All right, this fic started because I had questions, couldn't get answers from the illustrious SM, and have an overactive imagination like everyone else. So, get ready for an intricate version of what SM has left out and a crazy little spin on known TwiHistory. ;)
= IIVIII =
IMPORTANT STORY NOTES AND WARNINGS (Bear with me, please.)
— Mentions rape and sodomy. Although the scene itself is not written, there will be a couple details of the act. The majority of it, however, will only be mentioned or implied. Please know that I don't condone the atrocious act in any way. I include it for various reasons, some of which you can find in the story's forum on Twilighted (link on profile).
— The Quileute wolves and their legends play a large part. Several of the beginning chapters focus on them and their relation to the vampires and Bella. Don't like the beasts? You can either hit back or continue, but please don't skip any chapters because you're not fond of the pack. Opening chapters are the much needed background, setting, and character and relational building of any story, including this one. The Cullens, Peter, and many other characters have important roles as well.
— AU and contains a lot of info. There are the lost (or maybe, forgotten) characters, "new" and different history, the creation of vampires, and more. Even though I use canon elements from the series and try to fill in some blanks, I will branch off—dramatically. References to real world events, mythology, philosophy, and various other topics are made and noted (after much research), and you can find the more detailed references and chapter recaps on the story blog. If, however, I got something wrong, please let me know via PM so I can change it; otherwise, I hope you can find it in your heart to overlook the errors.
— Plot before romance, and a slow burn. There won't be an "at first sight, I'm in love." No love conquers all and comes before all. It doesn't, even if it should. Also, know that IL&W isn't simply a love story that focuses on Caius and Bella, but those who surround the pair and the different aspects of love as well. The Greek didn't have four words for love for nothing, and one can love many things. And yes, there will be lemons eventually.
— Oh, and your favorite character(s) might die. There! Don't say I didn't warn you! This fic is not all mush and happily ever afters.
= IVIII =
Many thanks to PTB for the insight and writing resources, and to marlena516 and MeteorMuse for editing the first edition of this chapter after it was posted. For flow purposes, the revised version you see here is slightly different from the original, though contains nothing new plot-wise (just better writing, more or less description, and clearer themes), and it was edited only by me. Forgive my mistakes and horribly perfectionistic nature, will you?
= IVIII =
Twilight character names belong to Stephenie Meyer. All other publicly recognizable details belong to their original owners and authors. Copyright infringement is not intended. The original characterizations, plot lines, and details belong to the respective author.
— "Walking With Happiness" by The Best Pessimist —
Into The Deep
Peace. Contentment. Hope.
The words could be read, spelled, and defined easily enough, but I could never put moments to such emotions until now.
With an expanse of gray, rainy clouds and the deep, sapphire water of the Pacific ahead, I sat atop the La Push cliffs and stared into an endless horizon swelling of possibilities. Well, more like probabilities. The dark clouds brewing miles away foretold storms and various problems. The water below reflected more restless nights with a salty, wet face and bone-deep aches. Yet, it was the sun peeking and glinting throughout that enticed and drew the eye with its contrast. Shining with the promise of warmth and light, the streaking rays hinted at better days, and if brave and far-reaching enough, I imagined I could hold and live each.
Little did I know I had been doing just that over the past few months.
Day after day, I had come to this spot to escape as well as remember. I had wanted to hold on to visions of a boy and the dream of another life, and somehow, stop the pain as I did. The cliffs had given me both. Diving had induced the illusions, while the view brought the peace. Mesmerized, I could witness two opposite kinds of weather—tumultuous and calm—in one span of space and time, and I found myself here even more often because of it. I could relate. It matched how I had felt: unstable, with a calm border-lining dead on the outside, and a sea of anger and hurt beneath.
Then visit by visit, the dream and the visions had faded. With them, the dark days became lighter, the ache less sharp. Though far from perfect, the future became brighter and easier to accept. Instead of dreading everything, I looked forward to what came next, and I didn't even realize it until this morning on my way to the Rez—exactly one year after Edward left.
