A/N: Wow. It's been a while, huh? It may seem like I've just abruptly ended this story. But to me, this seems…right. I've been working on it for several years and I feel as if I've gone far enough with this particular plot line. However, please bear in mind that Felix is still on the loose, and I've never been one for leaving something unfinished. Simply put, there will be a sequel. So keep me on your alerts.
I just want to thank all of you. You've been through a lot with me. All my sicknesses and the losses I've suffered have been lessened because you random people decided that what I'VE written was good enough to read. Good enough to take time out of your day, just for me. I have no words other than thank you. From the very bottom of my heart. Thank you.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.
Jane stared back at the boy in front of her. He was at least eighteen years old, of that she was sure. He even looked like some of the boys at her school – well the football players at least.
But still, he was just a kid. What was he doing standing in front of her, appraising her as if she was livestock?
His eyes suddenly changed – relief. He was a strange boy.
His next word made her halt her own appraisal of him. "Charlotte?" he asked pointedly.
Her eyes filled with tears. "Where's my Zachariah?" she asked.
"He's waiting for you," Edward assured the poor little girl – crying for her grandfather. "But you need to wait, just a few minutes and it will all be over."
Jane pressed her lips into a thin line and nodded, bowing her head. Edward stepped back, "Isabella," he called.
Jane almost flinched at his harsh tone. She was scared. Why was he being mean to the other girl behind him? He was supposed to be the superhero…not the bad guy.
Bella stepped behind him and looked at the girl who was almost as tiny as she was. "Jane?" Bella questioned, her voice soft so the Volturi guard wouldn't hear.
Jane looked up between the two of them. She realized then that it was all an act to get her out. She gave them both understanding looks and looked to her feet again. Bella turned her back to the girl, standing in front of her and looking at her feet as well as Edward called Aro in.
Aro entered with a flourish. "Have you chosen, Mr. Masen?"
Edward smiled, a slow winning grin as he reached into his pocket, pulling out the gold badge that proved who he really was.
Watching as Aro's face fell was one of the single most amazing things Edward had ever witnessed besides Bella coming apart beneath him.
In those few seconds, the FBI agent had incapacitated the Volturi guard and had his gun pressed to Aro's temple. "Freeze," the man yelled.
Aro raised his hands, without arrogance or pride. He was completely and utterly defeated.
Edward paced the confines of the room. The Director of the Chicago FBI field office was debriefing his agents – whom he had lent to Alec's investigation. Alec had successfully been reunited with Jane and for now, everything was calm.
They had, however, separated Edward from Bella, needing to take a statement from her. Edward was extremely defensive of her. Their insistent questions seemed like an interrogation to him.
Surprisingly, she was the one who asked him to leave. He was in the small bathroom located down the hall from Bella, but he felt as if there were miles between them.
His phone rang suddenly – scaring the hell out of him. It was Alec. "Sir," he answered briskly.
"Agent Cullen," Alec's gruff voice replied. The formality made Edward stiffen. Something was wrong. "We are leaving later this afternoon. Please make sure to inform the rest of the agents."
"Sir, there is no way we can secure transportation for Volturi in the allotted time—"
Alec cut him off. "There will be no need. The Chicago field office with be taking over the investigation from here." He was angry…almost murderous. He had spent nearly three years working this case and now he had to hand the satisfaction of a conviction over to the understaffed, completely ill-equipped Chicago field office.
He wanted to cuss his way out of needing to hand the case over but it was, however, his own fault.
He'd already had his ass reamed by Headquarters for not following protocol. He had gotten too close to the case and the rest of the FBI feared the repercussions of his actions.
Edward's heart plummeted. There was no way the Chicago agents could handle this case. "Yes sir," he said, his voice pushed through his teeth.
Alec nodded, not even realizing that Edward couldn't see him. He felt like he was drowning. He hung up quickly and made his way towards the tiny uncomfortable room they were interviewing Bella in.
He felt as if the universe was out to get him. His daughter and granddaughter were kidnapped by the Volturi – they may have been two different men, but their intentions were the same.
Yes Rose was returned, but the soles of her feet were completely shredded. Her nerves were completely ruined.
And then there was Jane. She was back, asleep in one of the agents' office, but she wasn't the same. She was a child. Her lack of sanity was indeed disturbing, but not as disturbing as the fact that she couldn't seem to think of Alec as her grandfather, only as her Zachariah.
It was as if she was stuck in that damn book. Alec used to love that book – the story of a young daring girl braving the seas as well as a domineering captain. Now he hated it…loathed it even. It had stolen his little girl's mind away from him and he could do nothing but consider having her committed to an asylum.
Edward found himself wandering back to the little 'interview' room. Surprisingly, Alec was waiting there with Bella glued to his side. Her eyes were wide and frightened. "It seems as if the men here need some lessons in the art of taking a statement from a shaken victim," Alec spat towards the agents who had been talking with Bella.
They scoffed and one of them said, "Well, someone's got a hair up their ass."
The other one elbowed him for a turn. "It's all on you, sir," he said mockingly. "No need to be a sour puss about your mistake," he snickered.
Alec's anger was palpable. Edward clenched his jaw but said nothing. He pulled Bella into his own arms. She hardly resisted. She was nearly unresponsive.
He pressed his fingers to her cheek, but she wouldn't look at him. "What did you do to her?" Edward snarled.
The agents looked at each other and then at him. "We questioned her, took a statement…followed protocol…" That one was a low blow.
Edward ignored them and turned to look at Alec. "Sir, I request your permission to leave now. We can meet up in Seattle in a couple of days."
Alec's eyes flashed to Bella and her shaking form. He realized that he shouldn't feel too sorry for himself. At least the women he loved hadn't been beaten, raped, and tortured for two years, only to be forced into a situation that had her mere feet from her tormentors. Alec nodded once before turning and walking away.
Edward cast one last glare in the two agent's directions before turning and pulling her way from them.
The flight home had been even less pleasant than their flight going. Bella still hadn't spoken and was still being unresponsive. What happened in that interview room?
The drive back home was a little better. Bella seemed to realize that she was far away from…there. She came out of her trance a bit, holding her hand out for him to take. He did, quickly, for fear of losing her once more to the darkness that resided in her puzzling head.
They pulled up to their dark brownstone as it neared midnight.
Though the city was still very much alive, the suburbs surrounding it were quiet and a bit eerie. Edward pulled Bella from the car and carried their bags into the house.
"Do you want some tea, maybe?" he asked, uncertainty coloring his voice.
She cast her eyes away from his, shaking her head. "A bath," she murmured, her eyes drooping slightly. "A bath would be nice."
He opened his mouth, ready to protest but thought better of it. He lumbered up the stairs, exhausted, yet ready to do anything she asked of him.
She followed silently.
She shivered delicately at the feel of his hands tracing along the curvature of her spine, kneading up and down. The tub was filled to the brim, her chin submerged beneath lavender scented water.
Her mind had been a tizzy of information and memories flashing behind her eyelids. But his magical fingers stopped the rushing waterfall in her head and allowed her to fully grasp a truth that seemed almost farfetched.
Her nightmare with Aro Volturi had reached its conclusion.
She never again needed to worry about the life of slavery that she'd led for the past few years.
She had a loving man holding and protecting her. Her savior.
"Hey, Edward?" she asked, suddenly.
"Hm," he hummed, admiring the way the goose flesh on her shoulder felt beneath his lips.
Her eyes caught his in the mirror. Gold speckled coffee with thick fringed lashes tightened with curiosity. "What's the color of freedom?"
A little half smile appeared on the handsome boy-man's face. He raised an eyebrow. "Whatever you want it to be."