A:N/ This chapter has a lot of blood in it. If you're squeamish, I apologize in advance.
Tree branches and roots reached up to tangle me, doing all they could to bring me down. I tried to fight against them but it was difficult because I was trying to protect Bella at the same time.
Weaving through the trees, I growled in desperation because I wasn't fast enough. Bella was running out of time. She was like a burning brand in my arms as her temperature skyrocketed. That's how the end began with the Spanish flu. The congestion followed by a searing heat that seemed to almost boil a person from the inside.
I could feel hot blood trickling down my shoulder and my thigh from the bullet holes and they were not my only injuries, but I had to be strong. I had to fight.
So, I forced myself past the blood loss, the dizziness, the pain, heading in the general direction of the lake, hoping that it would be a safe haven for us once again.
Oscar was gone, his life taken by my own hands. It couldn't have happened any other way. He needed to die if I wanted us to ever be safe and I needed to be the one to kill him. I shuddered at the memory of seeing his life flicker out in his eyes. It was not a good feeling. To look into someone eyes at the moment of their death, a death that you were carrying out was sickening. I'd never killed anyone without the monster being in control. But in the moments before his death, I knew it had to be me. I'd brought him into the lives of my loved ones, so it was my responsibility to take him out.
With the end of Oscar, I thought that things would be better. I'd hoped that I'd only imagined Bella's suffering through the haze of the monster's control, but I was wrong. She was going to die if I didn't do something.
I nuzzled into her hair as I ran, praying that she'd stay with me.
But finally the trees took me down. Stumbling over a root, I fell to my knees, jerking Bella against me as I fought to hold on.
My breath caught in my throat, as she moaned and flinched in my arms at the impact. I looked down at her in anticipation of her waking up, but beyond a string of weak coughs there was no other reaction.
Pulling her up to my face, I whispered into her ear, "Bella can you hear me?"
But she didn't answer.
Forcing myself to my feet, I continued to run even though every step was getting harder and harder as the pain started to overtake me.
"Hold on, Bella," I said through gritted teeth. "We're almost—" I began, but then a smell hit me pulling me up short.
I looked down at Bella and saw that blood had once again frothed on her lips, making my stomach growl involuntarily.
Jerking my head up, I focused on getting her to the lake, but the monster inside had begun to whisper to me again.
…. just a taste…. just a taste… just a taste…
"I can't lose you Bella. I won't…" I said both pleading and reminding the monster that Bella was more important to me than my hunger.
Pulling on the monster's energy, I pushed myself to run faster to get to the lake. My hope was that the lake water would bring her temperature down and perhaps revive her.
Finally, I saw a break in the woods ahead and heard the faint sound of water lapping against the shore. When the woods opened up in front of us, I ran straight into the cold water, submerging both of us.
As she floated in the water, I let go of her with one arm and used my hand to cup water and pour it over her hair and face.
However, as the cold water numbed my pain, I found my myself losing focus, the sense of urgency fading.
Looking down at Bella, I was struck dumb. Her hair fanned out around her swaying in the water as the waves pushed her back and forth. Paired with her flushed cheeks, she was stunning.
As I leaned down to kiss her, she suddenly coughed, which brought everything back into focus. I shook my head, realizing that I must be in shock, like when a person is in an accident and suddenly all of their senses are heightened- colors brighter, sounds louder, blurring into a cacophony of noise.
I couldn't afford to give in to my shock. Every minute counted and I was the only thing that stood between Bella and the virus.
"Bella, please," I begged. "I won't live without you."
I poured more water over her face and hair and then gently slapped her cheeks, trying to wake her.
"Come on Bella. It can't end like this… Not after everything that has happened to us."
I looked out over the water desperately trying to think of what to do. The surface of the lake was so calm while I felt so out of control. It was beautiful with the colors of the setting sun reflecting on its surface.
At the sight, a thought hit me, one that should have been at the forefront of my mind.
With the sunset, I was going to lose myself again to the full moon.
I cried out in desperation.
"Oh God! What do I do?!"
I then screamed at the monster in me.
"You did this! Your blood poisoned her! We should have left her alone!"
… one taste… just one taste… easy…. we won't be weak anymore… the blood makes us strong… just one taste…
I tried to ignore the monster, but the thought of blood was soon taking over as the sun reached the horizon.
