Title: Saviour in the Night
Rating: M rated overall.
Disclaimer: None of the characters mentioned herein belong to me. No infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Well, I have decided that realistically, Bella and Carlisle's little union wouldn't be without drama. After all, Edward and the rest of the Cullens are still out there and certainly there would be questions raised about Carlisle running off to Forks and being with Bella. So this chapter is my attempt at dealing with that. I hope you don't despair too much of the shift from pure romance to a pit of angst!
Carlisle heard it first.
His acute senses had detected that something was amiss minutes before Bella had. "Get dressed." He ordered as he withdrew from her embrace and pulled the shirt she had discarded over his arms. She frowned, perplexed by the sudden shift in his mood. It was against his nature to be jovial one moment and brooding the next. The rigid set of his jaw worried her and when she heard the slam of the door downstairs, she leapt from the armchair and gathered the clothes strewn across the rug.
"Carlisle?" she whispered, eyes wide. The knot in her stomach was one of fear – for she knew only too well the evils that lurked in the shadows of the world she inhibited. Bloodthirsty vampires were one. He appeared not to hear her, his darkening eyes focused on the study door.
"Stay here," he commanded, looking very much like the dangerous predator that he was. The firm ropey muscles of his back, that she had been admiring only hours earlier, were rigid as he stalked with the silent grace of a cat towards the door. Bella swallowed the lump of panic that had solidified in her throat as she quickly redressed. Although her instincts urged her to flee from the possibility of danger, she crept behind him, ignoring the warning flash in his territorial eyes.
The corridor, always so bright and airy, seemed positively claustrophobic and almost endless as they edged towards the staircase. "Stop skulking, Carlisle!" The voice was Emmett's. Bella froze, no longer afraid for her life, but for something else entirely. "Come down stairs." Carlisle's stance became defeatist, suddenly. As though were realising that he had lost a battle. Tipping his head back, preparing himself, he appeared on the top step. "Tell Bella there's no point in hiding. Her scent is everywhere."
Oh God... a wave of humiliation swamped her.
Aside from Edward, they were all there; Emmett and Rosalie, Alice and Jasper and at the end of a stony row of faces; Esme. Their expressions were stoic, almost cold, as their golden eyes shifted between Bella and Carlisle. It was the first time that Alice had regarded her with anything less than complete warmth, and Bella felt a raw ache in her belly at the sudden shift in the Cullens attitude towards her.
"What is that smell?" Emmett's nose wrinkled and next to him, Rosalie stiffened. Her glare burned.
"Sex," she hissed. "They wreak of sex." Alice lowered her eyes, disappointment written across her beautiful, pixie-like features. She shook her head. "I hope you are pleased with yourself," Rosalie added, the full force of her angry ferociousness directed at Bella. "You destroyed a family." The phrase home-wrecker whirled in her mind.
"Rosalie," Carlisle barked roughly. The elegant blonde at the bottom of the stairs looked stricken for a moment. "This is not Bella's fault."
"No," Esme spoke suddenly, her kind voice unfalteringly calm. "It's not Bella's fault, is it, Carlisle?" The implication was clear; his wife of almost eighty-four years blamed him for the tatters their family had become. Bella struggled to breathe – the atmosphere in the home once shared by these creatures was tense and pungent, indeed not only with sex but with resentment and accusation. She braced her hand on the wall. "We're not here about you and Bella," Esme continued swiftly. "Alice predicted it months ago." Bella's heart sank at the flicker of hurt that shadowed her statuesque features. "We're here about Edward."
Five pairs of golden eyes lowered to the floor and an overwhelming sense of dread settled to all but suffocate Bella. "E-Edward?" Her voice sounded broken. "What's happened to him?" Next to her, Carlisle looked haunted. Although he remained upright, his body was rigid and his face showed no indication that he had heard Bella's cracking voice.
"He has been wounded. Here, in Forks." Esme cast a pointed glare at Carlisle once more. "Alice?"
