Fuil 'o mo chuislean
Fuil 'o mo chuislean translates as 'Blood of my veins' from the Scottish Gaelic. I'm intrigued with the character of Alistair, of whom I've had only fleeting glimpses in other people's fiction on this site, and mostly very much in the periphery. I wanted him to have his own story, and while I'm normally strictly team Jasper I couldn't get this idea out of my head. I also like writing a slightly older Bella as it's been a fair while since I was eighteen and I think early twenties gives so much more possibility for depth of character and experience. The good news is that writing this has reawakened my motivation for writing Supercharged, so expect chapter seven shortly. I have no idea why it works like that, as I'd taken a long time off, not with writer's block but with an addiction to an online computer game and a total lack of concentration for anything else, but I'm glad it does and I'm looking forward to getting on with both that as well as this story. I will no doubt take massive liberties with all things Twilight. While I've speed-read all of the books, I don't like them, loathe canon Bella (vamp-whipped, whiny, pathetic pussy with as much backbone as a slug), despise Edward and abhor Kristen Stewart as Bella even more, so my benchmark is really made up only of the incredible writing found on this site. There is no schedule for updates. If I were capable of planning ahead I would likely have a better job, no holes in my socks, and would have realised that it was 1AM when I started writing this. As always please tell me what you don't like and what doesn't work as well as what you do and what does.
The smell of freshly baked bread and pastries was torture to my roiling, empty insides as I held my hands in the warm air rising from the grate beneath the bakery. The black credit card that Carlisle had secretly couriered to me after the Cullens left me behind burned a hole in my backpack as always, made all the more tempting by the decreasing amount of small change I knew furnished my pockets. The risk of using it was too great, I reminded myself. I had a fair idea that my fate would be neither painless nor swift should I be found. And they were most definitely looking. Two dead wolves, one personal note in Aro's decrepit handwriting and several years of running left me in no doubt that the chances of them giving up their search for me were slim to none. And that their ire increased exponentially with each passing day for which I eluded them. I daily ran a full length feature of 'Oh how dead I will be' through my head, often preceded by the award-winning short 'No more breathing for me, ever'.
I glanced at my reflection in the store window, the gaunt cheeks, lank, lifeless hair and pinched mouth visible even in the predawn semidarkness; I'd likely be arrested the second I tried to use it anyhow. The old woman behind the counter in the bakery looked at me with a mixture of pity and wariness. One thing I had perfected during my last few years on the run was the thousand yard stare. I looked dangerous. I knew that because I was still alive and men twice my size avoided my gaze, my person, and my mouth should they happen to be immune to the first. Fuckers. I looked pathetic, too, though, and I counted on that for whatever food I could scrounge as much as I did on my flat gaze for survival.
I liked Scotland. The money here was prettier than anywhere else I'd been, even more so than South of the border in England, where the crisp notes were like miniature works of art with their delicate lithographs. I had a slight obsession with Scottish five pound notes; a vibrant Delft blue, their filigree beauty made them almost impossible to spend, despite the fact that my stomach was a nagging harridan that never let me forget its permanent emptiness. I ignored the last one I had, folded uncomfortably inside my bra, and instead chinked the coins in my pocket with cold fingertips. Used to the shapes of the coins now, I knew by touch that I had a little over two pounds in there. As desperate as that made me feel, the gnawing in my stomach was more so. I knew I would have to spend some of it, hopefully getting a little more for my money by asking for anything they had that wasn't fit for sale, bakery bloopers as it were.
With one last chink of my fingers the fabric of my pocket lining gave way with a muted ripping sound. The coins fell down the leg of my pants, out at the ankle, and rolled with urgency towards and through the ancient grating, which was part drain, part air vent, in the pavement that fronted the little bakery. I felt my mouth form into a round 'o' as I watched them flee, helpless to stop them. I stomped my foot forward, missing one by inches. I made a choked sound as my mouth pulled into a rictus of horror, dropped to my knees with a sob and scrabbled my fingers through the bars of the grate, trying in vain to find any trace of them. I felt panic clutch at my chest and hot, angry tears stream down my cheeks. Fuck fuck FUCK! No no NO! Fuck no!
I sat back on my heels and cried bitterly, the cold wind chapping my skin as it dried the salty tears on my cheeks. I didn't even have the energy to cover my face with my grimy hands or make a half-hearted swipe at the slimy snot trail I knew was winding its way down my chin. The fact that I had been reduced to this blubbering wreck, fumbling in the gutter for money, by the one person who promised me the world, both to show it to me and to keep me safe from it, only increased my snivelling.
A small sound made its way through my tear-fuzzied brain.
I looked and saw a tiny hand outstretched, and the little girl it belonged to. Her breath hitched as she took in another shuddery breath, her tears not torrential like mine, and thankfully snot-free, but evident on her flushed cheeks and swimming in her sky blue eyes all the same.
