Want a New Life?

By TwilightFreakNumberOne

I was starting to think that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. Somehow, this whole situation seemed shady, wrong. This wasn't like the Riley that I knew and followed. It was dark and sinister… almost evil. It just didn't fit.

It appeared that Riley had deceived our entire clan. Or army. When he was with her, she had called it an army. But I'd never thought of the clan as an army. More like a gang of runaways that only wanted a safe home, a new life. Not that this life was all that it was cracked up to be. Sure, it was easier. Riley called us gods, beings that commanded the world of mortals. We left our human problems far behind – all our human needs for food, water, air. But we traded them for a single, powerful need. The need for blood.

Riley fought hard to leash our need, though. I figured it was to keep the humans from discovering us. But lately, it seemed as if everything I figured might be a lie.

It was hard to think that Riley was actually tricking us. He'd tried to give us all a second chance, an opportunity to start over and not make the same human mistakes. He'd taken us from the chaos of the streets and the gangs to the safety of a home. He'd offered us a family, if you could call it that. Lately, fights were out of control, and the clan didn't feel much like a family. Let alone an army.

But the things that Riley had painted as truths were giving way to reality. Constantly, he reminded us of the sun's power to permanently destroy us in a single, bright flash of searing heat. But I had touched the sun, and I had lived to tell the tale. If the stories about the sun were lies, who was to say that Riley's other claims were truth?

Yet, I trusted Riley. And he trusted me. We were sort of like brothers, in a way. But we were hardly equals – he was clearly superior, in control. No one picked a fight with the other vamps when he was around. Not unless they wanted to get their arms ripped off.

I swallowed, hoping that my arms would still be attached after I explained my discovery to Riley. Had he truly lied about the sun? Or was he just misinformed? I desperately hoped that it was the latter. If he had lied, I might be in huge trouble for unraveling the truth. Not that I actually expected Riley to hurt me. He wasn't the type to flip out over little things. At the same time, though, when he was angry, it was best to get out of the way. If you valued your arms, that is.

I didn't have the chance to think anything through further. Riley's footsteps were suddenly heard, and there he was – pale as a ghost, powerful as a dragon. "Diego? What are you doing here?" he asked suspiciously.

I forced my nervous feelings to shut up, launching into my announcement with feigned confidence. "I discovered something that I need to show you. While it's light out."

Riley laughed, but it sounded unusually forced. "Diego, I told you – sunlight is lethal. It burns. We should get out of the light while we can."

"That's what I'm trying to tell you," I explained. "Watch this." I stepped into the path of a brilliant beam of sunlight, closing my eyes to shield them from the brightness. Instantly, my skin was like diamond instead of marble, shining bright and brilliant. "Check it out! I'm an overgrown disco ball! And it doesn't even hurt!" I giggled. Apprehensive as I was, it was hard not to laugh at my sparkling skin.

But Riley wasn't laughing anymore. In fact, he looked downright furious. And this anger wasn't the kind of anger that surfaced when someone lost a hand or a leg. This anger was lethal – instead of running wild, it was sharp and focused. Focused on me. Riley's bloody irises were glaring at me, and they held none of the brotherly affection that I usually saw.

Riley seized hold of my shirt and pinned me against a tree. "Who told you about the sun?" he growled. He was in a crouch now, his teeth bared like a wolf, both his fists clenched, gripping me.

"No one told me anything!" I stammered.

Riley slammed me into the tree like a wrecking ball, and the trunk splintered. "Then how do you know?"

"I experimented… I didn't… I… it didn't hurt," I gasped.

"You don't trust me!"

I was thrown into the tree again, and this time it collapsed. I tumbled into the dirt and landed on my back. Pain shot through me as I staggered away from Riley in terror.

"I did trust you!" I wailed. The past tense was painfully obvious – after this outburst, I would never trust Riley again. Not when he could fly off the handle at any time.

"Who else knows?" Riley shrieked.

I clenched my teeth. I couldn't expose Bree, not now. Not if this was what her punishment would be. This was my fault… I wasn't going to put her in danger because of my stupid mistake. So I kept my mouth shut.

"Who else knows?" Riley repeated.

I didn't answer. Suddenly, there was an awful tearing noise, like a rock shattering, and pain shot through my arm. Then the discomfort cut off, and I realized that Riley had thrown my arm several feet away into a bush. Then everything happened too fast, like a movie on fast-forward.

Something snapped…

My other arm was gone…

Everything hurt…

I hurtled backwards…

I choked on dirt and dust…

Riley was dragging me…

And then the speed stopped. Riley threw me to the ground with fury in his eyes.

"Riley, stop," I begged, my voice weak. "I thought you were my friend."

At that, Riley's expression softened, but then reverted to a cruel mask. "I'm not your friend, Diego," he hissed. But the words were choked, like it hurt for him to say them.

"You… you liked me," I stuttered. "You were my friend."

Again, Riley froze for a second. But then his words tumbled out, and they were full of feeling, of decision. He would never take them back.

"I'm your master… and nothing more," Riley growled. "My loyalties lie with her – and your loyalties clearly don't lie with me!" he shrieked, his voice rising. "You've broken my rules, her rules. You've crossed the line!"

"You lied to me!" I howled. "You're not my friend… and the sun doesn't hurt me. You lied to the others! To everyone! To Bree!"

I suddenly realized what I had allowed to slip from my mouth.

No.

NO, NO, NO!

"Bree," Riley breathed. "So, Diego – you're friends with the newbie! Was she in on any of this?"

Riley's harsh tone battered against my mental defenses. I wanted him to stop hurting me, stop pressuring me… but I couldn't betray Bree. Not ever.

Everything bubbled up, then. All at once, like a volcanic eruption. Memories melded together, mingled. And then they exploded like a chemical reaction.

Life on the streets…

My brother, the gang…

I tried to stop him…

They shot my brother…

I went to avenge him…

A pale man, angry but focused…

Riley…

The new clan…

Bree…

Ninjas…

BFFs…

Secret handshake…

The sun…

My skin sparkled…

The sun didn't hurt…

Riley lied to me…

And then, in my mind, I heard Riley's voice, recalled his promise from the day of my transformation.

'Want a new life, kid?'

I decided, right then, that I did want a new life. But not this one – not a life of lies and fights and missing arms. I wanted a life of freedom, freedom from mortal and immortal hindrances. I wanted a life apart from this. I wanted a life of safety.

And I wanted to protect Bree.

She was so vulnerable… so weak… but so friendly and accepting. She didn't deserve this life with Riley… she deserved more.

I leapt towards my right arm, speedily reattaching it, and then seized my left arm, doing the same. New strength filled my limbs, and suddenly I was able to stand. I turned to run, and Riley lunged, but I dodged him. Somehow. "DIEGO…" he snarled. And then I was gone, running away. Away to protection. Away to Bree.

Although no one could hear me, I called to the mountains, "I'm coming, Bree! I'm coming! And we'll run away – BFF ninjas! With a secret handshake!"

It felt dumb to talk about ninjas and BFFs when I was more worried about life and death. But, at the same time, it was freeing to temporarily escape from reality. To focus on fun and laughter like Bree did. To not worry about watching my back. So I ran, ran to Bree, stopping frequently to make sure that I wasn't being followed.

With Bree as my motivation, nothing could stop me.

No matter what.

Author's Note: It didn't seem likely to me that Riley would just kill Diego so torturously over the "we-glitter-in-the-sun" thing. So I wrote this. After all, there was no direct evidence in The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner that Diego was dead. This will be a three chapter FanFic when completed, and I intend to finish it!