Chapter 26: Aftermath

Jasper came up with two needles, filled with some kind of drug. Since there were two and I'd heard James didn't want Jasper or I drugged, I felt safe assuming that half of each was meant for my friends. My expression darkened just a bit, but I fought to stay on top of my emotions. I'd have time to express them later.

"Listen," I stated, stuffing the gun into the back of my waistband, "I can either be your friend, or your worst nightmare. Which will it be?"

I'd heard that most police interrogations got further by kind of becoming a therapy session, where the cops pretended to have a lot in common with the suspect. On the other hand, most criminal organizations swore by torture.

I let them mull over that for a while, knowing that they had no hope of escape. I signaled for Jasper to follow me, walking just out of earshot. If we had to resort to extreme tactics, I wasn't sure the others could handle it. As much as I wanted to release my anger onto these two guys, they weren't doing this of their own free will, they probably didn't know all that much, and I hoped I didn't have to expose my friends to the darker side of the world.

Most street fighters fought more in a boxing-style, but I was effective because I incorporated bits and pieces of different fighting styles. I threw them off, because I did what they weren't expecting. One of the reasons it was great to have Jasper, was because we really related. Not only because we were both fighters, but also because he was much the same, as far as doing the unexpected in a fight was concerned.

That reminded me of something that I couldn't believe I forgot. Edward and his mojo! I turned towards Jasper, to whisper-debate whether or not we should ask Edward to read their minds. It would be a lot quicker; I mean they certainly wouldn't be expecting that. We'd just have to ask them the right questions, and hope he didn't get sidetracked. If that failed, we could always break our friends out first, and come back to interrogate them a different way. We had to end this, because otherwise James and Victoria would keep on coming after us, and while my friends had basic training, they couldn't take on that many opponents at once. I could try to protect them, but it wasn't realistic to be with them all the time, as earlier today had evidenced.

Jasper and I agreed, and after basking in each other's presence in a brief moment of calm, I motioned for Edward to join us. He did, looking at us like he was concentrating particularly hard. I remembered that he could only read minds within a slightly larger than hearing range, and he'd always found mine silent and Jasper's quieter than usual. His look of confirmation as he drew closer told me he'd lifted the plan from Jasper's thoughts. Jasper had seemed as if he was shouting the thoughts, so I guessed that helped, too.

"I hate to ask you, Edward," I started off, knowing how much he tried to keep out of others' minds, to give them their privacy.

"But desperate circumstances call for desperate measures, and this would be more efficient and safe for everyone involved. I already tuned in to their thoughts. I want to help us any way I can." He spoke with determination, and he then proceeded to share that I was right in thinking that these guys weren't here of their own will. One of them, the one who'd had the gun, had a girlfriend and a son, who were being kept hostage. The other had all other options for making money eliminated by James framing him for something, and had his elderly grandparents to feed.

I nodded, directing more of my anger to James and Victoria, who had started this in the first place.

We rejoined the group, who had been watching our two captors. I glanced at all their faces, scared, nervous, worried, but determined; and I knew I had to make sure they were safe at all costs.

Very noble, Izzy. Slow clap for you. Remember, after all this is over, you still have bigger mountains to climb.

I thought you were going to leave me alone.

No need to sound so hostile. I'm here to help, I just find that having an attitude lightens things up a bit, you know.

Yeah, I guess.

You see? There we go. Now I'll really will leave you alone for a while so you can conquer this foe first.

Thanks. And I'm glad to see that while you may have comebacks like a fourth grader, your vocabulary, at least, has advanced.

Silence. So, she really will leave me alone for now. Great, now I can get focused and back on track. I studied the two men shifting nervously in front of me. I knew that my stare was probably making them uncomfortable, but I didn't really care. I was working them out in my mind, trying to see the best approach. Sure, Edward could read their thoughts, but I had to make sure to put them in a situation where they were thinking what we wanted to know. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, you could say.

They wouldn't have any reason to lie in their thoughts, it's not like they would be expecting Edward to be a mind reader. But James could've lied to them. So, we couldn't rely on their information religiously, but at least we'd be in the right direction. The problem was we didn't know how much they knew, so while Edward could get bits and pieces, we needed the whole.

I could do my best, but there were ultimately no guarantees. Really, all we could've ever hoped for was to get some partially reliable information. The need for torture was really now void, so maybe I should go more for the relatable cop interrogation.

"I bet you aren't working for James of your own free will. We all know how much of a bastard he can be," I tried, thinking back to the glimpse of conversation I'd caught while being moved here.

The tall one, the one who wasn't the leader, judging by the fact he had only had a switchblade while the other one had a gun, shifted more uncomfortably in his seat.

"Relax, I'm not going to do anything to you." They didn't look very reassured. "I'm actually a little offended. What, do you think I'm like James? I wouldn't be like him if my life depended on it." The tall one glanced at me, then back down at the floor. He seemed a bit younger, maybe newer to the little gang. He was probably my best bet, as the other had his family to think about, and a little more experience.

