Title: Beyond the Quiet Room
Rating: Mature for language and a bit of violence
Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to someone not me.
AN: This was my contribution for this year's Fandom4LLS. I was so honored to participate, but nervous about the outcome. It's been quite a while since I played with these characters. Don't forget to push the button and let me know what you think! Also, PM me for info on my original work.
"I already told you the area is unoccupied." The boy's tone was sullen, bored, and inspired a sudden need for violence. But I had my orders: sit and observe. They might pass over us all together. If Emmett hadn't been so damn impatient, I wouldn't be flitting around branches like an overgrown tweety bird.
Mocking bird. I could hear Pumpkin correct just on the edge of my consciousness. I flipped my favorite bird in her general direction, hoping the image accompanied the gesture.
Nope, but it's the thought that counts after all. Suddenly I could see her sitting in Jasper's lap, laughing as she whispered in his ear. Then she flipped me the double bird. Jasper's hand, which had been securely nestled in Pumpkin's cleavage, joined her for the win a second before he latched onto her neck; the thought and corresponding image was thankfully cut off. Nobody needs to see all of that shit. It's bad enough to hear it all the time, especially with the Great and Powerful Emo broadcasting his lovey-dovey, horny cocktail to anything living in our little compound as Puddin' calls it. The first addition was Garrett's and Kate's place; the next was my little love nest. And thank fuck for the extra walls. Without them, we'd have driven each other made years ago.
You know you like it.
"Son-" Carlisle began, withholding a longsuffering sigh with his classic iron will. Of course, his patented patient I-know-better-than-you is patronizing as hell, but in this one case, it's well deserved. "Emmett and Rosalie's scent is still fresh. They should be within your range."
"Carlisle, they've never blocked me successfully." Like hell they haven't. "They could have spread their scent more thoroughly through less dignified ways." Says the virgin. I'm surprised he can't hear my eyes rolling, but I'm thankful as well. No one needs a self-righteous centurion digging around in their minds.
More than that, I don't think she's ready for visitors yet. Emmett and Rosalie are extending family; they don't count. No one knows how she'll react. Her shield suddenly felt tangible, stretching thin across my face like a taut piece of cellophane, clinging and gripping. Luckily I don't need to breathe. Either Jasper has her pledging her allegiance to his flag again or she's threatening me. As soon as I pump out the remorse, the pressure bleeds away and I know it was the latter. I can't help but feel protective of our little String Bean; we all do.
I don't think she's ready for the confrontation whining toward our own little piece of paradise. Then again, she's surprised us before.
"I still crush my prey before I can drain them! I'm tired of digging fur and flesh clumps out of my nails and hair! You can't possibly enjoy taking care of me all of the time! I need to learn control and I need to understand my gift."
"Darlin', I told you I'd-"
"You'll do what? Wrap me in bubble wrap and put me in storage anytime danger glances our way?"
Jasper crosses his arms in that unmovable stance and I stifle the urge to remind him she's out of her newborn stage, but only just. His mate tenses, dipping into a crouch before straightening up real quick like. The flash of fear and guilt cracks through the room. Before the rest of us have the chance to recover, she's burrowing into his side, nuzzling the back of his folded arm and offering her apologies. Instinct is a bitch. He knows it's not her fault, but it hurts all the same. Still he only holds out for as long as it takes her to weasel her way into his arms. The tension bleeds out as quickly as it came and he shares a bit of peace−on purpose this time−in apology.
"Char and Kate said they'd help me." And just like that the peace is gone and his face is stone once more. I shoot a quick look at my mate and she leaves the room. We'd be discussing this later for damn sure. She knows how Jasper feels about Pumpkin focusing on her gifts; it brings with it reminders of a time in a hot, dry, hellish place better left buried. To grow a gift−to even test its limits in some cases−is usually painful and potentially traumatic. The females of the coven mean well, but no one should come between a newly mated pair. And no one who valued their lives or their balls should challenge Jasper's would as head of our coven. Instincts and all…
"Charlotte will only help if the Major agrees," I said as quickly and matter-of-factly as possible. "We're going to eat; you two hash this out and let us know the damage." I nod to the Major, assuring him this will most emphatically not happen again and hightail it out of the hit zone while all of my essential bits are still attached.
I pass Char sitting by the lake but don't waste words. She knows she's wrong and she'll follow until I stop. Pulling my cell from my pocket, I shoot Garrett a quick heads up.
