A\N:

It was brought to my attention that there was a paragraph without ANY spaces in my first posting. That has been revised and I am reposting. Thanks, everyone. :D

Much love to my beta, Shasta. She was so kind to take this on. Thanks, dear.

This was my entry to The Canon Tour's Twilight Round. I had fun writing it and hope you enjoy. Thanks so much for giving it a chance and reading. To see all the other stories, please go to: their Twitter account (TheCanonTour) or their website bit . ly / canon-tour (remove the spaces). There are some amazing stories there.

Congrats to the winners.

Also, I want to thanks solar for highlighting Canon/AU stories. Though I enjoy a good AH story, I really love the AU/Canon ones.

I do not own any of these characters, or the original plot to the Twilight Series. Everything publicly recognizable belongs to their owners. I am doing this only for the pleasure I gain from writing and I am not associated with anyone or anything to do with the Twilight Series.


Miserable.

Despondent.

Hopeless.

Me.

We'd been wandering forever—well, at least since I'd "woken up" . . . ages ago. Not that it really mattered anyway. It wasn't like I got tired or achy . . . or anything but thirsty, a constant, nagging, burning thirst. This pain had been with me since the other, more torturous, scorching had stopped. What I experienced now was a never ending reminder, an echo of that burn.

"This is the way it is; suck it up." James was always so kind, a true leader. The creature that had stolen my life, my creator of sorts—how I hated calling him that—had told me that the pain was to be expected and the only way to quench it was to feed . . .

But I didn't want to think about that. Of all the things that disgusted me about my current situation, killing was the worst. What kind of vile monster not only fed off, but murdered the creature they used to be? It was all a little too cannibalistic for my taste. Of course, when the instinct took control, there was nothing I could do to fight; I was powerless. This was true especially when "the bastard," as I called my sire in my mind, taunted me with freshly spilled blood. It seemed that no matter how I tried, my willpower always laid tattered at my feet alongside the beaten and torn body left in my wake. Guilt followed every time, as omnipresent as the thirst.

But I had no other choice; I had no other option but to follow the filthy brown-haired male and his two cohorts. It wasn't like I could return home. That wasn't safe. There was always the possibility I could lose control if I went too close to humanity. So I followed the three monsters, trusting them to keep me on the fringe, close enough to feed, but far enough that I didn't risk slaughtering entire towns, all the while becoming more culpable as each day passed.

I was isolated, beyond lonely. Though I had companions, they certainly couldn't be considered friends. It was more a relationship of convenience. In my hope to never be like them, I kept as far away as possible without bringing attention to the fact that I refused to join them, especially in their sadistic habit of playing with their food. As a result, I was constantly on edge, never relaxing as I ostracized myself.

It was in this manner that I survived the first few months of my new life—if it could be called that. To me it felt more like existing, a limbo where I was pulled closer to hell with each action, each mortal sin.

In addition to the hunger that now ruled my life, I was an emotional wreck. From what I could remember, I hadn't been like this before. As I sifted through the blurry, hazy bits and pieces that once were my life, I was able to come to one conclusion. I had been a fairly calm and even-tempered person, boring even. I was never one to rock the boat, so to speak, instead choosing to let others have their way while I sat quietly and happily in the background, blending in with the walls.

Now I was nothing like that. Instead, I was constantly anxious, especially with the red-headed bitch around. She had it in for me, and I knew it. She probably thought I wanted her mate. But honestly, if I could have left, I would have. I wanted nothing to do with any of them. We were together because it was the only way for me to survive . . . that was it.

I longed for my old life, safe with my mom and her soon-to-be husband—they were probably married by now—both of whom I could no longer picture. Their faces were lost to a time when I was happy . . . human. I knew I'd looked like her prior to my change, but I hadn't seen myself since, and I refused to look at anything reflective, fearing that everything about the real me had been taken, even my face. Everything else seemed to have changed, even down to my voice—maybe I was already in hell, rather than purgatory waiting for the inevitable fall.

So I spent my new existence yearning for lost humanity—something that lingered just on the periphery of my understanding. And that hurt most of all. I could no longer fully comprehend the weaker creatures. As I watched them die time after time, I realized I couldn't find it in me to relate to them. They were too foreign, too different. I didn't know how that has come to pass, especially so quickly, but pass it did.

With that final realization, everything I had been was ripped from me. I was nothing but a shell with no possibility of regaining myself. That realization hurt more than anything else . . . more than even the fire that had created me.

