- WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' COVEN! CONTEST
- TITLE: Hush Little Baby
- PEN NAME: Lifelesslyndsey
- PAIRING: PeterxBella
- SUMMARY: Fragments of Her broken heart, trite as it sounded, were proverbially lodged in their ancient wood. Part of Her lived in these woods, part of Her died in these woods. He followed the pieces and found her.
- DISCLAIMER: I own nothing. The whole world belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I just like to abuse her characters, manipulating and twisting them to my own morbid pleasure.
Rated M for Language, Lemons, and Violence.
A/N This was written for the We Don't Need No Stinken' Coven Contest being held by the Lambs over at alsltwilight(dot)blogspot(dot)com, so you have them to thank!
I should also give credit to the obscene amount of lyrics from Cute is What We Aim for in this story.
And many, many thanks to Spirare, who kept me going and helped me along the way with many midnight words of encouragement!
Hush Little Baby
She does not speak, the broken girl.
She couldn't speak, wouldn't speak, hadn't spoken in months. Sometimes She screamed late at night when the world slept. She couldn't sleep - not through Her screaming and not through the dreams and the wishful bleeding. She couldn't sleep when She screamed. She had separated Herself into pieces because She couldn't watch the falling. Because She was falling apart.
Her daddy worried. He was a good man, a good friend, a good dad. But he worried. He didn't know. He didn't know what happened, didn't know what to do. Didn't know what tomorrow would bring, save for his baby girl's constant silence and maybe the screaming. Oh, God, the screaming. He didn't know. He was falling apart.
But the days crept by them, one by one by one, never touching the old, white house with the yellow shutters that held the girl who never spoke but sometimes screamed.
February brought with it such a strange rush of warm wind and a fog so thick the world was lost to it. She still couldn't speak, wouldn't speak, didn't speak. But the tiny blue room at the top of the stairs in the white house with the yellow shutters couldn't hold Her, couldn't contain Her - not Her pain, not Her broken hope, not Her screams. Nothing could contain Her during those strange, warm days in February.
Mist curled around the trees like wisps of smoke, a creeping predator slipping through the thick forest. She knew these woods, had walked these woods, had fallen hopelessly in love in these woods.
Had fallen hopelessly broken in these woods.
She believed they owned a small part of Her soul, something left behind when She was left behind. Fragments of Her broken heart, trite as it sounded, were proverbially lodged in their ancient wood. Part of Her lived in these woods, part of Her died in these woods. The pieces. The parts. She was so damn broken.
The meadow. That meadow, the one with the light and the diamonds and the silence. Such silence. How had Her feet carried Her here? Stumbling, falling, bleeding, broken, they had carried Her here. To collect the broken shards of Her broken heart, perhaps? Perhaps not, She thought, for there were too many, painting a stained glass mosaic trail miles long through these woods. Bleeding, beating, broken shards.
Sun poured in like diamond light and it hurt to look at, hurt to see, hurt to remember the diamond shine. Purple flowers sprouted eagerly through the layer of frost still clinging steadfast to the awakening ground, each one a picture of false hope. The cold would come again, She thought, and sweep them all away. Too soon, too soon. It was too soon to be a flower in this meadow, She thought. She thought...
The fragile crunch of broken ice snaps Her from Her looping thoughts and the glittering shine of diamonds in the diamond sunlight blind Her. It isn't him. It was never him. Never could, never would, never was nor will be. Never. Never. Never. It was like a song in Her head. Never, never, never.
Laurent. It was a word She didn't speak but it was spoken in the silence. Spoken in the surprise on Her face. On his face. A word from the past that ripped out another shard of Her bleeding ,beating, broken heart and slammed it into the trees. Another shard for the trail of bleeding, beating, broken shards, She thought.
"Girl," wasn't her name. The thick Creole accent hangs heavy in the air, making that one word - just a word - sound horribly haughty on his tongue. His eyes are red and She shivers. "Where are your vampires now?"