Control your woman or loss your balls. Stay clear for a day or two.
It only takes a minute for the clipped response. For a Revolutionary, he's not a fan of change. Or maybe just technology …Why?
Ask Kate. With that, I pocket my creaking phone before I snap the damn thing in half and take a deep breath. Our little Portabella has brought so much joy, awesomeness, and fuckery in general to our lives. But she catches me by surprise every time she causes some friction−and not only the good kind. Add another newly mated pair of highly independent, slightly unbalanced vampires and here we are.
I remain silent, for once having nothing I wish to say. Oh the words, angry and harmful, are poised to spit, but I'd rather swallow their poison and so much more than to hurt my mate. I turn and face her when she stops two feet behind me, unsure of her welcome. Silly woman. I want to close the distance but this bit of ugliness needs to be dealt with first. So again, I wait.
"She's just worried, alright? She wants to be able to hold her own if it ever comes to that."
Again I wait because that wasn't what needs to be said. Even if Pumpkin doesn't realize the intrinsic lack of faith she's shown in her mate, Char definitely should.
"She knows he's trying to protect her, but a woman needs to know how to fight to." Her head dips lower and I know she's remembering her own brutal attack. The urge to comfort, to concede wells up with the old familiar guilt of I should have been there, but I can't get distracted. Not this time.
Finally her head pops up and she pleads. "I'm sorry, Peter. I just wanted to help. She just wants-"
"Wants? Let's talk about needs. Like the need to keep our heads on our shoulders. Or the need to keep our coven−or family−safe. The old ways are hard for modern females, but you know the reasons and the why. Fighting against nature never works. You only end up dead or wishing it in the end."
"But Kate said−" Her protest is half-assed at best. It feels wrong on her lips even as the words escape, but I'm going to tell her exactly why that is.
"Kate may be the oldest among the females, but our mature bond makes you the mother in the coven. You've never had to worry about training up younguns and such before, but now you've got Isabella and Kate looking to you. Your responsibility is to help them get closer to their mates and strengthen the coven by strengthening these bonds, not grant their every heart's desire like a fucking genie."
My hand shot out and coiled around her neck, dragging her body flush with mine. I ripped the neckline of her shirt away and sunk my teeth into the juncture between her neck and shoulder. Under the sting of my venom, she tensed to give fight or take flight, but then her body went limp in submission and I practically purred.
Fighting has it's time and place, but I damn sure prefer the making up.
I shoot a text to Jasper, detailing their exact trajectory. There were so many scents around the cabin that I doubt any of these pansy-asspires could identify a single one (let alone one so changed in the last thirty years) but it would still draw their attention. Although they missed the territory markings or maybe they just flat out ignored them. Probably couldn't imagine a coven not tickled pink to meet them and hear of their alternative lifestyle like some kind of immortal Jehovah's Witnesses.
Pumpkin could probably tell him more about their motives and ETA, but whether she would or not was always questionable. Either way, Jasper is the head of our coven and I report to him. Something that takes the pressure off of her, and reaffirms our bond of trust and brotherhood.
Pumpkin was almost two by the time Rosalie and Emmett showed up again. They'd checked in a couple of times, but phone calls weren't really newly minted vamp's thing. The big dumb animal was so eager to test her strength against his that he failed to account for how the Major would react to an attack on his mate. It was the first time Isabella's shield physically manifested. If Emmett was surprised as Jasper attacked from beneath a red haze, he was too busy losing parts and venom for anyone to notice. Eventually Pumpkin stepped up behind the Major, comforting him with her presence as well as his gift. When Jasper paused, the shield snapped back and left her stumbling. He spun around to catch his mate, growling and scanning the room for threats as he backed them into the farthest corner available.
"Ouch," she muttered, holding her forehead with one hand as she laid the other against his cheek. Once the growling died down, Pumpkin broke the tense silence very quietly. "For fuck's sake, Emmett! Rose, is he going to make it?"
Taking that as the signal for all clear, Rose hurried across to her husband and mate. He was lying wide-eyed in a growing puddle of venom and fear. "Remind me to smack your head once you've healed. If we were human, you'd just have given me my first gray hair. Idiot." If her voice sounded a little choked and her eyes were a little shiny, no one was dumb enough to point that shit out. She pressed a tight kiss to his pinched mouth and went about sticking limbs and patches of skin back on.
