Hunter

Hey guys, it's me again. I didn't get as many reviews this time, but it's probably my fault. I did leave a heck of a gap between updates. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of you had to go back and reread the whole fic just to remember what's going on. (I've had to do that a few times as well). It's hard to believe I started writing this back in 2009. And now it's set in 2011 while now it's 2013. I've officially become one of those writers that everyone hates. Sometimes I wish I had some form of hypergraphia, then maybe I could keep a decent update schedule.

At this point I know I'll be deviating from the canon plot in a lot of ways. I've gotten a few new ideas while I've been sitting in class doing nothing.

Enough of my chit-chat. Let's get to the part of this fic you all want to read. Here's Chapter 25.

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Bella Colt: Journal Excerpt, November 6th, 2010

I met another psychic kid. Well, two technically, but I only really got to know one.

It started with a vision. I saw a man – Dr. Jennings, I later found out – walk into a gun shop, load up a shotgun, and kill an employee. He then turned the gun on himself, but the vision panned away before I got a good look at the damage.

Luckily I managed to get a glimpse of a passing bus from the vision, and traced it back to Guthrie, Oklahoma. I pulled the fire alarm in the gun shop, and that seemed to snap him out of it, but it was all for nothing; Dr. Jennings walked out in front of a speeding bus.

I couldn't let myself dwell on it for long, though. I had to figure out what had happened. Dr. Jennings had been acting like he was under hypnosis or something. I went on Ash's computer to do a little digging, and found out that the good doctor had advised a certain couple to cut off contact from each other.

A couple with twin boys.

Born in 1992.

The same year I was.

It didn't take too much of a leap of logic to figure out that Dr. Jennings's strange suicide was connected to these boys. I tracked down one of them – Andy Gallagher, the one with the awesome van I'd read about a lifetime ago – and found that he had a psychic ability, just like me.

Mind control.

For some reason, though, it didn't seem to work on me, not like Max's telekinesis had. I was reminded of Alexander at the time, but Andy deserves better than to be compared to that fangless freak. I think I can say with total honesty, that Andy is about the nicest, least selfish guy on the planet. He gained the ability to control people's minds, and yet he only uses it to avoid debt collectors, and get the occasional free cup of coffee.

I don't want to know what most people would do with that kind of power.

Unfortunately, Andy's twin, Ansem Weams, didn't share his brother's happy-go-lucky attitude. While I was with Andy, I had a vision of him pushing their mother, Holly Gallagher, into covering herself in gasoline and setting herself on fire.

The guy had issues, is what I'm saying.

We were too late to save Holly, but we managed to track down Ansem right before he mind-controlled Andy's old girlfriend, Tracey, into jumping off a dam.

(I was eerily reminded of that day back in Seattle, when I'd used the same name to get into a bar and ended up being targeted by a vampire who I strongly suspect had mind-control powers.)

I managed to wrestle the son of a bitch to the ground, so Andy taped his mouth shut. I thought that would stop him, but apparently he had learned how to do his little mind trick even without verbal commands, because Tracey went and knocked me to the ground with a tree branch. Andy used his own mind control to stop her from hitting me again, so Ansem told her to wait by the dam. Andy backed down when Ansem threatened to make her jump.

Ansem then tried to explain himself, saying that Tracey was trying to come between them, and that they were above everyone else because they could do whatever they wanted. Andy asked why Ansem had killed the doctor, and their mother, and Ansem told him it was because of them that the twins hadn't grown up together.

"They thought there was something unnatural about us, Andy, when we were together. My dad, our dad, told me the whole story. How our mother would have fits if we stared at her at the same time. How our babysitters would go into trances and hurt themselves. One tried to jump off the roof into the kiddie pool because of us." He laughed a little.

Andy looked horrified. "Because of you! I would never do that to anyone. I would never hurt anyone. What is wrong with you?"

"What's wrong with me? They split us up! We could've been together this whole time…instead of alone. I couldn't let them do that. I couldn't let them get away with that."

"You're completely insane. You find out you have a brother, you call them up, go out for a beer. You don't start killing people."

