Chapter 12: Lessons in Pain and Loss
"A mountain lion, Nala, helped with my injuries. She told me about my ability to speak to animals, and she told me how I was the protector from their legends." I said bitterly. It was the worst curse in the world. "When she was done I followed Emily's scent trail out of the woods. It took me a while. I couldn't run. I was too sore." Jasper squeezed my hand in reassurance.
"When I stumbled out of the trees I had to explain to the guys and Emily. Somehow I managed to let Jake give me hug. My brothers ran with me on my next patrol once I was healed. We tried to piece together why there were so many vampires on tribe land. That was the day I had my first vision." I spat out. They all stared at me wide eyed.
"It's useful as hell, but it's the power I hate the most because it came from Alice." They all growled loudly except for Jasper. He didn't want to scare me.
"Victoria was talking to the thirteen vampires… She was praising them." Jasper hissed quietly as he tried to hold it in. I appreciated his efforts.
"My brothers and I were worried she was coming for us, but we hadn't caught her scent so we stopped worrying. We didn't have time to think about it when, not three days later, we found out I was pregnant."
"What?" They all gasped. Rosalie looked pissed.
"To this day I still don't know which ones their father or fathers were." I whispered. "I was terrified. I had no idea what to do. I wasn't sure I could handle raising them knowing how they were conceived." Rosalie and Esme looked tortured. I had to be careful how I said this next part. I didn't want to hurt Jasper.
"Jake helped me. He started to help me work through everything, and he admitted he loved me." I breathed out. Jasper stared at me shocked and pained. "During my pregnancy I started to develop feelings for him as well. When the children were born we were like a family. Thinking of Jake as their father made everything easier to ignore and forget. Erica and Kyle spent as much time in the woods as I could spare from patrol. I taught them how to hunt their first buck working together as mountain lions. They were so proud. I watched as they ran with the herd and grew. They grew so fast." My voice broke over the last sentence. Esme whimpered and Rosalie whined lowly as both of them mourned with me.
"Jake helped them learn to track vampire scent and to run their fastest. They weren't skills I wanted my children to have, but considering where we lived it was necessary. It did them no good the day Victoria came."
"We'd had no warning. I don't use my visions. They remind me to much of Alice and what she did. I was out in the forest talking with Nala when all of a sudden I heard their calls. Yowls so loud they pierced the sky. They quickly turned to howls as my children shifted. They were seeking the strength of the pack. I shifted into my wolf form and raced to the clearing to save them. No one was to hurt my family or my brothers."
"There were over sixty vampires in the clearing. Half of them were mature the rest were newborns. We were being overrun. Wolves were crying out for help. I heard my children yelping from the middle of the group. I saw red and lunged into the fight. I bit and tore at any in my way. I was nearly to my children when they were grabbed. The battle field stilled and I looked around to see almost everyone being restrained by vampires. They grabbed the rest of the pack, and left me to stand alone."
"They all looked horrible, especially my children and Jake. They were all bleeding, and Erica was trying to hold back whimpers of pain. A vampire smacked her for making a sound. I lunged for his throat and I was also restrained by four of the vampires who'd…" I trailed off shuddering. I heard wood chair arms creak and moan in protest of the amount of force being applied to them.
"Victoria approached me slowly smiling and cackling. She kicked a few of my brothers, and I felt it. Our bond was strong now. Strengthened through this new pain and weathered by time. We could hear and feel what the others did at all times." I explained quickly. "She stopped when she was a foot away from me. 'Hello Bella. How have the past few years been treating you?' I asked her what she wanted with us. 'Oh, I was going to kill you because your Edward killed my James, but I think I'll kill everyone you care about instead. Alice can't be too mad if she doesn't know, can she? We'll keep your survival our little secret"
The chair arms were broken and smashed as Emmett jumped up and began running through the house pissed off. He was making no attempt to calm himself down. "Emmett, relax," I said quietly.
"Why should any of us relax Bella? You just told us Alice tried to get you killed again, and we're supposed to relax." Jasper questioned.
"Yes you are, because if he can't sit the hell down I won't make it through telling the rest of this, so pick your goddamn poison." I practically growled back at Jasper. He was dumbfounded. I was trying really hard not to let the memories through right now, and I could only keep this up for a little while longer before I had to give up. You can't run from us. We'll always be here, always. Stop it! Go the hell away!
Emmett sat down slowly and returned his attention to me. "It turns out Alice had caught a glimpse of me and started telling everyone she could think of to come after me. Of course Victoria was the first thought in her head."
