Two Years Later
"Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?"-Mohandas Gandhi
Aro Volturi tapped his long, pale fingers on the hardwood of the massive table in the room. Of course, being the man that he was, he took the head seat for himself. The eyes of the all the major crime families were staring at him with waiting expressions. Well, almost all of them. One family was purposefully absent from today's festivities.
He looked out of the large window at the January snow that was falling softly around the house. It was just another reminder of the gray days that had become Aro's life.
Things were changing in the underground world of crime. Aro inspected all of the young faces around the table and scratched his jaw. It was easy to see why this generation got so much out of life. They were the 'shoot first, ask questions later' type. It wasn't necessarily Aro's style, but if it got the job done…
They had the look of youth that Aro envied: the shiny hair, the chiseled faces, the bright eyes, the enthusiasm for life. Those features had long left him. He now had white, ashy hair, a sunken face, and a snappy attitude. He was revered as the older, wise grandfather of the group.
It had been four, hard years for Aro Volturi and on some days, he didn't know how he was still living. He didn't even want to live anymore.
His sons were gone. One of the only things that Aro was proud of was his offspring, Felix and Demetri, and they were erased from this earth like nothing more than dust. They were taken by the cold hands of his enemies and things would never really be the same for him. The Volturi line had ended. Of course, his brothers had sons, but they were worth shit. Who was going to take over the family when Aro passed? It was up in the air and caused massive disputes at every gathering.
Every day for the past four years, Aro had thought about his sons and who was responsible for their demise.
The word had been engrained in his brain since he was born. His father had hated them, his grandfather had hated them, and Aro hated them. He despised them. They caused him so much strife, and it was because of them that he was never truly successful—as much as he should have been, anyway. This was a race and he always came in second.
The Cullens had taken everything from him and he would never forgot it.
"Why are we here?" Shinobu Moioka asked from down the table.
"I have a proposition for you all," Aro's old voice croaked. He was pushing sixty-five and a lifetime of smoking had definitely taken its toll on him.
"We don't have all day." James Denali impatiently checked his watch. "I have things to do."
Aro sometimes forgot that these guys moved fast in life. In and out; that was the way of the world now.
"I need help," he confessed. "As you know, I'm in a… slight predicament."
It was no secret that the Volturis had lost a lot of their standing within this group. Aro hated admitting it, though.
"Help?" Sinhobu asked, obviously irritated that he had been pulled away from his daily dealings with the scum of the earth trafficking drugs, shipping slaves from country to country, disrupting foreign governments; whatever the hell he did.
"Yes." Aro's joints creaked as he stood up from his seat. "Gentlemen, I think that the time has come for a revolution of sorts."
All the men around the table sat up a little more in question.
"The Cullens," he said the name with disdain, "have taken too much. Not just from me, but from all of us. Carlisle has set up a network that's impossible to penetrate and I'm tired of him taking control of what's rightfully ours."
Aro's feet began carrying him around the room, his hands behind his back in an authoritative manner. No one dared speak, because his anger was evident and created a palpable tension in the air.
"We need to hit him where he's weak and I won't stand for failing this time. His reign needs to be ended." Aro decided to keep the details of his plans vague. He wasn't quite sure if they could all be trusted and he was still working things out in his head.
"This doesn't sound good." A short man down the table said quietly.
"I'm not forcing you to join me, but I know most of you want to. He's bulldozed his way over this country and we must be the ones to stop him." Aro continued.
"He's too powerful," James said, almost scared to even talk. "That whole family is too powerful."
"But they're not invincible," Aro concluded. "You, of all people, should want some kind of part in this. Look at you. You can barely walk without that cane and your family has nothing… All because of them."
James didn't deny it. How could he? It was true.
"Everyone here should be more than willing to help me. I'm not saying we take them down tomorrow or even destroy what they have completely, because—let's be honest—we all need Carlisle and his empire. But we can weaken him at least. Weaken him enough so he can't recover."
"So you're proposing a revolution?"
Aro smiled evilly, maliciously, dangerously. Nothing more needed to be said. The grin spoke without words.
"And how do you plan about doing this?" Shinobu crossed his arms. "Seems to me like you've tried for decades and nothing ever seems to get done."
There was a murmur of agreement around the table.
"Gentleman, you let me worry about that. I just need to know that, when the time comes, I will have your backing. I need support."
"What do you have in mind?"a man at the end of the table asked in a thick British accent. Aro couldn't recall his name off the top of his head. "I happen to like the Cullens. Just because they're better than you, I don't think we need to annihilate them."
There were a few snickers around the room. The most distinct one came from the large bodyguard that British Man brought with him. He let out a hearty chuckle that he tried to disguise as a cough.
Aro's body might have been old, but his reflex to pull a gun had never been weakened in all these years.
He quickly withdrew a large 9mm pistol from out of nowhere and without even thinking, shot the bodyguard directly in the shoulder. It was a perfect shot, through and through. Red liquid splattered the dark wall behind the man and he fell to the floor with a whimper of pain. British Man just looked at his bodyguard with disgust and shook his head, letting him roll on the ground in a pool of his blood.
"Does anyone else think this is fucking funny?" Aro asked, furious that someone had dared to laugh at him. "This is not funny!"
No one said anything and just looked at each other with slightly worried eyes. The same thought was going through all of their heads: This man had gone crazy.
"We're going to call this a day," Aro said gruffly, slamming the gun down on the table. "I'll be in touch with everyone soon."
