We decided to conduct the change in one of the upstairs guest rooms that had French doors leading out onto a small balcony that faced off the back of their property into the Denali Park, with the hope that when I awoke, I would feel less under threat if I had an obvious and easy escape route. Also, that way if I did somehow escape their experienced hands, I would run off into the wilderness that went on for miles without crossing any human settlements, hopefully giving them the chance to get me back under control again before I did anything stupid.
It was odd, to think so abstractly of how I would be acting, as though someone completely different and without my characteristic restraint. To be honest, I was not looking forward at ALL to losing that control over my own actions and body. It was one of the few things that I felt safe about now, the natural control I had over myself and my own emotions. Knowing that I was about to throw all that to the wind was not exactly a pleasant thought, but knowing that the other choice was death for both me and Tanya, I kept my mouth shut and tried to look on the positive side. No more need to go to the bathroom! No more need to shave and wax! Ohmygod, no more PMS, thank you Jesus.
I scoffed to myself at my superficial thoughts, but just shook my head when the others looked in my direction, having no desire to explain what I had been thinking. Because I knew that they were taking this change very seriously; they alone were fully aware of what exactly I was giving up when I gave up my humanity, and they were obviously not particularly looking forward to it.
Or, at least, everyone but Kate, I thought with humour, as I watched her rib Tanya a bit, trying to get her to relax and smile through the tension filling the room. I hopped up onto the low bed by the window, sitting cross-legged, and then looked up to find them all staring worriedly at Tanya, and Tanya staring out the window, tense as a taut bow string. Obviously, I'd missed some private, vampire-level-hearing-only convo while I'd been getting myself settled.
Four vampires turned their attention to me, while Tanya just kept looking determinedly out onto the Alaskan view, her jaw tight. Shit.
"Could you guys give us a sec?"
Before I could blink they were out of the room, leaving me and the statuesque Tanya in silence.
I got up slowly and moved over to her, wrapping my arms around her waist and resting my forehead on the back of her shoulder, much as she had to me this morning. We just stood there for a second, and then she lined her cold arms over mine, holding me to her and I sighed in relief.
"What is it?" I whispered into her skin.
"Do you have to ask?" she whispered back, her voice strained with stress.
"Well, yeah, I know, but I meant what specifically?"
She paused as though unsure how to put her thoughts into words. Finally she said, "I hate taking anything from you. And I am. I'm taking a lot."
I was quiet for a bit, contemplating her words, not wanting her to feel like I was brushing off anything she said, or taking the situation more lightly than it deserved.
"You're right," I answered eventually, and squeezed her tightly when I felt her tense underneath my arms. "But you're doing the best you can in a situation that you had no part in creating, Tanya. This is a crappy decision to have to make, but it's not your fault that things turned out this way, and no one can ever fault you for that."
"I'm taking your life from you, Isabella."
"No, you're not. Well, you might be the one to actually do the biting, but the events that led up to this are entirely my responsibility, Tanya, my doing, my decision."
I paused, considering how I had ended up tangled up in this supernatural mess of a world and shook my head a bit at my own naivety, the firm, unconscious certainty I'd had of my own safety before I realized what I'd gotten myself into.
"I had plenty of warnings," I murmured. "The Cullens tried to dissuade me, and I'll even give Edward credit for that, they really did their best to keep me out of everything, but you'll find that I am stubborn, and my curiosity ran away with me. I take full responsibility for that."
"You didn't know," she said back, squeezing my hands lightly. "There's no way you could have known what the consequences would be for you."
"That's true," I conceded, and we fell quiet again for a time.
"You know what, though?" I was back to whispering, and I felt her hair swish against me gently as she shook her head.
"I'm happy that things turned out this way."
She turned to face me finally, her golden eyes staring into my brown ones with intense confusion. "How?"