"Victoria went down the line and one by one she killed my brothers. The pain of their deaths coupled with the mental bond being torn from me was horrible, but it was nothing next to the screams of my children as they watch their extended family die. They were in wolf form once more as they tried to get away. The vampires wouldn't let them go. They were yelling to me and begging me for help that I couldn't give them. I tried to get to them and all it did was get me hit. I was useless."
"There were just four of us left: Jake, Erica, Kyle, and myself. Victoria ripped Jake away from my children's side. They yelled out for him, terrified. I wanted to comfort them, but I couldn't look away from Jake. He was in human form as were the children and I. We could keep up our vampire forms far easier. He looked me in the eyes I forced myself to make eyes contact. He looked around trying to find a way we could escape. Before I could speak Victoria moved towards him."
"'So this is your new love. You move on fast.' She'd taunted. 'Your family killed the one I loved so you can see how this is fair can't you?' She'd asked me. I told her not to touch them and she laughed. She didn't stop laughing until after he was dead. Then she brought my children to the middle." I could barely speak anymore.
"She toyed with them drawing close only to retreat. My growl did nothing to deter her. I couldn't get to them. I was stuck. I couldn't help, and I was forced to watch. 'Run Mommy! Get out of here! She's going to get you next run!' They knew what was going to happen to them. Victoria threw kerosene in a circle around them and lit it. They couldn't escape, and I couldn't reach them. They were screaming, dying! I had to stand there being restrained as they burned. They held hands and faced the flames together. When they were dead Victoria had me released and they left. I wasn't able to follow them. I wasn't able to move. I didn't want to. There was nothing left. Everyone was gone." I whimpered out. Jasper pulled me to him. I melted into his embrace, and he gave my shoulders a comforting squeeze. Rosalie's eyes were filled with anguish. Esme was dry sobbing in Carlisle's arms.
"The only thing that got me to move was remembering about the imprints and the families of pack members. I ran to Jake's house to tell his father, but he was dead. I went to everyone else's house as well, but anyone that'd been involved with the pack was dead: parents, siblings, imprints, and children, all dead." Carlisle growled furious over the loss of life.
"I shifted back to wolf form and called to the tribe. They came. They helped me find the dead and carry them to town, but I wouldn't let them touch the pack, my children, or Emily. They were mine to bury. The tribe hadn't known them like I had. I held funerals and helped bury the dead, when there funerals were done I buried my own dead in the graveyard I showed you.
When I was done I retreated from the public eye and mourned as a wolf. I tried to cope, but it was difficult. I was alone. The saying is true, the strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf. I had no pack." I explained. I could feel Jasper's anger and sadness radiating off of him. I was hurting him! What was wrong with me?
"Nothing is wrong with you." Jasper stated firmly.
"Yes, there is. Wait until you hear. You'll think the same."
"I'm never going to judge you, and I'm never going to leave." He assured me sending me a bit of confidence. I shook my head unbelieving.
"Nala came found me after three months still mourning in my wolf form. I'd barely leave the graveyard. When I told her to leave me to mourn in peace she bit me. 'Get the hell up. It's time to fight back.' Nala was right. I wasn't going to let that bitch get away with killing my family. I was one wolf but there had to be a way I could get her. I wouldn't let her win."
"As a wolf I called to the creatures of the forest when they were near I told them of what had happened and of what I'd lost. The wolves and mountain lions were especially angry. The wolves had always been Erica's favorite, and the mountain lions had been Kyle's." I explained smiling softly.
"I sharpened their claws. I have no idea how but I did. Then we started tracking. The wolves and I led the way as we hunted. Animals of all kinds followed us. We were all joined in this effort. It took months to catch up to Victoria. My army needed regular rest and had to hunt. Victoria knew we were coming, and so she was trying to avoid us. It wasn't possible. I could have hunted her for eternity if that's what it took." I hissed out as my anger grew.
"When I found her she was back in the field where she'd killed my family, not five miles from here; she had her army all around her. She was hiding from me. Hiding behind those she'd sent to hurt me. I gave her the option to just hand herself over to me, but she didn't take it. She sent her army towards us. Most were newborns. Those were easy to beat, easy to kill. The mature ones were taken out by the pride and I. I had them leave my attackers and Victoria alive. We killed all those surrounding them. No one was spared. As for Victoria and the thirteen other blood suckers: let's just say they didn't die quickly, any of them." I stated smirking. Rosalie nodded. She was smirking as well. Jasper was radiating pride. He wasn't freaked out.