"I wanted to, bro, but He wouldn't let me. He said I had to wait until the time was right."

"Who?"

"The Man with the Yellow Eyes." I gathered from the way he said it that he expected Andy to know exactly who he was talking about. He meant Azazel. I'm positive.

Ansem kept talking. "He came to me in my dreams. He told me I was special. He says he's got big plans for me. Wait until you see what's in store for the both of us."

"You're insane. This is insane. I want nothing to do with you!"

"Then say goodbye to Tracey."

I felt a headache coming on and managed to lift my head up in time to see Tracey step off the edge of the dam.

I heard Andy scream, but I was too focussed on the pain, and Tracey. My hand shot out and I made myself pull. Granted, it wasn't the most difficult thing I've ever done, but in my defense, I hadn't taken a blow to the head before taking on James. Somehow I managed to knock her back onto solid ground. She lay there on her back, panting and crying. I knew then and there that I didn't have the strength to stop her if Ansem tried again, but Andy didn't give him the chance.

He grabbed my gun and put a bullet in his brother's head.

I want to say that I understand why he had to do it. Ansem was as much a monster as any of the other creatures I've killed. I know this. There was no way he could be kept alive, not when he could mind control his way out of any prison. He had to die, for everyone's safety. Andy did the only thing he could to protect Tracey.

I just can't help feeling that this is what Azazel wants.

I'm not sure what I should do. It's like this demon is playing with all of us – the psychic kids – and the endgame is to leave us broken enough that we're willing to kill. He's already done it to me. After what happened to mom, I was just as much a monster as James. I tortured him. I know that he probably deserved it, (Did he? Does anybody deserve what I did to him?), but I keep wondering what would happen if one of us – let's not dance around this for once – if I somehow got it in my head that the only thing I could do to protect the people I care about is to kill anyone who puts them in danger. What if Ed-Alice was threatened by some rogue vampire and I used my powers to tear him apart? And what if I really liked that feeling? What if I really liked being that powerful, that dangerous? What if I never wanted it to end?

I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes I wish I had never escaped hell. At least then I'd know what I was becoming.

I just wish there was someone out there who could stop me.

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Bella's POV

We made it all the way to Jacob's garage before I remembered that I'd left the diagrams in my car. I resisted the urge to smack myself in the head, and simply let out a quiet huff of frustration as I took in the dilapidated, red building.

I'd probably spent the night in worse places, but I was still a little unsure if the ceiling would stay where it belonged. If my wheelchair idea didn't pan out, maybe I could volunteer my services and help renovate this thing before somebody needed to be dug out.

The inside was a little more reassuring. One entire wall was lined with a beginning mechanic's dream equipment. There were some tools and half a dozen dirty rags on the floor, but it was obvious that Jacob had placed them there strategically. They were clustered around one of two motorcycles that looked like they'd seen better days, most likely when Billy was still in diapers.

"Pretty cool, huh? I've been restoring them," Jacob said proudly. He hesitated for a second. "Just, don't mention it to dad just yet. He can be a little overprotective, so I kind of want to ease him into the whole idea of me riding one of these death traps."

I laughed. "Your secret's safe with me, Sunshine. I know all about overprotective parents."

"Thanks, Bella. My dad would ground me for life if he found out about them."

"No sweat. Where'd you get them anyway?" I took a closer look at one of the bikes, narrowing my eyes. "Dude! That's a Black Bomber! They came out in, like, the sixties! Where the hell did you score one?"

Jacob grinned. "Found them at a garage sale last week. The other one's a Honda Super Hawk, 1962. The guy selling them said they need some fixing up, and he's too old to ride anymore. He gave me a sweet deal, and I can do the mechanical work myself. So it's a win-win."

"Looks like you've got your work cut out for you. I think they're more rust than metal at this point."

"Just wait," Quil piped up energetically. "Jacob will have these beauties running in under a month. The man is a wizard when it comes to all things mechanical."

"Only if I spend every afternoon on them, plus weekends. And I still need to replace a few parts, so I'll have to wait for allowance day before I do much more to them."