"Listen, I'm going to be honest with you. I'd very much like to take out some of my anger on you two right now," I continued, But I won't I had a very good friend who was forced by James to join his gang. They were holding his relatives hostage." The tall one glanced up at me again. "He felt like he was responsible for them, so he did what James told him to do, even though he had a bad feeling they'd already died. He lied to get my friend to do what he wanted. So, you see, I know how he does it. He goes after the people who are most important in your life." I briefly looked at my friends, then back at the two, crouching down in front of them to be more at eye level even though I really didn't like being physically below them. "I mean, he didn't try to kidnap me or Jasper, the ones he's really after. He kidnapped my only and best friends in the world. They're like bona fide family to me, and you can understand why I would want to keep them safe at all costs, can't you?"

They exchanged glances, and looked a little more understanding, although still wary. Good. I was making progress.

"All I need to know is his plans for us. That's all, and I'll let you go free to escape with your loved ones, I swear. I'm on your side here. Think about it, we have a chance to make him pay for threatening the lives of the ones we hold dear. And I know you're scared for their lives, but James won't ever be stopped unless we are brave enough to do something. We have to stop him or more people will be in a situation like ours, am I right? So, all you have to do is tell him what we have planned for us, and we'll all be free from him." I used all my best persuasive skills, staring earnestly into their eyes. They didn't speak up, but they didn't look away, either.

I glanced at Edward who shook his head. Okay, we need more. I laid a hand on the arm of the tall one, but made sure to maintain eye contact with both of them so as not to make the older one feel isolated. He didn't shake me off, so I was hopeful. "Please, just confide in us. I wouldn't misguide you. I've always just wanted to make sure that snide son of a bitch doesn't feel pride over doing something like this to any one else ever again. Do we really want him to possibly go nationwide? Because we know that with him and Victoria side by side, they won't ever stop. They're power hungry and delusional, and cruel. So we can't let what he did to us and our families slide." I pleaded with my eyes for them to listen, and the tall one opened his mouth to reply.

"You're right. He can't do this to any one else and get away with it." The other guy glanced worriedly at his friend, but didn't say anything to stop him. After a beat, during which he seemed to gather his courage, he resumed.

"James told us to get the ones in the first four pictures and wait for the other two to show up. He told us that you'd show, but he didn't say anything about you being knocked out. He said not to touch you two, just make sure you stick around until he gets here. He gave us those syringes, and we were coming here to do what he said, inject the other four. That's it, I swear." When Edward nodded to confirm, I got up.

"Thank you. I'm going to let you go now, and I hope you run as fast as you can. Get back to your families, and make sure you all stay safe, okay?" I stepped back and let them go to the door, watching as they started jogging and didn't look back.

I felt emotionally exhausted, and a little numb. The others began to group together, seeking comfort in the arms of each other as we sat in the eye of the storm.

The truth was, after the last 48 hours, I felt like emotional rollercoaster didn't even begin to describe how I'd felt. I'd always thought I was more mature than my age, but recently I felt like I'd aged years and years. I was tired, even if physically I was only a little worse for wear. Having my worst fear happen, my friends being kidnapped. Then finding out Jake was alive, having him forgive me for something that happened a while ago, something I'd carried the guilt for ever since. After which, I'd raced over to rescue my friends only to be knocked out and figure out more about my freakiness, then get abducted by At least I'd had Jasper.

Jasper, somehow sensing my feelings, came over and rubbed my shoulder. "Hey. Great job, convincing them. It's almost over, you know, and then maybe we can be normal again." We both knew he was lying, what with the other weirdness that had been going on. But it felt nice. And so I let myself believe for a few seconds that he was right, and everything would return to normal before long.

I leaned into him, and he rested his head on top of mine. I drew strength from being there with him; letting that calming and peaceful feeling of safety I always felt from contact with him seep into my body. I was so grateful for all of them, which was why I was even more scared that they'd be taken away or harm would come to them, and it would all be my fault.

"Hey, it's not either of our faults. It's James and Victoria's. We've got to remember that, okay?" I smiled softly, loving that he always seemed to know what I was thinking. Loving that he knew what to say to make me feel better and that he cared enough to say it.

"Thank you, Jasper. You're right. James and Victoria are to blame. I'm just being all self-deprecating and selfish again. Are you okay?" I hung onto him, hoping that he was as fine as he seemed. I knew he was very adaptable, very stable and calm, emotionally and mentally, but all the weirdness had to have affected him too.

"I will be when we get another second to breathe. I stopped using my head and let it all go as far as the weirdness goes, a while ago. You understand what I mean when I say we can't give up, right?" I nodded in his embrace, letting myself be just myself, without the walls and toughness. I reached up and kissed him, thanking him without words for being him. Everything right for me, and what we should all hope to be someday.

