but this time, they wouldn't all be coming out intact. Some scars ran too deep and too jagged to ever heal. None of them would be coming out of the experience in one piece, there was no way that things would ever be the same again when one of them left.

Each of the members took a deep breath as they gathered in a small half-circle in front of Emily as they steeled themselves for whatever the outcome was. All of them were absolutely sure that they were going to be the ones who'd draw the short straw and would be saying goodbye to their lives as they knew them. Slowly, they extended one hand, each reaching for the straw that was closest to them.

The tension in the room could've been cut with a knife, but then the knife would probably break because of how thick it was. No one knew, exactly, what the outcome of this was going to be, and they were all terrified of having to be the one to go.

A collective sigh was released by three of the wolves when they saw that their straws weren't the short one, and that they were safe. Then, dread dawned on them, and they turned to look at the last one, the one who was staring at their straw with a look of horrified dread on their face.

Seth couldn't really describe how he felt at that moment. His fingers were trembling, and his lips had turned pale from the shock. All he could see was the short stub of a straw that was clenched between two of his fingers. That decided it, then, he would be the one who'd go.

"No!" Leah smacked the straw out of Seth's hand, turning immediately on Sam. There was anger and desperation in her eyes when she looked at him, and her entire body shook as though ready to shift at any moment. She would do anything to protect Seth, her baby brother, even if it meant throwing herself at the tender mercies of a bunch of leeches.

There was a look of pained resignation in Sam's eyes when he spoke, "I can't go back on my decision, Leah, you knew that this could happen."

"I won't let you send Seth! He's only eighteen, he's got his whole life in front of him!" Leah's hands grabbed at the front of Sam's shirt, nearly ripping it with the force behind her actions.

"I have to keep my word; I can't go back on that now." Much more gently then he would have normally, Sam removed Leah's hands from his shirt, and instead of pushing her away, pulled her tightly to him in a warm and comforting embrace. His eyes were wet, and he knew Leah's pain too well because Seth was like a little brother to the entire pack; all of them would miss them, and any of them would gladly go in his place, but a deal was a deal.

Seth had said nothing while his sister and alpha argued, and he could only stare blankly at the wall ahead of him, arm still outstretched, waiting for the revelation to hit him. When it did, he found that he couldn't stand up anymore, and collapsed to his knees in a boneless heap and stared at the carpet, trying to will the tears and the sobs back.

Warm arms wrapped around Seth, and Emily pulled him into her own arms in a mimicry of what Sam was doing for Leah. Try as she might, Emily couldn't hold back her own tears, and she instead let them flow freely. The sacrifice that Seth would be making was huge, but it would keep all of them safe, and she knew that even if he was offered an out, he wouldn't take it. Emily had known her uncle Harry too well, and Seth was too much like his father sometimes; both of them were stubborn and determined, and would always face whatever hand life dealt them, no matter how bad it was.

Embry and Paul retreated to a back corner of the room, eyes downcast and unsure of what they could do for their pack. And even though neither of them had been particularly fond of Leah over the years that they'd spent with her – even though she'd gotten better over them – they could understand her pain, they could feel it too. If there was one person who Leah could be completely selfless and sacrificing for, it was her brother.

"I'll go instead! They'll still get one of us, and the rest of us will be safe! Just please, please don't send Seth!"

His sister's pleading eventually broke through his numbed sense of being, and Seth knew in that moment that he had to be the one to go. Everyone else had a family, a future, and someone who was relying on them. He might not have been a completely free agent, but he knew that as long as his mother had Leah, she would be alright in the end. His mother would understand.

And if he didn't go, he wouldn't be able to live with himself; he'd be a coward to let his sister go in his place.

"No, Leah."

At that moment, all heads in the room swivelled to look at Seth.

"Wha-what...?"

Taking a deep breath to calm himself, "I... I have to do this. We agreed that whoever drew the short straw would go, I won't let someone else go instead of me."

There has to be a reason that it's me. Seth clung to that thought, because it was the only thing that helped him to keep his head above the black waters that he'd been dropped into. If he had to go because some higher power dictated it, or because there was some reason for it, then he'd go because there wasn't any other explanation that would comfort him.

"You don't have to go," Emily whispered. "Even if it was an agreement, it wasn't binding."

"Yeah," Embry stepped forward, "Paul or I would go in your place Seth. They'd still get a wolf, and they'd leave us alone; they didn't specify which one of us they wanted."

Paul nodded in agreement, his eyes wide like dinner plates.

Again, Seth shook his head, "No. I'll go guys, it's alright."

"I won't let you go!" Leah broke away from Sam and grabbed her brother's shoulders, shaking him almost violently. Her eyes were wild and her voice cracked.

"I'm eighteen Leah, I can make my own decisions now, and I'm saying that I'll go." He took his sister's hands in his and gave them a comforting squeeze as he mustered up his best smile for her, "I'll be alright, okay? You just look after mom and help Emily with that baby she's expecting."