I wouldn't have even known the date if it hadn't been for the pack eying my every move and expression during breakfast at the Uleys'. Over the past two months, people had stopped watching me so closely, which helped my nerves and mood greatly. So when the sixth person had asked how I was feeling, I had snapped, demanding why everyone wanted to know. It hadn't helped that the person who had asked was the last I thought would show a care with so many eyes watching: Paul.
Of course, he had growled a few colorful words and names at me before he swiped my blueberry muffin and stomped off, making me instantly regret my reaction, though he didn't answer my question. It was after cleaning the morning dishes and making our grocery run that Emily had clued me in with care. The reminder hurt, lashing only for a moment every now and then before I beat it back down.
But then another, entirely different ache began as I had walked on the beach alone after the conversation. I had realized that I had put the people who loved me through hell alongside me. Deep down, I had always known but never cared, at least not enough to make a great effort on my part. What gnawed and stripped me raw, though, was the fact that there were people who unconditionally loved and cared for me, and it was only today that I was open enough to feel and accept it. Never one to be so free and comfortable with emotion, it humbled me.
I had loved the Cullens with everything I had, keeping their secret and spending every available moment that I could with them at the expense of others, only wanting them to love me enough to keep me for eternity in return. In hindsight, it sounded entirely selfish, as well as sad. True, great love demanded nothing in return, but I did. Who was I to ask the Cullens to take my life, when it went against everything they stood for? The question stung.
Did I really believe—and act—as though the Cullens were better? The answer scared me. My actions over the past year spoke volumes. I had alienated everyone, except the Cullens. I had put them first above all others, including myself, and shouldn't have. That thought had sounded selfish, too, until my next reflective thought.
What had I been trying to prove? That I was good enough? Though awkward and never comfortable around others, I rarely cared what others thought of me. With the Cullens, I had constantly worried over who, and what, I was and had aimed to please. I used to be the girl who was independent, yet dependable. I was responsible, even at a young age, making choices for myself and for others who should have made them in the first place, and I never used to lie to my parents, having avoided situations where I had to or that would cause them any worry.
But I couldn't recall making one important, and good, decision since my arrival in Forks, or a day when I didn't lie. The last conscious, unselfish choice I could remember making was moving to Forks—for my mother and Phil, for my dad and myself. Where was that girl?
When I had finally plopped against my favorite spot at the cliffs—an oddly placed, large old cedar with exposed, gnarly roots and a niche that created an embracing seat—I was at a loss, comprehending that I had lost myself. And for what? Love? Really? It was then that I knew the type of relationship I had with Edward could be the most dangerous, and it hadn't entirely been because he was a vampire. We were young, naïve, and for the first time, in love.
It was as simple as that: love. Nothing menacing or tangible that it was unavoidable or too fearful, but still precarious, especially for the inexperienced and unsuspecting. Wonderfully normal and human, the experience shouldn't be feared, and hardly anyone could blame another for wanting it—and for wanting to keep it. Our expectations might have been high, our wants a bit demanding and immovable—the circumstances surely hadn't helped—but I truly believed what Edward and I had was beautiful, that we had been in love.
The words had hit me with startling and freeing clarity. Had been.
Sometime over the past few months, I had let him go. Without meaning to, I had begun to move on. The knowledge hurt a little, as if I had lost another piece of myself—and again, without my noticing. God, I hoped I wasn't always so clueless and unaware, but I was glad I was able to acknowledge it now, also recognizing that I probably wouldn't have been able to before today.
I had actually thought I'd never be capable. How foolish was that? Most people lost their first love; it really wasn't the end of the world. Like most, I had come to accept it was all for the best. I had never truly believed Edward and the Cullens would stay, anyway, which was probably one of the reasons why I had held on to them so tightly. But even if I could turn back time, I didn't want to change the outcome or any moment spent with them—not anymore.
