MERRY CHRISTMAS!(And other assorted Holidays!)
A/N: So sorry guys, but I had a serious case of writers block and just wasn't feeling very Bellice-y. Fear not, I shall never give up on this story and I will finish it even if it's the last bloody thing I do.
Also, I'm not sure who did because I don't have time to look through all my old reviews, but whoever said that my version of Bella reminded them of Karolina Dean from the Runaways, may I just say thank you, because curiosity made me pick up the first issue a while ago, and I've been in love ever since. In fact, I'm almost finished with the entire series and my new love for the comic medium has made me buy Wonder Woman: Blood, and I'm so getting Batwoman: Hydrology for Christmas.
Lesbian vigilantism; the best kind of vigilantism known to man…
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, nor do I want to, because the idea of being famous scares me…
Vampires don't sleep. It was a universally acknowledged fact among the species that we remained awake at all times. As a result, I had no memory of what sleep was even like. In fact, losing whole chunks of time while you lay defenseless and unresponsive was actually kind of a scary concept for someone who didn't partake in that particular human necessity, or had any memories of ever doing so.
Right now, however, the prospect of 'drifting off' to sleep sounded very appealing.
Two days after our adventure, I was lying in Bella's ridiculously fluffy, circular bed, the owner of which was stretched out at my side, white hair spread out in all directions as her head lay on my shoulder and her arm encircled my waist. The combination of the decadently soft bed, Bella's warmth and the gentle purring of Sanderson as he lay curled up on my torso, conspired to defeat biology and the aforementioned universally acknowledged fact to put me to sleep.
Bella took a deep breath and began mumbling something unintelligible as she buried her head into my neck. She had been working on some techniques over the past two days to improve her control over her flame. So far, there hadn't been a noticeable improvement, but the constant use had left her tuckered out.
I should have been in school right now, but after everything that had happened, everybody was freaking out and insisted that we stay at home from school for a few days, as well as avoid being left alone for long, or, honestly, even short periods of time. That was why both Clare and Esme were downstairs right now, speaking very gently to avoid waking Bella or Sanderson, both of whom got cranky when they didn't get their naps.
Both mothers had actually hit it off really well, after a brief moment of awkwardness with neither one really knowing how to start the conversation. More baby photos had ensued and now they were acting as if they had known each other for years, despite the differences in their personality.
In fact, our two families were getting along very well, something that was never a sure thing when it came to two vampire covens. Rosalie and Jesse were a little antagonistic, but they had seemed to move on from that. Emmett, on the other hand, had taken a great liking to Micheal, who apparently reminded him of his father. I could see the similarities, both big men with gentle personalities and who loved a good laugh. Even Jasper and Lee seemed to be getting along rather well, both undoubtedly the quietest member of each family.
To say I was relieved was an understatement. I couldn't handle the thought of our two families having problems and forcing the two of us to spend time away from them. I loved Bella, and I was happy to show her off to my family.
I looked down at her peaceful face and listened to the sound of her slow breathing. A sound that was disrupted by a faint buzz. Humming slightly, Bella smacked her lips and rolled her shoulders, my eyes widening at the glow emanating from her back before two large wings materialized.
They stretched out fully before one of them flopped over the edge of the bed, while the other came to rest on top of me and the cat, covering us like a heavenly soft blanket.
Bella not waking up and Sanderson's lack of a reaction led me to believe that this was a normal occurrence. I couldn't help but smile at the girl by my side and how adorable she was.
"She did that all of the time when she was a baby."
The voice startled me so much I almost tossed the cat over the edge, only his tenacious clinging saving him. Not bothering to re-position himself, he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
I looked towards the door, Bella's mother being partially obscured by the white feathers in my face. She was leaning against the door jam, fond smile on her face, her short blond hair ruffled and covered in stone dust.
"What?" My voice sounded a little high-pitched and I winced. My girlfriend's mother walking in on us while she was sleeping on top of me was more than a little unnerving.