Everyone needs inspiration, and he was mine, along with our pseudo-family. They were why I needed to be fighter-me for the rest of this ordeal. I could let myself be vulnerable and carefree with them, and that was what I needed to fight for.

We broke apart, rejoining the rest of the group. A strong feeling of unity was present in that room, as we made eye contact around the circle. I was so glad they were willing to be here when they could've just walked away and had nothing to do with this. Instead, they'd trained to try and help us, and put themselves through what was commonly accepted as a traumatic experience. For us.

The unspoken words reached their intended recipients all the same, as we gravitated even closer together. My chest swelled with pride, gratefulness, and love. Some might call this me going soft, but I was more than happy to, if this is what I got in return.

I would die for each and every one of them. That was something I'd almost never felt before.

If anything good came out of this, it was that knowledge. The loyalty and strengthening of the bonds we felt between us, weaving back and forth like the most beautiful tapestry I'd ever seen. I felt a deep, burning sense of…something I couldn't name, that brought the tingling to the back of my eyes. I hadn't cried in forever, but if there ever was a time I'd cry out of happiness it'd be now.

And that thought, more than the others, reaffirmed my determination to make sure James and Victoria wouldn't be a threat to anyone I cared about anymore.

So, we stood, as a united front, waiting for the eye of the storm to pass over. James was coming here expecting us divided: four of us drugged and unable to fight, and two of us who were barely competent. The fact that he'd left only two guys here confirmed his underestimations of us. More likely, it showed just how much he thought of himself.

He always did have an inflated ego. Maybe even narcissism. That would make sense.

We stayed that way while we heard people approaching, one pair of sharp, short footsteps belonging to a female in heels, most likely Victoria. Heels, really? While she's expecting to fight me? She obviously thinks highly of herself too. James and Victoria really are perfect for each other. Maybe that's why they still have a twisted sort of relationship, even though they both routinely carry on brief relationships with others.

The others were heavier footsteps, one belonging to James, probably the one who was entirely in synch with Victoria's. That meant that the remaining eight pairs belonged to henchmen he brought with him. At least he wasn't too stupid.

We didn't move an inch when they barged in, the ones in front being James' goons, as I thought. James, his pointed face drawn up in a smirk, was just behind him, and the flash of fiery red hair meant Victoria was by his side. Seeing the absence of drugs in my friends' systems and the two who were supposed to administer them, his smirk turned into an enraged scowl, as he commanded the eight to knock my friends out and restrain Jasper and I.

I fought the impulse to roll my eyes at him, as I easily took down the closest guy to me. Edward, Alice, Emmett, and Rose all got the chance to put their training to use, each helping each other, and taking down one each. I felt proud as I saw them use the moves we'd taught them to make sure they were unconscious. Jasper quickly knocked out the two who made to grab him, and I took on the last one. He grabbed onto my foot after he went down, intending to make me lose my balance, but I knocked him out before he had the chance.

Knocking someone out takes a lot more force and finesse than the movies would have you believe, especially if you don't want them to die accidentally. Which was why I was so glad that my 'pupils' had done it correctly on their first actual real world try.

I composed myself, straightening my clothes and kicking the guy's hand from my foot. I took a moment to breathe, before turning to face the asshole we call James.

"I heard you've been missing us." I said offhandedly, and way more cool and casual than I felt. As if everything crazy that happened recently hadn't. Wow. Time flies by when you're in danger.

He looked surprised and a little worried that a) we'd taken them down so fast and effortlessly, b) my friends could fight, and c) maybe Jasper and I weren't as bad as he'd thought. Again, I fought an eye roll. He quickly composed himself, though, and the smirk was back. I wanted to kick it from his face. Maybe a few teeth, as well. And possibly castrate him, too, for good measure. Yeah. That'd be nice.

"Oh, really? I will admit that I feel that something is missing without your spitfire ways, Izzy. After Vicky here is done with you, maybe we can find a better use for that fiery little mouth of yours, eh?" I was disgusted. The most disgusted I'd probably ever felt in my life. And I could tell it showed on my face, too, because he chuckled. And that made me want to hurt him even more. "Oh, come on now, you'll be feeling differently very soon, I assure you." I felt like puking. Actually, physically, retching.

Jasper looked like he was going to kill the sack of shit. I laid a discreet hand on his back to calm him down.

"In your dreams, James. Probably not even then." He brushed me off, glaring at Jasper now.

"As for you, cheating son of a bitch, Vicky has requested I leave you alive. But I will make you wish you weren't." Jasper made a soft noise that sounded like a scoff. I agreed with him there. James was no match for Jasper in any resemblance of a fair fight. Jasper fought like a demon from hell, a whirlwind, with his unorthodox style that matched mine and generally caused mass panic. I mean, even just looking at him generally, his expression told you, however good you think you are, I'm better. That's a promise. After remembering his previous lives, nothing in the mortal world probably scared him much anymore. He was the most powerful guy I'd ever met, in all my lives and in this one. Besides, I know I'd certainly picked up some almost-long-forgotten fighting styles that nobody used anymore in my memories that I was itching to try out, and I'd bet anything that he had too.

