Recap:

Bella has been looking for her creator over the past century in order to kill him for making her a monster. In Seattle, she finally comes across him, but her vengeance doesn't go exactly as planned. Unnerved by her inability to hurt Edward, and drawn to him at the same time, she finds herself tangled up and confused. Not helping things is the reappearance of her good friend Jasper, who she fought alongside during the Battle of Stalingrad in WWII. Edward, Jasper, and the rest of the Cullen coven are vegetarian vampires; a diet Bella had once believed a fairy tale. Carlisle offers to help Bella with her guilty conscience by offering her advice and counsel: He tells her that she needs to recreate her soul, and that the possession of a healthy soul will protect her from the temptation of human blood. He tells her that the first step to achieving this end is forgiving her creator. Bella manages to have a civil conversation with Edward after her talk with Carlisle and she feels out of depth, reconciling her past opinions of him with the reality. Rosalie interrupts them with the news that the Denali sisters have come to the Cullens for help:

"The Denalis are here." Rosalie whispers. Her voice seems fearful. Edward regards her with alarm. Bella's eyes dart between the two of them in confusion.

Denalis?

"Sasha isn't here. It's just the sisters." Rosalie fidgets uncomfortably, her voice lowers even further.

"Edward, they need your help. Something has gone horribly wrong with their mother."

Edward tenses and unconsciously grabs Bella's hand. She instantly grips it, fighting the urge to throw him away; the other urge to pull him closer. The swirling vortex of hatred in her mind contracts as she shoves it in a cage. She cannot forget the names of her victims, the cold lips against her throat, but she can try.

"I believe that in order for you to regain your soul, you must start from scratch; square one, shall we say."

Alright, Carlisle. I'll do my best.

I guess square one starts here.


It's like I'm paranoid, lookin' over my back

It's like a whirlwind inside of my head

It's like I can't stop what I'm hearing within

It's the like the face inside is right beneath my skin

-Papercut, Linkin Park

The warmth of the day fades as the finch raises its gold-tipped wings. The sun slides and, in a heartbeat, the forest slows. Red and liquid gold light streams, illuminating the pollen stretched like a gauzy blanket across the leaf strewn earth. With the absence of those ever-present clouds, the forest is able to observe itself from one medium to the next, able to enjoy the sudden color in their usually grayscale/green world.

The birds still in their nests; the deer pause, limpid eyes lifted to the treetops; a black bear leans its paw against a tree and looks curiously up at the sky.

There is movement within the stillness, however; a movement that is in no way natural.

Three figures, white as moonstone and glittering like diamonds, race through the forest, ignoring the beautiful sunset and splashing the bare tree trunks with its reflected color. A shiver of unease travels through the nearby animals; the strange scent carried on the wind makes them nervous. Grunting, the bear turns away and lumbers back to its cave. The birds take to wind, safe in the air. The deer alone stay still, hoping to be mistaken for another few trees.

Only the gold finch bothers to follow the streaks sending ripples through the forest with its beady eyes. Seeing the strange sun-creatures vanish, it soars into the sky to give its jittery fellows the message: there is nothing to fear and the danger has passed as quickly as it came.

The last streak of light grabs greedily at the forest floor, its fingers searching for the beings who dare to shine as brightly as the sun. It finds no thieves, however, only their imprint on the minds of all the relieved creatures resuming their activities.

The sun dejectedly falls away from the world, darkness taking its place.

And somewhere past the forest, a scream rents the night.

~Edward~

Rosalie leaves them to go find Jasper after leading them back to the house. He is gone on a hunting trip, and in her haste to fix the situation, she leaves Edward and Bella to deal with the Denali's. Edward had scoffed at her before letting her leave, his expectations for the meeting not being very high.

He, however, did not expect this.

Edward and the Denali sisters had never gotten along. Irina was petty; Kate, vapid; Tanya, spiteful. All three had the most degrading, compromising, disgusting thoughts of him and he never had a problem calling them out on their depraved imaginings, so to speak.

