At the end of the world
Or the last thing I see
You are never coming home
Could I? Should I?
And all the things that you never ever told me
And all the smiles that are ever gonna haunt me
-Ghost of You by My Chemical Romance
"We're not going to make it" Alice muttered under her breath, not quiet enough for me to miss the words.
"What? But, I thought..." I rambled, shaking my head in panic.
Alice shushed me quickly, trying to focus on the source of the change in her vision while still navigating the congested streets of Volterra. She gasped. "Demetri is going to go for a last minute walk around the perimeter of the square. Edward is going to see him and step forward a few minutes before noon, forced to play his hand early."
I tried to think clearly, but a sob escaped me without my permission. "There has to be something."
Alice squinted, forcing herself to be thorough with the vision. "There is a small chance if I go to him I might be able to convince the Volturi to let us go. It all depends on their mood honestly. The chance is small that we will make it out alive, but there is that thread of possibility."
"We have to take it," I exclaimed reflexively.
Alice glanced over at me, alarmed, as she pulled into another side street. "No, you're not coming with. If you come, for sure we are doomed."
"But I have to. I can't just sit by and wait for you to come back," I insisted.
Finally, Alice pulled the car over, knowing she was as close as she could get to Edward. She sighed and quickly turned towards me and within a second she had my seatbelt tied in a fashion that restrained me. I started to yell, but Alice ignored me as she pulled out her cell phone, dialing with lighting speed. She spoke quickly into the phone, her voice an indistinguishable blur. She hung up and then turned to me one last time. "I love you. This is for your own good. Carlisle is on his way to come get you if we don't make it out. Please, tell Jasper that I love him and I am so sorry. Tell him that he has to move on and continue with his life."
I stopped fighting the restraints; instead I slumped forward, crying. I did nod though. "I will tell him that. I promise."
Alice got a blank look for a split second as if she saw a new future open up before her. She gave a grim smile. "It will work out in the end. I can see it." With that Alice leapt out of the car and headed down an alley to try to head off Demetri.
My eyes locked on Alice's fading form, afraid it would be the last time I would see my best friend. I continued to cry uncontrollably, not able to do anything else as I prayed for their return. However, as the day folded into twilight and made its final transformation to night, I knew that they were not coming back for me. I was alone.
"Bella? Bella?" A voice silently murmured, pushing my hair from my face gently. "Honey?"
I cracked my eyes, and then jolted up when I saw the pale figure crouched next to me. A whisper of a breeze fell across my face, giving me fresh air to breath instead of the stale air of the car. "Carlisle? Why are you here?"
The sadness written on Carlisle's features stood in stark contrast to his normally soft face. I knew that his expression would stay with me to my dying day. Carlisle had always been a source of comfort for all us and a stabilizing force in what would normally be an unwieldy environment. But in that moment, Carlisle lost all of his composure and pure anguish etched itself along Carlisle's smooth features. That's when it all hit me anew. They were gone. The two people I was closest to, they were gone forever. Carlisle being here was proof that they would never come back to me.
I leaned forward, sobbing uncontrollably, gasping in air violently. My world shifted in that moment and a large piece of my heart disintegrated into nothing, leaving a black void in its stead. Carlisle reached forward and scooped me out of the seat, holding me in his arms tightly. I would have buried my face in his chest, but I was caught by the sight of the rest of the Cullens standing around me, the same sadness in everyone's eyes, well the same except for one pair.
I locked eyes with Jasper, and I remembered Alice's last request. Jasper was standing less than a foot away and because of Carlisle's height, his face was only a few inches above mine. I guessed that looking at him was the closest thing to looking at a mirror, maybe not his physical features, but I knew the emptiness of his eyes matched my own. I focused on my breathing, trying to gain control for a few precious seconds. It took a minute, but I was successful.
"She wanted me to tell you that she loved you and that she was sorry...and that you should continue to live your life...for her sake." At the last words I reached up and touched Jasper's cheek. In that moment there was a connection between us and I cringed as I felt Jasper's grief flood my system. It was staggering. Jasper gasped, grabbing my hand, while I squeezed my eyes closed, trying to shut out the emotions.
"Jasper, please," Esme begged softly, her voice tortured.
All of sudden I felt calming waves through me, although they did nothing to alleviate the pain; I didn't know if there was any power that was strong enough to succeed at doing that. Instead, I felt consciousness slip from my grasp and I drifted off into dreamless sleep.
"Bella, you need to wake up."
I opened my eyes slowly, shifting in my seat slightly to look at my surroundings. It took me a second to understand that we were now on an airplane. I was sitting in a window seat, encased in two or three blankets. My body was leaning on something, with a firm arm wrapped around my shoulder. "How?" My voice cracked as I tried to speak.
"Nice thing about traveling with a doctor."
I looked over at Carlisle, who was holding me next to him. "I wouldn't have woken you but they are going to be handing out food soon and you really need to eat."
I was about to speak, but my breath caught in my throat, and it soon became hard to breath. I was hyperventilating. Carlisle looked distressed, but stayed calm. "Please Bella, you need to relax. Take a deep breath." I knew I needed to listen to Carlisle but I could not get my body to obey. "Jasper?"