Victoria spoke up for the first time, her voice a bit nasal and way too high-pitched for my liking. Not that her voice sounded like Lauren's, but it was sugary-sweet, like a little girl's when she was clearly…not. It just didn't belong, sounding kind of demented, and the contrast was glaringly obvious. "Oh, but James, make sure he's still functional. I don't like my toys broken, and I have plans for this one."

I wrinkled my nose in disgust, as Jasper just looked a little weirded out. Not that anybody else would be able to tell, I mean his face was blank stone to anyone who didn't know him well. I myself was lucky enough to be an exception, so I suddenly found the situation a little funny, however inappropriately. Kind of like suddenly feeling the urge to chuckle when you're at a funeral.

I'd learned to read people pretty well, I mean sometimes that was the difference between life and death. It was an important tool, but could also make boring parts of the day more hilarious. So, I had plenty of experience with inappropriately funny situations.

But now that skill was coming into handy as I assessed James and Victoria. They really were under the illusion that they were the best. They also were still in that highly dysfunctional relationship with each other, yet they were somehow obsessed with Jasper and I. Maybe because we were the only ones who'd stand up to them. Or beat them, even knowing that they'd probably come after us someday. Which was probably just a little stupid on both our parts, but oh well. The past was the past, although clearly that wasn't true for these two people who clearly needed to get some kind of help. They obviously had issues. Lots of them.

"Well, we're here. You can do what you set out to do in the first place, get a rematch. There's really no need for everyone else to be here too, is there?" I needed to make sure as many of the most important people in my life were safe as possible. If I had my way, we'd all be far away from here, or at the very least everyone but me. But right now we had to play along with James and Victoria, at least until we could stop them for good.

"Hmm, I don't know, James. They're good insurance, don't you think?" My anger instantly flared as Victoria's high voice reached my ears. I swear I'd have a cavity soon.

James smiled at her, and turned back to us. I knew that however whacked their relationship was, they still listened to each other's opinions. So I glanced at Jasper, who nodded reluctantly, and took some drastic measures.

I am ashamed to admit that I went up to him and tried my best to seduce him, looking up at him through my eyelashes, fiddling with my hair, touching his chest, everything. I tried my best to sound sexy as I made my pitch. "Oh, come on, please, James? It would make me so very happy… and then I might want to make you feel happy…I mean it's only fair… you'd like to feel happy, right? Wouldn't you want me to make you feel good?" I tried my best to conceal the awkwardness and disgust I felt. I hadn't exactly tried to seduce anybody ever before, so I was mostly winging it and hoping I didn't crash and burn. I also was trying not to barf as I slid my hand down James' chest, batting my eyelashes, of all things. This was among the things that I'd rather do almost anything else to avoid.

But if I had to do this to make sure my friends were safe, I would.

James seemed to fall for it, eyes hooding with lust. Again, with the strong urge to gag. He nodded, gesturing towards my friends. He stepped aside, allowing them to leave. Reluctantly, with many looks back at us, they did. I saw Jasper discreetly pass on a message to his brother, as Edward was the last to leave. I managed to distract James with giggling and generally acting like the complete opposite of myself. Victoria was too busy glaring at me and trying her best to look intimidating to notice.

As soon as my friends were out of sight, I waited a bit longer to give them a good head start before dropping the charade. I couldn't completely flip character, in case he got mad and sent people after them, so I acted like I was reluctant to leave James' side when really I wanted nothing more. Jasper knew that I was faking, but he was still levying James with a stormy look that would've made any sane person back off. Me? I wanted to lick his clenched jaw. Did that make me insane? Possibly, but I've already got a voice in my head and possible multiple past lives in there too. The train to Crazy town has already long since left the station. As soon as I got back to his side, I started rubbing small circles on the back of his clenched hand, out of sight of James. I knew how angry I'd be at Victoria if Jasper had to be in my shoes…the very thought almost made me dart across the room and rip off her head.

Wait, what? Since when can humans rip off each other's heads? Huh. I guess being a vampire in your past life can really screw up your perspective when you remember it.

My multiple frames of mind were meshing together, but in the process my thoughts were becoming a little detached from reality. I guess it has to get worse before it gets better, huh? That rainbow fog really does a number on your so-called 'sanity'…I swear, I could feel a low growl coming from Jasper. Also, the fact that it was making me really horny could not be normal.

It's a messy process. People are mostly a sum of all the different experiences they had. Adding a bunch more from different lives can go two ways. Either they all remain separate and drive you crazy or they start to knit together into one. You've noticed that since you've met your friends, your frame of mind is slightly different? Well, that process is just going to speed up. In the meantime, you're going to notice weird and new thought processes…like wanting to rip someone's head off or slightly vampiric behavior while still human.

Well, thank you for that mini-lesson, Skydd.