Lie. Lie. Lie to him. They'll be back, She thought, but She couldn't speak, wouldn't speak, hadn't spoken in months. You should wait for them. She couldn't be sure who She was lying to - him or her or both. Both. Probably both.
"Why is it," he pauses, flashing through the sunlight so his breath can play across Her neck as he speaks against her skin. So close, he was so close, "that they left their precious pet behind? I cannot smell them on you, girl, nor at the house."
'They left you' was all She heard and She lied, She lied, She lied.
They will be back, She lied silently, but the words were written on Her face - defiant, etched in the lines and shadows. Lies skin deep, bone deep, blood deep. Lies, lies, lies.
"Mmhm. Perhaps they will return. One can only hope. But what will they find?" He sneers, skimming his nose across Her jaw. "Victoria won't be happy. Then again, she's quite unhappy regardless. You see, she sent me here to find you. But now that I have, I find myself unwilling to relinquish you. Dead is dead, right? Why should it matter who kills you? And from my hand, yours will be a merciful death."
Longing crept up inside Her, a desperate inward chant of please, please, please. She could die in these woods. You never knew what was out here. She could die in these woods and no one would hear Her screams. Would She scream? She didn't think so. She could die in these woods. She could.
Laurent made to sneer again but his calm, French tone was cut short by a choir of reverberating growls ripping through the mist. From the fog emerged The Wolves, brown-eyed and blinking, their mouths drawn up in snarls, revealing teeth like white, wet razors. And She knew. She knew without thinking that these were the things of legend and myth. Vampires. Werewolves. She didn't belong, never belonged, wouldn't, shouldn't, couldn't belong. Fairy tales never ended in tragedy but hers already had. She ran, ran from the truth. From the lies. Ran stumbling, falling, bleeding, broken from the meadow and from the myths. She ran.
Cutting a path through the ferns and underbrush, she made her way through the woods again. Between the trees and the shards of broken heart and the mist, she just kept running. Running, stumbling, falling, bleeding, broken when she hit the ground, and when she hit the ground she hit the ground so hard.
The mist invaded her, inside and out, choking her up as she stumbled once more. Her feet wouldn't move, couldn't move, didn't move on the white porch of the white house with a white door.
With a white door that was open…
He's come to the end of the string that pulls him.
The hot stretch of barren, brown wasteland could not contain Him. Texas was too small. He had to get out, past the proverbial walls that trapped Him, past the reminders of what was and of what could have been. What would never be, never be again.
Ever the solitary creature, a carnivore, He hunted down his prey with abandon. He was no gypsy, flitting from town to town like most nomads, but He no longer had a home to call a home because she had taken that when the screen door had slammed.
Something pulled at Him like a fishhook to the navel, pulling him along with a tug, tug, tug. His Sire's Call. He traveled with the wind, like the wind, in a rental car that smelled of sweat and sex and Las Vegas-style sin. Gin and hookers, He thought, latex and blood. Tangible evidence of mortal errors. Trivial things, these sins, He thought. Trivial things, these sins. What is the threat of Hell to the already damned, the undead and undying? Trivial things, these sins. But they seemed to hurt no less, no matter the circumstances of life or death. They hurt.
He loved very little, but He loved the feel of a rumbling engine, the purr of a good car racing down to nowhere fast, fast, and faster still. No good nomad - no proper nomad - would rather ride than walk, but He wasn't a good nomad. No good nomad would crave companionship. No good nomad needed a hand to hold. No, He was no good at this or that or the whole damn thing.
Wasn't good enough, she had said as she raced away, leaving him with one last rush of wind that smelled like sweet peas, sunshine, blonde hair, and southern belle. She vanished from His life with nothing more than a slam of a screen door. She raced out, and He raced out along the highway, counting the serrated white stripes flashing past Him against the shining black asphalt stretch. He raced away when she raced away, each turn of the tire taking Him further from the only thing He ever knew. But Texas was too small for Him and could not contain His pain.
