As always, thank you to the brilliant heavyinfinity and Nissa-Cullen, this chapter would be sitting in Azkaban (aka my recycle bin) if it hadn't been for them.
Twilight and it's characters are the property of Stephenie Meyer.
A thousand pounds of pure muscle; nine feet of power towered above me, his dark fur quivering with anticipation and muscles tensing in anticipation of battle. I charged and he met me head on. Thick claws went for me, slicing through my t-shirt as I pushed him back, first one foot then two... His head went down as he tried to use his front paws to his advantage, but it only gave me better access to his neck.
I'm not ready to end it yet. Instead, I vault over his shoulders and wait for him to turn before I jump, grabbing his neck and taking him down.
We begin wrestling. He tries vainly to pin me underneath him, but it does no good. I easily slip out of every hold, until finally I pin him face down. My hands come around his neck and my teeth find the perfect spot...
Shit! Jumping up, I look around me for the source of the noise, but I'm completely alone.
I can hear the sounds of humans in the buildings surrounding us, although I cannot understand what they are saying. There are also the sounds of various bugs and small animals, a couple of street dogs fighting, and the ever present flow of the river, but there was nothing that explained what had distracted me from my day dream. It felt like it had been months since I had got a hold of some good bear.
In fact, it had only been six days. I had taken down a large bear just before we left Alaska, but being on the move constantly was beginning to take its toll. The flights themselves had been a nightmare; Anchorage to Seattle, Seattle to Paris and then finally Paris to Firenze.
To be truthful, I would have preferred to go anywhere other than Volterra. Taking Rosie in there went against every fibre of my being. I still didn't understand how it had all been so easy. I could only assume Carlisle had pulled some strings, although no one mentioned it. The whole situation had been surreal.
Both of us had been terrified of the prospect of coming into contact with Aro. He may not have mentioned Bella in his phone calls to Carlisle, but I was willing to bet he would not be pleased if he found out she was still alive. We could only assume he had insisted on touching Edward when they met, before they 'ran off'. Failing to keep the secret was punishable by death, no matter what the circumstances, and having Aro's favour only went so far.
As soon as we got off the plane, we knew we were not alone. It only took until we got through customs and out the door before three members of the guard flanked us. To be honest, I was expecting more flair. Sure, that Felix guy looked pretty impressive, but if I didn't know what the witch twins did I could have laughed. They were just so dainty.
Instead of heading towards Volterra, they drove us south through Tuscany. We were less than a hundred miles from Rome when they unceremoniously dumped us out the car. Alice and Edward's scents struck us immediately.
"Well... what are you doing just sitting there? Get out and track them, you fools!" Jane smirked at us as she began pushing us out the car, which was pulled onto the side of a deserted motorway. Real subtle guys.
Rosalie glanced around the car suspiciously as she stepped out before getting distracted by the scent trail leading into the woods.
"Are none of you coming?" she asked, looking Jane straight in the eye.
"No. Aro has not ordered anyone to follow them. Find them, take them home, and be quick." With that, she had shut the door, and Felix had pulled away.
Since then we had been running on the trail of our missing siblings. It was lucky Rosie and I had been practicing tracking. After our failure to find Jasper last September we had been using our hunts to brush up our skills. I had never thought we would be using our new skills so soon. We had also had the occasional phone call from Italy, passing on news of any of their numerous members who had crossed the pairs' scent.
We had followed the two of them as they headed down towards Naples and then back north again on the east coast until they went into the sea. It was a miracle we found their scents again. It had taken nearly a day, putting us nearly three behind them, but eventually Rose picked up Alice's scent on the Albanian coast. Unfortunately, she didn't find it before I had wrecked one of the satellite phones in frustration though. Ignoring the borders, we followed the trail north. They skirted Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria all in 36 hours, before they moved into Germany, and began to follow the Danube south again into dangerous territory.
Romania was another place most vampires avoided if they had any sense of self-preservation, but apparently, Alice and Edward had trusted their gifts to get them through safely. I was not so sure about our own ability to do the same.
Not that it mattered, we had lost them. We had arrived in Droberta Turna Severin 24 hours ago and we were stuck. We managed to follow them to the train station, but they had left such a multitude of trails, on and off various trains, going down lines and then doubling back on themselves, it was impossible to figure out where they had gone.