You're very welcome. Now you should probably get back to the threat at hand…I do not want to have to o through this whole process again if you die.

Okay, okay. Geesh. Geesh? Really? This is going to take some getting used to…concentrate, Izzy! Alright. Take a moment to collect yourself. I forced my loopy frame of mind to more closely resemble my fighter state. Feeling more on top of things, I focused on Jasper, without making it too obvious for James' sake. In the meantime, I tried my best to smile flirtatiously at him, and glare at Victoria. They seemed to buy it, giving me a few more seconds to pull both of us together.

I knew that Jasper's touch was very grounding and soothing to me, so I continued to rub circles on his hand, which slowly unclenched. He closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath in, and the slight change in his muscles told me he was back, too.

"So, Vicky," I mocked, "Shall we get this over with?"

"James told me to go easy on you. You're lucky he's taken a liking to you, for who knows why. But I'm still going to make you pay for embarrassing me with your cheating, bitch." As far as trash talk goes, that was kind of weak.

"Okay, whatever you say. Your funeral." I kicked aside the chairs in the center of the room, making a makeshift ring. I ripped two strips of cloth from the bottom of my shirt-what? It had a hole in it anyways-and started wrapping my hands with it. After I was done, I offered another pair to Victoria, just to irritate her. She scoffed and took out a roll from her pocket. Seems like she came prepared. I shrugged, and let her prepare. I didn't care that my stomach was now exposed to the chilly air; I'd be heated up soon. Victoria wasn't the best I'd ever faced, but she was decent. She had to be able to shame all those weaker girls somehow, right? Plus, I'd heard from some contacts I still had that she'd been training rigorously just in preparation of our rematch. Frankly, I felt a little flattered. I was still going to kick her ass, though. It would just be a nice workout.

As I got into my stance and waited for Victoria to make the first move, never taking my eyes off her, I took in my surroundings one more time. The layout of the room was pretty much burned into my eidetic memory by now, but I carefully went over it and the positions of James and Jasper. James was staring at the gap between where my now very short top ended and where my slim-fitting cargo pants started. It was very creepy.

Jasper was glaring at James, that adorable little muscle in his jaw popping out again. Remembering what past-life me knew about possessiveness over mates and how past-life Jasper and I had been this 'true mates' thing, I wondered if his vampiric state of mind was warring with his human side right now. After all… what was it?

Sigh. I really don't like playing professor of vampire lore, but this is just going to distract you otherwise. Even though there is no way the other would be interested in another unless the relationship was mutually agreed upon to be open, mates still tend be very easily enraged when it comes to their mate being chased after, as mates are pretty much each others' reason for existence. One other exception is if the other party is an incubus or succubus, whose gift is to be able to create an attraction or lustful feeling in any other being of their preferred gender, but even then the effect is not as strong. In cases where the relationship is open, the mating bond will only allow it if it is the perfect scenario for both individuals. There. Are you happy now?

Actually, yeah. That was pretty interesting.


I pulled myself back into the real world, just in time to see Victoria come at me with a right hook. I dodged, using her forward momentum to flip her. She came out of it in a roll, though, and tried to trip me. I jumped, twisting so that we both faced each other once more. I threw a punch at her torso, expecting her dodge and landing a blow with my left hand.

She backed off, taking a moment to recover, before coming at me again with a boxing combination. I made sure her fists only met air before twirling around and putting her in a half nelson, then a headlock. She managed to twist out, so I caught her in a thumb hold instead.

Again, she used her knack for escape. She advanced, managing to land a blow to my side, but I didn't let that phase me, getting in a good hit or two. I distracted her with an uppercut that I followed up with a low spinning kick. She dodged the punch, but felt the full force of my foot; the spinning adding to the impact so the breath was definitely knocked out of her. I sensed Jasper and James getting into it beside us, but concentrated mostly on Victoria. She had gotten better. But so had I.

I noticed that she still didn't use her less dominant side nearly enough, so I went after that gap in her defense, until she started correcting it. But I continued exploiting the weaknesses I found so that she didn't even have time to try and advance on me, too busy trying to block my hits.

I took advantage of the layout of the room, making her stumble past the chairs to distract her from my attack. I didn't usually like to straight out attack all the time, but I was angry as hell with her and James. And while I didn't let that make me sloppy, I did channel it into a cold fury that fueled my relentless advancement on her.

She tried her best to fight back, even managing to make impact with me a couple times. It was a good try. But not good enough.

I was unleashing all the experience I had within all my lives combined. Really, she never had a chance.

Before long, I had her neck in the crook of my arm, and she was almost unconscious. I was slightly tempted to suffocate her, but instead just cut off the blood flow to her brain for just enough time for her to lose consciousness. And then let her drop on the floor like a limp rag doll.

"Well. That's over with." I stared Victoria just passed out on the floor for a second, then stretched, throwing a yawn into it.