Soon a figure was crouched in the aisle, leaning over Carlisle to take my hand. "Breathe, Bella. Breathe."
My body slowly relaxed, and I fell into an almost numb state. I felt like all of my emotions were cut off from me. "Do you want me to keep you like this so you can eat?" Jasper asked softly, but his eyes were blank.
I nodded slowly. Jasper stood up to go back to his seat. "Jasper?" I asked unsure. Jasper paused, and gave me his full attention. I didn't know if I would have the chance to say anything to him again. Who knew if he would run off once we landed. For that matter the whole family may just abandon me again. "I..." I hesitated, but decided I needed to say it. "I'm sorry Jasper. I'm so sorry."
Something flickered in Jasper's eyes briefly, and I felt a quick jolt of despair run through my body, but he quickly regained control.
He didn't say anything at first, probably considering my words. In a rough voice he responded, "thank you, Bella." He smiled weakly at me and sat back down in his seat.
Carlisle continued his hold on me, as the stewardess slowly made her way down the aisle, passing out trays of food to the other passengers. Carlisle took a tray from the stewardess, thanking her. He set down the tray in front of me. I sniffed at it, curiously. I really wasn't hungry, but I didn't think that Carlisle would accept that answer. I felt weak, and thought maybe that had something to do with the lack of food in the last 24 hours. It probably was for the best that I eat something.
"You don't have to eat everything." Carlisle commented, as if reading my mind. "But it would really make me feel better if you drank the juice and at least attempted to eat the roll and some of the vegetables."
I nodded slowly, staring at the food for a minute, before picking up a fork and stabbing a green bean. I slowly drew the fork towards my mouth and hesitantly took a bite. When my body did not reject the food, I popped the rest of it in her mouth. I continued like this for a few minutes, slowly polishing off the vegetables and making a small dent in the bread. I drank the juice like Carlisle instructed, but that was all I could do. Although my body was not rejecting the food, it did not feel comfortable to be eating.
"That's good Bella, thank you." Carlisle took the tray from my seat and set it on top of his own uneaten tray of food.
I leaned back into my seat and sighed heavily.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Carlisle asked kindly.
I just shook her head.
"Okay. Do you want to go back to sleep?"
I waited for a minute, unsure. I wasn't tired and I didn't necessarily feel like sleeping, knowing it wouldn't help anything in the long run. However, there was no reason not to sleep. There was nothing left for me to live for. Alice was gone. Edward was gone. Nothing else mattered.
"Yes, I want to go to sleep."
Carlisle wrapped his arm back around me and pulled me towards him. He didn't have to say anything. Jasper must have heard our conversation from his seat behind us because my lids started to feel heavy and I slowly escaped the unfriendly world of reality.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. From the airport we drove separate cars that we had stored in Seattle. Carlisle, Esme, Bella, and I were in one vehicle, while Emmett and Rosalie took another car. We drove back to Forks in record time, ignoring all speed limits. We went directly to our house, which was still packed up. Emmett reached Bella's side of the car first and carried her still sleeping form into the house, the rest of us immediately following him. Emmett paused in the foyer, unsure of where to put her.
"Put her in my room," I spoke softly, choking on the word 'my'. It used to be our room, now it was just mine.
"Are you sure?" Esme asked tenderly.
"Yes, I won't be using the room very much unlike yours and it would just be cruel to put her in Edward's room."
"Only if you are sure. We can figure something else if you want," Carlisle assured.
I shrugged. "It's fine, really." No it's not, my mind screamed, but there was no Edward to call me out on my lie.
Emmett didn't wait any longer to speed up the stairs and deposit Bella in my room. He ran back down to join the rest of the family. They were all sitting around the dining room table that was usually used for family meetings of some sort. Carlisle was sitting at the head of the table with Esme right by him. Rosalie was sitting across from her. I was standing in the corner, leaning against the wall with my arms across my chest. Emmett went to stand behind Rosalie, and he put his hands comfortingly on her shoulders. She responded by placing one of her hands on his, squeezing it quickly. The sight of these two complete pairs made my insides ache.
Nobody said anything at first. We all just let the silence fill the room, everybody noticing how empty the room felt without Edward and Alice. Our family size took a major hit, and it was hard to believe that this was now all we had. Alice and Edward were not going to walk into the house suddenly. They were never going to come home.
Esme let out a quiet tearless sob and Carlisle reached out to put his hand on top of hers. "I guess I wanted us to talk about what we wanted to do. I personally am not going to abandon Bella. I'm not going to require you all to stay here with me, but I want to know what you want to do. I want to know what you need. Anything I can provide I will."
Esme sighed, "Of course I am going to stay here with you to be with Bella. I don't want to leave her now."
Emmett and Rosalie looked at each other, as if having a silent conversation. Surprisingly Rosalie was the one that spoke. "I want to stay with the family right now." She kept her eyes on Emmett.
"I agree. I don't want to go anywhere. I think Bella will need all of us." Emmett glanced at me with meaning.
Everybody turned to look at me, waiting for my decision. My throat felt thick as I tried to respond to their questioning stares. "I don't have an answer. I honestly don't know."