I frowned at this. "How much is your allowance?"

"Twenty bucks a week," he answered.

I felt my lips start to twist and forced myself to repress my smile. If Jacob thought he could repair these two bikes for $100, he needed a serious reality check.

Although…I could use this to my advantage. Jacob would need some extra cash. I had extra cash. I needed to stick close to Jacob, so supervising, and paying for my little project wouldn't seem so strange to him if he thought I was doing it to help support his motorcycle restoration thing.

"I don't think that'll be enough, Jacob, unless you've got some money already saved up?" I knew he didn't, otherwise he wouldn't need to wait until allowance day to buy the parts.

He frowned. "Yeah, I figured. I was thinking about getting a part-time job or something, but dad needs me around the house, and he'd start to wonder where all my paychecks are going."

Oh, I could not ask for a better segue.

"I might be able to help you out with that. I've saved up quite a bit these past few months."

Jacob looked torn. "I don't wanna take money from you, Bella."

"It won't be taking. It'll be earning. I have this idea for a project, but I need some extra mechanical expertise."

His frown softened. Quil looked on, somewhat confused, and sat down on a wooden bench on the wall opposite from us to watch.

"What kind of project?" Jacob asked.

I hesitated a second, wondering if I should have waited until I knew for sure what Billy's condition was like before I opened my big mouth.

Too late to back out now, Bella.

"Well…I kind of need to know a bit about your dad before we go any further. Why exactly is he in a wheelchair?"

My bluntness took him by surprise. He didn't answer for a few seconds. "Uhh…his diabetes-"

"Yes, you mentioned that, but that's not what I mean. Are his legs paralyzed? Did his muscles atrophy? Was there nerve damage?"

"Nerve damage!" he blurted. He shifted, clearly uncomfortable with my line of questioning, so I gave him a smile, prodding him to continue by nodding. "Uhh, there's this thing that some diabetics get when their glucose levels are too high for too long. Dad's always had trouble with that. I think it's called…diabetic nerve-neuro-something... Neuropathy! Yeah, that's it! The nerves in his feet are damaged. He doesn't technically need a wheelchair all the time, but because he has no feeling left in them he was always hurting himself. One time he broke his toe and didn't even realize it until he looked down and saw it was all purple and swollen, not to mention the time he stepped in some glass-" Jacob cut himself off abruptly.

"Go on," I encouraged.

"Well, after the paralysis hit his ankles, it was just too much effort for him to walk. He was always stumbling over things, or bending his toes the wrong way, and stairs were a nightmare! He tripped on some and nearly cracked his skull open! After that, he just sort of resigned himself. He still tries to walk sometimes, but he gets really tired now."

"His muscles are probably weakening from disuse. Thanks, Jacob. That's just what I needed to know."

"Umm, so what exactly is your idea?"

I outlined my plan, leaving the actual diagrams for later.

"We'd need some way to keep his feet from falling off the pedals, so we'll have to install some straps to keep them secured. He might not have enough strength in his legs at the beginning, so it'll still need to be possible to move and steer with his arms. With that in mind, he'll need some place to rest his legs when he's not pedalling. Keeping your legs like that can cause some pretty uncomfortable cramping if you keep it up all day-"

"Bella," Jacob interjected suddenly. I stopped my monologue, wondering what was wrong.

Nothing, apparently. Jacob was grinning at me, looking positively thrilled.

"You are a genius," he proclaimed without hesitation.

I blinked. "Well, yes, I am, but I'm not the one who came up with the idea of a pedal-powered wheelchair. I just figured it might work for your dad."

"I could kiss you right now for that."

I grimaced, frantically trying to figure out a way to respond to that without hurting his feelings. I figured some humour couldn't hurt. "Please don't," I began, exaggerating my displeasure. "Do you have any idea how many species of bacteria are living in your mouth right now? Over two-hundred. There's an entire ecosystem on your tongue."

Jacob and Quil both laughed, and I let out a silent sigh of relief. "You are something else, Bella," Quil said fondly. "How'd you get so smart?"