His Sire's Call burned, carrying Him further, carrying Him north and then northwest to the cold Pacific coast. Cold wind-swept stretches of white sand beaches, choppy blue waters glittering with cloud-filtered sunlight. The Pacific Ocean was as blue as the eyes He once had had and He was struck by the strange need to sink Himself within it, to stay beneath the surface and rot away unknown and unfound until the world was something else and He could start anew. But He did not, stepping back from the cliff where He did not belong.
His fingers traced the buttons on his cell phone again. He could call His brother, He could. He wouldn't, but He could. He couldn't say what had carried Him west in the first place, for Jasper wasn't here. Was He so pathetic a vampire that even the most basic of instincts seemed to fail Him? Had his Sire's Call failed Him? It would seem so, He thought, for Jasper wasn't here. But He was and He was alone still. Alone again. But the hope of a name and a place, a friendly face, was too much to ignore. Another vampire. Any vampire. He knew there were nomads here, He could smell them. Anyone to fill the void of silence. Oh God, the silence...
He knew this house was empty, abandoned. Abandoned seemed to be a trend with Him - and this house - and they were both alone. But He opened the white door to the white house nonetheless and stood in the pristine living room, dust motes erupting in clouds from the carpet with every step He took. The house was empty, void of anything but chic grey walls and a lone piano. Why was He here? No one was here, no one. What had brought Him here but the wind and a whisper? He couldn't tell you. He was drawn, he was drawn here. The pull, the push, He was drawn here on a string. He had thought it was Jasper - the pull of his Sire - but it was not. And if it was, he wasn't here. He hadn't seen his brother in years, not since They had lived in Denali.
What had He come for?
A thump, thump, thump broke his thoughts and a huh, huh, huh breathed in, breathed out. Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out. Thumpthumpthump. He could smell the adrenaline, the rising tide of panic like a pulse. It was a pulse. Thumpthumpthump.
Wet and hot and hard and thumpthumpthump. The heart beat faster, faster than the puff, puff, puff of each breath in and each breath out. The heart beat faster on the front porch, and there He found a girl. He wasn't thirsty, wasn't famished, wasn't even peckish - but the scent, a scent, her scent curled with the mist, twisting and turning, creeping up the steps, a mouthwatering aroma warm on His tongue after just a breath. The venom pooled. It always pooled. The human on the front porch gasped, eyes cast upward through a curtain of lashes.
"Do you know what I am?" Not who, but what. He was a 'what', wasn't he? He asked because He had to ask, for she lay there where she had fallen, smelling of wolf and man and vampire, and just a little venom from a bite mark she wore on her wrist like a badge or a beacon, silver against her pale, bruised, and molten skin. A brown-eyed girl, so pale. He wondered if when she bled, she would bleed white. And she'll bleed… He had no doubt of that.
And she lay there, smelling of all sorts of monsters, with the bite and the blood and the beating heart, and He wondered just who she was. She's no Indian, no Wolf-bred girl. She didn't come from the tribe knowing the legends, knowing the tales. She didn't come from the reservation.
Her eyes darted to the mark where her thumb traced circles and she nodded. She didn't speak, wouldn't speak, couldn't speak. He didn't know. She trembled as she pushed herself to her knees before Him, a tangle of brown, matted, and ratty curls falling around her face. She looked wild and wide-eyed and broken, broken, broken as she kneeled before Him in defeat. She knows, she knows, she knows, he thought.
He can see the pulse beat against her throat and He found himself wanting that. Wanting, wanting, wanting. Wanting to sink into that sweet buttercream flesh and feel the rush of blood, warmer than sin, coat His throat as she screams at last. He wants her to scream, wants to hear that voice at last. He wants to hear her plead and beg and say something, anything, something. But his wants don't end there, he thinks with horror, because his body sings for her - straining, pulling, pushing, wanting, needing, needing, needing. He is hard and he is aching and he is wanting, needing, taking. He is taking.
Her neck becomes a chalice with which she unknowingly, unwillingly, unabashedly offers herself, kneeling in defeat. And the scent and the pulse and the heat He can feel beneath his palm when He grabs her hand and pulls her up against Him. Her heart beats faster now against His chest – thumpthumpthump - and for a moment He pretends that it is not hers but His which beats so steadily beneath the skin. But it isn't, and neither is the fear she's feeling now, tasting bitter in the air and tainting the silky sweet aroma that is her. This silent girl.