… blood… her blood… intoxicating… rich… hypnotic… life…
A thought suddenly broke through the whisperings of the monster.
I'd beaten the flu when no one else had. Bella was lasting longer than any human had when faced with the Spanish flu. What was different about us?
It must be in my blood. That was the only possibility.
I fought off the Spanish influenza with vampire and werewolf blood flowing through me, a perfect balance. Bella was fighting the flu now, but she seemed to be losing. Perhaps more of my blood would give her a fighting chance.
I knew that by giving her my blood she would be infected with whatever I had, but the selfish creature that I was couldn't handle thinking of a world without her.
I had to hurry. I felt the fire of the moon starting to burn through my veins as I dragged her to the shore and looked frantically around the beach for anything sharp.
Finding a piece of shale, without hesitation, I sliced my wrist.
"Bella, you need to drink. It'll make you feel better... Come on, … drink… Please Bella, wake up…"
I used my thumb to open her mouth and pressed my wrist against her lips. But it just pooled in her mouth making me afraid that I was too late, her body already shutting down.
But at the thought, I became angry. I shook her, forcing her mouth harder against my wrist.
"You will NOT die, Bella! Drink! DRINK!"
At first I thought I was imagining it, but then I felt a tugging at my skin. I felt her begin to draw the blood from my wrist at first weakly, but then with more strength. Suddenly, her eyes flew open and she grabbed my wrist pressing it to her, sucking hard. But her eyes were glassy and empty seeming which scared me more than anything I could imagine. This wasn't my Bella.
Slowly, however, I saw her eyes begin to lose the emptiness and a spark of the woman I love flickered in her eyes. They were wild, pupils dilated, cheeks flushed. She looked just like she did after we'd made love, causing me to smile in bemusement.
A halo seemed to appear around her as my eyes began to lose focus. She was the most beautiful creature that I'd ever seen. Her skin seemed to get hotter as mine grew colder, like holding a living flame in my arms.
Suddenly, Bella yanked her lips away from my wrist with a gasp, only to pull me to her by the nape of my neck.
A shiver wracked my body as I tasted blood and Bella on my tongue as she kissed me. She took my breath away and made me light-headed. I wanted to tell her this, but my lips felt numb and my tongue thick in my mouth. The edges of my vision started to go grey and with a sigh I tried to let go.
It wasn't just the taste that brought me to my senses. The warm fluid mixed with something wilder flowed into me and it seeped into every part of me, mixing and melding with my bones and tissues. Changing me.
The strangling congestion began to loosen and I felt myself growing stronger making the taste of the rich fluid in my mouth even richer.
It was blood; I knew it and for some reason it didn't repulse me. On the contrary, it set my body to humming and pulsing, a burning pleasure that only seemed to build with every mouthful.
At that moment, a hunger filled me, but it wasn't for food. I wanted Edward, I needed him.
My eyes flew open in order to search for him and a shiver of pleasure ran down my spine as I saw his face only a few inches away.
I let go of the blood and pulled him towards me, devouring his mouth.
The deliciousness of the blood and him made me moan. But as the contentment of being with my mate settled in, I realized that he'd gone limp.
I pulled away from him in confusion, looking him over for any injury and to my horror I saw the blood dripping from his wrist.
I pressed my hand against it trying to stop the flow.
He was pale, the flush of his humanity fading.
What happened? I thought in panic.
Then, with growing horror, I realized that the scent of his blood in the air was the same as the taste in my mouth and the fire that was running through my veins.
With a scream of fear and horror, I realized that I was killing him.
"Oh God. What have I done?" I screamed.
At my shout, Edward's eyes flew open, but then with a weak unfocused smile he closed his eyes again and started to go limp again.
I whimpered clutching Edward to me, but he was cold and unresponsive this time.
He'd always told me that he couldn't live without me and that I'd move on, indicating my love was less than his. But it wasn't true. My future was him.
I looked down at the ground and saw a piece of rock that was covered in his blood. Suddenly, everything became crystal clear.
"You selfish bastard! You will not die and leave me here!" I yelled at him, angry that he was trying to give up his life for mine.
"Edward! Wake up! You can't do this!" I yelled again, shaking him.
In desperation, I decided that there was only one choice that would either bring him back to life or kill us both.
If his blood helped me, maybe I could give some back to him and the mix of both of ours could do the same for him.
