DISCLAIMER – The Twilight saga and all the characters mentioned in it are the undisputed property of Stephanie Myers. This story was written entirely for non-profit and the sheer love of the series and its memorable characters. Spoilers are included from pretty much included for every single book associated with Twilight. Proceed with caution if you haven't read everything, particularly The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.
I hope everyone enjoys reading as much as I enjoyed writing. Naturally, feedback is always appreciated but never demanded.
The only preface you need for this story is a question. What if Eclipse ended just a little bit differently for Bree Tanner?
The (Not So) Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
By: Oy! Angelina
I figured my normal life ended when I dropped out of school and ran away from home. I definitely knew my normal life ended when Riley took me to her and turned me into a vampire. I imagined my strange, so-called life could be as bright and magical as my disco ball-skin if I spent it with Diego only to have it crushed back into coldness and shadows once I realized he was dead. I assumed life as I knew it – strange, normal or otherwise – was over once the black cloaks – the Volturi – appeared and I was pretty much fine with that. My whole new life was a lie and I was content to die knowing the good guys won, the bad guys were smoldering and Diego was avenged.
But it didn't.
"Wait," said the mind reading redhead in the yellow eyed coven. "We could explain the rules to the young one. She doesn't seem unwilling to learn. She didn't know what she was doing."
"Of course," Carlisle agreed with him. "We would certainly be prepared to take responsibility for Bree."
I don't know who was more surprised by this offer: me or pain-dealing Jane but I was grateful for the chance the yellow-eyed vampires wanted to give me; the chance the Volturi would never let me have. The little I knew about them was enough to know that nobody got a reprieve from an execution.
"If you are willing to make her your responsibility then we will acknowledge that," Jane said airily.
That surprised me even more than the yellow-eyes' offer. I snuck a glance at the coven willing to claim me and ignore that I meant them nothing but harm. The looks on their faces told me they hadn't expected their pleas to be answered and were now wary to have their wish granted. Did they regret their decision? Maybe they only said it to be nice because they figured there was no way the Volturi would compromise their harsh brand of justice. No matter how hollow it was I appreciated the yellow-eyes' kindness all the same. Few people in my life ever cared enough to give me hope so even false hope felt like a gift.
"You have no objection to Bree joining our family then?" Carlisle asked cautiously.
Family? Was that how they saw themselves? It was a fair description of how they behaved and cared for one another, even their pet human. I always thought of my coven as no better than a bloodthirsty pack of animals but it wasn't until now that I truly understood how feral and inhuman all of us had become. Yes, we were vampires but so were these yellow-eyed ones and they valued life and each other enough to put their own safety on the line. Even for me.
If I could still cry I would have then but, since I couldn't, I glanced at Jane and waited.
"The Volturi prides itself on keeping the peace and are only concerned with newborns who cannot be controlled. Your coven prides itself on restraint so I trust you will not put us in an awkward position if you claim this one as one of your own," said Jane, smiling thinly as her head lolled my way. "Personally, I doubt she would be worth the bother. Or risk."
So there it was. This wasn't the Volturi showing mercy; they were just putting the yellow-eyed vampires between a rock and a hard place. Either they take me in and risk having me become the death of them all or they allow me to be killed because they're too afraid to take the chance. One way or another they were going to have trouble living with their decision. All I could do was promise myself that if Carlisle and his yellow-eyed family picked me I would do my best to not make them regret their choice and protect them as they did for me.
For the first time since I entered the clearing I had hope that, maybe, my life might just become worth living again. Enough so I actually worried it might be about to end.
Carlisle did a quick survey of his family and even included the human's opinion as he took stock. His brunette mate, Esme, nodded with an eager approval that put a lump in my throat. The scary one, Jasper, had a totally opposite reaction and pleaded with his eyes to just let the Volturi finish me. I suppose I couldn't blame him. The stunning blonde one looked almost annoyed with the suggestion of having me join her family while the large curly haired vampire shrugged but seemed otherwise accepting of the possibility. The tiny black haired girl watched me like I wasn't something pathetic or dangerous, but someone with potential. She smiled at Carlisle in a reassuring way that seemed like a sign he was waiting for. As for the redhead, he showed no hint on backing down from his words now and even the human clutching at him – the human I would kill in half a second if given the chance – looked at me like she actually wanted me to live.
Whoever these yellow-eyed vampires were – even the ones who didn't like or trust me – they had my eternal gratitude for however long eternity turned out to be for me.
"Bree," Carlisle said my name like it belonged to a person. "Please come join your new family."
