Disclaimer: I don't own anything Twilight. It all belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended, but characterizations, plot lines, backgrounds and details of this story are mine. No copying or reproduction without my permission.
A/N: Hey, guys. I won't bore you with explanations of why this is being posted so damn late, because I know you just want to read the chapter, but I will say I'm sorry for the delay. Truly, I am.
As always, a big thanks goes to JMCullen for being an amazing wifey, and an even bigger thanks goes to the lovely V, for her encouragement and advice and incoherent reactions to the chapter. I love you both so fucking much.
Thanks to those of you who will be reading the sequel – I know I managed to piss most of you off, but Camisado was always going to close that way and it was unavoidable.
A new blog for HIYA is up – the link is on my profile. Once again, I'll be posting teasers as and when I have them written.
Oh! What a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
~ Sir Walter Scott
Both shattered halves of my heart were pounding.
I couldn't breathe.
My shoulder burned.
I had to keep going.
Every inch of distance I put between myself and Bella pierced my heart even further, but I'd promised her I'd get help and there was no fucking way I was going to break that. I owed her this; my pain was inconsequential, especially when it would result in her being freed from hers.
I could barely see through the tears that were blurring my vision, but was able to make out the final, open doors that led to safety, and pushed forwards with all my might. Every moment's delay could cost Bella and our child their lives, and I refused to let them down. They needed me.
The second I was out in the open, two men rushed to meet me and started to pull me towards a row of Hummers that were guarding the area, but I quickly yanked myself from their grasp.
"Bella-" I gasped breathlessly. "Bella's hurt-"
"Agent Swan!" I shouted angrily. Why were they wasting time? "We have to go back in there!"
I turned and started to run back towards the doors, expecting them to follow, but instead they body-blocked me.
"Masen, you can't go back in there!"
"Get your fucking hands off me!" I struggled as hard as I could against them, but they were too strong and my shoulder was useless. "Bella needs help!"
"Masen!" A third, dark-haired man rushed towards us, looking panic-stricken. "Where is she?"
"Bottom of the staircase," I forced out, ignoring the harsh pain in my shoulder each time I tried to break free. "She needs help! She said to tell you code black."
He froze. "Code black? Are you sure that's what she said?"
"Yes! She told me to tell you exactly that!" I gestured helplessly at the door. "Please. She's pregnant! You need to-"
He closed his eyes. Gave a heavy sigh. "Cuff him."
"WHAT?" Horror flooded through my veins as I realized they were going to abandon her just like they had me, and I knew I had to act fast. I'd only get one shot at this. By some miracle, the guy to my right reached behind him, giving me the only opportunity I needed.
I twisted my arm from his grip and turned to my left, bringing my knee up into the other man's stomach and forcing him to let me go. Before they had the chance to capture me again, I pulled my gun on the three of them and took their momentary shock as a chance to run back towards the entrance to the compound.
Number three quickly caught up with me, though, and tried to block me again.
"Get the fuck out of my way," I snarled, flipping the gun on him.
He held his hands up in surrender. "Masen, you don't want it to go down like this."
"It's what Bella wants," he sighed. I shook my head, refusing to believe him. Bella would never do that, not when she knew she was pregnant. She promised me.
"You can lie all you want. Either way, I'm not leaving without her," I told him coldly as I walked backwards, keeping him and all the other fuckers in sight. I didn't trust any of them, and they'd given me no reason to. They'd given up on Bella, just like they'd given up on me, but I refused to let them win, not this time.
"Think about it," Number three said calmly. "If she wanted someone to go back for her, why not tell you to ask us for help instead of giving you a code to say when she knew you wouldn't understand its meaning?"
He was trying to trick me… Trying to make me doubt Bella… It wouldn't work.
"She is pregnant with our child." I kept my gaze fixed on his so he'd know I wasn't going to break down and give in. "She would not put herself or our baby at risk and lie to me like that. She loves me."
"I don't doubt that she does," Number three said softly. "I've known her since she was eighteen years old, and I know that if she loves you as much as she seems to, she would lie to save your life. So please… This is your last warning."