Carlisle and even the doctor who had done surgery on me said that my blood had a unique property to defend against foreign material, so maybe it could do the same for Edward. Even before Edward's return, I'd been different. I was able to defend myself against Edward's mind reading, Jane's ability to hurt people. Maybe the combination of our blood would be the perfect storm- vampire, werewolf, and something other than human, could save him.
Using the same rock that he'd used, I sliced a cut across my carotid artery and then my wrist.
I pressed his wrist against mine, weaving our fingers together and pressed against the back of his head, so that his mouth was against my neck.
With Edward clutched in my arms, I prayed that soon he'd begin to feed. I didn't know what else to do.
As I sat there at the edge of the lake, I felt the power of the full moon awakening in my blood.
It was as if there was a voice calling to me, calling to me to come out and play.
I was different now. I knew that the full moon was going to bring out a monster in me as it did with Edward.
I was scared, but it also felt right.
I stared out across the lake, remembering our times here. They were the happiest of my life.
Floating in the water, laying on the beach, holding each other in our tent, laughing with our family… we were just us, without the supernatural world dictating our every action.
Would we ever have that again?
The full moon's call to me made me doubt it.
But it didn't matter. I would finally be Edward's mate- equal in every way.
My thoughts were suddenly broken off as Edward's teeth pierced me, sending a sizzling pain through my body.
Pulling on my skin, he began to swallow my blood in great mouthfuls.
Cradling his head, I allowed him to feed, thrilling at the groans and shudders coming from him.
But just before I felt myself on the point of drifting into unconscious, I pushed him away from me, breaking his hold.
I tensed in anticipation of Edward attacking me, but it never came.
His eyes were on fire as he looked at me, his breaths coming in pants from his blood lust, but he made no move towards me. I watched him for a few moments longer before closing my eyes and laying back on the beach in exhaustion.
If he attacked me now, I was no match for him.
We'd done it, for better or for worse, we were both alive.
I listened to the sounds around me as the moon's pull began to take over.
I sensed Edward approaching, long before he touched me. We were connected he and I, more than we'd ever been before.
Laying down, Edward nestled himself against me with a sigh of contentment and started to lick the wound on my neck.
A last thought echoed in my head before the moon took me away.
He is mine as I am his.
Looking up at the sky, I yield to the full moon, changing into a powerful predator.
Stained with blood, my wounds bleeding profusely, I thirst, I hunger.
But the pain is not so intense, as the hunger that burns inside of me, waiting to be quenched.
She nuzzles into my neck with a purr, pulling away only to look to the sky.
The full moon's rays illuminate her, spun in silver.
She sniffs the cool night air and the huntress takes over.
She starts ahead while I follow, pursuing in a whispering run an unseen prey.
Wanting and needing the blood, she runs sure-footed through the trees.
We crawl side by side through the tall grass, senses on full alert for danger.
She shivers in anticipation as we close in.
I rub against her, nuzzling her neck, her anticipation fueling mine.
The prey is near.
I bolt towards the prey, trying to get to it before my mate.
I make it a competition.
She flies by me, recognizing my plan, but I'm faster.
I take a different route, heading off the prey as it senses my mate's approach.
It is fast, but between my mate and me, the deer has no hope of survival.
I will relinquish the first kill to her.
She is my mate after all.
…..They're around here somewhere…. I can smell their blood everywhere…...
….. Jesus….. It smells like a slaughterhouse…... I'll lose my fucking mind if I find them dead on the beach….
…. Edward, are you out there?... We're coming…..
….. Son, if you can hear me, we're coming to help….. Do not attack…. Fight the moon's pull on you….
The buzzing sounds hurt my head, but I couldn't tune them out.
Flashes of faces streaked through my mind, as familiar to me as the face of my mate.
My pack was here.
My mate didn't understand. The pleasure of the hunt turned to aggressiveness as their scent reached us.
Dashing to her side, I tried to soothe her.
But she quivered with nervousness.
When they stepped from the forest, I growled a warning.
I would not let them disturb my mate.
…. Okay, Edward… We'll keep our distance… Do you understand us?...
She was small, no threat.
Her thoughts were familiar… she was important…. my sister… … Alice….
Another one stepped forward but this time I growled loudly in warning. He was large and strong. He could hurt my mate.
