End of Eclipse AU. When Victoria and Riley overpower Edward, Bella is reluctantly turned and brought back to Volterra. Living amongst those who have changed her beyond all recognition, what happens when she can feel nothing about the hazy memory of her loss? Who do you turn to when you lose your soul? Bella/Riley. Some Demetri/Riley slash. **INTENDED TO BE DARK**
CHAPTER ONE – DEATH
I do not own Twilight, and no copyright infringement intended.
Disclaimer: This is a very alternate universe. I'm not one for fluff and happy endings. In Eclipse when Victoria and Riley fought Edward, Edward had told Seth to go as a ruse; in this story, Seth really did go. The Volturi are also not standing idly by waiting for the battle in the clearing to end—they know exactly where Edward is, and know that Bella will likely be with him.
Note: Edward dies...if you can't handle that please do not read any further. This is a non-canon coupling.
Dark, adult content and male slash.
Thank you to JointGifts and Lharkcom for doing such a good beta job on this chapter.
Paresthesia is a sensation, usually felt on the skin, usually felt or described as numbness, tingling, pins and needles, or pricking. It is sometimes also known as the feeling of the arm, leg, or other body part "falling asleep."
"I was selfish, I was hurtful. I tortured the ones I loved.
I was like Cathy, like Wuthering Heights, only my options were so much better than hers, neither one evil, neither one weak. And here I sat, crying about it, not doing anything productive to make it right. Just like Cathy."
(Bella Swan, Eclipse p.459)
I had kissed Jacob, and I loved him. For some strange, unfathomable reason, Edward understood, and he was fine. I only wish I felt the same—I didn't understand what had just happened and fine was probably the last word in the universe to describe how I felt.
Not only was there an emotional war raging inside me, but Seth alerted us to the fact that the newborns had reached the clearing where the rest of the Cullens and the wolf pack were defending me—yet again. I could add guilt to the list of my afflictions.
Cute, pup-like Seth whined, while Edward gave me a commentary on what was happening in the battle. It all seemed to be going pretty well, until Edward froze, and then proceeded to rip his way out of the tent.
"Go, Seth!" My fiancé ordered the adolescent wolf to run away. Seth paused and whined once more, before complying.
My first thought was that something had gone horribly wrong in the clearing. A bubble of dread began forming in my stomach, and I was about to beg Edward to take me there so I could do something, no matter how insignificant, to help. Before I could open my mouth, Edward had whisked me up and deposited me with my back against the cliff face we had set up camp in front of, and then stood in a defensive position in front of me.
The danger wasn't in the clearing—it was here. But what? Who?
"Victoria," Edward said, as if he'd heard my thoughts. His voice was menacing and animalistic in his desperation to protect his mate—me. "She's not alone. She crossed my scent, following the newborns in to watch—she never meant to fight with them. She made a spur-of-the-moment decision to find me, guessing that you would be wherever I was. She was right. You were right. It was always Victoria."
A river of emotion flowed through me: relief that it was my red-haired nemesis, rather than the threatening and deadly Volturi. Victoria wanted to kill me, not Edward—she wanted him to live so that he could feel the pain that she'd felt after James's destruction. He would live, and that made me feel infinitely more positive. Seth, too, was safe. There would be two fewer pointless deaths on my conscience.
Two vampires slowly emerged from the dark forest, their movements tentative—like a cat stalking a mouse. Edward held me closer behind him, and I gladly pressed myself into his reassuring form.
Victoria's flaming hair caught my eye. Her mouth was pressed into a determined line and her eyes, black as death, flickered between Edward and myself. Her body was poised to strike, and her vicious expression filled with determined glee—no doubt at finally getting me in a vulnerable position. My heart thudded as I looked into the face of the woman who would likely kill me here today.
You did not have to be a mind reader or psychic to see her intentions. Her companion would engage Edward while she made a break for me.
I quickly assessed the boy who stood slightly in front of Victoria. He was tall and muscular, fair-haired, and had vivid red eyes. I could not bring myself to keep looking at him and I looked away nervously, focusing on the red-haired monster who stared at me.
I wondered how she planned to kill me, and came to the conclusion that she would have to make it quick to be able to get through Edward's defenses. That was some small consolation and infinitely better than the prospect of the eternal pain my fiancé would suffer after I was gone.