"I spent my weekdays ditching school to go to the library and actually learn things," I replied flippantly. "Still have some categories of the Dewey Decimal System memorized. 133.1 to 133.9 is where you find the paranormal stuff."

Quil tilted his head. "You believe in ghosts?" he asked.

"I believe in what I can see," I responded, not exactly giving him a clear answer.

"So, if you saw a ghost…?" he prodded.

"I'd probably shoot it."

That set them off laughing again, and I joined in. No need to clarify what type of weapon I'd use, (shotgun filled with rock salt), or that I'd need to dig up a grave to salt and burn the body of the ghost in question to keep it from coming back. Some things were better left unsaid.

It was almost too bad that Jacob didn't know about what was out there. It would be nice to have someone to talk to. But that was just my loneliness talking. Or more likely, my selfishness. Maybe if I wasn't so needy, Ed-

Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Breakups happen. Who cares if you sometimes thought of him as a way to save yourself from Hell? It's your own fault for being selfish. Just get over it and move on. You can do it. You're a big girl.

My mental pep talk helped steady me a little, but I still couldn't quite think about him without feeling a little sick. Maybe once I got home I would try again. At least then there wouldn't be witnesses if I broke down.

"You know how to shoot a gun?" Quil asked tentatively. "Or are you just being funny?"

This was one of those questions that got me into trouble. If I lied, but somehow ended up in a situation where I had to shoot a gun in front of the people I lied to, (always a possibility in my line of work), then I usually ended up making them feel betrayed, and losing their trust. Luckily, I was dealing with two teenaged boys who didn't completely adhere to their parents' rules, and would more than likely find my unusual talent fascinating more than frightening.

I nodded casually. "Sure, my mom taught me. Well, sort of. I was kind of a natural. I was six years old, my mom showed me how to hold the gun, then she lined up a bunch of cans on a fence and I hit every one of them on my first try." I grinned, remembering the memory with fondness rather than pain. "She was so proud of me."

I suppose time does heal all wounds. Now, if it would hurry up and start healing the rest of them, maybe I can sleep tonight without dreaming of Hell.

"When you were six!" Jacob exclaimed, looking horrified. I realized I'd forgotten my audience. There was a limit to what even teenaged boys could handle. Sure, if I'd said I was twelve or so when I started, they would have been suitably impressed, but now they were giving me the same looks my teachers gave me whenever I mentioned our mother-daughter bonding activities. I bit the inside of my cheek, cursing my stupidity. Now I had to do some damage control, or else be branded a freak…again.

"I was very mature for my age. Besides, we were using blanks, and mom was supervising me the whole time."

"But still…" Jacob trailed off, that concerned look still etched into his face. I hated it when people gave me that look; it just reminded me that my past would never allow me to be normal. Moving from town to town, school to school, spending my free time learning Latin and hand-to-hand combat while other kids had ballet, or sports, or music lessons. I'd never complained at the time – always the good soldier – but more and more I realized just how skewed my perception of normal was.

Sometimes it was just so hard lying to everyone. Maybe that's why I loved being with the Cullens. I didn't have to pretend for them, (well, not as much), and while they may not have truly understood it all, they still accepted me.

I had a sudden, fierce desire to tell Jacob and Quil exactly why I spent my early school years learning how to shoot a gun and studying up on the supernatural. I hadn't had this urge in a while, but it was almost overpowering. I squashed it down forcefully, steadying myself with a deep breath.

"We were living down south at the time. Loads of kids in the neighbourhood went out hunting with their dads. She probably figured if I was going to be surrounded by guns, I should learn to respect them." I shrugged, perfectly nonchalant about the whole ordeal. The boys were still examining me closely, but they seemed a little less tense now. I felt a twinge of guilt and reminded myself that it was my own fault for getting close to them. It was much easier to lie to people when I wasn't emotionally invested. Or at the very least I knew when to keep something private.

That little quirk probably contributed to Abby's contention that I was just an obsessed, revenge-driven sociopath, and just a stone's throw from being a serial killer. But Abby was always kind of a selfish, manipulative bitch, so anything she said had to be taken with a grain of salt.