I wasn't foolish enough to believe that I was completely over it, though. One year might have diminished the pain of having been left behind, but it still lingered in my room, in the forest behind my house. Those ghosts, those phantom pains, made me wonder what it would be like if I ever saw the Cullens again. I'd like to think the meeting would be nothing more than passing nostalgia, that I could remain indifferent afterward.
I knew that was a lie, and the lying to myself had to stop today.
Seeing Edward would be the hardest, I knew. I hadn't wanted to think about being within arm's reach of him, hating how a smidgen of hope bloomed at the thought. It was squashed immediately—and repeatedly—as I had forced myself to entertain the possibility of running into him, however minute the chance might be. Yet, no matter how long I had thought it over, I didn't know how I would react. He would always be special to me. All I could hope for was to do the right thing for me—that I wouldn't let the memory of him drive me into fruitlessly trying to recapture what we had, or worse (and the more likely), be afraid to love someone else.
If I was being honest with myself, I had stayed in Forks with the hope of making it easier for them to find me, but it was also the fear that I could run into them if I left that kept me here. I wouldn't have been able to handle running into them, and like Charlie, I had resorted to what I knew and was comfortable with. The longer I had continued to sit at the cliffs, waiting for Jake, I understood that that and everything else I had finally come to grips with was life. It was about choices, and we had all made ours.
Better words could have been said, a few situations handled better, and I'd missed the part of me that was hopelessly romantic, but meeting the Cullens and their leaving was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I loved where a summer with the wolves and my father had brought me and who I had become because of it all. I liked knowing what was truly out there, that the supernatural existed, and I was prepared, knowing what to look for. If my track record on awareness and danger magnetism was any indication, I needed the upper hand, as small as it might be.
Toying with the bracelet that Jake gave me for graduation—the pack also having given me handmade, wooden wolf charms for my birthday in a great show that I was a part of the pack and their family—I knew I had a choice to make, one that concerned only me. The pack, the tribe, Charlie—people who loved me dearly and were still here—were waiting just like I had been. Yet, where I was waiting for who knows what, my family and friends were waiting for me. Today proved it.
Charlie had gone into work late this morning, surprising me at the bottom of the stairs as he asked how I was feeling and what my plans were. Though the last two weren't unusual, it was his worry, turned baffled relief, and then hopeful uncertainty that had prompted me to ask if he was all right. The awkward squeeze of my shoulders before he left should've tipped me off.
Then it had been the pack and breakfast. We all tried to gather for one every other day, only managing to do so twice a week, and even then, there were always at least two people missing. Well, we had met every day for the past week and had fought for a chair each time. And I was embarrassed to admit that I had thrown my hands up in the air when Sue and Old Quil asked me the question of the day while Emily and I had been at the store, and that I had also pathetically growled at Billy when we dropped off a couple bags of food and he inquired how I felt.
It was obvious these people loved me, but it also clearly showed that they were waiting for me to break.
And that was heartbreaking.
They were waiting for me, had prepared for a breakdown and were ready to there. A tiny piece of me was bitter that they had so little faith, but more than anything, I was grateful. I had a family, a big one. Their love might not move mountains, but it sure could fill and mend a broken heart. And it was time to stop waiting, for all our sakes'. I needed to grow up, to say goodbye to the girl who once loved a boy, and to start living.
It was time to really move on.
As I filled my lungs with the salt-tinged air and closed my eyes, three words came to mind. Peace. Contentment. Hope.
No longer just words, the emotions were gloriously felt, easing my shoulders and my heart. When I opened my eyes, I stared into the horizon and knew what I wanted. Ever so slowly, I stood up and walked to the very edge of the cliff. The wind on my face, the image and feel of the wide, empty expanse before me exhilarated my mind and body. I needed it. Thinking for so long and hard was draining.