Her chin is raised. Just who does she think she is? This girl, this little girl who lies with dogs and vampires and bears the marks and lives and breaths to tell this tale but never seems to speak.
He is going to kill her, drain her of every ounce of blood in her body - every drop, drop, drop of blood that smells sweeter than blood ought to smell. She knows. She knows. She shakes because she knows and she strains in His arms because she knows. He is going to kill her, leave her body dry and empty. He thinks she's empty anyway. It's empty behind her eyes - besides the broken, broken, broken heart - it's empty, empty, empty. He's dizzy, crazy, dizzy with lust - blood and body – dizzy with the scent and the pulse and the heat. He's dizzy, crazy, dizzy.
He's hasty and she's crying. No words, no sounds, but there is shaking and tears and silent sobs, and His teeth part her flesh like scissors to silk. Thumpthumpthump. She struggles and He sucks, his eyes wide as He is filled with her, filled with her and more. So much more. She's what He's come for, the other end of the string that pushed and pulled until He found Himself standing on the white porch of the white house with the wide-eyed, white girl. And her blood pours freely, slipping past His lips, down His chin, down her chest – down, down, down. And it's enough. He stops - He has to. He stops and licks the spot where her skin gave beneath His mouth, beneath his teeth. Her brown eyes are wider now, welled with tears, and she hurts because He hurt her. He hurt her and it hurts Him.
Her bottom lip trembles, suddenly caught between her teeth. Between her teeth and then His teeth. He kisses her. She lets him. He kisses her because she lets him. She gasps - from the pain or from the surprise, He could not say, He would not say, He does not say. Because He's kissing her as the fire consumes - burning, burning, burning her away, and He wonders just what has He done as she falls limp in His arms. What has He done?
And she kisses with eyes wide open.
When she woke, it was with all feline grace that she pounced.
The world moved in slow motion, as it often can to a vampire. I watched the perfect arch of her back as she sprang from a crouch, muscles flexing, undulating beneath shining skin, and I was pinned beneath ninety-something pounds of newborn vampire, snarling, hissing, growling, newborn baby vampire. She is fucking beautiful.
She is aware - more lucid than a baby should be. Snapping back, she stands, eyeing me with distaste, and even beneath her excruciating hatred I can feel myself grow hard in her presence - alone, aching, straining, needing, wanting, I am a starving man before a feast. She is so fucking beautiful. She's growling still, as if she doesn't know, or can't hear or feel, the rumbles ripping from her newly formed chest.
"I'm Peter." I offer up a name like an olive branch and pray she doesn't try to kill me. It has been a long time since I've dealt with babies like her and already I'm thinking I've never seen a baby quite like her. She knew, and the knowledge gives her power as she stands there before me, as if she isn't crazy with thirst. But her throat works and rolls, and I know she is. She can't lie to me, even if she won't speak. Still won't speak.
Then her mouth falls open and I am eager for an answer - for the voice - but her jaw snaps shut without a word. Speak, damn it, speak. Nothing.
She bites her lip, a wink of a wrinkle forming between her eyes as she thinks. I want to smooth it away, just a brush of my thumb, but I don't. She's curious, so curious. She's curious as she comes to stand by me, taking my wrist in her hand just a little too hard. But I am a man and I will not wince. Why, she traces into my palm. This touch, this time, is softer than a feather's tip but I feel it sink though my skin anyway.
"We were alone." It is a strange answer to a strange question but it suits our needs. She understands. "Now we are not."
Coven, she traces, just a little more firmly. And I wonder, I wonder, how it is she came to know the things she seems to know.
"No Coven," I confirm with a short, awkward nod. I am awkward in her presence as I watch her face relax, her mouth forming the silent words No Coven with obvious relief.
Her fingers falter as she traces another word into my skin. Nomad. It is a question cupped in my palm like one might cup a raindrop.