I looked over to where Jasper was with James, just in time to see James get knocked out. Jasper looked alright, he'd maybe get a few bruises in the morning, but otherwise fine. He straightened his clothes and just kind of stared at the two unconscious bodies on the floor.

We exchanged a look, kind of saying, what now? I mean, Victoria and James' craziness had been such a big part of our lives, at least the threat of them. Now they were helplessly in dreamland. Jasper injected each with a dose of the drug they had intended for our friends, for good measure.

There was one more beat of that feeling before relief crashed in, pulling Jasper and I together like magnets. We just held each other, in that godforsaken room, amidst the rope and duck tape and unconscious enemies. I also got some sweet, sweet sugar from Jasper, which I was very grateful for. But we couldn't bask in the glow of threat disposal for long, for the plan we'd set in motion as Edward left the room to work. So, we gathered up all evidence we'd been there, wiped down anything that we might've touched, and pushed all the chairs in a corner so they looked like they'd just been left there. As they were old and rickety, we were pretty confident they'd buy it. When we were confident that the local cops wouldn't know we were affiliated in any way with the anonymous tip phoned in from a payphone near the diner, we left. After I kicked James really hard in the side, of course. For putting me in a situation where I had to flirt with him.

The police would find the elusive smaller-time gang boss that had been travelling across the country causing chaos, and his female partner who made it possible for them to somehow evade the law. They were wanted for a whole slew of charges from breaking and entering to manslaughter, and even murder. From what I'd heard on the news, they had enough evidence, just didn't know their location. The Forks PD would get recognition and congratulations, and we'd be rid of James and Victoria.

We left the area just as we started hearing the sirens.

Congratulations, Izzy. That was certainly good practice.


You haven't forgotten, have you? You still have a long road ahead of you. Your destiny is far from over, you know. You can pretend all you want, but you're never going to be normal.

I know.

One year later…

I headed towards Rose's room, glad to see that she'd finally disposed of all the dead flowers. The funeral was a month ago, and she had to let go. I knew that she hadn't really been all that close to her mother, but I could understand that she wasn't so much grieving for what was, more for what could've been. When my mom had died, I'd felt the same way.

But she still had to put that behind her, or she would drown in it. I had first-hand experience.

"Hey, Rose. Alright?" I asked, leaning against her doorway. She looked up from the cardboard box of her belongings and smiled, if somewhat sadly.

"Yeah. You want to help me unpack?" Her mom had left her their house, but she didn't want to live in that big empty house all by herself. She didn't have enough happy memories to hang onto it, so she sold it. I, of course, had offered for her to move in as soon as she expressed that she didn't want to keep it from someone who actually would live in it and make happy memories.

"Sure." I walked over and got down to it, sharing a smile with her.

Surprisingly, she didn't have all that much stuff she wanted to keep. There were only a few mementos, and the rest of her clothes, as well as other essentials. The rest of their stuff went to charity. Most of her sentimental stuff and things she used most were over here, anyways, so it didn't take long. Emmett stopped by to help, too, so that shortened the time even further. He'd started living here also once his Nonna decided to move into an elderly group home-type situation. He visited often, and they were both happy. He was legal, so the law was happy, too.

After the whole thing with James and Victoria, we'd all grown even closer. We'd successfully explained away our absences from school, and that part of our lives pretty much went back to normal. We really were family now, even if not by blood. While Emmett and Rose were the only ones officially living here, everyone else practically did as well. Especially Jasper. Oh, Jasper. We were officially boyfriend and girlfriend, but it felt like so much more.

Of course it does honey, you're true mates in the past life and this one. Well, the human equivalent anyways. For now.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm just going to ignore you right now.

Ouch. I am sooo, very hurt.

Ahem. What was I saying? Ah, yes. Our minds from all our previous lives were pretty much meshed together now, and Alice as well as Edward had gone through the same thing, although to a lesser degree. They just weren't…reincarnated, I guess…as often, so they had less trouble with it, also because Jasper and I could help them through it. I had no idea why the timing was so different with everyone, but then again I had long ago learned to stop overthinking the weirdness. One thing I had noticed though, is that it seemed that the different stages went couple by couple. But then, if the whole true-mates or whatever human version of the same phenomenon thing was considered, that wasn't too surprising.

Jasper and Edward were both spending more time over here, though, because apparently their stepfather and Mike were driving a wedge of sorts between them and their mother. She was too grateful to him to see it, though, and had been manipulated to think that the thoughts were her own. Edward was hurt, Jasper too, but they'd accepted it and had reluctantly cut them almost completely out of their lives before they could inflict too much pain. Alice was there for Edward, and I would always be there for Jasper. Always.

Alice, well she'd had a really bad fight with her mother, so she had been staying over for almost a month now. It allowed her to provide moral support for both Edward and Rose, and she was happier as she didn't feel the full effects of the rift with her mother. Apparently, we all had mothers that wore down on you the more time you spent with them.

Anyways, aside from all that, we were pretty content with the way things were. Our blood families might not always be there for us, but we had each other, people that would.

