I am guilty of the infamous coma splice. I hope nobody else notices like I do. :/ This is a long chapter. I was going to split it into two parts. It's not my favorite. But that's because we haven't actually gotten these two together yet. Not really. It's all been drama here and drama there. I can't wait till things have calmed down a little. This tense crap is getting hard to write. :P Ha. Anyway. Here you go. Hope it doesn't disappoint.
The crackling sound of flames and the smell of smoke and burning flesh filtered through the dark forest. Rosalie and Jasper could also be heard making their way back to us, but I didn't look around to see them appear as my sight was focused only on Bella. I whispered in her ears, praying softly to whoever would listen that she would be released from her suffering as Esme and I tried to quell the pain by rubbing her limbs and face. It was ironic that we felt flames inside of us as we changed when afterward that fire would forever leave us as freezing stone. I was only thankful that my icy skin could bring at least a small amount of relief to the girl I loved.
As soon as the words escaped my mind, I met Edward's eyes. I expected a glare or some kind of defensive remark but I only received a slight frown before his eyes went back to the girl lying before him. I kissed Bella's forehead and closed my eyes, listening closely to her heartbeat before the sound of the unknown girl's caught my ears. It was slightly faster than a human heart. The naturally curious side of me found that peculiar, but in full I hardly cared for it to be beating at all.
"Jacob, if you wouldn't mind accompanying us back to our home, we should discuss everything." Carlisle's soft voice finally broke the silence. I opened my eyes, leaning to the side with my head resting on Bella's as I watched him through narrowed eyes. He was pacing between Bella and the girl now, appearing to be deep in thought. Pacing was a habit he carried for multiple centuries, and for the first time it made my already shot nerves tremble. Jacob nodded his thick head, not looking up from the girl for a second, his hands still in shaking fists. Carlisle's eyes furrowed before nodding a 'thank you' and continuing. "I think it's imperative we bring her back with us to find out her story and get Bella someplace safe... before the time arrives." His pacing stopped as he faced Edward. "If you wouldn't mind, Emmett, carry the girl. Edward, stay close just in case." Edward opened his mouth to say something but Carlisle stopped him before he could start, raising an open palm. "We need to get there quickly, for Bella's sake."
"We are bringing that thing with us?" Rosalie's voice snapped, bringing all of our attention to her violently dark eyes. I noticed for the first time that her bare shoulder was now adorned with an ugly looking bite wound that had cracked the surrounding skin. Jasper stood beside her, virtually unharmed. I locked eyes with him and instantly I felt a slight sense of relief float to me. He appeared to be happy to see that I was okay, but when his eyes finally set on Bella he breathed in and held. If a paper cut could tempt him, this was surely torturous. His eyes were dark and focused on everything but Bella's wound.
Rosalie advanced on Carlisle, pointing towards the fallen girl. "Jasper and I just ripped apart this ...thing's...master? Mother? Whatever. She...IT...should be destroyed as well." Her voice shook with rage. I looked down again at Bella, ignoring the conversation between my family members. Her eyes were still closed but clearly straining against the venom. My eyes traveled down to the bite wound and then to the scratches and bruises covering her arms and legs. I felt the rage build within me as well, and for the first time in a long time I felt myself agreeing with Rose's temper. However, I didn't voice the sentiment. I simply picked Bella up and began the trek back to my home with my poor love in my arms. I heard exasperated grumbles coming from my sister behind me as the footsteps of my family followed.
Emmett followed me in through the sliding glass doors leading in from the back of the house before placing the wretched girl in his arms on the living room couch. I growled softly as my eyes averted from Bella to her prone, relaxed form. The vampire within me only wanted revenge against Victoria's co-conspirator, not at all curious about who or what she was. I ignored Carlisle as he followed me up the stairs into my bedroom, not bothering a glance in his direction as I placed Bella on the bed. I heard Esme and the others in the living room, Rose's sharp voice echoing up the stairs.
"She shouldn't be in here looking so comfy on our couch when Bella's up there turning, and oddly enough against her will!" I heard her angrily flop down on one of the chairs, "Edward's arm looks like it's barely hanging on to him. No doubt the work of whatever the fu-" "ENOUGH." Esme's unexpected and frusturated boice cut her off before I heard angry steps dissipate from the room to the other end of the house. I could practically hear Rose grit her teeth from my upstairs.
