Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer. The rest of this stuff is just what I think about when I'm bored.

Chapter 1: Exodus

Bella Swan sat in the window seat of the plane. Her golden-brown eyes seemed transfixed on some faraway point out the window, but her thoughts wandered in the sea of voices that assaulted her from all sides. Her head ached from the constant drone of sound that she was not yet used to tuning out. She had been consciously avoiding other people for this very reason since her return three months ago.

"Excuse me miss, is there anything I can get for you?" The young, blonde stewardess smiled a toothy grin. Her teeth were a brilliant white, but nothing compared to the visions in Bella's nightmares.

She looks like death warmed over.

Bella winced at the vision of her own face in the smiling girl's thoughts. Her once beautiful mahogany hair was now limp and ragged looking. She saw the dark circles under her eyes and the haggard look on her round face more clearly than even looking in a mirror. Her skin was so pale that it almost looked gray under the weak lights of the airplane.

"Just some water, thanks." Bella tried to smile faintly to at least improve her appearance for the moment as the young woman hurried off to fill her request. She grabbed the backpack sitting on the floor in front of her and quickly shuffled through the front pocket for the bottle of aspirin her mother Renée had handed her before leaving. She had been having headaches on a regular basis for three months and usually carried something with her for the incessantly throbbing pain.

"Here you are, miss. Is there anything else I can get for you?"

"No thank you."

"Just let me know if there is anything you need." Besides a good night's sleep.

With that final thought, the girl turned and walked towards the front of the plane. Bella quickly took two of the aspirin from the bottle and popped them into her mouth, chasing them down with a quick swallow of water from the small plastic cup the stewardess had handed her. She leaned her head back on the seat rest and closed her eyes, trying to tune out the noise inside her head.

I think I forgot to turn off the stove. I hope . . .

. . . he's cheating on me I know. . .

. . . stewardess is hot. Just look at . . .

. . . need to pay the credit card bill when I get . . .

On and on the cacophony continued. She was never able to completely rid it from her mind unless she was absolutely alone. Even Renée could interject her thoughts into Bella's sensitive mind from the next room. Only once in the past three months had there been silence inside her head. One night when she was sitting alone in the desert watching the stars, she realized that the sound was gone. She had probably been the only person around for miles.

She was slowly learning to tame the tirade of thoughts, but it took a lot of concentration to get it down to the point that it became a dull hum she was able to sleep through. After a half an hour of concerted effort, Bella was finally able to drift off.

Flash of pale white skin in the moonlight. His face is beautiful, and his long blonde hair is shining in the silver light. His brilliant teeth bared and snarling. She can feel them sinking excruciatingly slowly into the skin of her arm and the burning of the venom as it leaked into the flesh of her wrist. The pain is amazing, causing her to see a brilliant white light behind her eyelids. Suddenly there is a pulling, and the burning venom is quickly drawn out of her arm along with most of the rest of the blood in her body. Smiling, he removes his pale lips from her skin, and she can see the bite mark that is left behind already beginning to heal itself. From off in the distance, she can hear screaming . . .

"Wake up. . ."

"Miss, wake up! Are you alright? You're dreaming."

It was the stewardess who had brought her a cup of water earlier, shaking her into awareness. Bella slowly blinked her eyes and realized from the rawness of her throat that she must have been the one who was screaming. The eyes of every passenger were on her terrified and confused face. She could hear their thoughts, all centered on her.

Is she alright?

What's going on?

Must have been dreaming.

Bella could feel the blood rush to her face. She should have known better than to try to sleep. There hadn't been a night in the past three months that his face wasn't behind her eyelids when they were closed. He was the reason she was running away from the only home she had ever been able to remember.

Renée had moved to Phoenix when her daughter was only eighteen months old, leaving Charlie behind in Forks, Washington. It was to Forks that Bella now fled, trying to outrun a nightmare that seemed to follow her no matter how quickly she ran. She knew that she had nothing to fear from him. He was long ago dead, for good this time, but he still haunted her dreams.

She quickly gathered her thoughts and tried to smile at the young lady with such concern on her beautiful face.

"I'm sorry. I was having a nightmare."

"You were screaming. . ."

"Yes, it happens sometimes. Please excuse me. I'll try not to fall asleep again. Could you please bring me some coffee?" Bella tried to be as polite as possible, but her heart still thrummed in her chest, beating at a million miles an hour. She wanted nothing more than to get some time and space to herself.

"Sure, um, is there anything else you need?"