They disliked the "pretty-boy" newborn refusing them- three vain, selfish, unbelievably beautiful ancients.

He, in turn, detested being called a "pretty-boy" or being viewed as an insipid toy. And he was, admittedly, old-fashioned. After growing up in a time where flashing your ankles was still considered scandalous, the mindless fantasies of the Denali sisters seemed like some grotesque barbarianisms to the refined Edward.

Heads tended to clash when the four of them were in the same room. The three could never control themselves, and thoughts of shredding his neck would transform into them licking his neck and other such perversions. He would grimace, glare, huff, and walk away from them, letting everyone else in the room, consequently, know what was going through the embarrassed, horny sisters' minds.

They called him a prude. He had a few more colorful terms for them.

And yet, here they were, the three most annoying ticks in the universe, standing before him and pleading with him, lustful thoughts nowhere in sight.

He did not expect this.

Standing before them now, he grimaces almost shamefully. The thoughts running through their minds, the sheer panic and concern for their mother, for Sasha, nearly brings him to his knees. He had always seen them as undeserving of the affection the gentle Sasha gave them. He had never seen the depth of their love for her, the capacity they themselves had for love, because he was too distracted by their…special… thought processes.

But now he can quite clearly see it.

They love her unconditionally, like a mother loves a child, like he loves Bella…

He shakes his head. Not yet.

Too soon for that.

And yet, his heart disagrees. The tenor of the poor women's thoughts reflects his own in the past few days, the past century even. He loves Bella. He can't deny it. That love between mates, so present in his day to day life through his family, that love that he had longed for and envied... He feels it for Bella, his mate. His beautiful, broken mate…

But he can't admit it out loud to himself either. Or her. Especially her.

He chances a side-glance at his Bella, for she is undoubtedly his, and has to stop himself from reaching over and pulling her into his side. There is a vulnerable, open look on her face, the marble softened somewhat by pity, and he sees sadness in her downturned lips. Her eyes glaze, gazing at something only she can see and relive. Memories that nobody should have to endure. His fingers twitch once more with the longing to comfort her before he turns back to the Denalis.

"So you don't know why Alice screamed when you asked her to look into Sasha's future? Or where she went?" He was too far out in the forest to see Alice's vision in his mind when it happened. By the time they had come back she was gone, her cry still vibrating in the air along with a sense of dread.

Alice had seen something horrible. So horrible she ran away from her vision and so horrible that she refused to tell anyone exactly what she had seen.

"And you want me to convince her to tell you?" A hardened edge creeps into his voice. No matter their piteous countenance now, liquid gold eyes imploring him over clasped hands, he still can't seem to fully rid himself of his resentment. It is a stigma, hanging over his mind like a cloak.

And they are asking him to force information out of his sister. Information she would rather not have known. Their request goes against many of his instincts.

Tanya, the most persistent of the three, grasps her sisters' hands tighter, her mouth twisting and searching for the words to explain. Instead, she grimaces and shakes her head. Then she lifts her eyes to look right into Edward's.

I know you don't like me. Like us. I'll admit our behavior was atrocious.

But can't you do this for Sasha? Please? You know how we love her, how she loves us. You know she is good; a vampire to rival Carlisle.

You respect her. If not us, you tolerate her. Do it for her. Please, we're begging you.

He stares. Torn.

"All we asked was for Alice to just look into her future in case our worries were for nothing. Sasha's been acting strange, secretive, running around with a foreign scent clinging to her clothes. And there have been disappearances lately; you can't hide them in a place with such small populations… in a city maybe, but not Alaska…" Irina's forehead wrinkles imperceptibly as she stares at the ground almost like the answer is written there.

"But her eyes were always golden. Clearer and happier and warmer every day." Kate's voice cracks as she stares off into the distance.

And then she disappeared- Tanya frowns to herself.

We left to find you and Alice. We wanted answers. And when you were gone we asked her. And she looked away from us, her expression smooth and empty-

Kate keeps her eyes at some point over his shoulder, refusing to meet his gaze, but her mental voice is strong. She provides him with a picture:

Alice's face is serene, devoid of thought or feeling. Blank as the stone she is made from before a dark shadow passes over it. She frowns, her eyes still looking past the present. Edward blanches.