"Emmett, Jacob, could you both please stay close to the girl. Just in case. I'll be down in a moment." I heard water running from the kitchen and ice clanking in glass before Esme and Carlisle sped up to Bella's side. I heard Jacob's low mumbles from the ground floor and the cracking of knuckles. "I can't believe I agree with a bloodsucker. That's a first." A scoff was his response, no doubt from Rosalie who I pictured glaring at him murderously. I felt a strong wave of compassion for my sister and a reluctant sense of respect for the mutt as Esme set a glass bowl filled with ice water beside the bed. Carlisle wet a towel before handing it to me, Esme wetting another and motioning for me to rub Bella with my own as she did the same. Despite my growing need to be sure that Bella was alright, I was so consumed with worry for her that I could barely function. I hardly noticed when Carlisle touched my shoulder.
"Alice." My father's soft voice drew my reluctant gaze. I never felt anger toward my adopted father before now and it was almost beginning to scare me. His eyes told me how sorry he was before he even said anything, but that didn't alleviate my frustration. "Look, I know you're angry, and I know you only want to protect Bella. But we need to know what she is. We need to know if there are any more like her, and if so what we need to expect from them."
I couldn't argue with his reasoning but I still didn't like it. Refusing to fully accept his rationality, I simply went back to my task as his footsteps retreated back down the stairs.
Esme gave me a small reassuring smile as she wiped Bella's right arm with the cold cloth. "Just be here for her, dear. It's going to be alright. When this is all said and done, Bella will be a lot harder to harm." Her golden eyes tinkled with care, looking down to me. I tried to smile back but felt a stabbing pain to my dead heart as Bella whimpered. "Ali-..." Her voice was rough and small, her words dissolving into a groan. I whimpered with her, kissing her forehead and leaning to her ear. "I love you, Bella. I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere."
I felt my mother's hand on one of my own, squeezing slightly to gain my attention. "So, you and Bella, huh?" Her question caught me off guard, and I'm sure I looked like a deer in headlights. Her knowing smirk said it all. I nodded softly, reassured by another squeeze to my hand from my loving mother. I again focused my ears downstairs and my eyes back down to the wet cloth I held in my hand, sliding it across my love's forehead. "What happened to the other members of your pack, Jacob?" I listened to the voices in the living room intently, my hearing capable of taking in the conversation downstairs easily.
"Well Carlisle, they just didn't like the fact that we were helping you guys with an...isolated problem." Jacob sounded annoyed to answer but he continued. "Sam tried to take us all out of the fight, but I told him I wasn't gonna leave with Bella still in danger. And since he's only in my place as alpha because I let him take it, he couldn't force me." His voice was irritatingly smug at the last bit.
Small inquiring murmurs filled the room before Edward spoke up. "Jacob's father is the leader of the tribe, and therefore when Jacob finally morphed for the first time he had the right to take Sam's place as alpha. But for some reason he didn't?" His voice held a question in his statement. I struggled to find how he one moment could declare his love towards this girl and the next be focused on little tribal disputes that we should have no part in.
Who cares? "Well, who would want to be leader of a pack that could go completely against everything they preach? Humans are supposed to be our responsibility and they were more than willing to let Bella die." Jacob and I growled simultaneously before Edward spoke my own internal dialogue. "You care more for Bella than you should, dog." I could hear his teeth grinding and his fingers digging into the sofa he was sitting on. "At least I didn't turn her gay, bloodsucker." Jacob growled, and I heard myself growl louder at his twisted logic. Esme, ever the protective mother, stopped in mid-motion for a moment to hiss. It was so quiet I almost didn't catch it.
Rosalie, quickly cutting Edward off before he could respond, jumped to my aid. "What did you just say?" I heard her leave her chair, toppling it over (or throwing it, I'm still not sure) . " Who gives a shit. If you loved her, why would that matter?" "Because she should be with ME!" I could almost hear Jacob's spit leaving his mouth, and I felt a tremendous wave of placidity fall upon the house, no doubt from Jasper. Emmett's deep voice followed, "Who is upstairs with Bella right now, mutt? My guess is that it's my gay sister, Jacob, not you."
If it were not for the present circumstances, I would've laughed. It was endearing how my family seemed to already accept the new relationship between us, but then again I would have to see for sure later. When it came to the wolves, choosing sides wasn't very difficult. On the other hand, when we we're alone, without Jacob's presence, the tongue-lashing I'd be getting from my short-tempered sister was bound to be painful.