"Newborn or not, looks like she can kick my ass without twitching a finger." Emmett chuckled painfully.
It took three days for Jasper to allow Emmett in the same room with any of the females, and another two before Em's balls dropped enough to speak. Apparently he'd been doing some thinking. "Your shield bubble thing could have protected me, right?"
Sweetart shifted a bit until Jasper rubbed the back of her neck. "Maybe."
"Why didn't you try?"
She blinked at him owlishly before turning to Jasper, confused. "I never even considered it."
"Hey, now. You did good, Babe, real good. No guilt−this one is all on him." Jasper shot him a glare and I doubled down on that shit.
"He is her mate. No matter how much she loves you, why would you ever come before that bond?"
"Ah, man. Fuck, I don't know! You hurting me might have hurt you, or some such shit. Just something about how she acted with Edward…" Emmett stopped the words at the reappearance of a growl. Maybe the Neanderthal is not so dumb after all.
"Shh," Isabella hushed absentmindedly, snuggling right up to a black eyed, growly Jasper. Still made me tense when she did that so effortlessly. "Who's Edward?" Nobody moved. Nobody breathed. It was silent until she huffed. "Well, I'm waiting!"
"Fuck," Jasper cursed and Emmett took off running. I was glad Jasper chased after him. He needed to work off some aggression before this particular talk.
It had never occurred to us to ask what all she remembered from her human life. That info is private and highly personal; frankly, it's a dick question. I knew she remembered too much simply based on comments to Jasper about the dog or the scars−some of which remained even after the burning stopped. She'd raged for days about the unfairness of it all before Jasper finally carried her out to hunt and proceeded to fuck the Diva right out of our burgeoning star.
Apparently, the subject of Doucheward and his coven had never come up. God himself best help the boy if he ever showed his face in these parts 'cause no one else was gonna lift a finger.
And the ignorant SOB just kept getting closer and closer … I checked the screen on my cell for any more orders once I was out of range and still hidden by thick foliage. Following these three was easier than hunting. I mean, occasionally you came across a blood bag with self-preservation instincts coupled with paranoia and a strong will to live.
One new text message: Srsly. Chillax. She's 30. Ur little gurl is all grown up.
Seriously all I want to do now is fuck with Kate until she zaps Garrett for teaching my mate to text like an preteen and then maim Eddy for subjecting me to this convo in the first place. But it reminded me of yet another time Pumpkin shocked the shit out of us. At least some of us …
After a decade and a half (plus a fair share of accidents and one very stupid attack), Jasper agreed to start training Muffin. The only problem was that he couldn't train his mate−not the way he'd train anyone else. Well, he probably wouldn't waste his time training a female out of the newborn stage anyway … but yeah. He physically could not harm her. What's more, he had no desire to even try. No matter how pretty the speeches lobbed at him about 'for her own good' or 'she has the right to learn to defend herself', he just couldn't make himself attack. He couldn't stand by and watch anyone attack her either. That bit of stupid had been Emmett's idea and the resounding roar still made me shiver.
Especially after he said, "What if it's Pete? You trust him more than the rest of us." To his credit, Em tried to hide how much that stung; he just sucked at concealing his feelings as much as using his inside voice.
"No, fuck you very much. Pete has too much to live for," I said, nipping that right in the bud with a good pinch to my mate's mighty fine ass.
Jasper sighed. The fact that he didn't argue meant I was right. I barely had time to gloat before he moved right along. "Char? Do you think you and Kate can teach her the basics? No biting and no attempts to manipulate her gift." Sensing Pumpkin's protest, he pulled her close and tenderly ran his thumb along her pouty bottom lip. "Dropping lip is for children."
"Stop treating me like one then." Jasper laid a quick and dirty kiss on her right then and there, breaking only to whisper things I'm sure no child every heard from a man like him. She practically purred as he whispered lewd promises and I tried not to look too intrigued as one or two piqued my curiosity. I mean, with vampire flexibility and the right leverage, I guess it'd be possible to … Jasper nipped at her earlobe, soothing it with an open mouth kiss before he turned back to face us like the stone-cold bastard his usually is.
"As I was saying, if he gift manifests on its own and it is likely to if pressed, then that's completely different. Just don't push it."