She looks… terrified.

And then her mouth opens wide, pink tongue gaping, as she lets loose a tortured shout. She sounds like she is burning. Burning in hell.

And the scream, good God, the scream. I felt like the world was ending; I didn't even notice she was gone until it stopped… Irina gives a shiver and moves closer to her sisters. All three look up to him suddenly and in unison:

Please. Help us.

"Edward."

He turns, curious, to the woman at his side. Bella's eyes burn into his, red orbs brilliant in the light of the moon. Her lips are pursed as she looks at him with all the intensity of a woman scolding her wayward husband.

Uh oh.

"Whatever your issue is with them, let it go now. Help them and stop acting like an asinine child or you can forget about me giving you a second chance." He can feel his eyes widening almost comically. And although Irina, Kate, and Tanya have nothing to be amused about considering their situation, they can't help but feel a flicker of vindicated mirth at the sight of the uppity Edward gaping like a fish out of water in the face of someone much shorter, smaller, and curvier than he. Someone he is obviously enchanted by.

"You want to prove you're not a monster? Start here. Because only a monster could say no to their request." Her voice, though soft, flays him alive. He can't help but hang his head in shame. It is true; he is being petty and unfair. These are his cousins, his family's dear friends. And he is compromising their loved one's safety all because he can't get over a few uncomfortable encounters.

"You're right." He meets her penetrating stare and she gives him a sharp nod before turning back to the women.

"Okay, I'll find Alice. I can't promise you she'll tell me what she Saw, but I can promise that I'll do my best to find out." The sisters smile wearily and thank him, shifting even closer to each other as they look as one across to the dark forest. Alice is in there. Somewhere.

And something's haunting her.

A crash comes from just beyond the nearest trees, startling them. All five fall into a crouch, ready to attack, before recognizing the scents. It's Jasper, Rosalie right behind him. And he does not look happy.

"What's wrong? Why are you all on edge? And what's this I hear about Alice?"

Edward and Bella turn to each other, smile without humor, and rush the confused vampire together, brushing past Rosalie who is running over to the Denali's. They each take an arm before pulling him back into the forest from where he'd just come charging.

"We'll fill you in on the way."

A frustrated swear bounces off the nearby trees before silence descends once again.

~Jasper~

He feels the animal blood pulsing under his skin. Feeding always makes him feel alive; it used to be the greatest and most fulfilling part of his half-life.

Until he met Alice.

Her energy, the look she got in her eyes when she knew something he didn't, the feel of her fingertips on his body, tracing every outline until he couldn't take it anymore… until he was laughing at all the humans who would never, ever feel something as good as this, as her.

His reason for being was somewhere in these woods, somewhere near, and scared. Oh, he'd heard the scream. He'd thought nothing of it at the time; too busy wrestling a rare moose gallivanting about. He'd been ecstatic to see the big guy- moose were always fun to play with and much tastier than the puny deer.

But all that was secondary now- the blood beneath his skin, the bellow of the beast he'd slain and drained, to the fact that his mate was not by his side. And not one hundred percent happy.

He had to find her, comfort her, and get her the hell out of her head. It was always the most dangerous place for her, with all of those nasty visions. All that responsibility resting on her slim, slender shoulders…

The forest shifts in front of him, blurring and sifting into pieces of clarity as he focuses on them, searching, searching for the spiky dark hair and the sweet, cloying scent. And there it is suddenly, on the back of his tongue; faint but unmistakable.

"She went that way." He leads them North, hoping beyond hope that Alice hasn't yet made it into Canada, where the vague scenery will make it even harder for him to find her.

But, luckily enough, she hasn't. He can smell her clearly now, only a mile away. She is, or was, running, but slowly, unsteadily, almost as if she were injured…

Jasper lets out a wounded whine as he comes upon his mate, curled up on the forest floor, keening and shivering. He runs to her, Bella and Edward's shouts of dismay muffled as he takes the tiny figure into his arms gently.