There was a butler waiting at the door to escort the patrons of the room out and most definitely clean up the mess left behind by the blood. Aro didn't even feel like bidding anyone a cordial farewell. He climbed the stairs, the wood nearly cracking under his heavy feet, eagerly trying to get into his office and away from the frustrating youth downstairs.
"Who do they think they are?" He slammed the door of his office shut. "Don't they know who I am?"
"What happened, Uncle Aro?" his niece, Vienna, asked from her spot behind his large desk. Her shimmering blond hair shinned off of the lights in the room.
"Oh, Vienna. I didn't know you were here." He calmed down almost instantly.
"Are you okay?" She rushed towards him. "Your face is all flustered and I heard the gun downstairs."
"Everything's fine, dear." He kissed her forehead. "Just a little scuffle."
"Come sit down." She helped him to his seat.
Aro gulped down the glass of water that Vienna handed him. She looked just like him in every way; so much, in fact, that many people thought she was his daughter. She might as well have been. He had raised the girl since she was five, after his youngest sister died from a horrible drug habit.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?" Aro asked, after taking a minute to calm down.
"I miss you out here in the suburbs," his niece pouted. "The city is getting boring without Demetri and Felix."
A small pang of hurt attacked Aro's chest at the sound of his sons' names. It was quickly replaced by anger for the ones who killed them. That anger would quickly be alleviated.
"I know, sweetheart. Would you like me to buy you another penthouse?" he suggested to ease her pain.
"No, that's okay." Vienna picked at her nails. "I'm occupying myself with the male population of Chicago. They're very generous." She grinned evilly, identically matching her uncle's in the boardroom not five minutes earlier.
Aro shook his head, only slightly embarrassed by his niece's actions in the city. There was a new story every week about her in the society circle. He chose to ignore them.
"I just came by to check on you," she said sweetly. Behind all that sugar was a layer of malice that Aro had purposefully instilled in her. "You're looking sicker every day."
"I know," he sighed. "I'm not cut out for this fast-paced life anymore."
"You and Aunt Athenadora should move to the Bahamas or something. Get away from all this snow." Vienna shivered as she put on her coat. "And don't look so sad all the time."
"I didn't think I was." He shrugged innocently.
"I can see it in your eyes." She came over to his side of the desk and kissed his cheek. "I know that look. You're too old to be running around, planning takeovers. Just rest."
"I will." He smiled. They both knew he was lying.
Her long legs carried her toward the door, "Bye, Uncle Aro."
He was finally alone to drown in his own thoughts"
There were many things that he could be doing, but he purposefully chose not to. Instead, he opened the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out the three black and white photographs.
His hands were shaking in fury as he reviewed them for what felt like the millionth time. They came from a set of about one hundred, but they were almost the same.
Three people—two men and a woman—were playing in the waves on a beautiful beach. If the photographs had color, they would be dominated by sparkling blues, intense greens, and the bright yellow sunlight that illuminated every inch of the sand.
They all had smiles on their faces and didn't have a care in the world. Unbeknownst to them, they were being watched.
The youngest of the men was eighteen. He had a short mop of hair that was styled in that 'childlike, don't care' kind of way. Aro knew that his eyes were blue and his hair, brown. He was very fit for a young adult, obviously taking after everyone else in the family in their race for perfection. His torso was sculpted and his arms were rippled. He was tall, but not too tall; thin, but not too thin.
The sole female in the picture was gorgeous. No matter how much Aro hated her, there was no doubt that she was stunning in every way. From her long, mahogany hair, to her statuesque figure and her delicate facial features, she was incredibly beautiful. Her age was twenty-two, but she looked a lot younger. Her eyes were covered with sunglasses, and a beaming smile was plastered on her face as she watched the men wrestle in the water.
A tiny bikini covered her body. Aro traced the curve of her legs and traveled up her flat stomach, ending at the swell of her round breasts. A familiar hormonal jolt rang through his body at the sight of such a lovely woman. Aro and his wife hadn't been intimate in years, so basically anything turned him on nowadays. Some might call him an "old dirty bastard". He didn't mind that title. This girl especially brought out the physical lust in him that he hadn't felt in a while.
He shook his head, not wanting his true reason for examining these pictures to be lost in a cloud of desire.
Aro put the first picture down and picked up the second one. The woman was now in the arms of the older man, being thrown around like a small ragdoll and completely enjoying herself.
This man was the real reason for Aro's wrath, his hate for basically everyone and everything.
The man was tall, and Aro once again envied the youth of the world as he saw the man's toned body. Aro once had muscles like that. The man's hair was disheveled—as always. His face held a rare smile, his skin was tanned, and the outside world had no effect on him. Aro had never seen the man with such freedom. He was unwound and relaxed. It was slightly unnerving.
"Did you really think you were going to get away with this?" Aro asked huskily, his voice thick with fury. "Your father might be crafty, but you will never beat me, Edward." He took a pencil from his desk and stabbed the man's face through the photograph.
He set the image down and tried to decide on the final aspects of his plans, which was quickly coming together. They needed to be meticulously calculated, and that was going to take time.
There was a sense of freedom amongst all three of them in the picture. That was what made Aro angriest. Why should his sons be buried in the ground when the real criminals were frolicking on some fucking beach? They deserved his pain. All of them deserved to hurt as he did in those dark days.
Aro had made a promise when he received these pictures that he was going to take that freedom away and crush it in his hands if it was the last thing he did.
Chapter 1 posts on March 18th! Review and re-read until then.