Before I even had the chance to move, an unbearable weight forced me to the ground and my arms were twisted behind me at a cripplingly painful angle. I fought as hard as I fucking could, no longer feeling the excruciating pain in my arm as my emotions overrode my body. Bella was everything to me. We were meant to be together; things weren't supposed to be like this. I should have been the one trapped in that hellhole, not her. I needed to get her out. That was all that mattered to me now.
I tried to lift my head at the sound of Rose's voice, but whoever was on top of me forced it against the concrete again. If Emmett was here, he'd help me get to Bella; he was the one who helped her plan this entire thi-
Number three wrapped Rosalie in his arms and kissed the top of her head. "Shhhh, Rosie."
My blood ran cold.
"You son of a bitch!" I writhed beneath the fucker pinning me down as rage and despair gripped me like a vice. "She trusted you! SHE FUCKING TRUSTED YOU!"
"Let him go, Emmett!" Rose pleaded. "Please! Bella's pregnant… You can't leave the baby in there. Em, please!"
I couldn't see what was going on, but suddenly my neck was being exposed and Rosalie's voice became panicked.
"EMMETT, NO! NO! STOP IT! DON'T HURT HIM!"
I knew what was coming. My time was almost up; I only had a few more seconds to act.
Pulling all my remaining strength together, I rolled violently onto my back, forcing the person on top of me onto the ground as I scrambled to my feet and aimed my gun at Rosalie's head.
"I'll kill her!" I yelled, panting from exertion. "I swear to God, I'll do it!"
Everyone stopped breathing, except for Rosalie, who stared at me with a strange expression on her face. She closed her eyes for a moment, and when she reopened them a new fire was blazing inside them.
"Emmett, do as he says," she said softly. "He's not lying."
Wasn't I? Could I really do that? Could I kill someone Bella had risked her life to save?
If it meant saving our child…
"You need her," I found myself saying. "If she's dead… You've lost everything."
"Masen…" Emmett said calmly, then cautiously took a step forward, like he was approaching a wild animal. At that moment, I suppose I pretty much was. I was in survival mode, doing anything and everything I could to protect the ones I loved.
"Don't you take another fucking step," I hissed, "unless it's in Bella's direction."
"Okay," he replied, but didn't move towards the doors. Instead, he just shot a meaningful look over my shoulder. I had no idea who it was meant for, but I wasn't taking any chances.
Lunging forwards, I grabbed Rosalie and pulled her back against me, my arm across her shoulders tight enough to restrain her without cutting off her air supply. She gripped hold of my arm with both hands, but instead of resisting me, she pushed it harder against herself.
"Emmett…" she whimpered. "Please…"
"What are you doing?" I whispered lowly.
"Trying to save your baby's life," she replied quietly, "please trust me."
Before I could open my mouth to reply, she stomped down on my foot and screamed, "Now!"
Arms restrained me from behind me as I let Rosalie go in shock, and then something sharp was being stabbed into my neck and everything began to fade…
Gentle laughs, soft touches.
"Baby, you need to wake up."
Brilliant smiles, swollen belly.
"I love you."
Warm lips, loving kiss.
"I need you."
"It hurts… Edward, help me."
"Don't give up on me…"
I awoke with a gasp.
I reacted to the sudden presence beside me in a second, barely even registering who the voice belonged to until my good hand was wrapped around their throat.
"Stop!" Rosalie choked out, clutching my hand tightly. "Edward, it's me!"
"I know who you fucking are," I spat. "Where's Bella?"
"You're in-…" She struggled to gasp in air as her fingernails dug into my skin. "You're in a medical centre. In Oregon."
"That's not what I asked." I tightened my hold even further, keeping my glare steadily fixed on her. I was vaguely aware of a steady throbbing in my shoulder, and assumed they must have patched me up somehow, but I couldn't have cared less at that moment. "Where's Bella?"