"Okay, so let's get back on track. The wheelchair, do you think you can do it?" I plastered on a pleading smile and clutched my hands together under my chin. "Your dad will have more mobility, you'll get enough cash to fix your motorcycles, and I'll have something to give him as thanks for putting up with me."

Jacob nodded, grinning. "Yeah, we'll give it a shot. Umm, you'll have to pay for the wheelchair stuff too, though."

"Where are you going to find one?" Quil asked. "And the other stuff, like the pedals and the steering wheel?"

I waved a hand absently. "I'm sure there's someone selling a used one online. And I'm sure I can MacGyver up the rest of it. I'll handle the wheelchair costs, you just be ready to work your butts off. I don't know what kind of condition it'll be in."

"If you're sure." Jacob grinned, obviously picturing the look on his dad's face when he showed him the new wheelchair. Maybe he hoped his dad's gratitude would extend to allowing him to keep his motorcycles as well.

"I'm positive. My dad left me more money than I know what to do with sometimes. It'll be great to know that I'll actually have something to show for it besides crappy motel rooms and second-hand clothes."

Both Quil and Jacob bit their lips at the mention of my dad. Sometimes it was really hard to talk to people about dead parents, even when it had been so long that it didn't affect me so much. I sometimes got choked up thinking about my mom, but with my dad, we had never been all that close. I'd liked him, and we'd gotten along great when we'd been together, but his death hadn't really hurt me too much. It was less like losing a father, and more like losing an uncle I visited once a year. I missed those visits, but I could live without them. Maybe that was cold, more evidence to support Abby's sociopath theory, but I couldn't really miss someone I'd never gotten to know, could I? People died every day, all over the world, some of which I'd spent more time with than my own father. Was it wrong that I didn't spend all day mourning them?

I wondered if I'd been this screwed up before I went to Hell. Or maybe everyone was like that. I wouldn't know. Jacob lost his mom when he was two. Did he spend his days wishing she were alive, or did the idea of a mom just not mean that much to him? At least I remembered what my dad looked like without the help of pictures or home movies.

Maybe I'd ask him in a little while, after I established myself as someone who wasn't going to go on a murder spree. That seemed like the most sensible approach.

I smiled, attempting to ease the tension. "So, I'll do some searching tonight and see if there are any wheelchairs on EBay or something. I've got some diagrams in my car if you wanna take a look at what you'll be doing."

Jacob smiled back. "Great, I'll make sure my dad doesn't see them. Don't want to ruin the surprise."

I punched him lightly on the arm, noting absently that even though it was close to freezing in the shop, the skin under his shirt felt kind of warm. I hoped he wasn't getting sick or something.

I brushed off my worries and swept my hair back behind my ear, letting the stolen heat warm it just a little. "I'll come by tomorrow, wheelchair or not, and maybe we could stop by Embry's place to see what's up."

Quil scowled. "Almost forgot about him. I'll drop by tonight, see if he showed up. If not, we might have to start a search party or something. I'll bet Sam made him do some sort of initiation thing, like cliff-diving or going off the trail in the woods or something."

I froze for a second. "Sam? He was the big guy from the beach, hung out with two other boys? Jared and Paul?"

"Surprised you remembered," Jacob commented lightly, looking just a little bit jealous.

"I have a good memory," I explained offhandedly. "Besides, they kind of weirded me out."

Jacob seemed to brighten when I said that. "Yeah, they've been acting strange for a while now. Always hanging together, matching haircuts and tattoos. If Sam wasn't such a good guy, I'd almost say he was a building a gang or cult."

I made a hmm sound and touch my bottom lip with my finger. "Maybe we should stop by Sam's place too. Just as a precaution."

Quil was quick to defend him. "Sam wouldn't do anything bad to Embry. It's probably just a practical joke. We'll find him."

My eyes narrowed just a bit. "All right," I conceded. "But if he doesn't show up by tomorrow, I'm more than willing to help you guys look for him."

Jacob looked a little uncomfortable. "Thanks, Bella, but…we kind of like to deal with things like this on our own."