To top it all off, the sun was shining, so we were stuck in an empty, pink, house just outside the city. The TV kind of worked, so I was happy, although there wasn't much to watch considering I didn't understand the stupid language. Maybe I should learn something other than Spanish next time I go through the whole high school charade; it was getting kind of boring to watch teenagers stumble through the same phrases over and over again.
The sound of water came through the pipes above my head before I heard Rosie's footsteps as she stepped out the bath. I swear she must have been in there at least two hours. It was crazy. I mean, how dirty could she actually be?
I heard her light footsteps coming down the stairs and she wandered cautiously into the room. Our clothes had been in a complete state when we arrived this morning, so we were forced to 'borrow' some that were on a line on our way here. Hopefully the last of our American dollars would pacify whoever they had belonged to.
Rosie had been uncharacteristically relaxed about the idea of not wearing something designer. I thought she looked fantastic; her feet were bare and she had a black floor length skirt on. She was wearing a patterned top and her wet hair was loose, still hanging down her back.
She walked slowly, her hips swinging, and she smirked at me as her eyes came to rest on my chest.
"Good day dream?" She reached up and ran a finger down my neck, settling on a wet patch on my shirt. Damn, so that was what had distracted me. Fucking drooling.
I glanced down and shuffled my feet. Rose's moods had been changeable to say the least in the past couple of months and I still wasn't entirely sure whether she was going to laugh at me or chastise me. Either way, the nervous, sorry act would hopefully work wonders. I looked up, catching her eyes and trying to make my own as puppy like as possible.
She smiled indulgently at me and leaned in to kiss me on the cheek.
"How long until nightfall?" Rose asked, turning away from me and sitting on the ratty sofa.
"At least a couple of hours left... I still can't believe Alice and Edward came through here." We had found a hotel that smelt distinctly of them earlier today. It was upmarket for the area but still nothing compared to their usual accommodations. If anyone knew how to spend money in this family, it was Edward and Alice.
"We could check their credit cards again," Rose said, contemplatively. "Do you know if Jasper has got in touch with Jenks yet? If they leave the country by train they are going to need passports."
"Why the hell are they running from us anyway? It's not like there is anyone else following them. Why the hell didn't they just get on the first flight home?" I had asked myself these same questions many times over the past few days, but this was the first time I had verbalised them.
Rosie just shrugged.
The change in my wife had been dramatic over the past couple of months, and even more so over the last few days. She was going through something, but whenever I tried to talk to her about it she would brush it off. I think it had all started when we left Forks. She had been angry- angry at Jasper for losing control, angry at Edward for bringing a human into the fold in the first place, angry at Alice for not seeing what was going to happen, and angry at Bella for forcing us out of our home.
She had been terribly upset that we had to leave, which I didn't really understand. We hadn't even been planning on staying there. She and I had left at the appropriate time to tell everyone we were attending college and then we had started travelling. We had only come back for Bella's birthday because I had insisted on it. We had been planning to travel to Africa after the party.
The thought of our cancelled safari made my mouth water and my throat burn. We had not taken any time to hunt for days and it was beginning to get to me. I pulled at the collar of my stolen wifebeater uncomfortably.
"Don't worry, we'll stop to hunt soon." Rose didn't look up. Her eyes were on the map I had put on the table earlier. It showed the majority of Europe and we had marked our route meticulously. Originally, we had been hoping to make some kind of sense of Alice and Edward's movements, but we had not had any luck.
I still was not entirely sure what had happened with the two of them. Rose had told me about her conversation with Edward, and then, with more difficulty, what Alice had said when she called. Her words seemed to have shaken my wife considerably. Rose had not said anything sarcastic or mean since then, at least not about anyone other than me.
We were working on the assumption that neither of them knew that Bella was alive, but we still did not understand why they were running. Initially, we had thought the Volturi might be after them. Although Carlisle would never admit it, we knew the two of them, as well as Jasper, were of interest to Aro; he had offered them all positions in the guard before. Rosie and I were worried he had somehow tried to coerce them, or that Alice had seen something he didn't like, but that didn't seem to be the case. We knew for a fact no one else was following them, and Aro and Marcus had been nothing but helpful since we arrived. The same couldn't be said for Cauis, but he was a miserable git at the best of times. We were incredibly lucky to get any help at all from them; after our flaunting of the laws we were lucky to be alive at all.