"She's…" Tears flowed freely down her face, but I didn't feel sorry for her. She sold me out after everything Bella and I did for her. I had no time for sympathy. "I can't… Breathe…"
"Did they get her out?" I demanded. She shook her head infinitesimally, and I immediately released her throat as I threw the thin sheets that covered me to the end of the bed and struggled to my feet. "Where are my fucking clothes?"
"Wh-What…" she croaked hoarsely. "What are you doing?"
"What do you think I'm fucking doing?" I spat, looking around the room.
"Edward, you can't lea-"
"Watch me." Giving up on my search for proper clothes, I pulled out the IV needle from the back of my hand and headed for the door, ignoring the ever intensifying pain in my shoulder and aching in my bones.
Before I got the chance to open the door, it swung open, and I was greeted with the concerned face of Emmett. Rage flooded through me as my hands curled into tight fists.
"Get out of the way," I growled.
"I won't tell you again, asshole."
Emmett sighed. With a quick glance at Rosalie, he slowly stepped aside, freeing the doorway. I moved swiftly past him into the corridor, then froze when I saw the electronic touchpads on the wall beside every door.
"You can't get out," came Emmett's voice from behind me. "Not without an access card."
I closed my eyes, fighting the overwhelming emotions that swelled inside me. I couldn't fail her. I couldn't give up, not after all she had done for me.
"Where's Carlisle?" I managed to grind out calmly. I was clutching at straws, but if there was anybody on this planet capable of getting her back now, it was him.
"I don't think that's-"
"I gave up my freedom for this organisation," I cut across lowly. "I've done what other people have wanted me to do my entire fucking life. And if any of you think I'm going to give you the testimony you all need to nail The Volturi without Bella's freedom, you're even more fucked in the head than I thought."
"Edward, our hands are tied," Emmet replied. His tone was soft, and he even sounded a little regretful. But that did shit to help me. "If we go back in there-"
"It's okay, Emmett. I'll take it from here."
A mixture of relief and rage bubbled up inside of me at the sound of his voice. Part of me wanted to wrap my hands around his throat and watch the life seep out of him for what he had done, but the more rational side of me knew that I needed him now. I breathed out slowly to calm myself, then opened my eyes.
He seemed to have aged several decades since I'd last seen him in person. He looked exhausted, like something was weighing on his mind. I had no sympathy for him, though. He deserved it after what he'd done to Bella.
"How's the shoulder?" he asked.
"How's the conscience?" I countered. "If you even have one."
"It's Mr. Masen to you."
Carlisle sighed softly, then put both his hands up in a surrendering gesture. "Okay. Mr. Masen it is."
I nodded stiffly.
"Emmett? Rosalie? Would you mind giving us some privacy?" Carlisle called softly, then glanced at me. "If returning to the room is okay with Mr. Masen, of course."
"You'll listen to me?" I wanted confirmation before being in the same room as him alone. Trusting him that much was a stretch, but I knew it was my only option now.
"I will," he swore. I stared right into his eyes, trying to read him. I saw no signs of deception, but it was his job to lie. He did it everyday without detection. Fuck, he'd even managed to lie his way into making me agree to do this shit in the first place, and then he fucking turned his back on me.
He won't do it to Bella, too.
"Okay." Carlisle nodded and opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him off. "On one condition."
"Name it," he replied.
"If you don't agree to help me, I get to leave whatever the fuck this place is."
"Ed-…" He let his eyes close briefly before finally sighing. "Alright. But you need to listen to what I have to say first."
"I'll listen, but that's all I'm promising," I warned. He nodded slightly, then gestured for me to step back into the room Rosalie and Emmett had now vacated.
I didn't move, not wanting to risk being locked in there alone again if he decided to break his promise again. Carlisle stared at me for a few moments, then exhaled deeply before stepping in himself. I followed him after a second's hesitation, then pulled the door until it was almost shut behind me. I wouldn't have put it past him to make the doors automatically lock upon closing.
Once I turned back round to face him, our eyes locked. There was so much I wanted to say to him… But I had to hold my tongue.