Victoria signalled to the boy, but before he could move, Edward spoke and stopped him in his tracks.
"Riley. She's lying to you, Riley. Listen to me. She's lying to you—just like she lied to the others who are dying now in the clearing. You know that she's lied to them, that she had you lie to them, that neither of you were ever going to help them. Is it so hard to believe that she's lied to you, too?"
The boy, Riley, hesitated, but when Edward moved toward him, he shifted defensively.
"She doesn't love you, Riley. She never has. She loved someone named James, and you're no more than a tool to her."
Victoria roared at her former lover's name, and the intensity of her passion for vengeance scared me. Her companion's head whipped around and also registered her reaction. I allowed myself a brief glance at his face and thought I saw pain, but I did not look long enough to confirm it.
Edward spoke his name again and caught his attention.
"She knows that I will kill you, Riley. She wants you to die so that she doesn't have to keep up the pretense anymore. Yes—you've seen that, haven't you? You've read the reluctance in her eyes, suspected a false note in her promises. You were right. She's never wanted you. Every kiss, every touch was a lie."
As Edward continued to inch closer to him, I felt his distance from me growing. Victoria noticed it, too.
"You don't have to die. There are other ways to live than the way she's shown you. It's not all lies and blood, Riley. You can walk away right now. You don't have to die for her lies."
Riley began to circle, and I noticed Victoria holding herself back for the best possible opportunity to strike.
Edward tried one last time for a diplomatic solution. "Last chance, Riley."
The flame-haired female turned to the boy, who earned more of my sympathy with each syllable that passed Edward's lips; I trusted my lover to speak only the truth, plucked directly from Victoria's mind.
"He's the liar, Riley," Victoria finally reassured her young mate—he couldn't be much older than I was. "I told you about their mind tricks. You know I love only you."
Riley shifted, and then he set his jaw—a brief scan of his face told me that he trusted his mate, not Edward. There was nothing in his eyes but emotionless determination.
I, too, braced myself.
The movements were too quick for my eyes to see clearly, but there was a sudden orange blur as Victoria made a move toward me, and then Edward responded. The result was that Victoria went flying through the air until a snow-covered tree ended her flight.
Riley moved, and he and Edward became a dark, shapeless mass as they fought. I held back, feeling entirely helpless and waiting for my own inevitable death.
Death got to her feet and rushed towards me again, but a bluish shape disconnected from the battle to drag her into the combat.
I tried to keep track, but it hurt my eyes to even try, and so I waited for the outcome with my back to the wall.
Two against one—my hopes of Edward surviving slumped. But then an idea of how to be of some use sprang to mind. I dropped to the ground and scrambled around for a sharp rock.
The third wife. The only weapon I had was myself and the blood that ran through my veins. I rolled my sleeve up and gripped my crude dagger in my hand.
Slowly and purposefully, I dragged it along my fragile skin, to be rewarded with a dark red line that became a crimson ribbon down my arm and between my fingers.
The blurred vampire fight stopped abruptly and three pairs of eyes focused on me.
It had worked; I had caught their attention. And that's when I realized a crucial fact.
The third wife had bled herself to distract a vampire in order to protect her shape shifter husband. I was bleeding to distract the two vampires and help Edward, but my boyfriend was also a vampire. He hungered for human blood, though he survived on the blood of animals—but the irony was that, for him, my blood was the sweetest of all.
Edward was equally as caught by my act.
Victoria managed to snap out of her haze first, and her arms winding around Edward's head fired the two boys into action. Edward struggled, but Riley caught his arms behind him.
While the fight had previously been almost invisible to my eyes, now it seemed as if everything moved in slow motion. My jaw dropped open as I tried to cry out Edward's name, and at the same time, I saw Victoria's arms move—her teeth were bared and a low hiss escaped between them.
I rushed forward, but before my first foot could touch down, I saw a beautiful white orb drop slowly to the ground. As it touched the snow, I stopped in my tracks, and my body jerked as if Victoria had thrust her hand into my chest and twisted my heart in her fist.
"Edward," I whispered, as the two surviving vampires allowed the rest of his form to slump to the floor.
I meant to rush to him again, but Victoria had already reached inside her coat and casually dropped a lighter onto his body. The love of my life instantly burst into flames before my eyes. Part of me still wanted to join him so that I could end my own existence, but my feet suddenly became rooted to the spot.