I wandered over and lifted Rose from the chair she was sitting in and sat down in it myself, pulling her onto my lap. She wrapped one of her hands in mine before going back to the map in front of her.
"I don't know where they could be going from here," she stated, her voice full of tension "I can't imagine they would go up through Transylvania, so the only real options are north or south... Perhaps they crossed back into Serbia, hoping the river would mask their trail." She sighed in frustration and I lifted my other hand to play lightly with her hair. Her body weight shifted and she leaned back into me, taking her feet off the ground and curling into me. Her stress was evident as she pulled at her long hair.
"It's ok, shortcake, you'll see." I pulled her closer to me and felt her quake slightly. I knew she would be crying if she could.
"I just don't understand, Em. I don't understand any of it!" Her breathing hitched and her chest shook. "What happened? Edward lied to us, which frankly isn't that surprising, but Alice? And why are they running? Why are they running from us? Is it my fault? Alice said she would never forgive me; what if they are running because they don't want to see me? I should just leave, then Alice could come back to Jasper, and Edward, well who the fuck cares what Edward does? Why did he lie to us?"
Her tirade stopped and I kissed her lightly on the head as her sobs continued until the sky began tp darken. All the while, I whispered my reassurance in her ear- telling her that I would always love her, that I would always stay with her, and that no one blamed her for doing what she thought was right. Unfortunately, I didn't have the answers to her questions.
As though on a timer, Rose stood as soon as the last light left the sky and began packing our few belongings into a grubby backpack. She didn't say a word, but I could see her determination was absolute. Her lips quivered slightly, but her eyes were hard and I knew she was going to be ok.
I followed behind her, picking up what we needed and disposing of anything we didn't. I was standing behind her at the door when she turned round quickly.
"Thank you," she said, looking up at me with a soft expression, her eyes still filled with venom. "I know I'm not the easiest person to love, Em, but know that I love you with everything I am and I thank God everyday for bringing me to you." I stood dumbstruck and she smiled. I had always known how Rose felt about me, even in my first couple of years of this life when she had been scared to spend time alone with me, still raw from the pain of her own death. Man, it's a good thing she killed those guys 'cause what I would have done to them would have been so much worse. My girl didn't often talk of her feelings though. It was her emotions and actions that defined Rose, not her thoughts, one of the reasons she and Edward never got along.
Her verbal confirmation of her love for me was an unusual treat, usually only uttered when we were in bed. Not that I didn't appreciate her enthusiasm to show and tell me how much she adored me, but sometimes a man likes to know he is more than just a demon in the sack.
I leaned down and gently captured her lips with mine, simply enjoying the feel of her so close to me. The beautiful smell of her skin in such close proximity to mine made my head spin. It was rich, musky in a very feminine way, giving it an exotic feel despite the undertones of apple and roses. It was perfect.
I pulled away from her and leaned down to whisper in her ear. Reminding her how much I loved her and how beautiful she was, how sweet and kind, and how I could not imagine anything closer to perfection than her.
She smiled sweetly and kissed me quickly once more before taking my hand and heading for the door.
For the next couple of days we travelled further north, following the Danube as Rose had suggested before jumping into Hungary to avoid getting too close to the Romanian coven. Then, it was into Germany and eventually Poland, where we finally got to hunt something more satisfying than wild dogs.
Eventually, we made it all the way to Warsaw, where we were completely thrown when we caught Alice and Edward's scents, again in the train station. Unfortunately, we could not follow it any further. As far as we could tell, they had not got on a train. There were multiple trails leading to multiple platforms, but they all seemed to return out the same door, leaving us unable to tell where they had headed, let alone how long ago they had left. In a fit of desperation, we rented a hotel room and began travelling various lines in hopes of picking up their scent at another station, but it was fruitless. We had been travelling Europe for ten days, crossing at least six countries, and we still had come no closer to getting to them.
