A/N: Hey, I'm not dead! xD I know I haven't posted on this story for months; Real Life unfortunately takes its toll. Also, frankly, I've not been very motivated. I pretty much have the basic plot outlined in my head – perhaps I'll get interested enough to finish it during the summer.

My muse is also currently off gallivanting in other fandoms and shows no interest in returning to this one at present. However I manage to squeeze out this chapter before she escaped and I've tweaked and polished it a little; it's more of an in-between stage but hopefully you'll like it.

Disclaimer: I only own a few characters; everything recognisable belongs to Stephenie Meyer.

Chapter Six: Waking

Elimira's POV

I came back to consciousness suddenly, rising out of the black well of oblivion. I gasped as my memories and their accompanying emotions rushed back like a tsunami roaring in to crash down on an unprotected beach.

My eyes flew open and a brilliant light shone straight in my eyes, dazzling me. I tried to arch my body up and away instinctively, panic already clenched tightly in my gut, but pressure around my wrists and ankles instantly brought me thudding back down to the surface I was secured to. The discovery of the fact I couldn't move instantly triggered wild, unreasoning panic and I reacted with the instinct of a caged creature. A wild shriek burst from my lips as I thrashed and bucked against the restraints holding my wrists and ankles.

"Carlisle! She's awake!" Oh, no, please calm down!

"I'm here, Alice." She's going to injure herself...

I was vaguely aware of voices, both physical and mental, but the words were confused, jumbled, streaming through my frightened mind without registering or even making sense. The bright light was still blinding me and I shut my eyes as I struggled wildly, my frozen brain stuck and screaming on the single urgent word: Flee!

"Get Jasper and Emmett, quickly."

Footsteps and a cool finger pressed on my neck. Then something dropped over my eyes and was quickly secured. I slewed around, snapping instinctively at the touch but my teeth closed on nothing. I tried opening my eyes but they only met a swathe of dark fabric with points of the brilliant light piercing through.

A sound like rushing air. "Sleeping Beauty's finally awake, then?" A deep chuckle echoed around the room.

I strained hard, arching my body up off the surface, pushing all my weight against the wrist restraints and I heard them give an ominous groan, the sound of stressed metal.

"Uh, oh. Stay where you are." Led us a merry dance already; not that it wasn't fun, mind you.

A pair of enormous hands curled around my comparatively tiny wrists, holding them gently but firmly in place.

The relatively mildness of the hold was lost on my panic and a deep snarl ripped from my chest as I tried to bite the hands.

"Tougher than she looks." Delighted amusement in the voice.

"So am I, Emmett," snapped a higher voice, vibrating with stress. And so help me, but I will rip your head off if you frighten her anymore. "Edward says you're just panicking her more. She isn't thinking at all, just reacting."

"I agree," agreed someone in a smoother, lower tone. My stress inexplicably eased slightly at the sound of it.

"Then can't you do something about it?" asked the first male voice, sounding as though they were enjoying themselves. "Emotions are your thing."

"I can calm her down a little but she's too lost in the panic. Carlisle should sedate her again." What is she? Intense curiosity. She can't be a vampire, no matter what Emmett insists. Vampires don't respond to the sedatives humans use.

Fear spiked through me as these comments floated through my head, though I didn't quite know why. I tried wrenching my hands free again but the grip on them merely tightened slightly.

There was silence for a few seconds apart from the swirling of thoughts and my growls as I struggled in vain.

Then footsteps approached my head again and I snarled, snapping my teeth in warning as I felt someone reach for me.

Hesitation.

"Jasper?"

My growls redoubled as I felt the vampire holding my wrists shift slightly to make room for someone new. A pair of cold hands pressed themselves firmly on either side of my head and I bucked frantically, terror shooting to new heights as my head was anchored to the table, completely restricting my freedom of movement.

"Quickly, Carlisle." The longer this goes on, the more stressed she gets. The thoughts were tinged with sympathy and impatience.

"I know." Someone moved swiftly to stand beside the other two vampires restraining me. It was now getting rather crowded around my head and my instincts were screaming bad, bad, bad! at me, frantic with fear at the prospect of three strange vampire clustered around me while I was blinded and pinned down.