Old soul, indeed, I thought, smiling and thinking of my mother. She'd be the first person I'd visit, and then maybe Angela. I needed to start looking into college, and already knowing someone at the school was an appealing draw on top of strengthening that friendship. As more weight left me with the thought, I laughed and threw my arms out.
I was making the right choice. I could feel it in my bones.
Then, remembering what I was doing, I laughed some more. Jake and I usually only jumped from the halfway point, and he would be so mad if I dove from the top. But nothing would deter me. Not today. Taking a deep breath and closing my eyes, I bent my knees and raised my hands above my head. My grin grew as a gush of wind lifted my hair and tickled my arms. I exhaled as I readied to jump, and—
I screamed as hands caught me mid-air and snatched me back.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, Bells?"
I turned in the arms of the boy I knew so well and smacked his bare chest, pushing him away. "Damn you, Jacob Black! You scared the fucking shit out of me!"
Truly shaken from being startled out of my moment of deep peace, I continued smacking him, following him as he kept stepping back. When I stopped, huffing from frustration and being out of breath, he grabbed my wrists and grinned, completely unfazed.
"Ooh, potty mouth Bells." I didn't smile, and his own slipped. "Look, I'm sorry for scaring you, and I know I'm late—"
"Try to two hours late."
"—but I told you to wait for me. Glad I got here in time, too." He pointed behind me. "A storm's coming."
I looked over my shoulder and noticed the dark, dense brumes were closer and angrier. Peeking over the cliff's edge, I decided the water wasn't too bad … yet. Hoping it would help convince him, I looked at him with big eyes.
"I guess that means no jumping today, huh?" I tried to sound and look forlorn. His lips pressing together to hide his smile told me he wasn't fooled. I sighed. "All I wanted to do today was dive off the top and then ride to shore on the back of a wolf."
He nodded, unmoved. "Uh-huh."
"And I've realized a few things, made some decisions. I feel really good about them. I need to look into some things, but it's time, you know? I can't stay here forever. I just …" My shoulders drooped. "I just need to go on, living."
He smiled a sad sort of smile and nodded.
"Of course," I started, needing to reassure him, "I won't be doing too many things all at once, and it won't be any time soon. But I really want to commemorate it by jumping." Using the move Quil and Embry told me worked on Jake, I bit my lip and looked down before peeking up and giving a saucy smile. "Please?"
He laughed. "Wow! You're really working it good there."
Face dropping, I whimpered.
"Damn it. Fine! But only once. We need to hurry up; the pack's waiting. Oh, and you're going to tell me what you realized." He raised an eyebrow, daring me not to tell him if we were commemorating.
"And you're going tell me why you're late," I countered.
Face serious, Jake looked at me intently, searching for something. His hesitation worried me a little, but he'd tell me if the news was important and applied to me. So, I gave him a smile and widened my eyes a little more. He took my hand, nodding begrudgingly as he walked us to the edge of the cliff.
"Jump on three. As always, when you land, swim parallel to the shore. I'll come to you." He rolled his eyes. "Then, you can swim on my back. I'm going to put a little distance between us so I can phase." Then he mumbled to himself, "God, this is really stupid. Sam's going to chew on my hind legs."
When we stopped at the edge, he turned to me and squeezed my hand. "Ready?"
I looked at him, knowing he referred to more than just jumping. I took in the smile that always made me want to as well, those knowing eyes that could read beneath the surface and never held judgment, and how that russet skin and no longer boyish face would forever be all sorts of beautiful to me. This was my best friend. Long ago, we used to play together as children, but it was this year that we had grown up together. I knew the pack meeting he had just come from was about him being the Alpha. If he was ready for that responsibility, I was definitely ready to live my life.
Squeezing his hand, I replied, "I am. Are you?"
He laughed. "What do you think?"
I grinned, squeezing his hand one more time before letting go and putting space between us. Raising my brows at him, I started. "One."
I laughed at his enthusiasm and bent my legs.