Rose had gone out to purchase some clean clothes. Our stolen ones were now barely rags and we had been here a day and a half now with no leads, so she had decided to go shopping. I had offered to accompany her, but to be honest I was quite relieved when she said she would go alone. We had rented a hotel room the previous night. Rags didn't mean anything when you had a black credit card. We had not spoken to Carlisle since we had been in Albania and I knew he would be worried about us, even if we were being careful to leave a Visa trail for him to follow.
I took a deep breath in and sat down on the bed next to the phone. I was genuinely unsure of what to say to my father. I wanted to reassure him that we would find them, but I could not bring myself to lie. Honestly, I was beginning to think that the two of them did not want to be found; there was simply no other explanation for their complete disappearance from our lives. There was no credit trail. Jasper had contacted Jenks to ask if he had made ID for them in any other names, but he had not. Their phones had been disconnected and now we had completely lost their scents. Despite Rose's insistence that we continue so she could kick Edward's ass for lying to us about Bella splitting up with him, I knew we would have to stop at some point.
Summoning up what little courage I had, I picked up the phone and began dialling Carlisle's cell.
"Dabrowski dom... którzy szukasz? " I put down the phone quickly. Damn, forgot the country code.
I tried again and heard the beeps that told me I was being connected out of country.
"Alice? Edward?" Carlisle answered the phone with such hope and I felt terrible that my voice would let him down.
"Sorry, dad, just me." I heard him sigh at the end of the phone.
"Emmett. Sorry, I saw the international number and thought..."
"It's okay, dad. I did the same thing a couple of days ago when Rosie called my cell from the payphones at the train station."
"So you haven't found anything then?" His voice sounded weary, like he had suddenly aged.
"Well, we managed to follow them all the way up to Warsaw, Poland, but we've lost them. Their scents are all over the train station, but we can't work out which way they went...They tried the same trick in Romania though, so we might get lucky again."
"You've done better than I ever could have hoped for, son. If they don't want to be found I suspect it will be impossible to get those two. Have there been any other scents following them?"
"Nah, since we got out of Italy it's just us; apparently Aro was telling the truth when he spoke to you."
I heard Carlisle murmur his thanks to God. He was good friends with the Volturi and had not wanted to think of them harming his family.
"How is Rose holding up?" His voice was full of concern. Apparently I wasn't the only person to have noticed she wasn't her usual self. Rose had fought with all of the members of our family many times before, but she had never let anything said during an argument get to her before, even when Edward had cruelly called her spoiled and vapid. I had had words with him after that, but Rose had just brushed it off. In her opinion, family members were meant to have disagreements. They knew she loved them, she knew they loved her, and anything else was inconsequential.
"She's been better. She thinks it's all her fault." I thought back to the night before, when we had realised we had very possibly lost the trail, remembering her sobs as she admitted she blamed herself for everything, not just telling Edward, but everything. Rose felt that if she had been nicer to Bella, she would never have split up with Edward (it didn't seem to matter when I pointed out this was not the case). The, she said that if she had asked Jasper to hunt with her before Bella's party, Bella would never have been hurt. Next, she claimed that she had caused the rift between Jasper and Alice, one I knew fine well had been brewing for years, not months. Finally, she said that Edward had left because he could not stand being around her...
I also knew that if I told Carlisle any of this, Rose would put me on a booty embargo until 2020. Our sex life hadn't exactly been popping lately, but I was hoping to get some before jet packs were the norm... actually, I wonder if I could make one now, maybe Rose would help...
Stop getting distracted and talk to your dad, Emmett!
"I think she needs to see you guys, especially Esme and... and maybe even Bella, to know everyone doesn't hate her." I knew for a fact Rose had been convinced Bella hated her from the first time they met. She had been angry to have a human surprised on her at home and had broken a plate in frustration. She was worried Bella thought she was a diva. I had told her she was a diva, but that wasn't going to stop Bella from liking her.
"I think that's a good idea. We could use some help here at the moment anyway." Carlisle's voice was tense and I wondered what I had missed.
"What's going on?" I demanded.