Sensing my reluctance, he finally spoke first. "I know there's a lot that needs to be said, and I'm sure you must have questions that only I can answer, but… You have to understand that this organisation, my family, comes first. I didn't know if you had turned against us, or if-"
"Don't you fucking dare try and make yourself be the victim here," I growled. Keeping my cool was going to be impossible, I could tell. "You abandoned me. Didn't give a fuck about what might happen. You left me there to die without even attempting to make contact. So don't. Nothing you say will make me forgive you for that. Because it was unforgivable."
"Ed- Mr. Masen… I am sorry. I couldn't risk it. Sending anybody in there blind would have been sui-"
"Bella managed it. Without any help from you. So are you seriously telling me that a group of agents with time, money and all the resources and technology available wouldn't have been able to do the same?"
"Secured two targets and got them out in, what? Two months?" I countered. "She's a damn good agent, and you underestimated her."
"Oh, yes, and that's why she's stu-"
A red haze engulfed my vision as I lunged at him, my instincts screaming at me to kill him. I got him by the throat and shoved him roughly against the wall, enjoying the fearful expression on his face.
"Finish that sentence. I dare you."
"You need me," he choked out. My fingers tightened their grip. "You need me, and you know it!"
After a few seconds, I released him, smiling to myself when the fucker coughed uncontrollably and dropped to his knees.
"You watch your mouth, or next time, you're dead." I told him. "Got it?"
"Got it," he coughed, pulling himself to his feet and brushing himself off.
"She isn't the reason she's… there. She did everything she was supposed to. You weren't there, so you have no right to even…" I closed my eyes, fighting to keep my emotions in check. "She's ten times the person you could ever be."
"You really love her?"
"Of course I fucking love her," I shot back. "Jesus Christ, she's carrying our child. How much more fucking obvious could it be?"
"She's definitely pregnant?" he asked softly. I nodded, meeting his gaze. It was then that I noticed his expression was one of… pain. But not of the physical kind. "How far along?"
"Not far enough to be…" I couldn't voice my fears about the baby. The thought of possibly losing Bella alone made me feel sick and panicked enough. "Probably the middle of her first trimester or so."
Carlisle exhaled a long breath. "We can't… They'll be on high alert now, won't they?"
"Yeah," I mumbled. "They won't have moved her yet, though. Despite recent events, that compound is still one of the securest places they own. It was built for purpose, and now they'll be working twice as hard to secure the premises."
"How wounded is she?" he asked tentatively.
"I don't know," I replied truthfully, moving over to the bed I'd been laying on before and sitting down on the edge of it for support. "She was shot in the upper thigh, and I couldn't… My shoulder was… She told me to get help, and I thought-"
"She told you to say code black, knowing you had no idea what it would mean," he finished softly. "She didn't want you to go back for her, Masen. She knew what she was doing."
"They'll kill her." I looked up at him. "Even if she gives up the information… They'll torture her, and then…"
"Would her pregnancy give her no leverage?"
I laughed bitterly. "If anything, it'll give them leverage. Another way to hurt her. And they will use it. I've seen them, Carlisle. They're more ruthless than you could ever imagine when it comes to eliminating threats to the organisation. She's probably already…" I closed my eyes against the image that tried to burn itself into the forefront of my mind. "She'll wish she was dead, and then they'll tease her with the thought of it coming soon, make her willing to beg, and then… They'll torture her some more. Because they can."
"Is there nobody on the inside…"
"Didyme's the doctor there. She might be able to… I don't know." I shuddered, bringing my hand up to my aching shoulder to try and stop the pain. "Her and Marcus will probably be kept in a safehouse or-"
I inhaled sharply. Of course.
"Or…?" he prompted when I didn't continue.
"I need your phone," I told him. "Now."
After several hours solid of trying different lines, I finally managed to leave a message on Didyme and Marcus' personal line, begging them to get a message on Bella's whereabouts and condition back to me as soon as possible. Since The Volturi were on high alert and had most likely scattered to as many secure locations as possible, there was no telling where in the country they were. If they were even in it at all.
