Disclaimer: I am NOT Stephenie Meyer and I don't own any of the Twilight series' characters or stories. I borrowed the dialogue and storyline from Breaking Dawn, but the rest is my own take on the story, as seen through Edward's eyes.
I stared, transfixed, as Bella and Renesmee took each other in for the first time since both of their births. I wished I could see into Bella's mind, to see what her thoughts were in this moment, but I could see the same sentiment reflected on her face in the expression and thoughts of our daughter. Both were in complete awe and adoration of one another.
I was so focused on the emotion of the moment that it wasn't until I heard the alarmed thoughts of my family that I realized what was happening. Barely a fraction of a second had passed before I responded to the potential danger and firmly gripped Bella's arms to anchor her in place.
Not a chance.
Oh, please watch her. She would never forgive herself if something happened.
Will you stop overreacting? She's fine.
Emmett and Jasper stood side by side, creating a barrier between Bella and the baby. Rosalie and Jacob had moved nearer to the door with Renesmee. Everyone in the room had instantly responded to Bella's movement as though it were a threat, myself included. But even as I held her in place, she didn't resist, didn't struggle like a newborn tempted by human blood would. The only person who hadn't moved was Alice, who stood with her arms crossed and a look of annoyance on her face.
"Oh, give her some credit," she scolded. "She wasn't going to do anything. You'd want a closer look, too."
She arched her eyebrow, daring us to refute her. Renesmee struggled anxiously in Rosalie's arms, reaching out for her mother. Bella was frozen in place, yet surprisingly relaxed. I could feel the rise and fall of her muscles as she breathed in the scents of the room without even the slightest hint of aggression.
"I'm okay," she whispered, reaching up to pat my hand. "Keep close, though, just in case."
She's remarkably calm. So unusual for a newborn…
I loosened my grip, now knowing that the perceived threat was truly no danger at all.
"Jazz, Em, let us through. Bella's got this."
Jasper's eyes narrowed. "Edward, the risk –" I don't think she's ready for this.
"Minimal," I replied. "Listen, Jasper – on the hunt she caught the scent of some hikers who were in the wrong place at the wrong time…"
Edward, how could you be so careless!
The call of human blood is too strong for a newborn to resist – it's in their nature. It's to be expected.
Gasps of horror echoed through the room, their thoughts turning macabre at the thought of Bella attacking a human. Some were horrified, yet others seemed remarkably unaffected by the news, as though they had been anticipating it.
"Edward!" Carlisle reproved. "How could you be so irresponsible?"
I shook my head. "I know, Carlisle, I know. I was just plain stupid. I should have taken the time to make sure we were in a safe zone before I set her loose."
Bella cringed, inching closer to me as the eyes of my family scrutinized her. "Edward," she whispered, clearly uneasy with the sudden attention.
I grinned, eager to share with our family the extraordinary gift that Bella seemed to have been born with. "He's absolutely right to rebuke me, Bella. I made a huge mistake. The fact that you are stronger than anyone I've ever known doesn't change that."
Really, Edward? Alice rolled her eyes. "Tasteful joke, Edward."
I shook my head. "I wasn't making a joke. I was explaining to Jasper why I know Bella can handle this. It's not my fault everyone jumped to conclusions."
Jasper inhaled a sharp breath. "Wait. She didn't hunt the humans?" Impossible.
She did what?
Did I hear that right?
"She started to," I paused, taking what could be considered far too much pleasure in the puzzled thoughts that filled the room. I could hear Bella's teeth clench, clearly not enjoying my penchant for elaborate story telling. "She was entirely focused on the hunt."
"What happened?" Carlisle exclaimed, leaning forward with anticipation.
I mirrored Carlisle's movements, leaning toward him for effect. "She heard me behind her and reacted defensively. As soon as my pursuit broke into her concentration, she snapped right out of it. I've never seen anything equal to her. She realized at once what was happening, and then…she held her breath and ran away."
"Whoa," Emmett mumbled. "Seriously?"
Bella rolled her eyes. "He's not telling it right," she muttered, shuffling her feet. "He left out the part where I growled at him."
That sounds interesting. "Did ya get in a couple of good swipes?" Emmett teased.
"No! Of course not." Bella's expression was indignant.
Oh, come on. "No, not really? You really didn't attack him?"
"Emmett!" she groaned.
Too bad. "Aw, what a waste. And here you're probably the one person who could take him – since he can't get in your head to cheat – and you had a perfect excuse, too." He sighed. "I've been dying to see how he'd do without that advantage."
"I would never," she exclaimed.