"Unfurling her wings while she's still asleep." She pushed off from the door frame and moved into the room, taking a seat on the comfortable chair beside the heavy wooden desk. "I always assumed she was dreaming about flying, kind of like the way a puppy kicks its back legs when it's dreaming of chasing something. It did make holding her while she slept rather difficult."
I looked down on Bella's face, serene in deep sleep. "I wish I could have seen her growing up."
Clare laughed lightly. "With the absurd amount of home videos we took, you probably could."
My mouth turned up at the thought of watching hours of Bella's home videos, preferably while she was stewing in embarrassment right beside me. "I bet she was a handful."
Clare's expression turned thoughtful. "Yes and no. She was a fantastic child, not prone to tantrums or bad behavior But sometimes problems arose simply because she was so different, and a lot of the time, we had no idea what to do."
"Like what?" I asked, curiosity getting the better of me.
"Her flame ability, for one." She sighed, running her hand through her hair. "The thing you have to understand, Alice, is that Bella doesn't get sick, not even so much as a runny nose. But for weeks before that ability surfaced, she had been running a high fever. It rose and fell at completely random intervals and once even got to the point where an ice pack we had placed on her forehead melted in a few minutes. We were terrified for her."
I absently ran one hand through Bella's hair and the other through Sanderson's fur, engrossed in the story. "What did you do?"
"Well, we knew we couldn't bring her to a hospital, for obvious reasons, but none of us had a medical background and even if we did, how were we supposed to treat her when we had no idea what was wrong with her in the first place?"
Clare stood up from the chair and began pacing back and forth in front of the clear glass doors that lead to the large balcony. "When the incident finally happened and that vampire was killed, Bella was inconsolable for weeks. We tried to convince her that it wasn't her fault; that she didn't have a choice, but she was a six year old child that was directly responsible for someone's death, no matter how deplorable that person was."
I pulled Bella in closer, my heart aching at the thought of what she had to go through at such a young age. Clare followed my movements and smiled, but it was tempered with the weight of those memories.
"By now you know my daughter well enough to know that she's a gentle soul. I remember one time when she was four years old, she cried for an hour after she accidentally killed a bee. So a person was…"She shook her head. "We ended up having to fire-proof as much of the house as we could, as well as keep fire extinguishers everywhere because Bella would accidentally light up at the slightest thing."
She stopped pacing and looked out the window. "It took a while for that to stop happening, but I think that one of the main reasons that she has such a hard time of controlling it, is because she's afraid of it. Her first experience with it did result in a death after all."
"So it's a psychological thing?" I asked, seeing how that could be a distinct possibility.
"Maybe, maybe not. But vampires are pretty flammable and she has always taken that into account. For those few weeks, she refused to sleep anywhere but in the bathtub, because when she had nightmares, she would sometimes light up and she was terrified of hurting us.
"She has since gotten over that particular sleeping habit, and she has enough control to use her ability around us safely, but only in a benign capacity. The real problem is in combat. If she focuses hard enough and has some time to prepare, she can pull it off, but I doubt she'll ever be able to instinctively use it to kill someone. Hurt someone maybe, but not kill."
She waved a hand and turned back to me. "Now don't get me wrong, if someone she cares about is in danger, she will do what's necessary, after all other options have been exhausted and she has no other choice left to her. But if it's her own life in jeopardy, she will always hesitate to take a life." She met my eyes. "And that worries me."
I knew she was right. Bella would only kill to protect someone she loved if all other options had been tried. If she could get away with simply incapacitating them, then she would. Killing was the ultimate last resort. But if she were the one in danger…she would hesitate.
I studied Bella's mother, taking in the determined look in her eye. "You're telling me this for a reason." It was a statement.
She held my gaze. "Yes. We don't know how the future will pan out, or how bad it will get. I know that you love my daughter, and that you two will be sharing every possible moment together. I also know that it's not even necessary for me to ask and that Bella is a capable young woman, but I need to know that you're willing to do everything in your power to keep her safe." Clare strode over to the edge of the bed and spoke in a low, intense tone. "Alice, I need to know that you won't hesitate."