He whimpers and nuzzles her neck as she relaxes slightly, her open eyes fixed on something far away from this moment of comfort and worry.

Jasper can feel someone approaching and pulls Alice tighter to his chest, growling lowly at the intruder. His senses are heightened yet dulled at the same time. He can smell Edward clearly, but he does not recognize it as Edward. All he knows is that a male is coming closer and closer to his mate and he must defend her against this possible threat. Right before he leaps to his feet, he senses the presence retreating. His head lifts infinitesimally just in time to catch the shocked look on Edward's face before focusing back on his mate.

He hears a gasp as if through water and his mate freezes in his arms, the shivering giving way to a statue-like stillness. Her eyes come back into focus before she leaps from his arms, head swinging from side to side.

Jasper is at her side just in time to catch her as she lets out a roar of fury and attempts to bolt away. He locks his arms around her and she fights for freedom, straining towards the figures that had retreated. Shaking off the daze of instinctual reaction that had descended upon him when he first sighted her, he realizes something.

They are alone, he and Alice, in the forest.

And then, clarity-

"Where did Edward and Bella go?"

Alice slumps, eyes slipping back into their dreamy state before she whispers to her confused husband.

"Away. And I don't know if they are ever coming back."

~Bella~

"Let…GO… of me!"

Bella had been standing innocently by a rotting tree, watching curiously while Edward approached the prone Jasper and Alice, when, all of a sudden, the world went topsy-turvy and she was left to stare at Edward's (admittedly glorious) behind as he rushed back into the forest.

With her over his shoulder.

Like a fucking caveman.

"What the hell? EDWARD?"

No answer.

She reaches down and pinches his toned butt. He grunts in surprise, but doesn't drop her. And he doesn't stop running.

"Hey, you fucking savage- Put. Me. DOWN!"

Still no answer.

Pushing away the indignity, she throws a temper worthy of a toddler.

Fists beat his back, legs kick spastically, hair flies, her body bucks, and two bodies fall to the ground as Edward trips in distraction…

"Umf…" He groans and rolls over, bringing her with him and springing up with her in his arms, this time. Bride-over-the-threshold style.

She crosses her forearms over her chest, pouts, and glares up at him.

He grins tiredly and continues running.

"I can use my own two feet, you know. To go wherever we're going," she grumbles. He shakes his head and she watches, unimpressed, as he speeds across the surface of what she thinks is the Puget Sound. They must be somewhere near Seattle, by now, but she isn't very familiar with the area. For all she knows, they could be headed towards Canada.

A cloud of putrid, human, city-stink assaults her delicate nostrils.

Yep, that's Seattle alright.

Still better than Chicago, at any rate…

"Well, if you won't let me run," she growls through clenched teeth as the water fans around his feet, "can you at least tell me why we're running?" He sighs but doesn't slow down, looking ahead with a twisted expression on his face, the soft thump of his feet on land replacing the whish-whish sound of the water.

She's just about to throw another fit when he starts talking.

"When Alice entered my Hearing range, she sensed us and tried to shut off her thoughts. Rather successfully, too, as she's had a lot of practice keeping things to herself by singing Selena Gomez songs this past year," he grins wryly before his expression sobers. Bella snorts and relaxes slightly in his embrace as the remnant city-stink is replaced with the aroma of musty forests and tributaries followed closely by the mouth-watering fragrance of Edward in all his tangerine/vanilla glory.

Wow, he smells good. Holy Crow, does he feel good.

NO. Bad Bella. Bad- very, very bad…

"But when Jasper tried to comfort her," he continues, breaking her train of thought, "I slipped past her walls and glimpsed the vision that she was so afraid I would see. About Sasha." Bella perks up a bit as he grimaces.

"That bad?" She asks warily.

"Worse, actually."

"Mind sharing?" He's quiet for a good twenty seconds, just enough time to make her a bit anxious and squirmy.