How can she be so rational? It doesn't make sense. Emmett should know better than to antagonize her – any newborn would have attacked him for less. Why doesn't she?
I looked over at Jasper and grinned, seeing his puzzled face. I tapped his shoulder lightly with my fist. "You see what I mean?"
Unbelievable. He shook his head. "It's not natural."
"She could have turned on you –" Esme reproved. " – she's only hours old!" She placed her hand over her heart and reached for Carlisle's hand with the other. "Oh, we should have gone with you." I couldn't bear it if anything happened to either of you – think about your daughter.
Carlisle patted her hand reassuringly. "Although a clear error in judgment, it all seems to have turned out." Though her reaction was remarkable – quite astounding. I wonder what could have caused it. Her preparation perhaps?
I shrugged, answering Carlisle's silent query. We had no idea yet what Bella might be capable of or how she obtained such a level of control as a newborn. Perhaps we would never know the true cause, though I could foresee many debates regarding the subject in the near future.
"Edward," Bella implored, breaking me from my reverie. She was leaning around Jasper, trying to catch a better glimpse of Renesmee. "Please?"
Jasper's jaw clenched and he remained steady. It's too risky. We can't allow…
"Jazz, this isn't anything you've seen before," Alice whispered. "Trust me." She's not like the others.
He turned to look at her, his eyes filled with turmoil as he struggled with the desire to believe Alice while everything he knew in his history with newborns warned him not to. After a brief moment, he reluctantly nodded and moved to the side.
Bella took a step forward and Jasper placed a light hand on her shoulder, moving along with her. Even with Alice's reassurances, he still wanted to be prepared should something go wrong. We moved slowly across the room, blanketed in the aura of calm that Jasper was emitting. I wasn't certain if Bella was unsure of her ability or if it was the concern radiating from everyone else in the room that cautioned her to take things slowly. Renesmee struggled in Rosalie's arms and I could hear the frustration in her thoughts.
Without warning, a high-pitched wail filled the room as Renesmee began to cry, the building aggravation culminating in a piercing crescendo of anguish. Instinctively, I moved toward her, as did everyone else. I reached for her cheek, peering into her eyes for any signs of pain, though I already knew the cause of her distress. Rosalie patted her back soothingly, shushing her cries. Carlisle and Esme hovered like doting grandparents.
What's going on? Is she okay? "What's the matter?" Jacob fretted. "Is she hurt? What happened?" His eyes scanned her, searching for the cause of her wails. He reached for Renesmee and Rosalie handed her to him.
"No, she's fine," Rosalie assured him, stifling the urge to roll her eyes. Every cry isn't cause to sound the alarm. She gestured to Renesmee who was once again reaching toward Bella. "See? She just wants Bella."
"She wants me?" Bella whispered. I turned around, surprised to see her still standing frozen in the spot where I had left her. She hadn't moved an inch. She looked confused and concerned and I chastised myself for leaving her side. I returned to her, placing my hands on her arms, and gently urged her forward.
"She's been waiting for you for almost three days," I whispered in her ear.
The room collectively held their breath while they watched Bella and Renesmee prepare to meet for the first time. Jacob was noticeably anxious and I wondered if he might try to take Renesmee and make a run for it – not that he would get very far. He was fortunate enough that he could still stand on two legs.
Bella must have noticed as well. "Jake – I'm fine," she reassured him.
This is a bad idea, he thought, frowning at Bella's confidence.
Renesmee squirmed, continually reaching for Bella as they slowly inched closer together. Bella stared at her for several beats and I once again found myself struggling with the frustration that came from my lack of insight into her mind. I would have given anything to hear her thoughts in this moment. Though of one thing I could be sure – it was a moment we would both never forget, preserved perfectly in our eternal memories.
Bella reached over the final short distance and took Renesmee in her arms, cradling her against her. I fought the urge to growl at Jacob who was so reluctant to relinquish Renesmee to her mother that he maintained his grip on her, ready to take her back if the supposed danger presented itself.
I could hear the contentedness radiating in Renesmee's thoughts as she smiled up at Bella. I tensed as I saw her tiny hand reaching up toward Bella's face. Seeing her intentions, I tightened my grip on Bella's arms and braced myself for her reaction to our daughter's unique ability – that is, if she could see anything at all that she tried to show her.
Though I could not see into Bella's mind, I could see the images that Renesmee was trying to show her. It seemed like a century ago that she caught her first glimpse of her mother just after her birth. How could only three days have passed? The waiting, the uncertainty about her transition, it felt like an eternity to me. But in this moment, our daughter was trying to connect with her mother in the only way that she knew how – by showing her the first memories of her that she had.