Standing up, Seth pulled gently out of Emily's hold. He looked up at Sam, and nodded, his smile faltering a little as he did.

"Go talk to your mother. She'll... she'll want to say goodbye."

Seth nodded, and each of the wolves gathered in the small room stood up to say their good-byes to the youngest member of their pack. He didn't fail to notice the pain in their eyes, the resignation, but he knew that they were struggling to deal with decision, even though it was the right thing to do. There was no way that he could hate them for this, not even Sam, because if he was in any of their shoes, then he would've felt the exact same way.

It was past midnight by the time that Seth finally stumbled home, and he wasn't surprised to see that his mother had waited up for him and Leah to return. She'd made it a habit to wait, all night if she had to, for her children to return just so that she could have that reassurance that they were home and that they were safe, so that she wouldn't have to worry about waking up in the morning to find that one of them was never coming home again.

And now she would have to deal with the fact that her son was coming home for the last time; he wouldn't ever be able to come back.

The door creaked familiarly when Seth opened it, and he headed immediately for the family room where he knew his mother would be. Leah's scent was stale in his nostrils, so he knew that she hadn't come home before him; she was on her own, trying to deal with the news of the imminent loss of her little brother.

The only light in the small but comfy and welcoming family room came from the solitary table lamp which occupied the table next to Sue's favourite arm chair, the one that she'd sit in waiting for her children. It was there where she sat now; waiting for Seth and Leah to come home so that she could finally leave for a good night's sleep.

Heart thudding wildly, Seth felt his throat go dry at the sight of his mother and his eyes water. His mother had barely gotten over, not that she ever really would, their father's death years previous, and now her only son was to be taken away from her as well. It would be too much for one woman to bear, and it made Seth glad that at the very least Sue would have Charlie to lean on to help her get through the difficult days ahead of her.

An errant thought crossed Seth's mind: Would his mother have to go through the motions of having to pretend to bury a child to keep his disappearance a secret?

No, or at least, he hoped not. A public spectacle, one where she'd have to deal with peoples' condolences on the loss of her son would only make it worse. Sue was a strong person, but having to 'bury' a child, even if it was only in name, would still break her. Seth didn't want to have to put her through that; didn't want to have to put Leah through that either.

"Mom..."

"Seth! You're home!" His mother immediately rose from the chair, almost running over to greet her youngest child. She wrapped him up in a warm, motherly hug. "I'm glad that you're home safe... but where's your sister? Did she stay out longer? Did Sam ask her to take a patrol because of the vampires in the area?"

Seth's throat was dry, making his voice rough and hoarse, "I... Leah is... yeah, Leah's on patrol right now. I don't think she'll be out too late though."

"Alright," Sue nodded her head, then turned to head to the kitchen. "I guess you'll want something to eat, then, before you go to bed, right?"

"Yeah, thanks mom. That'd be great." Seth couldn't bring himself to meet his mother's eyes, afraid of what he'd reveal just by doing so. In his chest, he could feel his heart cracking, and he knew that this he would probably miss the most; the normalcy of his life. He'd miss the predictability and just having his family around.

Not having much of a stomach at that moment, Seth picked at the toast that his mother had made for him, feeling very sick all of a sudden. He wondered if he could get away with telling his mother in the morning, putting it off for as long as possible, but that didn't seem right. Sue had every right to know what was going on in his life, no matter how dark or how cruel it was. She deserved to know, needed to.

"Hey mom..."

"Yes Seth?" Sue was washing the dishes in the sink, in warm soapy water, her sleeves pushed up to her elbows to keep them from getting wet.

"There's... there's something that I need to tell you, about what happened tonight." His voice was quiet, almost a whisper, but Sue still heard him.

She frowned, pulling her hands out of the water immediately. Her mother's instincts were going haywire, and suddenly she knew that something was very, very wrong with her son. Whatever had happened that night had been serious. No one had died, though, she would've known almost immediately if that were the case; but something was still wrong. Seth knew what it was, and he was scared to tell her; that meant that it had to be beyond just bad news, it would have to world-shattering.

Whether that meant the actual world, or just the Clearwater family's was the big question.

Wiping her hands on a nearby dish towel, Sue grabbed one of the kitchen table chairs and pulled it over to Seth so that she could sit beside him. Reaching out, she took one of his hands in hers and gave it a comforting squeeze, "Whatever it is, you tell me, okay?"

Seth swallowed and nodded. Then everything came out in a rush, with him barely pausing to take a breath.

He told her about how it had been the Volturi who'd been there, and not just the guards, but how one of their leaders had been there. He spoke of how they'd only originally been there to make sure that Bella had been turned, and that the deal they had made with the Cullens had been fulfilled. Then the issue of the Quileute knowing about the existence of vampires, of how humans weren't supposed to know, at all, that vampires really did exist.