Char looked to me thoughtfully and arched her brow. I could keep him away for a while, but they'd need to make it fast. During the last winter storm, a new pack of wolves were hunting and ventured too close. Isabella still couldn't stomach the sight of a dog much less the sound of howling. Her skin was impervious now, not her mind. Marie happened to flick a handful of newborns toward the cabins while Jasper, Garrett, and I were out hunting. Everyone (but the newborns) was okay, but his switch was flicked into protecto mode and didn't look to budge any time soon.
"Well, Major I guess it's man time. We'll fill up on junk, paint each other's nails, swap frilly lingerie, and you can fill us in on…" I paused and looked at the women who appeared universally unimpressed and then continued more warily, "the logistics of some of your more ambitious plans for the future." There that sounded official and manly and not the least bit pervy.
"Pervy Petey," Pumpkin sang. Damn, well I probably should have paid more attention to what my face was doing. Drooling and leering are usually my tells.
"I know, I know. Hey, I thought we all agreed you couldn't sing anymore?"
"I never agreed!" I held up my hand to amend my previous statement.
"Everyone who is not tone deaf from OD'ing on love and sexing."
"I wasn't singing. So it's a moo point."
"It's neither bovine nor irrelevant, because you were, in fact, singing. Pervy Petey," I sang mockingly. When Jasper stepped in front of her to block her from me, I quickly shut the fuck up. "Seriously. Did no one else hear the off tune taunting?"
Char shook her head, but Kate was looking at Pumpkin like a sadistic little brat who just got a new dolly to torture.
"Looks like something is manifesting alright."
"I must have been mistaken, for I believed the Little One to be a shield …"
"Don't hurt yourself, G-Red," Pumpkin said from somewhere behind her increasingly agitated mate. "I am a shield."
"And Peter is perceptive. Could be coincidence. Cocksucker could've just picked up a stray thought." Jasper sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than anything else.
Two decades later and she could finally exercise some control over the thought pushing. Although that was just our special things. Pumpkin once likened it to a cat rubbing against someone it liked. Fuck if I know what that's supposed to mean, but I took it as our gifts liked each other. Or maybe she felt the bond that had lassoed my stalkpire ass since the first day I saw her in that nut house.
Her shield was now a thing of beauty, flawless and awe-inspiring. Learning to work it had taken a more direct approach than Jasper appreciated, at least in this case.
"Dammit, Kate! If you shock her one more time …" Pumpkin's voice descended to a growl. Judging by Jasper's stillness from where we were decidedly not eavesdropping (because it was our home and we could listen in stealthily to any conversation we damned well pleased), I'd bet her emotions were all growly too. I put my hand around his wrist to remind him of why we're here. Intel. I just hoped this wouldn't turn ugly−especially since we'd left Garrett behind because the fucker could not tell a lie to save his Betty Ross ass. He would not appreciate his mate getting harmed, and they've been members of our coven long enough that I know I'm supposed to actually care.
"Ow!" This time it was Jasper holding me back as I recognized my sweet wifey's voice, and the following cat fight. After a moment though, I realized it was Pumpkin and Kate fighting.
"Oh, stop over reacting," Kate huffed when the clearing went quiet again. "I just buzzed her. Maybe if I tried to drop her, you'd actually protect your sister." Low blow, and Kate knew it. That's exactly why Jasper didn't want them forcing her gift. Training like this could damage bonds as well as vampires. This time I didn't bother holding him back, instead I made a beeline to my mate. I ran my hands up her arms, looking for any damage as Jasper mirrored my actions on the side of the clearing. Kate huffed again. "We're never going to make any progress with you Nanny-pires lurking around. Go get a hobby!"
I forced my attention away from my mate when Cupcake snorted; it sounded as forced as her smile. "Don't think that's such a good idea. Last time that one took up a hobby, you guys ended up with me and all of my drama in your laps. Thanks, but no."
Jasper lifted her chin and whispered, "So worth it," before his lips brushed hers. It'd been a while since our little Kumquat had a bad day; looks like she's due. Kate's shoulders dropped in resignation.
Jasper stepped away from Pumpkin toward me and Char, probably to excuse them from any family funtivities or just to tell us all to piss off. He was just past Kate when I noticed her expression turn speculative. I have to admit, I could've called out a warning but Jasper had already sensed my alarm by now and I really wanted to see her laid out. Just once. A teensy, weensy bit of humility could do her some good.