….. Hey, bro… remember me?... It's your big brother Emmett…. Come on, Edward… You know, I won't hurt you…. We're brothers…..
I saw flashes of myself and the big one running through the trees, sharing the hunt and… laughing?
I tried to remember more…
The sounds… they were words.
I listened more closely and the sounds became words and then sentences…..
… We're here to help…. God, man… You look like something the cat dragged in….or else someone was having a blood fondue and you decided to swim in it…..
I tilted my head to the side and looked at the big one askance. With part of his arm missing, he was hurt worse than me.
I felt concern for him, my pack m—my brother.
"Em-"I tried to make the sounds. "…. you… okay?"
With a loud whoop, he ran towards us, causing me to crouch defensively and growl.
"N—nno… closer…" I warned.
Emmett skidded to a stop and raised his hands in front of him.
"Okay, Edward. I get it. Baby steps," he responded solemnly, but then followed it up with a wry grin.
Another man stepped forward, more familiar than even Emmett and Alice.
Looking into his eyes, I was confused by the mixed emotions I felt. Love and hatred warred against each other in my head.
"It's Carlisle, Edward. Is Bella okay?"
I tilted my head as I looked at him, still unsure about my feelings.
But at the sound of my mate's name, I looked down at her.
She was scared.
I crouched down next to her and wrapped her in my arms, letting my strength soothe her.
I looked back at Carlisle and then up at the moon.
"It ccc.. alls tttt...o her… to me…" I said, my only way to explain the call of the predator.
I heard gasps come from under the cover of the trees behind Carlisle, Emmett, and Alice, causing me to growl.
"Ah…" Carlisle said with a nod, ignoring my aggression. "Is she still feeling sick?"
Looking down at my mate with concern, I tilted her face up to me, searching.
But beyond the fear, she was whole.
"She… she's… fff… fffine…" I stuttered.
"Okay… Good…" he said with a sigh before sitting down on a rock on the other side of the clearing. His relaxed posture, made me relax somewhat, but I kept looking past him, trying to see who was hidden in the trees.
"There are a few others of us in forest. Do you want them to come out?" he asked hesitantly, which made me tense once again.
"Yessss," I growled, starting to take a step forward, but Bella's hold on me kept me still.
The first one who stepped out of the trees smelled of Carlisle, his mate… Esme.
The next was Emmett's mate. I thought hard for a name. Rose… Rosie… Rosalie… Yes, her name was Rosalie.
After a brief pause, the final one stepped out of the trees.
The minute he stepped out, I was on my feet with a snarl.
This one was dangerous. This one was a threat. I had to attack first.
I sprang into action, bolting across the field in order to intercept him before he got the upper hand.
I heard the voices of the pack, calling my name, but I didn't have time.
If I hesitated, he would take advantage of my weakness.
I slammed into him with all my might, knocking him into a tree.
Before he had time to right himself, I threw myself on top of him.
I tried to bite and claw at his exposed weaknesses, but each time I came close to a killing blow he would throw me off.
Out of breath, I paused, pacing back and forth in front of him snarling.
"Edward, it-" he began, but I lunged again before he could distract me.
It was at that moment, that I felt others surround us in a tight circle.
I growled menacingly at their betrayal.
Alice's voice pierced through my need to kill.
"Please, Edward. It's Jasper. You know him. He's your brother. He's not a threat!" she begged.
His name and face were familiar, but the feeling of danger when I looked at him was hard to suppress. I knew with every fiber of my being that he was a threat.
But then a sound reached me, causing the instinct to attack to evaporate.
My mate was frightened.
I broke free from the others and looked for her.
Rosalie was crouched next to Bella, trying to soothe her. But Bella growled and whimpered, trying to slowly edge away from her.
I flew to her side and pulled her against me and away from Rosalie.
She was hungry and afraid. She didn't understand what was happening.
"Shhh sheee needs…to hhh…unt…" I said to the others.
Pulling Bella to her feet, I walked us backwards towards the trees on the opposite side of the clearing.
"Do... ddo… not fff…follow… us," I said, as we stepped into the shade of the overhanging trees.
None of them made a move to follow, so as one Bella and I turned our backs and began the hunt once more.
As we put distance between ourselves and the rest of the pack. I heard Alice's thoughts.
…. We'll be waiting brother…. Don't stay away too long…