"Well, it's really nothing to worry about... " Carlisle was clearly trying to placate me, but I didn't like it. There wasn't much that got him worked up; Carlisle was a naturally calm soul, unlike me, and he was not easily ruffled.
"Dad! Just tell me! Is Esme okay? What about Jasper? Oh God, nothing has happened to Bella, has it?" I could not stand the thought of anything happening to my baby sister. I had so much I still needed to tell her! I needed to apologise for leaving, I needed to teach her how to play Halo...
"Nothing's happened to anyone, Emmett. We've just had a little problem, but at the moment everything is fine."
"You know what that sounds like, dad? That sounds like everything could be not fine really fast."
"Apparently, quite a lot happened while we were away from Forks, Emmett. Laurent came back looking for Bella a couple of months ago," I bit back a growl. Laurent had travelled up to Denali after out altercation with James last year and I knew he had gotten quite close to Irina before suddenly disappearing. She had been searching for him ever since, but no one had once thought he might have gone back to Forks. If he touched my baby sister, I would hunt him down and burn him myself.
"He was about to attack her when the pack appeared," Carlisle explained. I sighed with relief. I hadn't exactly been a fan of the mongrels when we had first met them all those years ago, but if they had saved my sister, I was in their debt.
"Unfortunately," Carlisle continued, unaware of my inner monologue, "It appears he was there at Victoria's bidding. She's been trying to get past the wolves for a couple of weeks; the pack couldn't work out why until Jacob Black mentioned it to Bella, who immediately guessed what she was after. Apparently, she has decided to get revenge for James' death and fixated on Bella as the way to do it." I really did growl this time, literally seeing red with anger. There was no way that skanky, ginger bitch was getting anywhere near Bella.
"She's perfectly safe, Emmett," Carlisle reassured me and I worked at calming myself. Damn, I wish Jasper was around; he was always great at picking up when I was angry and trying to calm me. Well, usually he was., When I threw Edward's piano out the window he had just sat back and watched; honestly, I think he had wanted to join in. "We've liaised with the wolves and worked out a schedule so she is being watched 24/7. She's, well, less than happy about it, but she's safe."
Of course she was. I knew Carlisle would never do anything to put her in jeopardy.
"You truly don't think there is anything else you can do there?" Carlisle's voice reminded me of the reason I was in Europe instead of looking after my baby sis.
"I don't think they want to be found, Carlisle. Maybe we just need to give them some time..."
He murmured in agreement.
"We'll hang around another day or two and see if we can get any more leads, but if we don't I think we are gonna head home by the weekend." I felt terrible giving up, I really did, but if they did not want to be found there was nothing more we could do.
"Of course. Send my love to Rose, will you? And let us know your flight details; one of us will come and pick you up. I'll let Aro know that you will be returning to the states. He's been in touch with me, keeping me up to date on your progress."
"Thanks, dad." I sat back down on the bed. "See you soon."
"Bye, son." He put down the phone and I did the same, swinging my legs up onto the bed. Victoria was back. I had known that one was trouble. I didn't understand why we hadn't killed her when we had the had hung around Forks long enough after we got back from Phoenix, but Alice had said she would not do anything and Edward seemed to agree. Jasper had been like me, eager to finish it, seeing no sense in leaving loose ends, but in the end Carlisle's compassion had won and we had left her to it.
And now we were working with the wolves. That was unexpected but could be fun. I had always kind of wanted to fight one when we first met. The bears in Forks were good this time of year too.
A thousand hundred pounds of pure muscle, nine feet of power...
I let my mind wander as I waited for Rosie.
A couple of quick notes
(i) Droberta Turna Severin is a city in Romania, on the Danube. The pink house really exists, I lived in it for a month a couple of summers ago on an archaeological dig with uni.
(ii) Dabrowski dom... którzy szukasz is Polish for 'Dabrowski house, who are you looking for?' according to Google Translate.
(iii) RL and this chapter have both been kicking my ass recently, so I'm really sorry for the wait.
(iv) I don't know how, but I won the Madam Award from the Gem Awards Jasper Round. Christag Banners was nice enough to make me some pretty artwork as a prize, which you can see here christagbanners . /2011/02/gem-award-winner-newtowngirl . html - just remove the spaces and then send her some love!