"Because I am so lucky, Tanya. Okay, so recently my life hasn't been amazing. So fucking what? No one else's is, either. I never expected everything to peaches. So I've been through some shit. Who hasn't? And in the end, I have also had some amazing things happen to me, had some fantastic people love me, and that's all anyone can really ask for from life. And the kicker of it all is that here I am, about to get another life, and this one I get to spend with you."
I reached up to put my hands on either side of her face, desperate for her to see what I was trying to say.
"Can't you see that I am being given this incredible chance? So how on earth can I be anything but deliriously happy and grateful for that? So no, I'm not one bit sorry about how things turned out. I don't regret anything. I can't. I couldn't regret you."
I was almost panting with the force of what I'd been doing my best to convey, and for a moment I thought that I'd have to keep going to convince her and I didn't know what else I could say that would do it, but then her mouth was on mine, so forceful and slow, and I realized that she'd got it. So I sighed as I opened myself up to her, my mouth and my emotions and I tried to show her without words what I meant. She responded just as passionately, but kept things slow, and it was several minutes before I was really let up for air as she pulled me into a close embrace.
"Thanks," she murmured into my hair.
"Anytime," I said back, and then decided that the mood was way too sombre. "Besides, you see one vampire in the sun and body glitter is just ruined for you for life."
She threw her head back in a laugh, and I could hear the chuckles of the others on the floor below, where they'd obviously retreated to try and give us some small bit of privacy.
We pulled back a bit and I looked into her face.
She took a deep breath, another, and then nodded. "Okay."
And with no more warning than that, she tilted my head to the left and sank her glittering teeth into my flesh.
"What do we do? What the fuck are we supposed to do?"
"I don't know. I've never witnessed a turning like this. I've never even heard of anyone so silent before."
"It's my fault. I took too much blood -"
"For the last time, this is not your fault! You did everything exactly according to the book -"
"Maybe we should call Carlisle. He's more experienced than any of us at performing the change. Perhaps he could shed some light on the situation."
"Call him and tell him what? That we did the thing perfectly and that the results are unlike anything ever recorded, anywhere? I know he's a doctor, but he's not fucking omniscient! He won't know what to do any more than the rest of us, and then the whole fucking family will be involved, which Isabella expressly said that she did not want!"
"I hardly see you spouting any better ideas -"
"I say we wait. Three days is standard, and it's barely been that yet anyway. We're just over-reacting."
"Over-reacting! Do you remember the change at all? She should be screaming and instead she's just laying there like a fucking corp -"
"Don't you dare say that word to me right now. She's not. Dead. Look at her, we can see the change happening -"
"What is it?" "Did you think of something?" "What is it, Eleazar?"
"What part of silence did you not understand? I'm trying to concentrate!"
"I think... I think I can feel her shield wavering."
"Is that good or bad?"
"Bad, that is definitely bad. She had a shield up constantly, without fail, not a single chink in it, the entire time I was near her. I have the feeling that she didn't ever let it down, or was even holding it up consciously. If it's falling now, then that's probably a sign of her last defenses crumbling, and I can't think of any good reason for that to happen."
"Oh god, oh god."
"Maybe it's not a bad thing. Maybe... I mean, everything that's human gets torn apart and rebuilt better by the venom, right? So maybe this is the same thing."
"... it's possible. But if she resists the process, I don't know what that will mean for her mental stability when she wakes."
"Leave. I need everyone to leave, right now. I can't - I'm barely - I need everyone to leave."
"Isabella? Isabella, I need you to do something for me. I need you to come back. Please, please come back. I don't know where you've gone, where you've hidden in that little mind of yours, but I really, really, really need you to come back. I don't... I can't do this. I really can't do this without you."
"I - god. I literally don't know what to do without you. I didn't even - I never even got the chance - god. I - I'm in love with you, Isabella. God. I love you, and I don't know what to do with myself, because you're not here, and... Please. Just, please. Come back. Come back. Please, I need you, come back. Come back, because I love you."
And then I screamed.