"I went back to the tribe and kept everyone safe. It had been Sam's dying wish, and I wasn't going to ignore it. The animals went back to their normal lives. Then, fifty years ago, the shifter gene picked up again when a few nomads strayed too close. After a year I had a pack of five. They were of weaker bloodlines because of me; that's why it'd taken so long for the pack to restart. They became like my children, and I led our pack. The morale in the tribe increased knowing there were more shifters patrolling. I was happy not to be alone anymore, but I still missed my family. I thought we were safe since Victoria's long dead, but she wasn't the only one I had to worry about."
"She was cunning and fast. Her army was trained much more than Victoria's had been. She was cold and cruel when she strategically came after me. She attacked the pack and the animals simultaneously while I was in town. I heard the animals and the pack call to me. I could hear their thoughts begging for me to help them, and I could also hear the screams of the animals. I wanted to help my pack. I'd failed the last pack, but I couldn't. The forest needed me. The pull was so strong. I had to help the animals and listen to my pack being slaughtered. I couldn't help them at all. That is the curse of the forest. It's why you should never rely on me. The damn forest forces me to help it first."
"It's not your fault." Jasper tried to assure me. I growled at him loudly and pulled out of his arms. I turned to glare at him.
"If I wasn't dumb enough to attach myself to the forest I would have been able to save the pack instead I failed the tribe and Sam, again. They took me in when I had no one. If it wasn't for them I would've been alone. Victoria would have killed me and everyone else would still be alive." Jasper whimpered.
"I don't want you dead."
"How can you say that or even dream of relying on me knowing the power the forest holds over me?"
"I think you can beat it, and of course I don't want you dead! I never will either." I shook my head in incredulity.
"When the animals were safe I had them come with me to try to save my pack, but it was too late. They were all dead and she stood there smiling, but when she saw my army standing behind me she ran off; her few remaining men followed her. I told her if she ever came back I'd kill her. She didn't look back."
"Nala tried to comfort me. She apologized again and again for what'd happened. She hadn't known what the legend had meant until then. I buried my pack and went back to running patrols. I had to keep the tribe safe."
"Nala died two years ago; I took in her two children. When you all came back I wasn't sure what to think of you. I didn't want to trust or get close to you, but it seems I did both of those regardless." I finished wryly. No one spoke as they took in all I had said. I held still as I waited for their verdict.
Jasper took my hand into his and immediately had my attention. "I'm so sorry Bella."
"You have nothing to be sorry for Jasper. You did nothing wrong."
"If I hadn't lost control we wouldn't have left."
"It wasn't your fault." He didn't meet my eyes. "Damn it Jasper. I was bleeding. I saw all of you leaning towards me, barely restraining yourselves. Alice even took a step towards me." None of them replied. Then I got the vision.
'Bella has to die. She should have died at that god damn party! Why didn't it work. How had Victoria failed and that other bitch? How hard is it to kill one whore?' Alice muttered to herself in the mirror. 'Not that it matters. I'll think of something.'
"Are you okay Bella? Darlin answer me." Jasper begged panicked. I blinked a few times and looked up at him, but I didn't speak yet. "Is she okay?" Emmett asked from behind Jasper.
"I'm fine." I rasped out.
"What just happened?"
"I used that stupid goddamn power I hate. I was just getting good at repressing it too. Damn it all to hell." I swore irritated.
"What did you see?" Carlisle questioned.
"Alice was plotting how to get me out of the way. Did you guys know she talks to herself in the mirror?" I inquired. They were taken aback.
"Yeah, she talks to herself. She was pissed I wasn't dead yet, and she was plotting to get rid of me." I said quickly just wanting to get it over with.
They growled loudly and once more I recoiled into Jasper. His growl didn't really scare me, but the others fricking terrified me. He sent me a wave of calm, and I welcomed it. If I didn't calm down soon I would be running out the back door in no time at all. He rubbed soothing circles on my back in an effort to calm me and cut his own growl short. "Stop growling." He ordered his family. Surprisingly they listened. Maybe it wasn't his words alone. Maybe they noticed how rigid I'd gone and how close I was to Jasper in my effort to hide.
"I'm sorry Bella." Emmett apologized looking down.
"It's fine Emmett. I'll get over it." I said shrugging as I forced myself to relax.
"No you won't get over it. You'll heal. You'll learn to live with it." Rosalie corrected.