The next question, word, question she traces hurts. Hurts like the sound of a slamming screen door. Not pain at her fingertips but pain inside, burning trails in my beatless heart.
"No mate. Not anymore. No, no mate," I choke out, closing my eyes as her fingertip moves again, slowly and in cursive this time, against my palm.
And suddenly she is on me - or near enough that she seems to be crawling up inside me, touching me, touching me, touching my mouth with fingertips smoother than satin but stronger then steel. She traces my scars like they aren't gruesome battle marks, testaments to my prowess, but something pretty, something to worship, and I want to cringe beneath her touch because they are ugly. But I do not. I do not move. I do not move when she is on her toes, pressing her chest against mine, her mouth against mine. Kissing me with her eyes open because she doesn't realize that they are open and her mind still wants to catalog everything, even this - the press of lips and teeth and tongue. I do not move, but my arms do, crushing her against me, hard mouths moving in tandem - back and forth, a push and pull of tongue and teeth and duel growls. We are sharing breath we do not need, tasting each other as we move. The absence of her heart beat is a balm to me. She's mine now. Mine, mine, mine.
We pull apart with a snap, bodies still wrapped around each other as if we are sand and might slip between the fingers. We are kissing strangers, strangers kissing - but it doesn't seem to matter. I don't know what to say, so I say what I would to any baby.
"You need to feed."
But the baby in my arms - my baby - isn't like the rest. She growls, tearing herself free from me, and she is fast and flying out the door and I can't fight the rising tide of panic that she will massacre this small, rural town without so much as a blink of an eye.
I chase her into the woods and pray to a God who doesn't listen to the soulless that there will be no early hunters, for predator will turn into prey when the vampires are about. And we are about in growing numbers, it seems, in this small, seaside town.
Fear bolts through me when I realize that she is hunting now even as I think. Crouching, springing, pouncing, she is beautiful - a wild, feral cat crouched to jump - but I cannot find the scent of the human that has captured her senses. No time to wait. I cannot wait until the ignorant prey stumbles further into this trap, so I pounce and pin like the good soldier that I am, pressing her belly down into the dirt. I am still hard, achingly hard, and the struggle not to grind myself against her as she writhes beneath me is almost, almost, almost too much. But I am strong, though I am struggling, and she's grinding enough for the both of us.
You can't make me.
The words are an echo in my head, in a voice I have never heard, and for a moment I am sure that I have never heard it - not even now as I hear it. But I can't be sure, not when she is twisting and fighting and throwing me off like nothing I have ever seen before. She slips from my grip and I hear the voice again, like church bells in my mind.
You won't make me.
And she is gone again, sprinting like a nymph through the woods, leaves caught in her hair as she leaps from tree to tree, a victorious growl ripping through her throat. And still I am horrified to find myself hard and aching, straining against my jeans, because she is beautiful and feral, and mine, mine, mine. My deadly baby.
She is crouched again, ready to strike, in the sunlight of a meadow I have never seen before. It smells of wolves and dead vampire and I do not want to be here. I do not want to stay, but I cannot catch her and the panic rises. So it came as a surprise that on the other end of her crouch and pounce is a doe. A doe-eyed doe, bleating feebly as my baby sinks her teeth through the rough, golden pelt. I watch in morbid fascination as she bleeds the creature dry, and I think for the second time today that maybe I'll call Jasper after all.
The Music Burns A Broken Melody
She is beautiful when she is angry, and I find in the small space of time we have spent together that she is often angry. I don't know her name, don't know what to call her, but I call her mine. Baby mine. We are in the white house with the chic grey walls. We are squatters, and she is staring at the piano - the only thing left behind, abandoned. And she is angry, a fire burning behind her eyes brighter than the sun that sets our skin to sparkling.
Long, thin fingers tap against the keys, playing a mangled melody that is more a death march than the lullaby it should be. And the notes crunch, they slam together, and suddenly the keys are clenched beneath her fingers, the cool white ceramic threatening to shatter in her palms. She is angry and I do not know why, for I do not know my baby - save that she is mine.