He grips her tightly and speeds up as Mt. Rainer comes into sight then stops just long enough to let her down before continuing on.

She trots after him, dubious, but unable to turn and run the other way.

Second chance, second chance, second chance, second- yeah, I'm totally following him just to find out about this mysterious vision. Curiosity killed the cat and all…

But I'm no cat. And I'm pretty sure that butt will kill me before my curiosity, at any rate. Or maybe my curiosity about that butt… and how it would feel…

NO. Stop thinking… thoughts! CEASE. DESIST. Look away- good baby Jesus, I'd like to-

RESIST!

"Let's talk to Emmett first," he calls over his shoulder and quirks his brow at her dazed expression.

She scowls.

He snickers

"You. Suck."

Quite literally. Being a vampire and all.

Emmett

A mountain goat hops from ledge to ledge, frantically bleating in terror as a large figure flows seamlessly up the mountain face after it.

"I'm gonna get your goat!" It shouts, almost gleefully, before it goes tumbling back off the ridge. The figure grunts and slams into a broad ledge three meters down, its former grace forgotten as it lays, spread eagle, hair caked with dirt and spitting out tiny rocks.

The vampire stands up, grumbling, and brushes himself off.

"I did not trip."

The goat halts, turns back, and cocks its head to the side, bushy face seeming to scrunch and then lengthen, as if it is raising its brows in amusement.

You tripped.

Can goats even be amused?

"Bleat!"

"You better not be laughing at me. I'm a ferocious, goat-ending monster!"

The goat huffs and turns, ambling slowly, almost mockingly, away.

"Yeah, you better run!" He shouts after it. A taunting bleat echoes back.

"Stupid goat. I don't even like goats. Too sissy for me. Hmph."

Emmett brushes himself down once more, still muttering and talking to himself about how he didn't trip.

He fell on purpose. Because tumbling down mountainsides is fun when you're a vampire.

And how the goat hadn't just smugly turned its hairy snout up at him. It had run in fear, terrified in the face of the spectacular intimidation and musculature that is Emmett.

Obviously.

A ribbon of wind reaches up and caresses the boyish curls at the nape of his neck, bringing familiar scents with it, and the goat is forgotten.

Emmett's nostrils widen as he breathes the scent of the mountain deeply in. No humans; all gone due to a bad thunderstorm forecast for the night. Good thing, too, or he would have been hunting measly deer.

But Alice had told him that the mountain would be clear and he would have a chance at a fun meal for the next week.

He breathes in again, and smiles at the scent of a large, female, adult cougar and a male black bear, scrounging for berries.

Cougar or bear, cougar or bear. The female is in heat, better quality blood- but black bears are always more fun…

Yeah, I think I'll go for the black bear. Cougars are for Edward. He likes cougars. Ha, ha, ha, he likes cougars! Wait, but can't he be considered a cougar? Being a century old and whatnot? Yeah not one of your better jokes, Emmett… REALLY need to brush up on the juvenile humor…

He shakes his head at himself and crouches in preparation for the hunt, pushing the goats and Edward far from his mind. But just as he's about to leap, another gust of wind hits him in the face and the scent it carries with him makes him straighten up, confused…

And then delighted…

Hey, Eddie boy. Sup? You wanna catch a cougar? I left one for you…

Emmett has a sudden light-bulb moment as his brother's flyaway hair comes into view.

"I left the cat for you because I know how much you love chasing pussies. Plus, I don't need to chase them anymore, seeing as I have my own pussy at home."

He smiles slyly as Edward blanches and looks slantwise at Bella.

She grins at Emmett then raises an eyebrow at Edward, who scowls.

"I'll be sure to tell your master that you called her your pussy," he snipes, eyes narrowed in annoyance.

Emmett shrugs.

"I'm assuming he means Rosalie when he says Master, correct?" Bella questions. Emmett grins and nods. She tilts her head in confusion.

"And you're not bothered that she's your… master, so to speak?" Edward rolls his eyes and huffs, already knowing the behemoth's answer.