For example, one night the guys all decided to go for a boys' night out. Alice took that opportunity to organize a girls' night in, but it was cut short when we got a phone call from Edward that some guy and his friends were drunkenly trying to fight with Emmett. He'd used the moves we'd taught him to knock some of them out. Jasper and Edward got the rest. When we got there, we managed to convince the witnesses that they'd just passed out and imagined the whole thing. They were all really drunk, so that certainly helped. By the time the police got there, we'd erased ourselves from the situation.

But all things considered, we'd had a pretty normal year. No kidnappings or enemies from the past coming to haunt us. It was pretty great. I mean, the most drama we'd had aside from everything I'd mentioned was our continuing problem with Lauren. And after everything, she couldn't even come close to intimidating us. Not that she'd had a chance before, but still.

Rose smiled, thanking us for helping her unpack. We assured her that she didn't even need to thank us, what were housemates for? She chuckled a bit at that, and then gave Emmett a soft kiss. I knew what was coming next, so I rolled my eyes. Even the chastest of kisses usually turned into more with them; they had more make out sessions than I could count. Neither seemed to care much if they were in public or not, the exhibitionists. But then again, that was a little hypocritical, considering Jasper and I were almost as bad. Almost. Edward and Alice were a bit more private. As I predicted, the kiss quickly escalated into a heated session, both of them seemingly forgetting about their surroundings. I was about to leave and give them their privacy when both of them collapsed. I rushed over, shouting over my shoulder for Jasper who was probably somewhere in the house. Checking their vital systems, they seemed fine, so I pulled open their eyelids. Their eyeballs were rolled so far back into their heads that you could only see white, and I knew what this was.

Rainbow fog strikes again.

Veeeeery clever, Izzy. I'm practically peeing myself right now, I'm laughing so hard.

Lay off on the sarcasm there, it's suffocating.


Hey, you started it.

Oh. I guess that changes everything, then. What's clever retort is next? 'I'm rubber, you're glue'?

Shut up.

Shut what up? I don't really have an actual mouth, remember?

The principle is the same. Just give me some silence inside my head please?

Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top?

Sure. Fine. Yes. Whatever it takes.

Okay. I guess I could leave you alone for a little while…but the second something interesting happens, your internal commentary courtesy of me, Skydd, will be back full force.

I wouldn't expect anything else from you. With a roll of her eyes that I somehow picked up, she sank back into whatever dark corner of my mind she resided in when she wasn't being snarky with me.

Jasper, Edward, and Alice were all here apparently, so they all appeared at the doorway. Jas walked over and did the same checks I had, one hand flat on my back. We exchanged a look, crouched next to Emmett and Rose, and then glanced back at Alice and Edward. They were the last to go through the weird past-lives recollection moment, but that meant the should be the most prepared. Jasper and I found that since we'd been pulled out of it before we should've, we could go back in whenever we wanted to examine our past lives. It made us very vulnerable to attack, though, since we'd be in a meditative or sometimes even unconscious state. Edward and Alice couldn't really do the same, but they could call upon their past memories just like their normal ones.

As far as Emmett and Rose went, we really could only wait and make sure they don't wake up prematurely. Because of how Jasper and I had been pulled out of it, we'd also had to suffer severe migraines and personality swings while our brains tried to mesh together without having gone through all of it.

We'd pretty much settled into a constant, though. Jasper told me that he also had voices in his head, but unlike other people who would've thought him crazy, we knew that it just had to do with some weird juju that for some reason centered on us. Even though we could dive into the past and maybe gain some more answers, it wasn't that easy. Every time we came back, our personalities would split a little and we'd have to wait for them to merge again. In the meantime, the migraines would come back, and all for memories that could or could not be relevant. We didn't have really precise control over which moments we could revisit. We could pick a life and a vague section of that life, but couldn't really narrow it down. The memories would just randomly come to us; there was no picking and choosing.

Alice and Edward's personalities had changed a little afterwards, just as ours had, but they were much more secure and in control. They were also more like themselves, so we had concluded that it was far better to make sure Rose and Emmett came out of this state of their own accord.

As far as I knew, Skydd was a part of the weird juju, and also part of my gift. She was supposed to actively make sure I was as safe as possible. She would know things that there was no possible way of knowing, but were very useful to me. Just another aspect of the gift I'd had and possibly do have a little of. But Loki was left over from all my lives that had involved Vampirism. She really was different, and I couldn't really know why she was there. The God of War and Jasper were the same way. All signs pointed to the Major as the parallel version of Skydd, but he didn't have a shield, so how would that work?