"He knows... about the... two of you." Alice whispered these last words as though they were a poison her lips. "He has been attacked by Victoria... she outnumbered him." Jasper reached out to grasp her hand. "We'll have to search the forest." Although she looked as she always did; trendy and poised like a dainty ballerina, something was unmistakably different about Alice. "Before they come back to finish him off." Her face was haunted by the visions she had received and although Bella did not possess the power to see them too, it was possible to imagine.
Carlisle descended the stairs and suddenly she felt like a circus marvel atop a pedestal, alone as they continued to stare up at her. Only Jasper kept his ochre eyes on the floor.
"Can you see where he is, Alice?" Carlisle asked, his voice businesslike and Bella knew at once at he would organise his family accordingly, whether his input was wanted or not.
"There's a river nearby," was the only information that Alice could obtain. "I can hear it. The rain has made it swell and it's noisy." If she possessed the ability to cry, Bella was certain that the petite vampire would have succumbed. "He's weak and thirsty." Esme's small hand squeezed her adoptive daughter's hand comfortingly, as though urging her on.
Carlisle straightened his shoulders. "We will conduct separate searches along the river banks. Rose and Esme, you go with Emmett and start west. Alice, Jasper and I will go east." No one voice objections, despite the palpable tensions as they regarded the man they had previously respected and revered. Bella stiffened.
"What about me?" she asked, finding her courage amidst the humiliation. They looked up – all six of them as though they had only remembered she was there. "Who will I go with?" The guilt was tremendous; Edward was in danger because of her. Because he had discovered that she had fallen in love with Carlisle.
"Bella we need to conduct this search with speed," he said, meeting her halfway on the stairs. She saw apology in his eyes as he strived to be tactful in letting her down. Although his dismissal of her help hurt, Bella kept her jaw resolute. "You should stay here..."
"Bella," he implored and over his shoulder she could see the faces of his family. Of the people who had previously protected and – for the most part – adored her.
"It's alright, Carlisle." Jasper's spoke softly, his calming influence could be felt even in his voice. "You go with Alice and I will go with Bella." His eyes were impassive as he stared ahead, not really looking at either one of them.
"I'm not sure if that's a good idea, Jasper," Carlisle said.
"We're wasting time!" Alice barked with far more ferocity than Bella believed she possessed. "Go with Jasper," she said shortly. "We need to leave now." Bella retraced her steps to the study, pulling on her shoes as the vampires muttered amongst themselves – making plans and suggestions that Bella could not be privy to, owing to the hurried and lowly way in which they spoke.
If Edward dies, she thought to herself, noting the tremble of her fingers as she hurried to tie her laces. How could I forgive myself? The handwritten notes from the Kama Sutra lay on the table – a resounding reminder of the time she'd spent locked away in this same study with Carlisle. She struggled with her conscience, hating herself for feeling guilty and for not feeling guilty enough.
"Lets go, Bella!" Emmett called from the hallway downstairs. Dragged back to the present, she jerked to her feet and rushed to meet them. Each time one of the family looked at her, she caught the edge of accusation – thinly veiled. Betrayal. Hurt. They blamed her for what had happened to Edward and Bella realised this was something she had in common with each of them.
The previously beautiful forest – a living, breathing entity of magic and wonder – had become the bowels of a dangerous creature. It was vast and treacherous, laden with danger and obstacles and it felt as though it would be an impossibility to find Edward in the hectares of mountainous vegetation. The monstrous trees stretched skyward like a foreboding army standing shoulder to shoulder.
Groups had been reorganised; Rosalie, Emmett and Esme heading west, Alice and Carlisle moving west with Bella and Jasper departing to the north of the house, higher into the mountains. The agreement was to return to the house in an hour in case Alice's visions changed. A sense of gloom and pessimism descended on the group as they broke apart – whizzing ghosts in a flash of colour before they disappeared into the forest.
Jasper stayed with Bella on the porch.
"Jasper..." finding the words to thank him for the show of kindness in the house was futile, for anything she could say would invariably sound trite.
"You'll need to get on my back," he turned his head towards her, unruly blond curls falling over his eyes. "We can't waste time." She wanted to say more but the glint in his eyes commanded that she did not fill their time together with explanations. Obeying, Bella slipped her arms around his cold neck and pressed herself against the rigid breadth of his back. The hands that gripped her thighs were firm.