Before Jasper could turn Kate latched onto his hand and … nothing. Not a damn thing. It took me a few seconds to realize that she was still trying to zap him. Her expression turned increasingly frustrated as he watched her unimpressed. I was so focused on Kate (and her massive fuck-up) and Kate was so focused on bringing down Jasper that Pumpkin's right hook surprised us both. Although I was pleased that only Kate went down holding her newly crooked nose.
"Don't touch him again."
Kate nodded solemnly, but the crazy bitch couldn't help but gloat. "Told you we'd bring your shield out to play. We just needed the right stimuli."
"Try it again and I'll pass around the pain you cause, amplified, until you nor your mate are standing," Jasper added, just in case Isabella's slightly more subtle warning hadn't been enough. Kate nodded once and took off into the surrounding trees to reassure herself that her mate was fine and she was safe here.
"Their scent is comingling with others. Ugh, it's so strong! What did they do? Have a key party?"
"Edward!" Esme gasped, properly outraged at the suggestion of someone enjoying sex. "What Emmett and Rosalie choose to do when they are away from us is no one else's concern."
"What is that supposed to mean, Edward?" Edward not son, I noted. Interesting. Apparently Big Daddy C's patience did not extend to little bastards being sullen and mouthy to the missus. Good to know.
"You know exactly to which I'm referring, Carlisle. They've come home with red eyes tinted with the blood of innocent humans four times in the last several years."
"Who's to say those folks were innocents?" I asked, dropping down from my perch. Not a one of them even crouched. Fuck, did evolution miss something here?
"Ah hello, Peter. It's good to see you after so long. I was not aware you had settled permanently in the area."
"I'll be sure to include it in the next class paper. Of course, reunions are always such a bitch. Maybe I'll not."
"I … I can't hear you." Edward almost growled. I mean, I think that's what the noise was meant to be, but it was so puny and pathetic, I hated to sully the word growl by association. Carlisle decided to ignore both of us, although he was questioning Eddie in his head, I was sure.
"Would my son happen to be around?"
"Jasper." He countered calmly, like he didn't just call my coven leader his boy and remind me of our supposed connection in one word. Manipulative bastard.
Jazz says bring them. But the thought was strangely clipped, the words hesitant. Suddenly I knew she could handle it with the same grace and fucked up, crazy-as-a-moose sense of humor that she weathered most of life's shit storms with.
When we breeched the trees lining our clearing I could see them all line up in front of the main cabin, ready to greet our unexpected visitors. Jasper was in the center, tall and proud, in a slightly relaxed stance that screamed cowboy and just give me a reason to fuck you up simultaneously. Emmett was to the right of Jasper, making it clear where his allegiances were, even if the intruders hadn't yet realized there were lines being draw. The most remarkable thing about him was his lack of smile. No wave of greeting, no rushing forward for hugs, nada.
Rose stood to his right radiating bitch and boredom in a way that was classic Rose, but she was angled slightly behind Em. My beautiful, vicious mate was standing next to Rose, her eyes locked on her prey the moment he entered her territory, still whining about his sudden inability to perform.
"Stop, Carlisle! We can't go closer! I can't hear any of them! How are you doing this?" He growl-whined at me, wrongly assuming I won't put a new hole in his ass and/or head and send him on his merry way to hell.
"Son, I trust your brothers." The growls that followed this statement finally shut Eddie boy up, but Carlisle looked distinctly nonplussed.
That's right, fucker. Learn to communicate like a man. I pushed the thought in his direction while hoping Pumpkin would adjust to let it through. Judging by his gasp, I'd say I got my wish.
"I heard him! Well, there was a jumble, but his crudeness stood out. I don't know how they're blocking me, Carlisle, but I think it's weakening."
"Somehow I doubt that, Edward," Carlisle muttered, carefully examining each expression across from us, all ranging from uninterested to downright hostile. Garret, standing to Jasper's left, was actually shuffling through expressions like a contortionist of the face, which was bizarre and looked crazy as hell. I was instantly jealous of his new talent. He'd look at Carlisle and almost seem regretful. His gaze would slide across Esme like she was invisible. And then he'd look at Edward with such disgust, baring his teeth, that Carlisle turned to see what Edward was doing that could possibly deserve such feelings. But Doucheward had his eyes scrunched and head down, focused on our thoughts instead of our actions. Stupid ass.