Really? You're forcing me to be Professor Skydd again? I do not enjoy this, you know. But, I guess I have to. Here we go. While Jasper doesn't have the same gift you do, you are true mates, or were, or kind of are, or whatever. The point is you have a strong bond. When you both are vampires, it's actually stronger than most bonds between true mates. Probably a little of that…what was it you called it? Weird juju. In your past lives, and in this one, you are the most important person to each other, so much so that if one died, the other would definitely soon follow, even if it was after some sort of revenge. Therefore, his safety was very important to your safety, so the Major is also a part of your gift, to keep him safe, which keeps you safe. Of course, it's also part him, mostly his more ruthless side mixed in with that aspect of your gift, and voila! The God of War is all him, though, and it's basically the same idea as Loki is with you.

Oh. That makes sense.

Really? After all that, all you say is, 'Oh. That makes sense.' I gave you that much information, even though I didn't really want to, and you answer me with one word and one sentence? You know what? You don't even have to ask this time, I'll leave on my own and ignore you, instead of the other way around. Humph!

I sighed internally, but knew that Skydd wouldn't manage to keep silent for long, especially if it was a situation where I really needed her. As weird as it was to have a sassy, talking panther-like-thing in your head, she was there for a reason, and so she couldn't really ignore me if it came down to it.

I suggested that we all head off and do whatever we wanted to while we were waiting, leaving one rotating person to make sure Em and Rose were okay. Having us all here, doing nothing wouldn't exactly help them, anyways. Besides, it was a boring, to be honest. I also volunteered to go first, since I didn't really have anything to do, anyways.

Edward and Alice left after one more concerned look at our unconscious friends, but Jasper stayed behind. I looked at him with questions in my eyes, but he just smiled.

"I don't much to do, either. Besides, I like keeping you company." He was so sweet. And secretly kind of a romantic, like me. I loved it when he did or said something like this. While we weren't the kind to do grand romantic gestures like Edward and Alice, we did have our simple but lovely moments, and that was the way I liked it. I pecked him on the lips, and settled into his side. We both sat there, kind of side hugging and watching over Rose and Em, not feeling the need to break the silence. It was moments like this when I was happiest. Not the part with an unconscious pair of friends, of course, but the part with Jasper. Whatever happened, we always found a moment to just be together.

Oh, god, I'm getting sappy again. One of my past-selves must've been one of those dopey, moon-eyed girls who loved Romeo and Juliet, because this was definitely not present-me. Come to think of it, it was only after coming to Forks and starting this weirdness that I've started thinking like that. Figures.

"I love you, you know that?" The words came out of my mouth before I could think. We both sort of knew without saying that we loved each other, but we'd never told each other. Jasper smiled my favorite smile, slow and easy, reminding me of sunshine and honey.

"Yeah. I love you too." It didn't really do anything more than confirm what I already knew and felt, but it felt nice all the same to hear the words. That warm feeling that matched his smile spread throughout my body, and I leaned my head against his shoulder and soaked in all the positive feelings. I felt the edges of my mind begin to shimmer, and instead of being freaked out by it, I felt strangely calm. The shimmering film grew until it filled the whole room, and Jasper started slightly, looking at the ethereal glow. Wait, this isn't just my imagination? This is real? He can see it, which must mean that it's real, right?

Before I could freak out too much, my body righted itself, then I felt a wave of emotion emanating from Jas. I tasted-for lack of a better word-the feelings and came up with curiosity, amazement, and wonder. What was this?

I thought it was obvious. Your gifts have appeared. This makes things much more interesting!

My eyes wide, I turned to Jas, who didn't seem to realize he was emitting his emotions until he felt mine. I'm guessing that's what happened, at least, because he started again and turned to me. I couldn't help myself; I started laughing. We knew what was happening from the rainbow fog, as I would forever call it. So we weren't all that freaked out, just surprised, maybe marveling at this new part of ourselves. We'd seen Edward and Alice work their powers, but this was different. We'd had it before, but not in this life, so to experience it firsthand felt crazy. Jasper joined in my laughter, the emotions coming from him changing to a giddy sort of humor.

Yeah, I thought to myself. This does make things more interesting.

AN/: Sorry that it took a while to update…Hurricane Sandy passed by us, and while we weren't in the worst part, we lost power; it's been a week. The worst we had were a few downed trees and the power, so I'm fine. But no power means, among other things like no heat, no internet. No internet means no updating. So, I've had this chapter ready for a while, especially because school was also shut down because of the power outages, but I couldn't post it…yeah. In fact, the only way I'm posting this now is because my family got sick of being cold and without power, so we drove two hours to Philly and got a hotel room for one night.

One more thing, do you guys think I should've ended the story at James and Victoria's arrest and started a sequel for all the stuff I have planned? Or should I keep it in the same story? I'm undecided, so I figured you could maybe tell me which you would prefer…thanks to everyone who reviewed, and I'm sorry for the long wait…stupid weather. And, I guess that's it. Hopefully, the next time won't take so long because we'll have our power restored, whether it be new chapter for Destiny, or possible sequel-thing. Yeah. Oooookay.

UPDATE: After some thought and some awesomely fast and nice reviews, I decided to post Part 2 separately. I put up this chapter first, but hopefully the real chapter will be up soon.