Cool fingers tapped my jaw and I lunged forward in an automatic bite. Too late, I realised the intention behind the move and liquid was flooded into my mouth as I opened it to bite. A hand firmly fastened on my jaws, holding them shut to stop me spitting it out, and another set of fingers pinched my nose closed.

A howl of fury strangled in my throat as I thrashed in a desperate attempt to break the hold, to avoid swallowing the liquid. I held on stubbornly until I completely ran out of air and only then did I reluctantly swallow. The liquid burned its way down my throat and my face was instantly released, leaving me gasping for breath.

Whatever it was, it had an immediate effect; a warm lethargy stole over me, mugging my panic into submission. I tried to raise my head but it was suddenly too heavy to lift. My limbs became leaden and a dizzying, dark, warmth enfolded my increasingly fuzzy thoughts. I slipped once more into unconsciousness.

xxx

This time I rose back to consciousness slowly. I opened my eyes slowly and looked around the room calmly. It was panelled in dark wood and the walls were lined with bookcases. Floor-length glass windows stood partially open at the far end of the room, white net curtains billowing slightly in the draught.

I was lying on what looked like a modified hospital bed; four iron cuffs were welded to the edges. They appeared to have suffered some damage though; I noted, with a vague sense of satisfaction, that the metal had buckled and warped.

I sat up slowly. I aware that I was far too calm. They must have drugged me with more than a sedative but the oppressive calm blanketing my senses meant I couldn't feel anything more than a distant sense of alarm.

The light tapping of footsteps outside the room I was in signalled the approach of two people. I tensed slightly as the door swung open, then the pixie-vampire tripped lightly into the room. She was closely followed by the scarred male, hovering over her like an over-protective shadow.

"Hi! I'm Alice Cullen," she beamed brightly at me. "This is my mate, Jasper." The tiny vampire – Alice – smiled adoringly up at her terrifying lover. He returned the look with equal devotion, and then instantly flicked his gaze back to me, reverting to his wary, guarded look.

I opened my mouth to speak, then coughed when I realised how dry my throat was. "I'm Elimira Swan. But then you already knew that. And I already knew your names."

Alice nodded. "But Edward said you still don't refer to us by our names in your head. It was just in case you weren't sure."

I just stared at her. Of course I didn't refer to them by name. Up until a few seconds ago, they had been labelled only as 'dangerous vampires' in my head. They hadn't quite been real to me, hadn't quite been people; only a threat.

Now I was confused. They hadn't killed me, or drained me dry – indeed they were showing remarkable self-control – and they didn't seem at all inclined to do so in the near future.

I decided to go for the jugular. Figuratively. "I'm going to be blunt," I said, as much as I was afraid of the answer. "Why did you kidnap me? I'm not dead and you don't appear to be keeping me around as a snack either. Why am I here?"

Alice and Jasper exchanged a look. "So you know what we are?" asked Jasper. His voice was smooth but I could hear the hint of underlying threat.

I frowned. "Of course. I would have to be pretty stupid not to notice."

They swapped another meaningful look. "Then you have us at a disadvantage," chimed Alice in her clear voice. "Because we do not know what you are. Because you are clearly not human; that much is certain."

"Is that what this is about?" I asked, my stomach flipping nervously.

Jasper's eyes were inscrutable. "Perhaps. In any case, we must wait for the others to return. They are not home at present."

I swallowed apprehensively, then frowned as I realised that my shields were down, my mind undefended. I could 'hear' Edward in the background, listening intently to our thoughts. I was about to raise them again when I noticed Jasper's mind and instantly realised the source of my unnatural calm.

"You're an empath!" I said in astonishment and more than a little anger. His mind was so focused on channelling waves of calm to me that this fact jumped out at me without me even trying to glean it from his thoughts. "Stop doing that to me!"

Even as the anger spread through me, I felt him smooth it back out into serenity. "Stop that," I repeated, but my voice lacked bite now, thanks to his manipulation.

"Sorry." Jasper sounded utterly unrepentant. "But you were panicking wildly. And if you can't keep control of yourself, I'll have to do it for you. I won't tolerate threats to my family."