Kate stood beside her mate with a distinctly unimpressed look. She didn't like the hostility, but she'd seen the results of the foolish twat's selfishness, so she wasn't going to intervene. Hell, she might even drop a fucker. She had a new coven and a new bond to protect. Dietary bonding only goes so far … After all, the Olympic Peninsula coven's inability to keep their most important law and deal with the subsequent problems had led to Irina's death. Would her sister still be alive if not for their irresponsibility and hubris to think that their coven is above the law? Perhaps. Would she have ever met her mate without those same actions? Perhaps not.
Obviously, the situation in the picturesque valley was complicated. But fuck. What worthwhile thing in life isn't? The only one out of view was our baby. But that was to be expected. We made our way around the lake at a speed barely above human running. With all of the hostility and Jasper working his jaw like he was craving a cigarette or a bite of flesh to gnaw on, I itched to speed up and join my mate. However …
If I kept pace with the fucking Cullens, playing the unwilling guide, I'd be closer to the boy when the shit hits the fan.
About six feet directly in front of Jasper, Carlisle stopped. Maybe he hadn't buried all of his instincts after all. Jasper shifted, just enough that he could close the distance before someone could say 'Where's my head?'.
"Jasper, it's been too long. Aren't you going to greet your mother?" Poor Esme just looked like she needed a fucking hug. She was confused and drawn and just didn't know what to do.
"Esme." Jasper nodded her direction but didn't move. A flash of hurt crossed her features before a head of brown hair streaked with auburn was visible from behind his left arm.
"Oh Jasper!" she gasped, thrilled that he'd found some little thing to hover over, I guess. Her foot lifted to take a step forward, but the sudden growls and her mate's hand on her wrist stalled her flight. "What? We'd never harm your loved one. Surely you know this."
"Oh the fucking irony of that statement."
Everyone froze. I snorted. Of course she'd pick now to get mouthy. Of course her silences never last all that long anyway. Eyes slightly closer to orange in hue than red peeked out from her disheveled curls. Pop-tart barely ever lifted a brush, much to Char and Rosalie's abject horror. Said there was no point since Jasper was just going to muss it up anyway. Even after the venom had burned away her humanity she was still a package of delightful contradictions: innocent, Bambi eyes and fuck-me hair, amazing strength and incredible fragility, intelligence and insanity.
"Bella?" It was barely more than a gasp, but it was enough for every being in the clearing to hear. He moved to come forward, shrugging off Carlisle's hand and ignoring the warning snarls and hisses. I locked my arms around him from behind as Jasper, Emmett, and Garrett closed ranks, shielding Pumpkin from view. Fuckward thrashed in my arms but he wasn't going anywhere. Three feet was not nearly enough between him and our Little One. "My Bella?"
All noise stopped, except for the grunts of Eddie's struggle. Everyone held their breath waiting on the Major's response. Clearly someone was about to lose a limb−possibly a head. When his cold black eyes met mine over the boys struggling shoulders I knew I was right. Then she spoke and the most dangerous moment all sane vampires recognized passed.
"Um ... do I know you?" Her tone added crazy, weirdo stalker to her question. It was enough to make him pause and blink. Oh she was good.
Unfortunately Esme decided to pinch hit for her boy."Of course you know us, Bella. You're Edward's…" and there goes the growling, "friend?"
"Nope. Doesn't ring a bell."
"Could you come out from behind Jasper?" Carlisle asked gently. "We would just like to see if you're alright."
Rosalie snorted. "Haven't seemed too worried for the last thirty-four years, Dad."
Em clenched his fists, taking the smallest step toward Edward before Jasper's eyes shifted his way. Oh, so they'd laid ground rules … Dammit! I played helpful guide/savior of undeserving virgin for nothing.
"Rosalie Hale! You know that's not true. Your father and I love you all very much. That includes Bella."
"Only when it's convenient," Char amended, daring Esme to chastise her like a child. She'd whoop her ass.
"It may seem that way," began Carlisle in his patronizing, peace keeping tone. "But I assure you all that we have always done what is right for our children."
"Which part was the right: leaving her neck deep in supernatural shit or destroying her sense of self-worth and then leaving her curled on the ground all by her lonesome? I feel like I'm missing something, Doc." I cuffed Eddie across the back of his head, just enough to get his attention before I tightened my grip across his chest. "Now I've had just about enough of your strugglin'. I didn't even want to save your ass in the first place, so you best stop testin' my very limited patience."
