This story is for Avanwolf. I'm starting with the teaser that I sent her. Next chapter starts the actual beginning.

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"Edward is…"

"Angst ridden and aggravated by the stick that's permanently lodged up his ass?" Bella finished. She crossed her arms and leaned back against the porch banister. Her mouth pulled in to a taunt line, gaze flicking out over the darkened woods but not really seeing. The past few months had sent her reeling until it seemed that everything she thought she knew and felt were now in constant flux.

Tanya laughed, tilting her head to the side and resting her temple against her knuckles. The human had obviously not forgiven Edward for his actions yet. "I was going to say young, actually. But I like your description – it's very colorful."

The sound of Tanya's laughter tingled Bella's ears. The timbre was low, aged, liltingly soft. Bella felt her face and neck flush, her chest tightened in satisfaction. 'I can make a thousand year old vampire laugh.' She watched as the vampire watched her. She felt heady with power. "Why did you like him?" she asked, internally wondering why her voice came out so breathless. "Edward doesn't seem your type."

The vampire looked thoughtful, gazing off into the dark. If she was surprised by the change in topic it didn't show. Her fingers gently tapped out an unsteady rhythm against the wooden table. "No, he doesn't, does he?" She frowned slightly before getting up and walking over to where Bella stood. Bracing her arms against the railing, she looked up into the night and sighed. "For more than a thousand years I've wandered the earth." Her head fell then, limp, chin resting on her chest, eyes downcast. "Alone. Always alone."

The weariness that Bella heard in Tanya's voice was palpable. She longed to reach over and touch the ancient, find some way to comfort her. But she was rooted to the spot, her body rigid, unmoving. The Alaskan wind bit at her cheek, the low howl and hiss of it blowing against the snow and through the trees the only sound that surrounded them. Bella felt the loneliness, the isolation. It was as if the exhaustion that Tanya felt had swept out to encompass her.

"I will tell you this of life, Bella," Tanya continued, unaware of the thoughts or feelings of the woman next to her. "Everything has a mate. No matter how brief of a life span something has, there is always a counterpart to its existence. I long for that counterpart." She turned her head, eyes connecting with Bella's. "I have met thousands of men and vampires over the course of my life. And I have grown tired of looking, of finding nothing but disappointment. Edward was the only single male in the only other coven besides ours that chose animals over humans."

Bella watched as Tanya shrugged helplessly, a mirthless smile appearing on the vampires face.

"I was caught up in the idea of Edward. I wouldn't be lonely, he wouldn't be lonely, and our families would be united. It sounded like the perfect ending." Her eyes searched Bella's face. Gently, Tanya reached over and touched Bella's cheek. "Now I see that he could never make me happy, not truly. I hope you believe me when I say I harbor no ill feelings against you."

Bella reached up and threaded her fingers through Tanya's, squeezing the vampire's hand comfortingly. "Do you want to know something?" she asked, gently tugging on the vampire's hand to bring her closer. She smiled as the blonde arched an eyebrow at her questioningly. Wrapping her arms around Tanya's waist, Bella hugged the cold form against herself as tightly as she could. "I think Edward was an idiot for passing you up."

Tanya laughed happily, wrapping her own arms around the human's slight frame. She felt deliriously lucky to have met the young woman in her arms. Not even with her sisters had she ever felt this comforted or relaxed. There was something about Bella that had spoken to her from the start. 'It's almost as if we innately know each other. Two halves of a whole.' Resting her cheek against Bella's head, Tanya sighed contentedly. "Well I guess as long as I get the consolation prize of having a best friend I can bear to go another thousand years in search of a mate."

The thought struck Bella then, like lightning. It was so sudden, so enlightening that she couldn't help but blurt it out, uncensored. "Have you ever thought that a woman might be your mate?"

The rumbling laughter of the vampire cut off suddenly.

Bella pulled back from the embrace to see a look of shock frozen on Tanya's features. 'If a vampire could be dazed, this would be how they look,' she thought.

Seconds ticked by slowly without change. Bella felt embarrassment well up within her chest. 'I've offended her.' Unease made her fidgety. Hastily Bella unwound herself from their embrace, taking a few steps back.

"I'm sorry," she apologized, eyes intently focused on the ground. "I didn't mean to imply anything. I just thought with how open you are to everything that maybe it could be a new option for you."

The vampire said nothing.

Bella took a few more steps back. "Well I think I'm just going to head back in," she gestured awkwardly towards the doors. "I still have some laundry that I need to do." She waited a beat. "So I'll talk to you tomorrow, I guess."

Tanya said nothing as the human made a hasty exit back inside the house. Her brows furrowed in concentration. She had never felt this way before.

Elated. Blindsided. Excited. Ignorant.

Had the snow always been so white, so pristine? The air so crisp? The stars so numerous? Surely she'd never seen them before this second. Everything seemed new. She felt new – changed.

One sentence had just irrevocably changed her life. One human.

'Bella.'

The girl's scent lingered in the air. Lilacs and dead leaves.

'She smells like autumn.'

Bella.

Her nostrils flared. The past months flashed through her mind, rearranging themselves into patterns neatly laid out for her to dissect.

Bella's arrival.

The sudden contentedness she had found in life.

Edward's growing frustration.

'It isn't Edward that's made me so happy,' Tanya thought, turning to look inside the house.

'It's his mate.'