A sob fell off my lips and, half a second later, I bounded across the field. The cruel Volturi were behind me, the remains of my savage coven were behind me, anything in my life that was reduced to ashes and smoke was behind me. My new life - my first real family - was all in front of me. It felt like anything and everything was waiting in front of me now.
As soon as my feet touched the ground the yellow-eyed vampires –my family – shifted so they all were standing between me and the human. I wasn't insulted; I didn't even trust myself to be around her but I had to start trying if I really intended to become a member of this family. I held my breath and kept my eyes down so I couldn't even see the girl who pumped such sweet smelling blood. It helped the thirst a little but I still felt dangerously on edge.
I glanced across the field and saw the Volturi watching with expectant looks. They wanted me to attack the human – no, they were waiting for me to attack the human. Why not? They would probably be just as happy to see me kill the human as they would to watch me get torn apart. The only way to make sure they got no satisfaction was to control myself. It was hard – practically impossible this close to the human – but knowing I was disappointing the low expectations the Volturi set for me gave more motivation than even my own survival.
Carlisle and Esme each put an arm around me. I'm sure part of it was a precaution in case they needed to restrain me but their embrace still felt protective to me. Like they weren't just protecting the human but wanted to protect me from myself. The lump was back in my throat again. That more than anything else helped suppress the burning in my throat. It took a couple seconds but, slowly, the smugness ebbed off the Volturi's faces as they finally realized I wasn't going to kill or be killed in front of them.
"Well, you certainly will have your hands full with two newborns," said Jane, reverting to her grim composure. "That is, of course, assuming you still intend to change Bella."
"A date is set," said the short black-haired vampire. "Perhaps we'll come to visit you in a few months."
Jane threw her a look of loathing that seemed tinged with envy. There was so much I didn't understand – what Jane's problem with my family was, why they were waiting to change Bella into a vampire too, what would happen if they didn't. The answers didn't really matter. For the first time in too long I knew where my loyalties were. I would stand by the people who stood up for me, now and forever.
Jane's indifference held as she bid her apathetic farewell. "It was nice to meet you Carlisle – I'd thought Aro was exaggerating. Well, until we meet again…"
Nobody in my family said goodbye to Jane or the other cloaked vampires as they drifted back into the tree line. Everyone waited, still and silent, as we listened to the Voltari's retreat.
"They're gone," said the redheaded vampire finally. I wasn't sure if his hearing was better than the rest of us or if this was part of his mindreading thing. I guess I would figure that out in time.
Suddenly, it felt like all the attention was on me. I shifted uncomfortably beneath Esme and Carlisle's arms as I kept my eyes pinned to the ground. I was so used to keeping below the radar that I barely knew what to do with all those yellow eyes on me. I knew what to say, though.
"Thank you," I whispered. "All of you. Thank you."
"Shh," Esme soothed, petting my hair in a motherly way I never knew before now. "We're just glad you're alright."
The way she spoke to me made me feel like I wasn't already part of the family but always belonged of it. I didn't know how to handle that kind of unconditional love or acceptance. Something inside me, more potent than even my thirst, wanted it to be true but I didn't know how it could be.
"I…I'll understand if you would rather I leave," I said thickly. Fred was still waiting for me. It wouldn't be the same thing as a family but it was something familiar and safe. Holding my breath left me little air to speak with so I said the next part fast so I wouldn't run out. "I don't want to be a burden or put you in danger. I won't do anything that will get you in trouble with the Volturi. I promise."
"Of course you won't because we'll be watching you," said the petite black-haired vampire with a bright grin. She placed one of her tiny hands against her chest. "I'm Alice, by the way."
"I'm Edward," the redhead said, nodding to the human in his arms. "And this is Bella."
"Hello, Bree," Bella said tentatively, like I was a wild animal she didn't want to startle. She seemed to understand my discomfort but that probably came from being around vampires so much. Bella smiled in a way that was shy and optimistic, like she hoped someday we could be friends. I hoped so too.
"I'm Emmett," the largest vampire pointed to himself then nudged the blonde next to him who eyed me with reproach. "And this is Rosalie. Don't mind her. She's always picking on the new kids."
Rosalie growled at him but didn't disagree as she went back to staring me down. I stole a quick breath and bit back the burn as I smiled at my blonde-haired savior and his affectionate mate.
"I know you're Carlisle and Esme," I said. Esme beamed like a mother who just heard her child speak its first words. Carlisle just seemed happy that the only danger to his family at the moment was me and I was determined to be anything but that. Hoping to fit in a little bit better I turned to the one vampire who still seemed unsure of my intent. "You're Jasper, right? I appreciate you…um, helping me behave. And…if you don't mind…I would like it if you kept helping me."