"No, thank you. Just coffee."

As the stewardess walked away, Bella glanced at her watch. There was only an hour left before the plane touched down at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle, and Charlie would be waiting for her. It was nearly a four-hour drive from Seattle to Forks, and Bella anticipated much of it would be spent in silence.

Silence. That would be a nice change. Charlie's thoughts were hard to read, and when she wasn't trying, it was nearly impossible for her to hear anything from him. It was peaceful for her to spend time with him.

Renée's mind was constantly humming with thoughts, and Bella didn't think she could handle it much longer. She had never realized exactly how manic her mother had really been until she had returned from her living nightmare with a new skill, and now she knew, Renée's thoughts were never quiet or peaceful. Her mind jumped in a haphazard manner from one thing to the next with barely a moment's pause in between.

It confused her at first. She hadn't known what these sounds in her head were. She actually thought she was hearing "voices." It slowly came to her that she was hearing the thoughts of the hospital staff that had been working around her nearly twenty-four hours a day to bring her back from the brink of death.

She had no memory of being found by the police abandoned in the Arizona desert. The officer who found her had come to check on her shortly after she regained consciousness, and she knew, from the pattern of his thoughts, that when he found her he had believed she was already dead. Her heart had nearly stopped beating, but there was a faint pulse when he'd finally gathered up the courage to check. He had loaded her up in his cruiser and driven her to the nearest emergency room. He had never been more scared of anything in his life. He was a young man, newly graduated from the police academy, and this incident had him already considering a new line of work.

The staff of the hospital had found dozens of healed cuts on her arms and neck. The scars were very faint as though they had been there for months. However, they could find no reason for her body to be so low on blood. They had checked her for internal bleeding, cancer of the bone marrow, and every other disease which could possibly have caused her to be in this state. They found nothing.

The police asked her a million questions about where she had been for the month-long span of time during which nearly the entire state had been looking for her. Even Charlie had taken a leave of absence from his job as the police chief of the Forks Police Department to come and help in the search. Bella refused to answer even the simplest questions about what had happened to her. She claimed to have no memory about the ordeal, and the psychiatrist that had begun treating her in the hospital was having thoughts about something called PTSD. He had urged her parents not to push her. He said her memories might return in time, but pushing her could cause a psychotic break.

She refused to answer their questions because she was afraid that one of them might return for her. He was dead, but there had been others. On several occasions, he had friends over to their little hideout. She feared what they would do if she ever dared to breathe a word of their presence to anyone. So she continued to feign amnesia and claimed to remember nothing of the weeks she had been missing.

After two weeks in the hospital, she had been returned to her home, but somehow it no longer felt like home to her. There was an air of danger about the place. It wasn't safe, no place was safe, not from them. That was when the nightmares began.

It wasn't always the same dream. Sometimes she relived different moments from the "missing month" as Renée had begun to refer to it, but it was always about the same person. Him. . .

She couldn't even bring herself to think his name in case it might draw another one of his kind to her. Who knew how many of them lived in Phoenix? There had been at least one, and that had been more than enough for Bella.

She pushed up the sleeves on her arms and looked down at the dozens of healed cuts there. They glistened in the morning sun like thousands of diamonds had been embedded in her skin. She quickly pulled her sleeve down as the young lady arrived with the cup of coffee she had asked for.

"Here you go. Are you going to be alright?"

Bella sensed the sincerity in the young woman's thoughts and smiled up at her weakly.

"Sure, I'll be fine. Thank you."

"Let me know if you need anything. My name is Tina."

"Sure will, Tina."

Tina walked away, her thoughts still with the young girl sitting in the aisle seat on row thirteen. Bella realized that she had looked horrible when she got on the plane, and even the short nap which had been interrupted by that horrible screaming did nothing to improve the impression that she hadn't slept in days. Tina's attention was quickly diverted by another passenger calling for her. Besides, it was getting close to time for landing, and she needed to start preparing for that as soon as she could.

Bella spent the rest of the flight home thinking about what she would say to Charlie when she arrived. She had called him only yesterday to tell him she was coming for a visit. Bella had been saving as much money as she could over the past couple of years to prepare for college. She'd used a portion of it to pay for her ticket. What she hadn't told him was that she was coming to stay. She was afraid he would refuse to have her interrupt his life there, but maybe the place where she was born would feel like home if no where else did. She could only hope.

A/N: Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter as CereuleanBlue or visit my blog at cereuleanblue (dot ) blogspot (dot) com. :)