And finally, he told her of the deal the Volturi had struck with them, it's conditions, and how he'd practically blackmailed them into agreeing to his terms. He told her that he was the one who would be leaving with them.

Silence hung over the kitchen, strangling in its intensity. No one moved for several incredibly long moments that seemed to drag on forever.

That stillness was broken as Sue's hands suddenly gripped Seth with such a strong force that it was almost supernatural, and then she stared at him with wide eyes, speaking silently to him of love, loss, and pain. It was an unimaginable pain that was borne out of the knowledge of knowing that she was about to lose a child, a child that she'd loved beyond her own life.

Life just wasn't fair.

The shock and pain was clearly too much, and Sue keeled over in her chair, unconscious.

Seth caught her before she hit the floor, and carefully, he gathered his mother into his arms, tears streaking down his cheeks, and carried her upstairs and to her bedroom. He made sure that his mother was comfortably tucked in before retreating down the hall to his own room. Since he would be leaving, there were a few things that he would like to pack up, a few things that he still had to do.

Pulling out his backpack which had largely gone unused for the few months, Seth dusted it off and set it, unzipped, on his bed. There wasn't much that he wanted to pack, photographs mostly, followed by a few possessions that were valuable and held immense meaning to him. He wished he could just shove his entire room into the bag, but that wasn't possible.

He took one of the family photo albums, the one that was filled with all of his favourite pictures, and put that in the bag. Next he took the pack photograph from where it sat on his night table, along with the candid family picture that stood next to it; he carefully packed those into the bag too.

For several moments Seth stared at the ratty and old stuffed dog, Moka, which had been his as a child and which he'd only kept for the fond memories it held (and his mother's insistence that he keep it). Then stuffed it into the bag too. A few other photographs followed Moka, and it didn't take long until he was packed and ready for the next evening. Well, more like that evening; it was already well past four in the morning.

Seth didn't plan on sticking around for too long the next day, though, and he knew both his mother and his sister well-enough to know that Sue wouldn't make up until late in the afternoon, and that Leah probably wouldn't return at all until just before he left. So Seth had a few glorious hours left to himself, left in La Push, and that meant that he had a few things that he wanted to take care of.

Taking a seat at his desk, Seth took out one of his old notebooks and a pen and started to write a letter to his mother. When he finished that one, he wrote one to Charlie as well; he figured that he owed it to the man at least, since he was technically his mother's boyfriend. Charlie would appreciate getting some reasons as to why Seth had done this, why he would leave his mother and his sister so broken.

The truth, though, he largely left untouched.

Lastly, he wrote a quick letter to his sister, leaving that one propped up on own night stand, next to a picture of him that he knew she loved the most. He knew that she'd find it there. He took his letter to his mother and left that one on her night stand too, knowing that she'd find it there when she woke, and also that if she did faint again, at least she wouldn't hurt herself doing so.

And since Charlie would be there in the evening, Seth went downstairs and left the letter he'd written for the chief of police there. His eyes stung, but he'd already cried them dry hours earlier. Now a sense of resignation was sinking in, and he knew there was no escape and no changing his fate; he could only hope for the best.

Going back upstairs and into his room, he changed into a pair of old sweats that were his pajamas and crawled into bed, hoping for a little sleep so that he'd be ready and aware when he had to face the Volturi the next day.

He was deafly afraid of what would happen.

.:-o-:. .:-o-:. .:-o-:.

Mom,

Sorry about all of this, I really, really am, but it's the only way. I wish I could've stayed to say this all too your face but we both know that wouldn't go well. I don't want you to hurt or cry anymore then you already, and this probably isn't going to help much, but I just want you to know that I do really love you.

There's so many things that I want to thank you for, but if I tried to write them all down, then I'd be here for too long and I'd run out of paper. And now there's no way for me ever to make it up to you, but I'm doing this to save you, and Leah, and everyone else in La Push. If there was any other way then I'd take it, but we both know that there isn't another way, and I won't let anyone else take my place. I don't want anyone else to suffer in my place.

So, thank you for everything. You've been the greatest mom that anyone could've ever asked for, and I'm sorry that things have to be this way, but I love you, and I really hope that maybe we'll get to see each other again some day.

I'm so, so, so sorry. Please... I hope that you can find it in you to forgive me for this.

Love Seth. Again, I'm sorry mom.

.:-o-:. .:-o-:. .:_o-:.

*clears throat* Yes, hello, I am most definitely not dead, I've just been surprisingly absent for the past month or so due to a little thing called NaNoWriMo; you might have heard of it. This was my project for it this year, and I hope that you will enjoy it because it's been a labor of love and time and sweat and tears. Oh, and I haven't slept very much over the past month; I only sleep properly when I collapse really.

Lots of vitamin water has been drank, and lots of hot chocolate has been made and drank. Lots of sleep has been lost, and lots of time with friends was spent locked away in my basement tapping away at my keyboard to chew away at my word count.

I think that I have made it.

Please leave a review or comment, please!

Twilight.