"What's wrong?" I ask, grabbing her wrist, but she rips free of me, biting her lip so hard it bleeds thick, black droplets of newborn blood that hiss against the silver venom pooling in her mouth. "What's wrong?" I repeat. I all but beg, for I am a man - but a weak man right now, like any man who has found himself in the presence of a woman so obviously scorned.
Her mouth opens and her eyes clench shut, and I anticipate what she might say - that she might say it out loud and to me. But what comes forth from her mouth is not words or sobs or even whispers, but a scream so fierce I cringe beneath the weight of it, the heat of it, like warm wind against my skin - a blood curdling, glass shattering banshee scream that seems to shake the ground beneath us. I watch in abject horror as the piano bursts slowly into flames as she taps the keys to the mangled melody. The music burns, leaving nothing but ashes in its place. And she is still screaming when I clamp my hand over her perfect mouth and the ashes fall to a pile as the flames die out. I am terrified of this thing I have created, of a baby I can't handle. But she is shaking again with silent sobs, and I cannot forget that she is only a girl, just a girl, a baby. My baby.
"Shhhhh." It's a whisper in her ear as I pull her back against me. "Shhhhh."
Don't leave me.
"I'd never leave you."
She says it like a whisper brushed against the fibers of my mind and I find myself grateful that she couldn't speak, wouldn't speak, doesn't speak because the screaming - oh, God, the screaming! I am terrified.
We reach a steady understanding as she presses her body against mine, clinging to me like a lost child. "What's your name?" I ask, brushing hair from her face, the pads of my thumb tracing lines beneath her eyes. The shadows of her lashes creep across her cheeks like the legs of a spider, dark lines marring her pale skin.
Don't remember. Doesn't matter. I've been dead a while.
I nod solemnly, tucking her head under my chin, relieved by the way our bodies snap together like pieces of a puzzle - lost pieces, abandoned and useless on their own. We were in need. Our reasons were vague questions unanswered. I felt no need to explain my past as she felt no need to remember hers. We were two clean slates come together, both nothing and everything all at once. There were no expectations past the mutual understanding that there was no longer a She or an I. Only an Us. We would not leave.
She spun in my arms, the press of her body against me raising warm tides of rushing want within me. I was still hard, still aching, still wanting, needing, wanting. Her mouth on mine was a sin against God, the heat of it too hot to comprehend as she struggled to consume me and I struggled to let her. The hard press of hands stripped me bare, tearing away at my clothes, and I fought with myself to keep my hands steady as I carefully peeled away the layers of shirt and shoes and everything else that kept me from the expanse of shining white skin beneath them.
She was cream and roses, lips like petals, skin like silk. Her finger walked trails across my scars, mapping out the world of my body step by step and scar by scar. Her mouth was kissing them, licking them, nipping and biting, until each one was owned by her alone. I stole her mouth in exploration, claiming land like a mad man as my hands slipped down her curved body, high with the feeling, the culmination of longing and desire. She burned beneath me, if only in my mind - cold skin against cold skin and unyielding lips.
As she was with everything else, she was fierce and fiery, curiosity piquing in growls and groans. I prayed somewhat morbidly that she was silent when she came, but if she wasn't, I wouldn't deny that it would be a good way to go - beneath her, above her, as long as I was inside of her.
She submitted beneath the onslaught of my mouth. My fingertips walked her body - like roads wrapped around her waist, they lead me from place to place. I took trips from hip to hip. In fact, I'd make a career out of it. She's tainted, I'm shaking. It's always a matter of time. Tides changing. I'm waiting. She and I are one of a kind. I still can't pick my favorite place to kiss or lick, but the contour of her lips match the flavor of her hips, and I just love the way she tastes. She's got the curse of curves. I'm cursed, she's cursed.
I've got her growls in my ear and the Devil on my shoulder. Her fingertips are moving faster than these lips, and you can only imagine how jealous my mouth is. We were vertical, and then we were not. Falling horizontal on the harsh, unforgiving floor, I seized her body beneath mine and slid home with a growl through the wetness and the heat. She was tight, painfully so, and I realized a moment too late that I had taken the virginity of a vampire. But she would not be subdued, would not be contained. She wrapped her legs around me, slamming me into her with a ripped out purr.