The boy stopped, probably dazed by the tap. "You had to sneak up behind me because you couldn't take me in a real fight."
I shoved his delusional ass at his sire and stepped into position by my mate.
"What has he done to her?"
"Edward, now is not the time."
"Her blood no longer sings to me. He ruined her! Turned her into a monster!" Nobody was stupid enough to try to stop Jasper as he leapt forward and ripped off Edward's right arm. I'd hazard a guess that's the hand he's most fond of, giving the fact the Jas very carefully avoided touching it. We just closed ranks in front of Bella as she sighed and Jasper began smacking Edward with his own arm. I was just wishing for a video camera when a cell phone came sailing over Emmett's shoulder in my direction. Hell to the yes! I passed it to Char who began recording with a delightfully malicious smirk of her own.
"Son, please!" Jasper turned to face Carlisle, resting Eddie's forearm against his shoulder like a club while the hand flexed and grabbed at nothing but air. The boy struggled off of the ground, gasping as venom trickled out of his arm socket. Replacing that tear was going to be a bitch.
"With all due respect, Carlisle, the only reason you're still alive after trespassing on our land uninvited is that you provided a place for me all of those years ago. But make no mistake. I am not your son. I was your houseguest, maybe a poorly trained pet, but never your flesh and venom. If you walk out of my valley today, I owe you nothing more."
"Oh Jasper!" But he didn't look at the weepy mompire. She should have expected one of her supposed kids to turn on her as much as she plays favorites.
Oh, come on now, Red. You know I'm your favorite!
You're our only, so it's not a fair comparison. Besides, you'd best focus on you man or Garrett. He looks like he's ready to spill some venom himself.
G-Red is just fine. My cash is on Char.
Why do you think I gave her your phone?
Bastard. With that our conversation ended. Jasper's curiosity nudged me and I sent back humor and a fuckton of familial love back at him. A slight twitch of his left hand said he got the message. For some reason, mine and Pumpkin's secret squirrel conversations have never bothered her rather possessive mate. I know it was always a bone waiting to be torn apart between him and the magic eight ball. Speaking of which …
"Where is Alice?"
After a brief look with his mate, Carlisle confirmed what I already knew. "She decided to spend some more time touring the continent."
"She was too afraid to face me." Jasper confirmed. Although I think it was less him and more his mate and I, which Pumpkin's timely hiss confirmed.
"After what you did to her, can you blame her?"
"Oh look, Eddie made it to his feet," Emmett narrated under his breath.
"This is why Alice broke contact with me! She saw what you did to my−"
"And he's down, vamps and vampettes, and the round trip seems to have cost him another limb," Pumpkin picked up Em's commentary in a Bob Barker circa '80s tone, peeking around his shoulder. "Emmett, tell him what he's won!"
Emmett huffed a grim laugh but played along. "An all-inclusive, four nights stay at the star-studded resort in sandy shut the hell up. There he can live, breathe, and do everything as quietly as fucking possible or he might lose the right to the first two."
"Well, you heard the man, folks. So, Eddie, what's it going to be: death or shut the hell up? The crowd anxiously awaits your decision."
He didn't answer Pumpkin's peace keeping efforts, which everyone mistakenly took as answer all of its own, because he was too busy craning his head around trying to catch a glimpse of Isabella.
"Jay? You want to let them in, or am I going to be staring at Em's ass all afternoon?"
"Hey!" With Emmett's objection, she faux-backpedaled.
"Not that it's not a mighty fine ass to be staring at …"
"Not. Funny." Jasper said as Emmett and Garrett parted to let him see his mate. He tossed them each an arm and wrapped her up in his.
"You don't have to do this for me. I don't even remember him, and they barely register as a fly on the pile of shit my life became after their hasty removal. I'm fine really." The fact that she could even say that made me want to rip them each apart and make their torsos have a scavenger hunt to find their missing bits. That'd keep them busy for the next couple of years.
"They will never be welcomed here. I will not degrade what you lived though and you shouldn't either. The fact that they live tarnishes my reputation; I won't invite them to sully our home." He sent her his love and appreciation, but from the look in his eyes, he sent her something better in return. For a brief smidgeon of a minute, I almost envied his gift. Luckily sense returned before he could beat me with one of Doucheward's arms. Hell, I might have even let him.