"I already do that." I reminded her.
"In a healthy way," she said rolling her eyes.
"Hey I think I'm dealing pretty well thank you very much." I teased. I focused on Carlisle as he cleared his throat.
"Bella, I'm sorry I never came back to check on you. I'm sorry we left without saying good bye or explaining, and I'm sorry we believed Alice for so long. I know my actions have led to pain and suffering for you and yours, but do you think you could ever forgive me?" Carlisle inquired hesitantly.
"Of course Carlisle. You had no idea what they were planning. It's not your fault. It's out of consideration to you and Esme that I held back as much as I did after they killed my adoptive children." I informed him. He looked taken aback.
"I wish you'd hurt them more." Emmett muttered.
"So do I," but I would have had problems holding myself together. I added mentally.
"Bella, we won't leave again. If we do I won't go until you come with me." Esme said finally looking at me. I smiled slightly.
"Thank you Esme." She smiled in return. How long would I have to stay here pretending to be happy? Would it be possible for me to escape soon? I wanted out of here. I needed to scream, shift, cry, run, anything. I couldn't stay here too much longer.
"Bella, how about we go to the meadow?" Jasper questioned as if on cue.
"Sure," I replied. I sent him my gratitude; he smiled slightly. Our hands linked we ran out of the house. Once we were out of hearing distance I relaxed slightly, but I also became even more dangerously close to coming undone. Jasper squeezed my hand in reassurance.
"We're almost there Bella, just a minute longer. Hang on." He urged me. I nodded mutely as I forced myself to focus on the present and to hold back the tears. I needed to go faster but Jasper couldn't. Damn vampire speed. Why was I so much faster than everyone else? Why couldn't this speed be enough? It was enough to make the trees blur to any human. It was enough to be over the highway speed limit of 80 mph, so why wasn't it fast enough to make me forget? Why wasn't it fast enough for me to leave the pain and suffering behind me? Maybe I couldn't run anymore. I didn't want to run, not really. I wanted to stay here with Jasper.
When we got to the meadow I was shaking, but I was still holding on. He didn't need to see me fall apart. The tremors grew worse. My body longed to shift so I could deal with the pain, but at the same time refused to. "Bella, you should shift if that would make it easier for you to handle." Jasper suggested in a strained voice.
"I would but it won't help Jasper. The strength I could once draw from there is gone. I can't handle being that alone right now." My voice cracked as I finished the sentence. Half a second later Jasper was on the other side of the clearing slamming his fist through a tree. It fell with a crash so loud I felt all the animals scatter. He came back over his chest heaving. He was pissed and sad and there was nothing I could do to fix it. I'd caused it. This was my fault. Why did I keep hurting him?
"It's not your fault Bella. Nothing was ever your fault. How can you blame yourself for what others do to you? If they hurt you how could you possibly be to blame?"
"I keep talking about it! I don't shut up about it. I keep telling you more. I'm making it hard on you! I can't even hold myself together. What the hell is wrong with me?" I questioned putting my own fist through a tree. Silent tears ran down my face as I stood with my back to him. He'd seen me cry enough. He didn't need to see this.
"Bella please, look at me." He pleaded. I turned slowly to face him. He looked as tortured as I felt. His eyes were shinning with tears that would never fall. Was it better to be able to cry? Maybe if you couldn't cry you wouldn't seem so pathetic. I didn't have it in me to argue with myself. It didn't seem worth it in the slightest. "You have done nothing wrong. You've been hurt time and again. You have a right to talk about it." He assured me. I didn't have the strength to stand any longer. I fell to the ground sobbing. This was just too much for one day.
Jasper walked over and ever so slowly pulled me into a hug. I clung to him desperately as the tears fell. Sobs broke free from my chest. They freed decades old pain. After what was most likely hours the tears finally stopped. Sniffling I stayed there in his arms listening to the sound of his breathing.
I pulled away to look at his face. He still looked pained and sad. I wished I could change that, but he'd made it clear I couldn't. "Bella, I will never let anything like that happen to you ever again." He guaranteed me.
I hugged him tighter. "Thank you," I whispered. He smiled into my hair.
"Anything for you Darlin." We sat like that for a while. We were content in each other's presence. Being together was more than enough. Words would have been superfluous.
I turned to face him. "You can ask me anything." I reminded him.
"What was the name of the other vampire who escaped?"
"I don't know. I never found out." I said bitterly. He squeezed my hand in reassurance. "We should get back. I'm sure the others have questions for me as well."