My eyes fell to the girl in my arms who had quickly come to mean the world to me, who had given my life a sense of joy that I didn't even know it was missing.
"Keep it up, Bella. Try to make them rotate faster. Better, but keep going. Come on, hustle."
I threw a glare at Rosalie as she sat on the lawn chair, magazine open on her lap, trying to act like she wasn't fascinated by the blue flames and sneaking glances every other second.
We had been at this for three hours now, on the third day of my new 'training regime'. The 'trainers' rotated and it was currently Rosalie's turn. They were trying (trying being the operative word here) to help me improve my control over my flame by thinking up random things for me to create or do, as well as providing 'motivation'. Apparently, I needed coaches because my attention span was, according to Rosalie, "shorter than a sugar-high four year old".
Rosalie, Alice and I were currently out back in the garden, with Micheal, Clare and Esme in the house. They had all taken the phrase 'safety in numbers' rather seriously and since the attack, Alice and I hadn't had a moment alone.
I looked at the space in front of me, presently taken up by three large ribbons of flame, each twisted into an infinity sign and each flowing like a river, requiring a high level of concentration to keep them going. I could tell that the training was helping, but it was slow going.
Alice was curled up on my personal fluffy lounge chair, after having laughingly joked that I would staple cotton wool to the chairs at school if I could get away with it. My universal love of fluffy furniture was well known by now.
She was bundled up in one of my fluffiest jackets, looking like some kind of adorable plush toy that I wanted to pick up and hug forever and ev—
"Bella." Rosalie's voice broke the spell and I turned to look questioningly at her. She looked up from her magazine, eyebrow raised and glanced at my practice spot. I followed her gaze, blushing slightly when I realized that my nice infinity signs had broken up and were now twirling listlessly in the breeze. Grinning sheepishly, I reformed the signs and got them moving again, breathing a sigh of relief when Rosalie went back to her magazine.
Alice giggled slightly, the sound completely at home with her current appearance. Not that Alice ever looked like the type of person who wasn't on the verge of giggling at any given moment, but right now she was downright cherubic.
There was a slight wind which caused her hair to bristle like an adorable hedgehog, and then flop around manically as though it had a life of its own. It was a cold wind, having come in from over the ocean, coupled with the fact that it was six pm and the sun was on its way down. Yet Alice's cheeks remained pale. Sometimes I thought about what it would be like to see her blush and how beautiful she would look with that gentle swell of colour in her cheeks.
She still looked beautiful pale, though, very nice indeed. Her golden eyes met mine, twinkling mirthfully. She held up her two hands, moving her fingers so that they formed the shape of a heart.
I smiled back at her, unable to resist returning the favour. At my mental command, one of the infinity signs twisted in on itself, changing shape and becoming larger, until a large blue heart was floating in the space between us. Her small smile turned into a huge grin, tiny hands clapping together reflexively in delight.
"I saw that," Rosalie broke the silence with a huff, drawing my attention back to the fact that, once again, my two remaining infinity signs looked like flailing, anthropomorphic spaghetti.
Alice and I glared at Rosalie in unison, whose only response was a daintily raised eyebrow.
I sighed, "We've been at this forever and it's late. Cant' we pick this up tomorrow?"
"I agree," Alice chimed in, springing up from her seat to skip across the garden and fling herself into my arms. The infinity signs and heart dissolved instantly.
Rosalie rolled her eyes. "Of course you agree, you just want any excuse to be able to snuggle." It sounded like an accusation of something horrible, but our blank expressions showed that we didn't consider it as such.
The blond threw up her hands in disgust. "Fine, Emmett and the others will be here in a few minutes anyway."
I pulled Alice closer to my side, tucking her head up under my chin. "Yay, family time."