Jasper's composed voice broke the silence again, so calm it was as if he hadn't just dismembered and burned a body less than an hour ago. "Jacob, I was with Alice longer than you have been alive." I heard him sit down as he continued, Jacob's low and uninterrupted growl in the background. "We shared a strong connection that I will always look back happily upon. However, the connection between her and Bella was stronger, stronger than what Bella had with Edward, and far stronger than what she ever had with you. You, Edward and I need to accept that they have chosen each other. It's important now to value their friendship." His southern drawl seemed pleasant enough, but I could hear the sadness behind it and in turn I felt a stab of guilt. "Pettiness will not win Bella's affection."
Trying to block the angry yells that followed, I carefully took Bella's hand in my own and ran the cloth along her knuckles as Esme stood.
"I'm going to go and settle the children for a moment." She said with a hint of begrudging sarcasm. "I guess I don't have to tell you to keep any eye on her." Her smile was strained, but it was kind. She quietly left the room, leaving us alone together. Feeling the cloth warm, I gave up putting it back in the water and simply laid beside her, taking her body into my arms as I looked out the window to the full moon shining brightly through the blinds. I closed my eyes, breathing in a deep breath as Bella's heartbeats further lost their rhythm, quickening their speed before slowing to nearly nothing, back and forth. I sighed, hoping that it would soon be over. I could feel the beads of sweat make their way down her neck and the slight tremor of her body as I held her close. I kneaded her back with my hands carefully, making sure to not push down to hard.
I faintly heard Jacob leave moments later, slamming the door behind him. Shortly after slow footsteps made their way up the stairs. As they continued, I listened carefully, trying to discern which family member they belonged to since Jacob's proximity still collapsed my visions.
The door opened quietly. I kept my eyes shut, squeezing them tightly at the intruding light from the hall as if it hurt to take it in. I knew it was Edward by the limp in his footsteps and the faint pine smell that seemed to be his trademark. I didn't know how he would react to my holding Bella, but I did know that I was in no mood to fight. Not anymore. All I wanted to focus on was the future, where Bella was sure to feel no pain and the rest of this mess was finished.
A gentle squeeze to my shoulder forced me to open my eyes. I looked up to see my brother adorning a worried look, contrary to the anger I believed I would encounter. I sat up, carefully bringing Bella with me as I rested against the headboard behind us. "I think the coolness is helping. She hasn't cried out since we brought her here." I explained, hoping it would soften the blow of our intimate place on the bed. Internally I squirmed, knowing that it wouldn't help if our roles were reversed. The guilt was beginning to make me feel sick again, but it wasn't enough to make me distance myself from Bella.
"You don't need to explain why you're holding her, Alice." Edward sat down beside us on the bed, facing the window with his feet on the floor. He kept his eyes on the moon outside as he spoke, his voice soft and tentative. "I know you love her. I see it. I hear it. And I feel it as well. I've felt it for some time now."
A silent moment passed. I stared at the back of my brother's bronze hair, waiting for him to continue. He turned to face us, looking carefully between Bella's ghostly form and my concerned expression. "Since that night I left her in the woods, her feelings for me have been in doubt. I think even before that, but without the use of my gift it's hard to tell." His hands nervously rubbed his damaged shoulder, the skin still healing. "Her body language and her eyes give her away the most, even though she hides her emotions well. Whenever I saw her speaking with you, it was like she opened up. She smiled more. She was radiant." He spoke slowly as if he were trying to figure everything out as he went along, sighing between his sentences to maintain his calm exterior.
"In Volterra, I heard your thoughts. You didn't think of your safety or mine even once." Edward looked down to Bella, softly moving his eyes to my hands on her back. "It's unfair, Alice. How could this have happened? You had Jasper. She was supposed to be mine." Though his voice was soft, remnants of anger finally began to show themselves and it immediately made my skin crawl. I couldn't help the boiling rage that erupted at his lack of compassion. The guilt fled from my body just as quickly as it had come.
"How can you even think about that right now?" I made eye contact with him for the first time. "You must remember being turned better than I do, Edward, so you know even more so how much pain she is in." I curled my lips back, the instinctual need to bare my teeth unable to mask itself. My hands stood still on her back where they had been moving in small circles, and though it would have been irrational, it was a good thing her delicate form was beneath them or they would have moved to my brother's throat. "This is why she didn't choose you. Or Jacob, for that matter. You both can only think of yourselves. Bella is the most selfless person I have ever met. Had you been open to the idea that she is your equal, maybe that trait could have rubbed off."