So, I sat in Carlisle's suite at the Kikimonoly hotel in Portland with his phone on my lap and a computer on the table in front of me and waited, only leaving my position for bathroom breaks and the occasional check-up with Lucinda, the on-call medic, when absolutely necessary, but not before making sure somebody was taking my place the entire time for fear of missing that all important message.
On the fifth day, an email finally arrived in one of Carlisle's secure inboxes while I was getting my shoulder re-bandaged. Ethan, one of the techs who had been swapping watch duty with me, suddenly yelled for Carlisle, and I sprang out of my seat with my shoulder half bandaged, my mind only on Bella.
"Let me see," I demanded, almost pushing Ethan over in my haste to read the message. He started to object, but Carlisle quickly cut him off.
"Give it to him," he ordered softly.
Within moments, I had the laptop on my lap and was reading Didyme's email.
Subject: RE: Better Economic Logistics – Legal Aid AJ#4G
It is with deep regret that I inform you the parcel containing the information we desire has yet to arrive at our offices here in Montana. Contact with the postal service has proved to be inconclusive, as they are claiming to know nothing about the parcel or its contents, despite the proof of postage you provided.
However, I have been made aware that all efforts are being put into ensuring the parcel, as well as its contents, are kept safe and unharmed by any unforeseen circumstances, such as water damage or mishandling. Although the outside may become damaged or punctured, we will do our best to ensure the contents remain intact.
Due to the delicate nature of the package, I would suggest waiting until the 21st of December before re-sending the information. Perhaps reinforced packaging or personal courier may be a more secure way of getting this information to us? As you have been made aware, our offices will be moving on 22nd December, and if you wish to have your case resolved by then, a swift delivery is essential.
My lungs burned in protest, and I quickly exhaled the breath I'd been holding.
"Oh, thank God," I gasped as relief washed over me. "She's alive."
"How can you tell?" Ethan asked, frowning as he read the email over my shoulder.
"The code," I explained. "Bella's the parcel, the baby's the contents of it. She's still at the compound in Montana, and she's not talking." I re-read the letter. "She's been tortured. Possibly waterboarded…" I fought back the urge to vomit. "But Didyme's trying to make sure she's okay. Her and the baby."
"And December 21st?" Ethan prompted. "December 22nd?"
"They're moving her December 22nd, I think," I replied. "I think she's trying to tell us 21st December is when we should go in… Surprise attack, lots of men…" I scanned the email. "The south exit is our best bet."
"Three weeks?" Carlisle said softly from behind us.
Although he had neither agreed nor disagreed to help with Bella's retrieval, his interest fanned the flames of hope inside of me.
"Three weeks," I confirmed, searching his eyes for answers I knew I wouldn't find.
"You know how to get to the south exit?"
I nodded. "It's the opposite side to where we broke free, accessible through unused sewage pipes that were placed in case the south wing needed to be expanded. They call it death row; most captives get taken there for… Information extraction."
"How many guards?" he asked, frowning at the screen.
"I…" I read and re-read the email, but nothing sprung out at me until… I pointed at the header. "Bella's with Alec and Jane. And four guards, who are probably outside the room."
"Alec and Jane?"
"Pain experts." Images of their previous victims flashed through my mind. "Jane likes knives and whips… Chains… Alec prefers more… He's the main culprit for waterboarding. He loves to cut off the senses. And he's very good at it."
"You've seen it? Could you identify them?"
"I've experienced it," I mumbled. "Alec blindfolded me while Jane sliced up my back as some fucked up initiation thing. Barely left a scar."
"Bella's with them?" He sounded horrified at the thought.
I forced myself to nod.
"I'll talk to Emmett. Assemble a team. We go in December 21st."
My eyes closed in relief.
"If anything happens to them in the mean time…" He paused, gently gripping my uninjured shoulder. "Either one of them. I'll understand."
His hand slipped away, and the main door clicked open moments later.
"Carlisle?" I called, turning to face him.
"Yes, Mr. Masen?"
"Call me Edward."
He smiled. "You're welcome."