The supersonic speed in which the vampires ran could easily make her vomit, but today it was the image of Edward that made her stomach flip sickeningly. She preferred the blur of the trees as they flew by to the imaginings in her head. Would Victoria return to complete her revenge on the Cullens? Would she burn the pieces of Edward as they had to James?
"There's a river nearby, we will conduct a search there." Businesslike, just like the rest of the family. What she had thought was an act of kindness might just have been a decision Jasper had made to ensure less time was wasted in argument.
"I'm sorry, Jasper."
"Not now, Bella." He didn't sound angry or disappointed, merely indifferent. Or perhaps resigned. "Lets concentrate on finding Edward." She kept her head down then, afraid that if she was insistent in her apology, Jasper might change his mind and return her to the house.
The river was swollen, indeed. Rapids of white-capped water thundered over the rocks and lapped at the muddy banks. The noise was deafening and coupled with the cascading waterfall that raged about half a mile away, Bella could near nothing else. Jasper stood at the edge of the river, drawing deep breaths of scented air into his lungs – as though he were trying to sniff out his missing brother. He had adopted almost animalistic traits; his head snapped in the direction of minute sounds, like a cat and his eyes had darkened to the colour of bronze.
"He's not here..." Bella stood still, afraid that the smallest of movements on her part might distract him. "Northward," Jasper directed, preparing to set off again. The sounds of the waterfall became closer, then, as they raced off. Only when a misty rain fell against her cheeks, did Bella realise how close they were.
She had begun to wonder what help she could offer to the search; without supersonic speed or acute hearing and smell, she was but a human clutching to the shoulders of a vampire. Yet she knew it was preferable to the alternative – which was brooding alone in the vast, empty house on the mountainside.
Jasper knelt by the water, peering at the misting waterfall, as the vague rainbow as the sunlight caught the ghostly droplets in their descent. His eyes were glazed, his mind elsewhere. Bella shifted, swallowing hard.
"I don't hate you, Bella." His voice was hushed, as though the words didn't come easily. She stepped closer, this statement like a soothing balm to her aching heart. Even if only one member of the Cullen family didn't hate her for the choices she had made, it was enough for now. Jasper's pale hand cut through the raging water as she dipped his fingers into the torrent. "I'm to blame for all this." She gaped at him, startled. When he levelled his coppery gaze on her, the confliction in his eyes forced her to a halt – rooted her to the damp undergrowth.
"It's true, Bella. I lost control of myself... attacked you. Edward forced us to leave Forks because of me. Because of what I did." His melodic voice, hypnotic and songlike, was filled with heavy melancholy. "You would have been happy with him... Carlisle wouldn't have left us to come and ensure your wellbeing and..." the rest was left unspoken, for which she was grateful. To hear the reality of the situation voiced by a man as broken as Jasper would have been the ultimate devastation. "It was me that destroyed the family."
Finding her legs, Bella strode towards him and ignored the look of despair that he threw her way when she slipped her arm shoulder his shoulders. "It's not your fault," she insisted harshly. "We can't help who we fall for." The feelings she had developed for Carlisle went beyond the fascinated adulation of her love for Edward. There was maturity in the way that Carlisle reasoned and explained. He regarded her as an adult and not a child that needed to be protected.
"It hardly matters now, does it?" Jasper straightened himself, Bella's arm slipping away from his shoulder. "Edward matters now." His raked away the wild curls and turned his probing gaze to the forestry again. "Lets go, Bella." She grasped his wrist.
"Jasper, I didn't mean to cause this much damage," she blurted. "I just followed my heart." The vampire before her smiled thinly.
"Hasn't anyone ever told you, Bella? The heart only tells us what we feel. It's the brain we're supposed to think with."
And then they were moving like a gust of wind through the trees in silence, leaving Bella to contemplate the weightiness of his words.
A/N: I'm sorry that I didn't update yesterday, guys. My sickness gave me a terrible headache and even looking at my laptop made it worse. I hope to be back on course now though. I think the Cullens needed to be introduced round about now. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, for all its angst. Thanks for reading and do review! Thanks!