"Well, you wouldn't exactly be in the best state of mind, either, if you'd been attacked, knocked out and woke up, tied down, in an unfamiliar place," I snapped, stung by his remark.

I suppose you may have a point. Jasper's expression didn't alter but his thoughts were distinctly amused.

"You know fine well I have a point," I said acidly. My anger was washed away almost instantly. "Stop doing that!"

Alice giggled. "It's okay, Jazzy. I still can't see Mira's future but I don't see us being attacked in our futures. You can ease up on the calming vibes."

I blinked at her in astonishment, barely even registering Jasper's absolute trust in his mate's judgement as he toned down the waves of serenity. "You can see the future? You're a seer?" Then her other comment registered. "And you can't see mine?"

Alice bobbed her head in confirmation. "Yep. All the time. But I don't know why I can't see your future; I was actually hoping that you could tell me why. Along with – not meaning to sound rude or anything – exactly what kind of creature you are. I think that may have something to do with it."

Jasper's gaze fastened on me now too; his stare was intent, bordering on predatory, while Alice was watching me with an avid, eager curiosity. I shrank back under the combined weight of their gazes, my heart rate picking up in fear.

Can't tell, can't tell, Dad said not to, no one can know…

Too late, I became aware of Edward's mind listening to my panicked thought-stream with extreme interest. What is it? What can't we know?

I slammed my mind closed against his demands and pressed myself back against the dark-panelled wall, my hands pressed over my ears as his thoughts battered on my shields. "Stop it!" I yelled out loud. "Stop it! Edward!" My voice had risen to a high-pitched shriek by the end, pain shooting through my head as my shields shook under the pressure of Edward's insistent thoughts.

He instantly withdrew, his mind radiating contrition and apology.

Only then did I become aware of my physical surroundings again. I realised I was shaking and a pair of slim, cool arms were wrapped around me in a gentle but unyielding embrace.

Alice's POV

The girl looked up at me, brilliant green eyes wide with fear and swimming with unshed tears. I hadn't even stopped to think about my reaction; it had been entirely instinctive to fly across the room and cradle her in my arms in an attempt to comfort her. Perhaps Rosalie ought to give me more credit for my mothering instincts.

I could feel Jasper's shocked disapproval as he hovered over us. I knew his concern was misplaced though. I didn't need to be a seer to know that Mira wouldn't hurt me.

I widened my mind, broadcasting my disapproval, knowing Edward would pick it up in my thoughts. I didn't know what he'd done, but she'd seemed in genuine pain.

"Make yourself useful, Edward," I commanded, gaze still fixed on the girl in my arms. "Go fetch the others." There was a whoosh of air downstairs and he was gone.

Mira drew in a deep breath and let it out again, blinking back her tears hard. She wriggled back slightly in my grip, and I released her, acknowledging the unspoken request.

I leapt fluidly to my feet and offered her a hand. She eyed it warily, and then grasped it firmly. I pulled her easily to her feet and asked gently, "Would you like to come downstairs? Edward has gone to fetch the rest of the family. You can meet us all properly."

Mira stared at me for a few moments, expression unreadable. Then she nodded.

I guided her out of the room, walking at a normal human pace. She glanced around nervously, taking in our house with darting glances, as though she were afraid to look at any part of it for too long. I hoped she was admiring the furnishings; Esme and I had had enormous fun decorating the house and the seven of us were the only ones who ever normally got to appreciate it.

I could sense her unease at Jasper walking directly behind her, though. I shot Jasper a reassuring look over my shoulder. Really, it's okay, I told him with my eyes.

He looked back at me and I read the meaning in his gaze as clearly as if he'd spoken it. Just in case. I want you to be safe.

I sighed and rolled my eyes in exasperation but I was secretly pleased. And of course, he knew that.

We descended the stairs into the living room, to find Edward and the others arriving at the same time, walking in through the front door. Mira came to an abrupt halt at the foot of the stairs. I placed a hand on her back in silent reassurance and felt the wave of calm as it pulsed past me from Jasper to Mira. I saw her stiff shoulders relax slightly, then she half-turned to shoot a quick glare at Jasper as she realised what he'd done. He merely grinned, totally unapologetic.

With a quiet huff, Mira turned around to face Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett and Edward.