"What…was…that?" Bella stammered.
I was briefly taken aback. If Bella had seen what Renesmee intended to show her, then it would be the first time someone had been able to reach into Bella's mind. What did that say about our daughter's unique ability?
"What did you see?' Rosalie asked. "What did she show you?"
Bella looked puzzled. "She showed me that?"
"I told you it was hard to explain," I whispered. "But effective as means of communications go."
Well… "What was it?" Jacob asked.
Everyone in the room seemed to lean in, waiting to hear Bella's answer.
"Um. Me. I think," she managed. "But I looked terrible."
"It was the only memory she had of you," I explained. "She's letting you know that she's made the connection, that she knows who you are."
"But how did she do that?"
I shrugged. "How do I hear thoughts? How does Alice see the future? She's gifted."
Fascinating. "It's an interesting twist," Carlisle mused. "Like she's doing the exact opposite of what you can."
"Interesting." I nodded. "I wonder…" My mind began to wander as I pondered Carlisle's comment. Renesmee was, essentially, doing the opposite of what I could, but where I could listen to the thoughts in the minds of others, she put her own thoughts into their minds. The puzzling aspect was the fact that Bella could see the images she was shown. Since I could not read her thoughts and she seemed to be immune to others, like Aro and Jane, then how was it that our daughter's ability was able to penetrate her mind? Perhaps she had an ability akin to Jasper's where something she did caused an actual physical change in Bella's body rather than just in her mind.
Bella always joked that her mind ran on a different frequency than everyone else around her. Conceivably because Renesmee is Bella's daughter, her mind too runs on that frequency. Though if that were true, I would be unable to hear her thoughts as well – and that certainly wasn't the case.
I continued to puzzle, listening to Carlisle's thoughts on the matter as well. He was speculating on the genetic probabilities, on the possible chromosomal combinations that resulted in Renesmee's exceptional ability. And the thought occurred to me that if my ability was reflected in our daughter, then perhaps an aspect of Bella's mind was reflected as well. If Bella had the ability to keep everyone out of her mind, the opposite of that ability would be that Renesmee would be able to access every mind. Fascinating, I thought, echoing Carlisle's sentiment.
"I remember you, too," I heard Bella whisper. I turned to see her pressing her lips lightly to the baby's forehead.
Jasper held his breath. Careful. Calm.
Not a good idea. That's like an alcoholic kissing a bottle of whiskey. Jacob shifted his weight uneasily.
"She's fine," Alice murmured. They really need to calm down. Bella won't hurt her.
"Haven't we experimented enough for one day?" Jacob asked nervously. "Okay, Bella's doing great, but let's not push it."
Watch it, dog.
He better not push her.
I saw a look of irritation flash in Bella's eyes as she looked up to glare at Jacob. I could already see the wheels turning in her mind as her eyes narrowed. Jacob should have known better than to say anything. I could see the anxious glances exchanged by my family as we all knew the truth of Jacob's imprinting would come to light very soon.
"What is your problem, Jacob?" Bella growled, pulling slightly on Renesmee so that Jacob, who was still holding on to her, was drawn closer.
Bella studied his face as he stood nervously next to her.
"Just because I understand, it doesn't mean I won't throw you out, Jacob. Bella's doing extraordinarily well. Don't ruin the moment for her," I warned.
"I'll help him toss you, dog," Rosalie added. "I owe you a good kick in the gut."
Jacob winced under Bella's scrutiny, but didn't budge. He maintained his hold on Renesmee. The room was silent for several heartbeats, so quiet that you could almost hear the puzzle pieces clicking into place in Bella's head. Then all at once, she gasped. "No!"
Uh-oh, here we go.
This should be good.
I wrapped my arms tightly around Bella to restrain her and, in her shock, she released her grip on Renesmee just enough for Jacob to take her in his arms and step several paces back. Jasper edged closer to us, enveloping us in waves of calm. I could feel Bella standing rigid in my arms – it would take a lot more than Jasper's ability to defuse this situation.
"Rose," Bella spoke through gritted teeth. "Take Renesmee."
Rosalie reached over and took Renesmee in her arms with no resistance from Jacob. They both took a step back. Rosalie stood behind Jacob with a slight smirk curving on her lips.
"Edward, I don't want to hurt you, so please let go of me."
I hesitated, briefly debating whether or not I should comply. On one hand, I had been waiting for this moment since the second I realized Jacob had imprinted on our daughter. Yet, on the other hand, although Bella was upset in this moment, she might regret harming her friend and I would hate to be to blame for letting her.