A cruel smile twisted Victoria's lips. "That's not what I intended to do, but so long as one lover dies and the other lives, I have my vengeance." Her voice was clear and cold.
My tear-filled eyes snapped to her, but I didn't say anything. There was nothing that words could express, and even if I could find something to say, it was unlikely that a sentence could bypass the lump in my throat.
I began to understand what she meant. She'd intended Edward to mourn my loss, but instead, she would settle for the mourner being me.
Victoria approached. "The problem is that, because of your mortality, my victory will only be fleeting."
I took a step backward away from her, and then another, until my spine was against the cliff face once more. Suddenly, I valued mortality; without Edward, death and a consequent rebirth held no appeal. I wanted to die. Without knowing that Edward was somewhere in the world, there was nothing. There was less than nothing.
My eyes settled on the purple smoke curling up into the sky, and crushing pain consumed me.
Victoria was now inches away and smiled sweetly. The pain in my eyes and my posture told her how I felt without having to speak.
"The only way for you to truly know how I feel is to become a vampire." Victoria grabbed my bleeding arm roughly and held it up. She then stared at the silver crescent, now covered in streams of red, and traced the bite with her cold finger. "There is nothing but emptiness from this moment on—believe me."
"Victoria," Riley said, watching his lover's actions. "I thought you said..." A realization dawned in his eyes. "What he said was true." Riley's expression broke, and his voice trembled.
"You don't love me." It wasn't a question—it was a statement.
Victoria turned her gaze away from me for a second. "There will only ever be James." Then her attention returned to my arm, as she caressed the mark her true mate had left on me. Feline, hungry eyes met mine. "Feel my pain."
I pressed my eyelids together tightly as I felt razor-like teeth sink through my flesh in exactly the same place as my previous vampire bite. I heard a sudden rush, and then the teeth were yanked away painfully, taking a chunk of me with them.
I gasped and opened my eyes. Victoria was no longer standing in front of me. There were more blurred movements and when everything settled, Riley was on his knees, his arms outstretched and held by two vampires—one clad in black, the other in charcoal grey. I recognized them both—Alec and Demetri.
A quick look to the left and I saw a giant vampire holding a struggling Victoria by the neck, her feet kicking as they strained to reach the ground. Felix.
I could see a small, dark silhouette framed by the smoke from Edward's pyre. Before she turned around and removed her hood, I knew who it was. Large, red, child-like eyes bored into mine.
"Still human, I see." Jane's gaze dropped to my gushing arm. "Though not for much longer. What a shame—Caius was spoiling for an excuse to visit."
Suddenly a wall of pain hit me and I dropped to the ground. It took a moment to register that it was not Jane, but the bloody wound on my limb that was the source. I screamed in agony and cradled my arm to my chest.
My screams were soon joined by Victoria's, and I was vaguely aware of another body joining my love's embers, the flames springing up anew.
The small black shape approached and I heard Jane's uninterested voice above me. "Alec, please deal with this. I can't listen to that all the way home."
Despite the agony, I focused on the teenage boy. I wondered whether his instruction was to end me or just to help me suffer in silence. I waited, yet he made no move toward me and nothing happened.
Jane then turned her attention to Riley, who struggled as she got closer. "So, what do we do with you?"
Her arms lifted towards his face, but a voice stopped her before she could make contact.
"Jane, don't you think it would be a waste to destroy something so...aesthetically pleasing?" His voice was deep and melodic, with a British accent.
I wondered how Jane would react, and I did not have to wait long for an answer.
"You want to keep him?"
A smirk crept its way across Demetri's face. "Definitely." Riley stopped resisting, and our gaze briefly connected—his confused, mine foggy through my pain.
Although the situation had been different, Riley had also lost the one he loved today and watched her execution. It seemed that he was equally at the mercy of the Volturi, and I suspected we were both on our way to Italy. As my sympathy grew for him, something within me pushed outward in his direction and grew, as if an unknown force coming from myself was trying to protect him.
I did not hear anything more, as a sudden rolling blackness consumed me and I drifted into nothingness, with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company. In the dark, I felt no physical pain—no burn of venom in my veins; however, I was now at leisure to wail and lament Edward's loss, and so I did.