Jasper, Emmett, Jesse, Edward and Lee had spent the day in Port Angeles, keeping on the lookout for any vampiric activity. Since the attack on Alice, it had been unnervingly quiet in regards to mysterious deaths. Not that I wasn't grateful, but having those vampires just fall off the map like that was worrisome. Alice's visions were back in action, but the presence of the wolves, as well as the fact that James and his gang weren't making any concrete decisions, made them unreliable at best. It also implied that James had at least a rudimentary understanding of her visions, which in turn implied that she had had them, or at least a basic version of them, when she was human.
Another thing that had me worried was the fact that the few visions of James that Alice had had since the attack were, as she put it, 'fuzzy'. She could barely see him and she couldn't make out what he was saying. It was even hard to see the people around him, which was causing havoc in trying to find out what he was doing. I was hoping that it was something about him that had always been there and not something to do with my blood in his system.
Rosalie stood u and scoffed at our position, something that she hadn't been able to do with and degree of success ever since she started smiling whenever Alice and I did something 'gooey'.
"Careful there, Rosalie, any more of that smiling and I'll begin to think you have a heart in there after all," I joked, nudging her with my elbow as we passed by on our way into the house.
"Then I'll just have to do something to show you how wrong you are to assume that," she replied haughtily.
Alice snickered." Like what, making the cat wait a whole minute before you lavish him with attention?"
Rosalie frowned fiercely, the affect somewhat ruined by the feline attempting to scale her leg the second she came in the door.
"Yeah," I murmured, you're a real hard-ass."
We moved into the living room, exchanging greetings with Clare and Esme as Rosalie took a seat between the two. Alice and I curled up on the love seat, her smaller frame on top of mine. I have decided that there was nothing better than snuggling, something that Emmett fiercely disagreed with. I was well aware of the fact that…sex with Alice would be glorious and would eventually oust snuggling from its place as 'Best Thing Ever', but until that happened, snuggling was still my number one.
As of yet, I still wasn't sure of when 'it' would happen. I didn't want to rush it or anything, but sometimes I wondered if Alice was ready for that next step. I mean, despite the fact that we hadn't been together that long, she had been waiting for almost a century for this. Was she okay with waiting even longer? It's not like I intended to wait until marriage or anything, unless she wanted to. And then there was the age thing, which would be more of a problem if we were human, but I figured I should at least wait until I was eighteen, most likely longer. Still…
Suddenly I was very aware of the fact that Alice was very close to me. It obviously wasn't the first time that she had been this close to me, but this was somehow different. You'd have to be blind not to notice how attractive Alice was, and I was more than willing to touch and kiss her, but I had never given that much thought beyond a formless expectation somewhere in the future.
She shifted against me, her fruity fragrance swirling around me like a cloud of fine perfume. The places where our bodies touched, pretty much everywhere seeing as she was essentially lying on top of me, were becoming noticeably warmer.
Alice noticed too, turning to look at me curiously. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." If she noticed that my voice was higher-pitched than normal, she didn't comment on it.
Just then, and to my eternal gratitude, the sound of a car became noticeably louder, an indication that it was on its way down our meandering drive-way.
Rosalie perked up slightly, anticipating the return of her mate. She may not have been as obvious as Alice or me, but she was measurably happier when Emmett was around. Emmett himself was usually in a good mood, but he got positively giddy when he was reunited with Rosalie after an absence of more than a few hours.
This much was obvious when he was the first one in the door, making his way directly towards Rosalie. He scooped her up into his arms and sat them both down onto the largest of the armchairs, planting a swift kiss on her lips and eliciting an honest to God giggle from her.
My resultant expression must have been downright strange because Rosalie, once she'd stopped kissing Emmett, looked at me with one raised eyebrow, as though daring me to comment.
I promptly turned my gaze away from her to await the return of the others. Jasper and Edward came in first, looking troubled, with Lee and Jesse not far behind. My brows drew down at their collective demeanor and I looked questioningly at Jasper. He saw my look and sighed. "We should wait for Carlisle to get here, we called him on the way home and it should only be a few moments." He and Edward exchanged glances. "We have something to tell you."
It wasn't long before Carlisle entered the room, worried expression plastered all over his face. "I got your call. What did you discover?"