Better let her get it out of her system, bro. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
Oh, Edward, don't let her hurt him.
She must have sensed my dilemma. "Go stand in front of Renesmee," she suggested.
I dithered for a moment more before succumbing to her wishes and letting her go. Rosalie took several more steps back and I moved to stand in front of her. Bella crouched down and everyone took a decisive step backward, except for Jacob. He seemed to be frozen in place by the ferocity of her glare.
Oh man, he's gonna get it now! Looks like I'm gonna win this bet.
I knew she wouldn't react well to this.
"You didn't," she growled, taking several slow steps forward like she was stalking her prey.
I couldn't help it! He backed up, raising his palms in a defensive posture. "You know it's not something I can control," he reasoned.
Bella's eyes blazed. "You stupid mutt! How could you? My baby!"
Jacob stumbled backward through the front door and down the stairs, but Bella matched his every move. She wasn't going to let him get away. "It wasn't my idea, Bella!" he pleaded. Please, Bella. It was out of my control. I didn't choose it.
"I've held her all of one time, and already you think you have some moronic wolfy claim on her? She's mine."
"I can share," he offered as he backed away to the edge of the lawn.
"Pay up," Emmett snickered, glancing over at Alice. She's gonna rip him a new one.
Alice rolled her eyes and waved her hand dismissively. I chucked to myself, realizing that this, perhaps, was the first time someone had bet against Alice and won. Granted, she only made the bet because she wanted the chance to participate in a wager where she truly couldn't predict the outcome, but its significance still wasn't lost on me.
"How dare you imprint on my baby? Have you lost your mind?" Bella shrieked.
Jacob continued to back away from Bella until his was pinned against the trees, his options for escape drastically dwindling. "It was involuntary!" he insisted. I had no idea! She can't think I chose this.
Oh no, not on my watch.
Seth and Leah came through the trees on either side of Jacob. Seth whined and Leah's muzzle pulled back in a growl before she snapped her teeth in warning. I took a step forward, preparing to intercede if necessary, though it didn't look as though Bella would need any help from me.
Bella snarled at Leah and took another menacing step forward.
"Bella, would you try to listen for just a second?" Jacob pleaded. "Please?" Please, Bella.
Leah growled quietly. "Leah, back off." You're only making things worse.
Do you see the way she's looking at you? The last thing you need is for me to back off.
"Why should I listen?" Bella hissed.
Jacob's eyes widened for a brief moment while he searched for the right words. "Because you're the one who told me this," he began. "Do you remember? You said we belonged in each other's lives, right? That we were family. You said that was how you and I were supposed to be. So…now we are. It's what you wanted."
Jacob was correct in one aspect, but there was a vast separation between what was happening now and what Bella had meant at the time she said those words. I had the sinking feeling that turning her words around like that would only serve to infuriate her further.
"You think you'll be part of my family as my son-in-law!" she shrieked.
Bad move, dog.
That was probably not the best tactic to use.
Bella, that's not what I meant. It's not like that.
Emmett let out a hearty laugh and even Rosalie chuckled a bit under her breath. For the most part, the thoughts of my family were a mixture of amusement and concern. Though I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jacob finally squirm under Bella's furious glare, I was apprehensive about exactly how far she might take this.
"Stop her, Edward," Esme murmured. "She'll be unhappy if she hurts him."
Jasper edged forward, preparing for the possibility of a fight. I held my palm up to caution him – we needed to be ready to intervene, but didn't want Seth or Leah to see his advance as a possible threat.
Jacob looked at Bella with wide eyes. I didn't mean it like that! "No! How can you even look at it that way? She's just a baby, for crying out loud!" It's not like that. I'm a protector, a brother, not a…
"That's my point!" Bella yelled.
"You know I don't think of her that way! Do you think Edward would have let me live this long if I did?" He gestured to me, shooting me a worried glance. Come on, back me up here. You know it's true – you can read my thoughts. "All I want is for her to be safe and happy – is that so bad? So different from what you want?" I had heard this argument before in his mind, though he seemed more afraid of Bella's reaction to the news than he was with mine.
Bella growled loudly, undeterred by his appeals, though I was surprised that she had been able to maintain her composure thus far. Any other newborn placed into a similar situation would have attacked without thought, without taking the time to listen to Jacob's argument.
"Amazing, isn't she?" I murmured to Carlisle.
Amazing. "She hasn't gone for his throat even once," Carlisle agreed. Simply fascinating.
"Fine, you win this one," Emmett groaned, realizing that perhaps Alice had won the bet after all.