"You ca-an have m-mine." she said haltingly, wiping at one eye furiously with the back of the other hand. "Please sto-op crying." she hiccoughed. I looked down at the hand again. It held a fifty pence piece. My heart broke into a million pieces. Her little fingers were shaking with the freezing cold just like mine, and her tiny frame looked half starved. Wrapped in a homemade dress, a holed and ragged sweater, a total lack of socks and shoes, and she wanted to give me what I assumed was the only money she had.
She shuffled toward me on small, perfect feet, her hand still held out in front of her as I shook my head furiously. The first weak ray of sun chose that moment to pierce the buildings around us, lighting her from behind. Her pale blonde hair surrounded her face like halo, its fluffy wisps curling against her cheeks and over her eyes a little. It gave her an ethereal quality that seemed incongruous with the freezing poverty that claimed us both. I thought that if I lived a thousand years I would never see anything more beautiful. She sucked her bottom lip a little as she reached me, repeating her offer with a motion of her eyes.
"I can't. No. Th-thank you but no." I managed between my own ragged breaths.
She seemed to consider this for a second, then withdrew her hand, instead taking the last step forward and draping her thin little arms around my neck, pressing one cold cheek against mine as she hugged me tightly.
"It gets better." She whispered so softly I almost didn't hear her, her words setting off a fresh shudder in my chest. She patted my hair softly before pulling away and wiping at my face, ineffectively but with a look of such concentration I had to smile. It was probably a horrible grimace of a smile, but she took it as a sign of improvement anyway.
"I'm Sophie." she said with quiet seriousness, staring into my eyes. The fragile soul behind those cornflower eyes knew all my secrets it seemed, was both achingly innocent and a hundred years old at once.
"I'm Bella." I replied, equally quiet, and with a small squeeze of one of her hands.
The pile of clothes against the wall of the nearest building chose that moment to fart noisily and mumble a vicious streak of gibberish. Sophie's eyes went wide.
"I hafta go. Me da's 'wake." She had the soft lilt of the outer islands.
"Wait." I fumbled hurriedly in my backpack, digging my arm in up to the elbow until my fingers brushed what I was searching for. I pulled out a rolled up pair of thick socks and threw them to her as she backed away with small, deliberate steps. She caught them, fumbled, dropped them and picked them back up with a huge smile. She pressed them to her cheek for a second, checking their softness.
"Feet." I said as sternly as I could, one finger pointing at her frozen little toes. She nodded and skipped over to the Da-bundle on the opposite wall, slinking down against the wall and unwrapping them clumsily. She pulled the first one on and giggled as it reached over her knee, clapping her hand over her mouth quickly as the bundle shifted next to her, letting out a deep, baritone grumble. With her eyes fixed fast on the source of the voice she silently pulled the other one over her other knee, wiggling the toes of both feet in satisfaction once she was done. She flicked the corner of the bundle of clothes over her legs and rested her chin on her drawn up knees, flicking her eyes between the bundle and I before sighing a little and closing them.
With a strength in my limbs I hadn't felt for months I stood, wiping hastily at my face, and dug my last five pound note out of my tattered bra. I rolled the lineny paper between my fingers, glancing uncertainly at the bakery door. I pushed it open slowly, as always hating the clang of the bell above announcing my entry. I stepped quietly to the counter and opened my mouth, then closed it again as I looked at the woman behind the counter. I had no idea what to ask for. I half closed my eyes as I took a breath in through my nose. I could smell meat pasties and my body knew what it wanted even if my brain had trouble finding the words.
Before I could speak I felt paper rustle against my cold, scabbed knuckles. Looking down in surprise I saw a large paper bag, bulging with promising shapes, the top closed and rolled over, small wisps of steam escaping the edges. I glanced up at the woman behind the counter. Old eyes regarded me with solemnity and kindness. She inched the bag closer to me.
"Keep yer money, lass. There's few as are kind to that one. I feed her da so I can keep an eye on her." She spoke matter of factly, as if it were the most normal thing in the world to guard a tiny life from her own father. It occurred to me that perhaps it was.
I choked out my thanks and stumbled out of her door and down the street, half scared that the generosity might be regretted and taken back at any moment. With a last glance at Sophie's small form I rounded a corner, heading toward the quayside to watch the sun rise over the river and fill myself with whatever the old woman had seen fit to pack in the bag. A little less hurry, a few more seconds, one more glance behind me and I would have seen the tall shadow moving in the alleyway behind Sophie and her sleeping father, would have witnessed the bright flash of sun glittering along a small patch of skin as it whipped away from the first glimmers of dawn. My stomach rumbled in anticipation as I moved away, happily noticing neither.