The other looked to Jasper, allowing him to be their spokesperson. He sighed, moving to the mantle and staring into the cheery fire within.
"From what we know, they've been leaving town to feed, a necessity if they intend to stay in the area for any length of time. However, we were still able to pick up their scent on the outskirts of Port Angeles. We tracked it to various locations, including the loading bay of the Port Angeles hospital."
"The loading bay?" I asked, confused. Were they attacking patients? That area was way to populated to be hunting there.
He nodded. "The hospital was accepting a shipment from the blood bank, a large one. Two of the guards were killed, shot, and the truck was stolen."
"Shot? Are you sure it was them?" Esme asked.
"Their scent was all over the place, I'm sure of it. It's more than likely that they shot the guards to ensure that suspicion would fall onto black market smugglers, which it has." Anticipating our next question, he continued. "As to why they would steal the blood bank truck, I have to assume that they are in fact creating newborns."
Expressions around the room became resigned.
"James no doubt doesn't want to attract the attention of the Volturi, who would prevent him from executing his plan, not when Aro is so obsessed with Alice." He glanced at me. "Not to mention how interested he would be in you. It's not often someone as old as Aro gets to see something new."
I frowned, trying my best to focus on one possibly fatal problem at a time. The Volturi would have to wait.
"As a result, he can't make many, maybe fifteen in total and he absolutely cannot have his newborns get out of control or raise suspicion. That's where the blood truck comes in. He'll most likely take several humans to a secluded location and allow them some time to gain control, using the blood from the truck instead of letting them hunt and cause problems. He'll also 'restock' the supply regularly with more blood bags and the occasional human. Then, when he's ready, he'll make his him and his coven, that's eighteen vampires, while we only have eleven." I coughed and he smiled apologetically at me. "Pardon me. And one angel. The wolves would also be willing to help, at least once they found out that Bella was in danger, but you have to remember that he isn't trying to defeat us. He's trying to get around us. Our deaths are not important, only Alice's and Bella's. The newborns are a distraction, expendable pawns, and if he's been doing this as long as I suspect, then he'll know how to use them well."
He looked over all of us, a piece of blond hair falling over his left eye. "Our lives over the last few decades have been relatively peaceful, even I haven't been in a serious battle in a long time. Now the Van Allens have had to deal with vampires coming after Bella before, but from what Lee tells me, not in these numbers. James is experienced and dangerous, as are his coven mates, and we need to stay one step ahead of them if we're going to all come out of this in one piece."
Carlisle spoke up next. "We should contact the wolves, let them know what we found out."
Micheal nodded in agreement. "I'll go make the call now."
As my father left the room, I turned back to Jasper. "I don't suppose you were able to track them to where they were hiding."
He shook his head regretfully. "No, they submerged themselves in the river and let it carry them away. We traveled the river banks hoping to pick up their scent again, but it emptied into the ocean. James knows how to avoid being hunted himself."
"Oh well, wishful thinking I guess."
As I watched my family and now-extended family bustle around the room, making plans and trying to anticipate James' next move, I caught sight of a wool-swaddled egg lying in a little basket on the coffee table.
It wasn't that long ago that we had been jokingly trying to convince Micheal to change it's 'diapers' as was his duty as a grandfather, and now we were on the verge of fighting for our lives. I took a tighter hold of Alice, feeling her turn into me.
I just hoped we all came through this alive.
A/N: Okay, I know that it is by and far my worst chapter ever, but I really, really had trouble writing it. It was taking a ridiculously long amount of time and I even put writing off for a while, so I figured that I should just get this chapter out now and try to focus on the next one, which will hopefully be better. I will NEVER make you guys wait this long again, I swear (even though my promises seem to mean nothing now).
Anyway, special thanks to ScOut4It for reviewing every chapter in succession, as well as all those who reviewed. I'll even try to respond to them via PM, which is a thing authors on this site do, strangely enough.
Also, sorry for any typos, I have to go to Mass soon and I'm not even changed yet.