"You're going to stay away from her," Bella hissed.
What? No…I can't. "I can't do that!" Jacob pleaded.
"Try," she seethed. "Starting now." She took another threatening step forward, leaning into a crouch to emphasize the severity of her demand.
"It's not possible." Jacob paused, collecting his thoughts. How can I make her understand? She has to understand. "Do you remember how much you wanted me around three days ago? How hard it was to be apart from each other? That's gone for you now, isn't it?"
She glared back at him, either answering with her silence or confused as to where this train of thought would lead. Though, it seemed relatively clear that she had no qualms about sending him away now.
"That was her," he explained, pointing back to the house where Renesmee squirmed in Rosalie's arms, a forlorn look in his eyes. "From the very beginning. We had to be together, even then." She was drawing me to you. I just didn't understand before. But it all makes sense now…
The idea was intriguing. Though the imprint manifested itself after Renesmee's birth, the idea that it was the driving force behind his infatuation with Bella did seem to make some sense. I had fought hard to win Bella's heart and it certainly eased my mind a bit to know that there were supernatural forces urging Bella and Jacob together that were outside of my control. If we had known then what we know now, then we could have all saved each other a multitude of unnecessary heartache.
Bella straightened a bit while she mulled over Jacob's words, but the reprieve from her anger was short lived. Her body trembled as she growled again.
"Run away while you still can," she threatened.
"C'mon, Bells!" he pleaded. "Nessie likes me, too."
Bella froze in place.
Now he's done it.
I told him she wouldn't like that nickname.
The silence was deafening as we waited for Bella to react. Jacob's eyes grew wider with each passing second; the only sound was the increasing tempo of his pounding heart.
"What...did you call her?" Bella spoke slowly, her voice livid.
Jacob shrunk back, taking a step backward. "Well," he mumbled, "that name you came up with is kind of a mouthful and – "
"You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?" she screamed.
The movement was so quick, a human's eyes wouldn't have seen the change until it was too late. Bella shrieked as she sprung forward, gnashing her teeth as she lunged for Jacob. He brought his hands up, trying to keep her at arm's length, her teeth nearly grazing the exposed skin of his forearm. The force of the contact sent him flying backward.
He scrambled to his feet and she lunged for him again, sending him father into the trees. "Bella, please," he begged. Be reasonable! Edward, I could use a little help here.
I had to admit, I was enjoying the display a little more than I should. After all, she was doing exactly what I had wanted to do to Jacob more times than I could count.
Edward, do something, Esme pleaded.
Bella will be unhappy later if she hurts him, Carlisle offered.
Seth and Leah flanked him on either side, growling at Bella's display. Leah was furious and Seth was concerned, though slightly amused as well. Jacob held his hands up, urging them to stay out of it.
Just say the word, Jacob…let me at her!
Bella, please be reasonable. I know you're upset and I don't want to hurt you.
Bella circled menacingly and I was surprised that Jacob was still in his human form. If it had been any other vampire attacking him, he wouldn't have hesitated to shift into his wolf form. Perhaps he had enough presence of mind to know that phasing would only serve to anger her further.
Jacob stumbled backward, struggling to maintain his balance, as she slowly stalked him. I could feel the fury radiating off of her in waves through Jasper's ability. It seemed that the level of her emotions was somewhat negating the calm that he was trying to desperately to exude.
"Bella, please. Let's be reasonable. Let's just talk about this," Jacob pleaded, holding up his hands.
She ignored his plea and growled, baring her teeth. She lunged again, but this time, Seth jumped in front of Jacob. I could hear the unmistakable sound of crunching bones as her fists made contact with Seth's shoulder, sending him into a nearby tree. Jacob stared in shock. Leah growled furiously and would have attacked Bella herself if she weren't severely outnumbered.
We all watched in horror as Seth slumped to the ground in a furry heap, a soft whimper emanating from his muzzle. Jacob and Leah both rushed to his side. Carlisle was already there, leaning over Seth to examine the injury.
Jasper flew to Bella's side, ready to restrain her if necessary. Though, it didn't seem that his intercession would be required after all. The change in Bella's demeanor was instantaneous. She took a stumbling step backward as her hands flew to her mouth, gasping in horror at what she had done.
A/N: I hope everyone has had a wonderful summer. If you're still reading, thank you so much for sticking around. As I've said before, it may sometimes take a while for me to finish a chapter and update, but I'll keep going until the story is finished.
Thanks to Nellybear85 and misticbutterfly who are an endless source of encouragement and support. And thanks also to all of you who have checked up on me – it really means a lot.