"Fair enough," Carlisle said. "I was thinking we should have a memorial service. I mean obviously we will have a public funeral for them, but I was thinking we should have a family gathering tomorrow to say our goodbyes."
"We should invite Bella, she will need the closure," Emmett offered up.
"Of course, she's a part of the family," Esme responded.
Rosalie nodded, "That sounds like a good idea."
No one spoke for a few minutes, all of us still adjusting to the situation. What was there really to say?
Esme stood slowly. "I'm going to go check in on Bella and then lie down for a while."
We knew that Esme could not possible be tired, therefore she really just wanted some private time to mourn the loss of her children.
"I think I will go hunting for a little while," Emmett walked towards the door.
"I'll come with you." Rosalie followed him.
As they walked out, Carlisle stayed in the room with me, neither of us moving from our place. "If you need time we will give it to you, but please don't leave this family. I know that Alice was your main reason to be a part of this family, but you are one of mine and Esme's sons, and it would break her heart to lose you too. We will not force you to stay, but just know we love you so much and we do not want you to leave. You are welcome here as long as you want."
My breath hitched as the Carlisle's emotions washed over me. There was so much genuine love and kindness emanating from Carlisle that it staggered me. Any thoughts of leaving the Cullens quickly faded. "I won't leave, permanently at least. I think I might take some space, but I will not be far. I will always have my cell phone with me if you want to get a hold of me and I will be here tomorrow."
"That's more than I hoped for." He got up and hugged me tightly, filling me with love.
"I love you too," I said, sending my love back towards him.
Carlisle released me, and patted me on the shoulder. "Don't stray too far. We'll be here anytime you need us."
"Thank you. I will go check on Bella and then head out for a little while. I won't be far."
I gave a Carlisle a final look before jogging up the stairs. The door to my room was open. I paused in the doorway, looking in. I thought it would be harder to be in the room, but I think I was still in denial over what happened. Esme sat at the edge of the bed, stroking Bella's hair gently. Esme looked up when she heard me stand by the door.
"Are you going to leave us?" She asked sadly, already sure that I would go.
Esme sighed heavily, full of relief. "I'm happy to hear that."
"I just came up here to check on Bella."
"She's sleeping peacefully, probably the last time for a while. I'll leave you with her."
"You don't have to," I protested.
"I need to go lie down." Esme walked towards the door. She stopped in front of me, reaching up to wrap her arms around me. I leaned down, burying my face in Esme's shoulder, letting myself soak up the comfort that she was trying to send me. "Take your time, but please come back to us."
"I love you," I whispered into her ear.
Esme leaned back and kissed my forehead. "I love you, too." Esme gave me a sad smile before exiting the room.
I walked at human speed over to the bed and knelt down onto the floor, leaning over the edge of the bed as if I were a small child praying. Maybe I was. I felt so hopeless and lost in that moment. I knew I had a family here, and I would not abandon them, but my reason for existing was gone now. The only person who could relate to me was sleeping restlessly in front of me.
Bella was tossing helplessly on the bed, moaning in her sleep. I reached and touched her hand that was curled up next to her face. I felt an instantaneous connection with her and I was surprised by the intensity of her emotions, even though she was sleeping. Usually emotions dulled during sleep, only surfacing because of very vivid dreams. Instead right now, there was no escaping all the grief, sadness, and guilt that was flowing through her at that moment. I did not know what she had to feel guilty about, and did not understand that one emotion. I wished I could read her mind and find out what she was dreaming, but that thought only made me feel sad at the thought of losing my brother.
I knew it was time to go, and I had no responsibility to this human, but I felt otherwise. I wanted to protect her. Maybe it was Alice and Edward in the afterlife, encouraging me not to abandon someone that had been so precious to them. I felt a draw to her, and I knew I would not be able to stay away for long. I kissed her hand that I was holding, and sent a wave of peace through her before I leapt out the window into the surrounding woods.
A/N: This authors note is going to be ridiculously long, but I have to get some procedural stuff out of the way.
#1: This story is completely done. I have been working on it for the last two and a half years and I completed it today. The story has clocked in at 20 chapters and a little over 100,000 words, my biggest story yet. Even though it is done, it hasn't been fully edited yet, so that is why the chapters are going to be spaced out. For sure I will have a chapter a week but I am going to try to get more out than that. It's all a matter of my editing skills.
#2: I don't have a beta, so all mistakes are my own. If people point out that my work is unreadable I will attempt to find a beta, but as much as possible I want to try to do the editing on my own.
#3: I know this story's set up has been done to death (no pun intended), but I wanted to try my hand at it. I really wanted to keep the story grounded and down to earth. Along the way of writing this story my dad passed away and it became kind of a personal outlet for me to describe how someone overcomes grief and finds a way to move on with their life. I tried to be as realistic as possible.
#4: There is a song associated with each chapter. At first it kind of naturally happened but whenever I had writers block, which happened often, sometimes the songs would inspire me or renew my motivation to complete the story. I really recommend every song with each chapter.
#5: Please review. I welcome both positive and constructive feedback, it's the only way I will get better. Please let me know what you think.