My pathetic brother. His jaw clenched and his eyes narrowed as he lifted from the bed. "Look at you, Edward." I nearly yelled, removing myself from Bella's tangled body to place myself between her and my brother, staying close to her so as to keep medicating her burn. "You're no better than that teenaged dog. In fact, your worse. At least he's outside trying to maintain his composure. You're in here making a fool of yourself.
"You always disappoint. The second you sound like you might grow up, you revert back to acting like the seventeen year old you're stuck inside." My fangs dropped further, seeing Edward's hands tighten into fists. My vision narrowed till all I saw was Edward's strained form, the rest of the room darkened as my instincts began a hunt that I had to fight against. I closed my eyes, willing away the anger, hoping that I could make it go away before I left Bella's side to kill him. I breathed in deeply, trying to replenish my senses with Bella's sweet scent instead of the testosterone secreting from his quivering body, his own anger barely under wraps. I held my breath for a moment longer, keeping my ears focused on him. My eyes were still closed, and if he should attack I would have to rely on my other senses to prepare myself.
What felt like minutes went by before Jasper's emotional blocks made their way to us. I could feel the vibes of calm before he made his way into the room, his footsteps falling between the hateful cloud of space Edward and I had formed.
I breathed out heavily, opening my eyes as Edward took a step away from me, his fists still held at his sides. "I'm trying to understand Alice, I'm sorry." He spoke quickly and softly, his eyes blacker than the sky behind him. "I need to hunt before she wakes up. Excuse me. I'm sorry." He rushed from the room, barely grazing Jazz's shoulder.
Jasper looked down to the ground before exhaling his own held breath. His hand went to rub his neck before looking to me with a small, sad smirk. "I'm trying to sort him out, but he's making it mighty difficult." I looked at his bright gold eyes, nodding in thanks before relaxing back onto the pillows of the bed. Bella hadn't moved a single muscle, and I was thankful that she was not aware of the encounter. She really wouldn't have liked it that we were fighting. Guilt shot through me again. It was starting to get old.
"I'm tired of you feeling like that, Alice. You know whatever you feel I feel, too. So stop beating yourself up for both of us."
Jasper sat down on the opposite side of Bella before Carlisle reappeared carrying a small medical bag. He looked between the two of us and calmly stepped into the room. "I'm going to try taking a sample. Those scratches look like they might not have been from Victoria and I would like to see if there are any anomalies In her blood. If the girl-"
"The monster?" I interjected, glaring at the human reference. She was not an innocent in this.
Carlisle sighed at my remark, sitting beside Jasper before taking out a needle from his case. He ignored me, removing the plastic before settling the end of the needle beside a wound on her arm. "I'd like to see if we need to expect anything out of the ordinary when she wakes up."
He pressed the needle down, but instead of going into the skin it quickly snapped. His hand stilled for a moment before he took out another larger needle, repeating the process. "Hmm..." Placing the broken needles in his bag, he brought out a cotton swab and dabbed it at the wound, getting what little blood had not coagulated. "I guess this will have to do. She's even further in the transformation than I expected." He frowned worriedly, placing the swab in a small zip-lock and standing again. "I might not have a chance to run a thorough test. I'm going to look at it underneath a microscope. I'll be back in a moment."
As he left, Jasper and I both studied Bella carefully. Her hair had subtly changed in color, a deeper shade of mahogany that was very much like Esme's. The waves seemed to be smoother, but not so different that a human eye could detect the difference. Her skin was also much like my own, though she had been quite pale before.
"She wasn't ready for this." I spoke softly, mostly to myself. Jasper just looked at me, knowing that I didn't want him to manipulate my emotions to calm me. I sat up straighter, adjusting myself so I could look down at her with a more careful eye. "She didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to her family. Her friends."
We waited quietly for Carlisle to return, the seconds feeling like hours even to my immortal mind. I knew I needed to hunt by the burn in my throat, despite the bloated feeling I had before the battle began, but I couldn't move. I would be here until she awoke, and I could only hope that everything would work itself out. In a surprising move of chivalry, Jasper took Bella's free hand and held it in his own. We didn't move or say a word after that, not until we heard Bella's last heartbeat.