"Sure, everybody knows Rose wears the pants in our relationship, but," his eyes twinkle just a bit, "I have more fun in my underwear anyway, so I don't mind."

Bella starts giggling uncontrollably and Emmett chuckles, glad to see her looking carefree for once.

He stops, however, at the look on Edward's face.

His brooding brother is staring at Bella like she is the sun and he is a blind man seeing for the first time. He looks so… awed, happy, content… in love. Emmett's not ashamed to admit that his breath catches in his throat for a second (just a second, though, he's not a swooning teenage girl) at the sight of his uptight, constantly scowling brother looking… happy.

And all because of this pretty, broken girl.

Bella's giggles wander off to play with the wind, but Edward's soft expression doesn't fade. Emmett clears his throat, knowing that if Bella catches sight of his brother's adoring gaze she might just go off the deep end.

Such a fucked up relationship…

Edward glares, catching the tail end of Em's thought. Emmett smiles, shakes his head, takes a deep breath, and then eyes the two shrewdly.

"I know you guys love being in my company and all, you especially, Edward, but why are you really here? Something wrong back home?" Edward's mouth purses.

"Yeah," Bella answers, "these three Denali vampires came-" she stops, however, at Emmett's gleeful snicker.

"The sisters?" He asks her and laughs even harder when she nods, looking confused.

Edward harrumphs and looks away.

"What's so funny?" She asks, eyes swiveling between Emmett's boyish cackles and Edward's peevish frown.

"What's so funny?" Emmett chokes out, "You didn't tell her about the Denali's, Eddie?"

Bella's brow creases.

"What's so funny," Emmett continues, "is that those three succubae have been panting after dear Edward for the past seventy years or so, am I right?" Bella scowls suddenly, obviously bothered, as she rounds on Edward.

"Succubae?" She hisses; Edward flinches.

"Yeah," Emmett chortles, "like the original succubae. Those girls have been getting around good for the past two thousand years or so…" His laugh tapers off as Edward bares his teeth and growls shortly.

"And this wasn't deemed pertinent information, I take it?" Bella quips, annoyed and agitated. Edward shrugs, looking parts pleased and annoyed.

"I didn't really have time for a backstory. And why does it even matter to you anyway?" He stares intently at Bella as she twitches slightly, coughing and turning away from him.

"It doesn't." She mutters.

Awkward silence.

"Well, what's the big deal about the sisters, did they try to corner you in a bedroom again?" Edward shoots him another glare before taking a deep breath.

"No," he growls, "they were worried about Sasha, so they came to Alice to find an answer. But what Alice found terrified her and she ran away. Bella, Jasper, and I tracked her down and I was able to get a read on her. And it wasn't good. Bella and I need to go north, to Alaska, to reason with Sasha."

Emmett frowns.

"I suppose you're not going to tell me why that is, exactly?" His frown deepens at Edward's weary shake of the head.

"Well what do you need me for?"

"You," Edward continues, "need to go back and convince Rosalie to force the sisters to stay with Carlisle. Because Alice won't tell them what she saw, and I don't think she can lie convincingly enough to force them into staying. But Rose understands them, she's close to them. If anybody understands them, it's her. And you understand Rose."

Emmett doesn't blink, staring steadily at Edward, whose own eyes are swirling with a hint of desperation. He looks down as he carries on.

"When I was in Alice's head, I heard something, not her thoughts, but the thoughts of her premonition."

He glances up at Bella and smiles softly at her puzzled expression.

"It's complicated," he explains, "Alice's visions are almost their own entity. When I'm in her mind, I usually see images and her opinions of those images, but sometimes I see this orange mist whispering to her, images of words and sounds mixing together in their messages: the one I heard was telling Alice that 'if the red eyes and her sire go, then there may be redemption; but if any of the other golden eyes follow, all shall perish.'" He lets that sit for a second, and Emmett can feel a tug of panic in his chest.

"Red eyes- Bella, I'm guessing- and her sire. That's you, isn't it Edward?" Edward nods and Bella stares stoically out across the mountain. There is a stillness in her eyes, like that of a predator before leaping, that worries Emmett.