I wasn't sure it was the right thing to say but Jasper seemed to thaw out slightly after hearing this. He nodded with a fragment of a smile. "I will. I know how hard it can be to exercise self-control but it can be done with practice."
"We'll all help," Esme promised, squeezing my shoulder.
Self-control. There was a novel concept considering the vampires I used to know. I wondered what these vampires meant by it, though. I wondered lots of things about them, to be honest. I needed to get better acquainted with my new family.
"Can I…can I ask why your eyes are…yellow?" I wasn't sure if I was stumbling onto a taboo subject but the chuckling that followed made me think not.
"Our eyes are this color because we drink animal blood instead of human," Carlisle explained.
"We can drink animal blood?" I gaped at him in disbelief.
Emmett boomed with laughter. "Gross, right?"
Edward scowled. "Don't turn her off to it before she even tries."
"Ah, she'll get used to it. We all did. Mostly," said Emmett, still grinning.
Maybe I shouldn't have been shocked to hear this. After all, thanks to Riley and his misinformation everything I knew about vampires – real vampires - could fit inside a thimble. There was so much to learn. I knew I was bound to ask a lot more dumb questions but something told me I had patient teachers who would make my ignorance seem more like something to laugh about than a potential liability.
"I'll try it," I said eagerly. I never cared about making Riley proud but my family was a different story. For them, I would try anything. Most of all I would try my best. And, if that wasn't good enough, I would try harder.
"If you're hungry now we could take you hunting," Esme asked, looking me over like she was worried I was wasting away.
The mention of hunting made Edward tense. "I think I'll take Bella home. It's been a difficult day for her."
"I want to see Jacob," said Bella frantically as she gripped onto Edward. "I need to know he's okay."
"Yes, perhaps there's something I can do," said Carlisle, likewise concerned. "Assuming I'll be allowed to."
I thought Edward and Bella were together but the way she spoke of Jacob made me wonder. I quickly remembered Edward was a mind-reader and made an effort to keep my thoughts to myself. It was harder than I thought it would be and I breathed both a physical and mental sigh of relief when Carlisle, Edward and Bella left the clearing despite my predatory instinct begging to chase after.
Bella's scent was still all over the place, taunting me, but it was definitely easier. It let me focus on being me and see how that fit in with my new family. Rosalie seemed more intent on cleaning up the remains in the field than bonding and forced Emmett to help her. That left me with Jasper, Alice and Esme. Despite Jasper's tense demeanor there was an overwhelming sense of calm I hadn't felt since those too few moments I spent with Diego. Even my new family couldn't keep the sadness out of my heart when I thought of him.
"What's wrong?" Esme asked with genuine concern.
"I had a friend in my old coven, Diego…maybe he was more than that…I miss him," I said, each word bringing anguish that rivaled the pain Jane dispensed on me.
Esme put a hand over her mouth, horrified. "Oh no…did we…"
I shook my head quickly. "No, Riley and Victoria did. But I guess there isn't anything more to do about it now."
I was happy Riley and Victoria got what he deserved but it didn't bring Diego back and it didn't make things better. Maybe they would in time, maybe they wouldn't, but if I had a chance of that happening it was with my new family.
"Let's go hunting!" Alice said with the same enthusiasm other girls might talk about shopping. She took me by my hands and pulled me along. "After that, we can take you back to our home. We'll find some clothes for you and a room. You'll love it, Bree! And you'll love being a Cullen. I can see it now. I promise!"
A Cullen? Was that the name of my family? My new name? I tried to focus on that feeling and not to let my grief for Diego taint my happy homecoming. Maybe, after a while, I wouldn't actually have to try so hard. I didn't know Diego for long, especially not compared to the whole of eternity filled with possibilities that were now stretched out before me, but I knew Diego well enough to say he would want me to enjoy my new life with the Cullens. That's all he ever wanted for himself and everything I had imagined for us – a good life without violence, spent with people who cared about us.
I would just have to live the dream for both us. I owed Diego that, even though he still owed me a secret hand-shake.
"Let's start my new diet," I said, smiling with Alice as we raced into the woods.
Thank you everyone for reading and especially to those of you who leave feedback. I would like to continue adding chapters of the life Bree could have had with the Cullens over time. Hopefully it will give us all a chance to celebrate the unlife of a little vampire girl who was never given the chance.