The aching, wanting, needing grew in my belly as I rode out the waves, rocking against her, fingers biting into the swell of her hips. She was beautiful, this was beautiful - all teeth and tongue and torn skin. This was a war all on its own. A war of roses and cream and silk skin shining in the sunlight. I kissed her where I could, too caught up in the pleasure, pain, pleasure of her body beneath mine, tearing me into two even as I fucked her.
Her eyes were closed, hiding red secrets behind the lavender lids, lashes outstretched dark against her face. I kissed them both as I crawled up inside her, letting my forehead drop to her shoulder when it was all too much, much too much. She rolled her hips, setting a pace I had to face, and I lost myself with it, to it, in it, and I was swimming in a sea of sex and Baby - wanting, needing, wanting - as she swallowed me whole. The clench of her body robbed me of my own climax as we came hard, coming together, coming into our own, and I died in that instant - for an instant - inside her because I was inside her and we were one for that moment. Forever in that moment.
Oh, Brother Where Art Though, Thy Beast of Burden?
"Peter?" His voice sounds nothing like it should through the receiver of my cell phone, and the loss of Southern twang never ceased to amaze me. Mine had held fast and true through the years, but domesticity has killed the good Texan in him. Yet it was his voice, gruff and indiscernible, and I'd know it anywhere - even through the grain of a BlackBerry Pearl. "Peter, is that you?"
"Jasper." His name is a benediction on my tongue, a gospel word. In a way, though he is my brother, he is my God, too. "Oh, God, Jasper. I'm in trouble."
He wastes no time on silence, though he has always been a man of few words. "What happened?"
I pause through the grinding of my teeth before choking out the next words because I know - oh, I know - what he won't say when he says what he will say. "Baby."
"Peter..." His words drip with disappointment and I can hear the 'How could you?' clear as day. It is a pity I cannot answer his silent question with a silent question of my own. 'How could I not?'
"Alaska," was his parting word, leaving me with nothing but the drone of the disconnection tone.
I wasted no time leaving Forks in the dust behind us. Should we have lingered any longer, I had no doubt the wolves would descend. She smelled of them still, of teenage boy and wolf and sweat, and the notion did not cease to disturb me on levels unknown, ideas I refused to entertain. She knew them, knew them as people knew people, like friends or family. And I had taken her. I had no wish to incur the wrath of teenage boys with vendettas and vengeance and furry little anger management issues. I fled, baby in tow. Would that there have been a goodbye for her to her home and hearth, but she didn't seem sad to see it go.
If I had hoped - and I had hoped - that her first kill was merely a coincidence of circumstance, I was sadly disappointed. I fed from the blood of man with neither guilt nor pleasure. It was feeding, no more no less. But I would not deny myself the quenching of a thirst that could only be found in the heated blood of humans. I would not deny myself my very nature. But my very nature, as it would seem, could not be impressed upon my Baby. And feed from the blood of secondary creatures she did, and she did so without qualm. It had been a crossroads of sorts, but we went our own ways, neither passing judgment upon the other.
Denali was a wasteland of white, as I had remembered it so many years before. She sat beside me in the car, dressed in the filthy rags I had found her in. "My brother lives here."
Denali. She blinked, looking back at me with wide, blood red eyes. This is your brother's coven?
"You've been here?" I ask, startled by her thoughts.
I don't know. I don't think so...
"Wait here," I instruct her, though my hesitance is written in every tense inch of my body as I knock on the door.
Jasper meets me with his small wife beside him, a look that cannot be mistaken for anything but confusion marring her fairy face. "She's in the car."
"Where is your wife, Peter?" Alice chimed gently, breathing in the Charlotte-less air and laying a small hand on my forearm. Her golden eyes are wide with worry. Jasper needs no words to convey the same as he looks upon me with knowing pity.