"And I'm guessing you don't want the Denali's following because you're including them in the golden eyes category, correct?" Another nod. Then silence.

"Okay," Emmett breathes, "okay. I'll go back. And I'll convince Rose, and you'll go to Alaska, and… everything will be good, right?" His eyes sting for some reason and he feels lost for a second. Edward grins sadly at his brother, but it is forced.

He doesn't know if everything will be good. He doesn't know anything, really.

But he won't say that.

"Of course, Em," He looks away, unable to lie to Emmett's face.

"Everything will be alright."

~Bella~

They are flying along the ground, feet kicking up dirt and greens as they race back towards where they had come. The land becomes water and arcs around her feet as she tries to keep up with Edward; running beside him makes her realize just how unusually fast he is, even for a vampire.

Probably why he carried me… didn't want me slowing him down.

Not that she wants to get on his back. She can admit to herself that, physically, her chest resting against his taut back muscles was delicious. The tingles that shot through her body, warming the dead, cold skin… she'd never felt anything like it before.

But the inner turmoil wasn't worth it. The way her body and her mind warred, with her heart caught somewhere between the two, a sacrificial lamb to be lifted up and presented to whichever side won- no amount of tingling was worth that.

But she doesn't want to think about it, so she runs and she lets go.

The repetition of running slows time down, and after what feels like a small eternity passing, she detects a kind of shifting in her brain. What if's and maybe's float around and collide, and as her feet and breath sync with Edward's, she sinks into a kind of semi-aware trance.

Dull blue eyes across the table seemed to look right around her, as if she wasn't even there.

She pinched herself to remember that she was.

She could feel her lips pursing, twisting, exasperated exclamations tumbled into her mouth, but she said nothing. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see her father's puffed out chest, proud, and her mother's shining eyes.

"Isabella, such a lovely name," he murmured. She fought with herself not to grumble.

"Thank you, Michael."

Dead, flat air recycles itself between the two stiff, uninterested parties. Her parent's didn't notice.

She did not want this, and neither did Michael Newton. But he came calling anyway. And she just had to accept. She said yes and relinquished her dreams of serenades and sonnets beneath her window at midnight, the passionate spark in her lover's eye when he first beheld her, the feeling of warmth that would grace her cheek every time he'd smile at her like she was his whole world.

Michael was no dream, but he was sensible. And so she said yes.

Her parents had stood nearby, beaming at her, and she wanted to scream at them. The ground beneath her feet became quicksand and she sank, quickly, but they just smiled serenely as she suffocated.

A brick etched with blonde hair and spiritless blue eyes, her soon-to-be husband and warden who would seal her confinement with a cold rock placed upon her wilting finger, dragged her under and into the blackness.

There was no war, no struggle. Because, then, she had been weak.

With a start, she comes hurtling back to the present. Belatedly, she realizes that Edward's tentative hand upon her arm had lifted her from the reverie.

It has been a long time since she has given Michael a thought- the blonde haired, blue eyed babies who would grow up to twirl Newton in curlicues on school papers, the big backyard and the quaint home, the security of a husband who would expect her to cook and clean and pop out children in return for a paycheck- those thoughts had been so very far from her mind until recently.

And, despite her hatred for her soulless- not soulless, just cruel- existence, she can't help but be grateful that she had escaped that destiny.

Grateful for Edward's selfishness. The thought makes her want to fall to the ground and stay there, a statue frozen in time.

When did everything change?

Breathing in the warm ocean air, she turns to her companion, her source of all confusion, her lust and her vehemence.

"What did Sasha do?"

He stands, stark against the light of the moon.

"Sasha always wanted to be a mother," he replies heavily, "I always thought that she wanted it too much. I guess I was right." Her turns, eyes hard, and Bella feels a dawning horror unfold in her subconscious.

The dark bloom unfurls its petals to the night as small red eyes and once-innocent feature fall into a hazy focus.

"What do you know about the Immortal Children?"