Together, we screamed, "THREE!"
I launched myself into wide-open air, into a world deep of possibilities where there was no turning back. My laughter became a scream before it stopped as my stomach rose and lodged in my throat, the jump from the top of the cliff higher than I had thought. It was an adrenaline rush, a mixture of happiness and freedom tinged with fear. Nothing excited me more.
When I finally hit the water, I had to stop myself from gasping. The water was freezing! It caused my chest to constrict. The desperate need for air seized me and caused alarm. For a moment, I kicked wildly, almost mindlessly, before I broke the surface, panting and trying to get my bearings. I glanced around, looking for Jake's russet hide, but couldn't see him. As I began swimming mostly parallel to the shore, I realized the waves were more vicious than they looked from above, and even though I had been doing this all summer, I was having a hard time swimming and staying above the surface.
I knew Jake would find me, yet I couldn't help but look around for him. I was already getting tired, and fear started creeping in. Angry waves swelled higher and beat harder. My limbs grew heavier. Panic threatened to choke. I screamed for Jake, wondering where the hell he was. He never took more than a minute or two to find me, and the thought of something happening to him … No, I wouldn't even think about it. I couldn't.
Pushing myself to keep going, I dove beneath the next consuming wave, trying to escape it and get around it. But it was just as I was about to resurface that I saw her and did a double take.
I gasped, inhaling water as I thrashed and tried to escape. Even in the darkened sea, there was no mistaking the flaming red hair swirling around a feline face and ruby eyes, which suddenly appeared and leveled a few inches from mine. They glinted with malicious glee. Her sneering smile rank the same. When she grabbed my arm, my lungs burned as I tried to scream. My vision dimmed before I felt whacks on my back and heard roaring in my ears—the waves crashing, my heart pounding, the water coming up my throat. Turned over, with rocks digging into my back, I looked up at Victoria's face hovering above my own.
Did she really just save me?
"You're not dying. Not yet. I have so much planned for you," she cooed, her finger running across my cheek and down my neck. "And I will get to play with you first. I've been waiting a while, and I intend to savor all of our time together." Her bell-like, childish voice didn't sound very menacing, but I was still terrified. There was a frightening amount of anticipation in her eyes.
Victoria's head snapped toward the water. I followed her line of sight as I tried to inch away from her. Neither was any use. I didn't see anything with my human eyes, and she had already taken off, running with me in her arms anyway. Betting that it was Jake she saw, I couldn't decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing. Victoria might have been the reason he couldn't get to me. But what if something happened? Vampires were more agile in the water than a wolf, and Jake would've been all alone, unless the pack had been tracking her.
"I'm not handing you over," she said, interrupting my thoughts. "I am going to kill you. No one else will get the pleasure."
"Jake?" I asked, as slow as ever, and because it was all I could think about. Did she hurt him? I refused to believe she killed him. The thought alone made me want to vomit, as well as kill her.
She shook her head. "Nope, it's not the wolves."
My head was slow to catch up, and I shook it, trying to make sense of what was happening, what had happened. Not the wolves. I blinked rapidly, my eyes burning from salt water and the wind slapping into my face. So cold, my body grew numb and my teeth began to chatter. Not the wolves. I am going to kill you.
She shook me to get my attention, still running. "You already have the wolves protecting you. How did you get a member from the Volturi Guard? And why would they protect or want you?"
"Huh?" I was so lost. I couldn't concentrate. My throat ached, my limbs felt almost non-existent, and my head was getting heavier. Then one word registered and chilled me to the bone faster than the sea did. Volturi.
"The guard in the water," Victoria started. "He said, 'She's under the eye of the Volturi. Release her.'"
Reviews are like best friends. They tell you the truth, but lovingly, done out of kindness and with kindness. I'd be grateful for your thoughts.
Advocate Rec: "Neverending Night" by Arianna-Janae. Edward & Bella, Post-BD