"Then let's wrap this up. As I recall, we had plans for sunset …"
"Yes, ma'am." He smirked but didn't move.
"Babe, J-mo, love of my life, I'm going to need you to put me down and let me face them. This is a conversation that requires some tact and eye contact at the very least."
Garrett, Emmett, and I burst out laughing, almost drowning out the end of her sentence.
"Hardy har har, you two bit assclowns."
"Oh, I can assure you that mine's are worth more than two bits …"
"Not helping, Kate," Char admonished with a wink.
"Fine, but assclowns is correct, right?" A nod from each corresponding mate got her back on track. "Okay, I admit that tact might be beyond me, but I can totally rock the eye contact. Seriously Jay, let me down." And just like that he did.
Of course, he stayed half a step behind her, hovering over her shoulder like a malevolent avenging ghoul.
"So you're what all of this fuss is about?"
The second his eyes landed on her I knew he was already mad. What the hell was wrong with this kid? He should be quivering, not eye-fucking another male's mate.
"Bella," he sighed, widening his eyes like he was trying to draw her closer like some human prey. "Surely you remember?"
"Oh I remember quite a bit …" Our coven tensed, furious all over again for the Cullens bringing up these memories for her. She waited until the hope sparked in his eyes before she artlessly continued, "but none of my memories involve you."
"Oh Bella!" Esme continued her quiet sobbing that had begun when Ed lost his first arm.
"I don't answer to that name. And I remember just enough about you and your coven to know that you're not one of the very few people I'd allow to use it. Or to address me at all for that matter." A black look from Jasper cut off any protests as Pumpkin turned her attention back to the pathetic boy on his knees in front of her. She leaned down slightly, examining him through shrewd eyes as he swayed toward her like a house plant seeking the slightest bit of light
"I did hear that you like to toy with human girls and break their hearts before you leave them devastated and vulnerable to the next monster that comes along." She fiddled with the cuffs of one of Jasper's hoodies she must have slipped on just for this visit. Damn them all for making her self-conscious again! It'll be weeks before she's comfortable enough to wear a single layer, much less short sleeves.
"A lie! I didn't mean it! I was only trying to save you!"
"You wanted me to forget you …"
"All lies! I love you!"
She wrinkled her nose in disgust and promptly took a step away from the devolving mess. "All lies … guess you should be careful what you ask for. After all the human mind is only a sieve. My memories of you just didn't have enough mass to stick, didn't take up enough space in here, you see." She tapped her chest with two fingers before sighing. "But rumor has it you caused quite a bit of secondary damage, so you understand, I can't just let you go scot-free. What will happen to him if we hold onto those for a while?" Pumpkin pointed at the arms Emmett and Garrett had crossed, baring the path inside.
"He will be in agony!" Carlisle gasped. "Surely you wouldn't be so cruel." Apparently we had different definitions of the word cruel.
Bella ignored the doc and turned to me with an arched brow for a less dramatic assessment. "It burns, but not as bad as all that." I gestured to the pitiful moaning boy at her feet. "Mood swings, instability, fatigue … He'll get a mite peckish, could attack a human, I reckon."
"Huh, doesn't sound much different than how y'all describe him now. A little of the good stuff might actually help him …" She looked to Jasper for guidance, but he shook his head. She was the injured party. He'd kill them if they so much as twitched in her direction again, but for now, this was her show. He'd support her decision.
"I think I'll hang them on my wall. Em can bring them back to you when I get around to redecorating. I'm warning you though, it might be a while." Doucheward stopped his sobbing long enough to watch her snag the two vampires holing his arms and escort them inside with a smile. "I have just the place. Brother Bear and G-Red, grab the nails."
"Hell, his hands are going to witness more action than he's ever gonna get. Damn lucky Rose wouldn't let me have a go at 'im."
"He's still your brother, Em," Bella said in a well-rehearsed monotone. This had been discussed ad nauseam.
Jasper's legs soon blocked his vision, demanding his attention. "She's merciful. I'm not. This is your one and only free pass." Turning his back on them, the ultimate insult to an enemy, Jasper made his way into his cabin. Pausing briefly on the porch steps, he said, "Pete, get them out of my territory."
"I'll join you. You'll get mighty lonesome on that long trek back," my fuckhot mate said as she sidled up next to me.
I was only too happy to oblige everyone involved.