"We can take all the time you need. There's no rush in going back."
"It's ok. I can handle it now." We ran together through the trees. It was more for fun than anything. I loved feeling free like this. I raced ahead of him and leaped over the river. I landed in the grass laughing. I put my hand over my mouth shocked. I just laughed. Thank you captain obvious. Shut up!
Jasper was beaming at the progress. I rolled my eyes at him. I walked over to his side and took his hand in mine once more as we walked into the house.
"Hey Bella," Emmett said in a subdued tone. He was keeping his distance from me, as was Carlisle. Not even Rosalie was attempting to move any closer.
"Another reason telling people isn't something I like to do." I muttered under my breath. Rosalie's head jerked up. She flashed me a knowing grimace which I returned. "You guys don't need to tiptoe around me. I'm fine." No one moved, not even Emmett. I had to fix this. I stared at Emmett intently and fixed my goal in my mind. You can do this. No you can't. SHUT THE FUCK UP! I took a deep breath and let go of Jasper's hand as I moved across the room. Emmett was confused. I didn't stop to explain. I wrapped him in a hug for a few seconds before letting go. I took a tiny step back unable to stop myself. I still had instincts to worry about.
"Thanks Bella," Emmett was ecstatic. I rolled my eyes.
"Can we have an agreement you don't treat me differently? I inquired.
"Whatever you say little sister," Emmett replied still smiling. The others moved closer as well.
"Sorry Bella, we weren't sure how to treat you, honestly. From their experience with me they knew it's possible for someone who's been through what we have to be a complete bitch or afraid of everything for a while." Rosalie explained.
"It has been over one hundred years, so it's not like it just happened." I stated lightly.
"It doesn't mean you don't still think about it. It doesn't mean you don't remember exactly what happened. And it most certainly doesn't mean you don't feel worthless or afraid because of it." Pain crept into Rosalie's voice as she spoke.
"I know that, but they didn't need to." I muttered.
"Trust me when I say it's too late to hide your pain. Jasper will probably be all over Emmett in a matter of hours asking what he should do." I groaned.
"Ssshh," Jasper said with a small smile on his face.
"So you aren't denying it?"
"I won't lie. I was planning on talking to him."
"You're impossible. I am fine." I said enunciating each syllable slowly.
"That's a load of bullshit." Rosalie muttered.
"What would you rather I say?" I hissed irritated.
"I'd rather hear the truth." Jasper intoned.
"Like what?" I sighed defeated.
"Like, how do you feel right now being around all of us?" He inquired knowing perfectly well how I felt.
"I'm a bit on edge."
"Why," Rosalie pushed. She'd caught on to whatever point it was Jasper wanted to make.
"Because I wary."
"The reason being," Jasper trailed off.
"There are quite a few of you around."
"Why is that a problem?"
"I would be hard pressed to win if it came to a fight."
"Why?" Rosalie interjected.
"There are three males here."
"Why does it bother you?"
"Why is that a problem?"
"It means I can't trust you."
"Why?" Carlisle questioned as he also caught on. What were they trying to make me say?
"Male vampires are dangerous."
"They're stronger than me when they work together."
"How do you know?" Rosalie whispered.
"What happened?" Jasper inquired quietly.
"I was raped." My voice broke on the last word.
"Sorry Bella, but that doesn't lead me to believe you're fine." Jasper breathed out. Tears were threatening to fall. I took a deep breath to hold them back. I was done crying.
Esme wrapped me in a hug for a second before releasing me. I smiled at her thankfully.
"Thanks guys. I promise not to shut you out, but I have to go run a patrol. Do you mind if I include your land in my run since I have animals over here?"
"I don't mind." The second I was out of the house I shifted to wolf form. I stretched my tense muscles and I sped around the Rez. The speed was freeing and helped me to forget everything unpleasant. I loved this! I circled close to the town so the tribe would know I was still watching. I ran back across the border and arched wide so that all of the land on which I had animals was included. I wasn't leaving them hanging, not today. When I was done I stopped back in my land. I needed to eat something. I had to hunt. I was not going to think about what Jasper had made me face. I stalked out into the forest as an 'average' sized wolf. I spotted an elk. God, it good. I howled hoping there was a pack near, but I was alone. The Elk bolted upon hearing me. Oh hell no! I chased it down. I jumped up and ripped out its throat so it died quickly. I wasn't into hurting my prey more than necessary. I wasn't sadistic like that.