I was a little hurt, but I ignored that in favour of analyzing what he'd said. "Things like this: you mean something like this has happened before?"

Both of them cringed. That was all the answer I needed. "The people who go missing, do they always come back a little strange?"

They both cringed again, avoiding eye contact. "I'm sorry, Bella, but we're really not supposed to mention it to…outsiders." Jacob explained, glancing up for a fraction of a second to catch a glimpse of my reaction between his long bangs.

"I understand," I said coldly, still hurt. "But, Jacob, if something happens, anything at all, please don't hesitate to call me. I've seen a lot of strange things in my life, and I don't want anyone to get hurt because you're too afraid to ask for help. I'll talk to Billy tomorrow. See if I can't get this cleared up."

He nodded. "Okay." He looked up at me again. "I'm really sorry. It's just not something we're allowed to talk about. The Elders are very secretive sometimes, even with us. Especially with us."

"I know." I smiled gently, hoping to convey that there were no hard feelings. "Sometimes, it's just better for everyone if people live in ignorance."

"You're still gonna hang with us tomorrow, right?" he asked hopefully.

I laughed. "Oh, absolutely! I get free food here."

"I feel so used."

"Suck it up, buttercup."

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King: (Somebody mentioned that it's a bit jarring when I switch from the storyline to my notes, so I'm going to add this just to let everyone know when I'm speaking.)

I'm a bad person. I can't blame anything on the lateness of this chapter except laziness and my new obsessions. My stepdad got us Netflix and I've fallen in love with Sherlock. I've been resisting the urge to write a crossover between that and Criminal Minds, just because I know if I do, I'll never get this finished.

I mean, seriously, what's not to like about that show? It's funny, it's intense, and the episodes are 90 min long. It's like watching a movie every episode, (there's only six so far, but more are on the way.) And Benedict, the guy who plays Sherlock, is gorgeous! At first, he just looked kind of odd to me, but then he started talking! Oh, dear god, that man has a sexy voice! It's like if Morgan Freeman, Sam Elliot, and James Earl Jones all mixed their voices together to create the ultimate audio-erotica! I would absolutely take him calling me an idiot in that voice with a smile on my face. One of the reasons I watched Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, aside from my growing fascination with physics and astronomy, is because he narrates it! There are episodes on YouTube. Go search for them.

My other obsession, and it's one that I truly hope to inflict on at least some of you, is called Worm. It is quite possibly the best superhero/supervillain story I've ever read, and I'm only about half-way through. I found it while browsing TvTropes (Warning, do not search for this site without at least 5-6 free hours in your schedule. Not even joking there. It happens to me all the time.) I started reading a few random chapters, some of which have trigger warnings for death, torture, and really serious bullying, like the kind that put the main character in the hospital. I won't spoil any more. It's so realistically done. It's not just, "I have super powers so I'm going to be a hero and save people all day." It's more like, "I can make dolls come alive, so I'll be a spokesperson for opening stores, or, I can create impossible technology, so I'll try to weasel my way into becoming one of the greatest heroes in the world so people will finally give me the respect I deserve." Or, sadly, "My sister needs an operation, so I'm going to use my ability to walks through walls and rob a bank so I can save her." And finally, "I become stronger the longer I fight, so I'm going to use my power to create the largest gang in town and take over the entire criminal underground." And that's not even counting the Endbringers or the Slaughterhouse Nine. Or Cauldron. The author, Wildbow, has created one of the most unique worlds designed to show exactly what happens when you give a bunch of random people superpowers and then just sit back and watch them try to destroy each other. Wildbow accepts donations towards bonus chapters, all of which are written very promptly, so if you get as into it as I am, feel free to donate. Updates stick very well to a twice a week schedule, barring some unforeseen catastrophe. Please some of you read it. You will not be disappointed. Just Google Worm, Parahumans and it should be the first link that comes up.

I'll stop ranting about writers who are better than me, and just say what I always do.

Adieu, my ridiculously patient readers.

(Also, I'm gonna try to spend a few hours today working on chapter three of Talent Search.) You may now proceed to squee girlishly.