"Bring her in," Jasper instructs. "The family is waiting."
I hesitate again, knowing he would know what I mean to say even before I say it. "I'm not sure that is wise. She's very young. Two days. And gifted."
His face is grim as he nods. "I've said as much, but they don't...trust my decision. They are..." He sighs. "They are less than impressed with me as of late. I must respect their decision as my family. You understand?"
"I do." The stiff pause hangs in the air like a chasm of truth. They don't trust him in this, an area in which his expertise is unchallenged. Oh, the things my brother endures to live the life of wife and home. Their faith in him is failing and I grieve for him. He...we were the monsters they themselves deny, but neither Jasper nor I can escape our past. We were once Wrath and Fury - blood sucking, soulless beasts of burden, killing maidens and children without the blink of an eye. Jasper endures, and even still he cannot escape it. I grieve for my Maker. I grieve.
"It isn't like that. Just...bring her," he murmurs, stepping back into the house.
Baby hides behind the curtain of her long, darkened hair as I lead her up the stone path. She is skittish, breathing in the scent of innumerable vampires, the multitude of two large covens merging in the air. I can smell Eleazar and Carmen and at least one of the daughters. This is folly and I can say nothing.
There are many.
"Friends," I assure her. "They will not hurt you."
Too many. The thought is a murmur, a frightened whisper.
"I'm here. They can't hurt you."
Hush, Little Baby. Don't Say a Word.
"Bella?" Alice chirps, peeking behind the frozen, hulking body of her husband. She steps out from his shadow, dancing lightly forward, eyes as wide as windows, as she repeats the questioned name. "Bella?"
Baby presses her face into my chest as she speaks her silent whisper.
I don't know them. I don't remember them.
"But they know you," I say gently, carding shaking fingers through the length of her hair. "They know you, Baby."
"Bella." His voice cuts through the room like a cord snapping, but I was not and would not be intimidated by this petty, spoiled child. "Not Baby."
And again the world spins in slow motion - every rustle of fabric, every twitch of a finger, every single thing moves slowly but without pause as pandemonium breaks out in another pristine living room with chic grey walls. What begins as a hiss erupts into a roaring, furious growl as Baby spins from my arms like a cyclone, tearing away with all the force and power I had long since lost. An arm - Jasper's arm - catches her at the waist as I leap forward, struggling to pin her scratching, clawing, hissing, spitting form.
She is vengeance personified, no trace of Baby visible, and I wonder - for I have to wonder - if this is the man, boy, man who had left her so broken and empty and knowing too much, and smelling of wolf in the wood where anything could happen and no one would hear you scream. If you screamed. And she didn't, not even as I bit into her perfect, flawless skin. Not even as I drained her. Her body had begged for it. She had begged for it, Edward.
"No!" The boy growls, lunging forward. But my baby is too fast, much too fast - even for the Mind Reader.
I remember you. I remember you. I remember you, she chants internally, and I couldn't be sure they heard it. But I heard it. Fingers slip among the myriad of clinging, panicked vampires and just a hand escapes us. Claws rip strips of flesh from Edward's face in a strike faster than lightning. She spits at him a mouth full of silver, stinging venom and it splashes against his skin, scarring the perfect marble of his face. He groans, stumbling backwards, as both Jasper and I fight to control her, fight to contain her. I slap my palm over her mouth as her lips fall open, a sure-fire scream on her tongue.
"No!" I roar, digging my fingers into her hair and yanking her back against me by the crown of her head. Edward grunts indignantly, glaring at my mistreatment of something that was most certainly not his.
"Let her speak," He says, glaring defiantly, but the heat of his anger cannot compare to my baby's, and I can only smile grimly.
I sneer, my hand still clamped over her mouth, and I twist her wrist behind her back. Only Jasper knows how terrified I really am. And maybe Edward realized as I thought back to the piano - a burning pyre of sad melody. "You don't want her to do that."
And the boy is silent, save for the sad slip of "Bella..." falling from his lips.
"Hush, little baby," I whisper, holding her form as she melts against me. "Don't say a word."
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