It was with the usual despondency that I found myself in a forest somewhere on the northern West Coast. It was damp here, constantly overcast, which meant less sun. As a result, he said we were able to stay longer. I liked that idea. Though it was nothing like my hometown in Arizona, it felt comfortable, familiar. There was something that drew me to this place, even if I couldn't place what.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I could almost make out two men, one pale with dark hair, the other russet skinned with long black hair, fishing on a boat. In my mind, I liked to pretend that the pale one would turn to me and smile, his dark eyes crinkling at the corners. Somehow, it seemed that this area, as well as the man's smile meant one thing: home.

Even though I'd only been traveling around for a short time compared to my creator and his gang, I knew it wasn't what I wanted. I liked familiarity and steadiness. It was yet another thing I'd brought with me even as the real memories faded from existence. I wanted a place to settle, a place I could call home, at least for more than a few days even if eternity wasn't possible. A month would be welcome, a year bliss.

We had already spent around a week in the area—much longer than usual. James, my maker, had become bored of the region and was eager to leave, to go to a more populatedlocale. We were making our way through the greenery, leaving, when we'd heard loud crashes and something that sounded like wood breaking.

I looked to James, knowing that he would want to investigate. As I expected, his expression was highly curious, his body crouched in the direction of the sound.

"Shall we?" he asked the bitch—Victoria—then slicked his dirty brown hair back into a loose ponytail and tied it with a leather string he'd taken from one of our first victims in this area.

She nodded, tossing her flame red hair over her shoulder. How I wished it was fire. According to James, fire was the only thing to end our existence—the only thing to purify this world from the abomination we were. I longed to throw myself upon a pyre, but I feared the final outcome if I did. What was left for me after I'd killed so many people? Yet by existing I was fated to murder more. Which was worse?

I turned my thoughts away from that thought and back to the situation at hand. Victoria. She was with James, his mate—I got to hear how with each other they were nightly. How had I found such awful mentors? Or rather, how had they found me?

Predictably, I was thrust back into the one of my human memories that was actually fairly vivid, my last human memory.

It was just past mid-September in Phoenix. Though the air was never cold—people bundled up when the thermometer read seventy—there was a chill that natives could feel, something signifying that the Arizona Autumn was coming. It was barely after my birthday, one of the few things I remembered with certainty, so I was only just seventeen.

I had gathered something from the store near my house. I couldn't quite remember what I had picked up, but I knew it was something for my mom and Phil's upcoming wedding. I'd gone later than I had meant to, and the sky was already growing dark when I left, the sun having set a while before. It'd be black out by the time I got home.

"Um, hi," I greeted a man just outside the door; I'd nearly tripped over him. His hair was down and though it wasn't terribly long, due to the angle of his head, it still covered his face, so I couldn't distinguish his features. I'd nearly walked right into him, which was strange since I hadn't seen him through the window when I opened the door.

"Hello," he responded, turning his grimy head so I could just make out his shiny, white teeth. A shiver went down my spine, and my heart rate picked up. I didn't understand my unease, but I noticed the man's grin widen, a more malicious display than before.

In an attempt to get away without seeming rude, I nodded and forced a smile. "Have a nice night."

"I will," he said through laughter. Though he was odd, his voice was very melodic, very alluring. It made me feel even more nervous.

I rushed away, pushing thoughts of the creepy, strange man out of my mind. Instead I turned my mind to other more disturbing thoughts as I walked the nearly empty streets towards my home. Thoughts about my near future and where I'd live sidetracked me. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to my surroundings—not that it would've helped. Instead I indulged my distraction.

My mom was always so depressed when Phil left to travel for work. If I went to stay with my dad, she'd be able to go with Phil. It wasn't what I wanted, but I knew it would make my mom happy. Besides, I was young. I'd have my shot at happiness once I was on my own. And she had given up so much for me. Couldn't I do this one thing for her?

Just as I turned onto my street, I heard a noise behind me. I turned, surprised to see no one there. Maybe it'd been someone popping out to place an object in the trash or something similar. Maybe it had been someone's pet wandering around. Maybe it was only my imagination. I wasn't frightened. My neighborhood was fairly safe, so I didn't expect anything dangerous.

After turning and walking a few more steps, something grabbed me from behind. Suddenly, everything blurred and wind blew in my face. I had no idea what was happening as I bounced atop a hard, stone like object, bruises no doubt forming. After a few minutes, I landed on the ground, and I could finally focus on my surroundings. I was lying in a sandy area with scrubby brush all around—the desert. I wondered how I'd gotten there so quickly.

"So we meet again, girl," a man's voice said. I turned around to see the same filthy hair I had seen moments before outside the door of the store I'd just visited.

"Wh-who are you?" I asked stupidly.

"Always the same inane questions," he mocked, looking at his fingernails. "I'd have thought you humans could come up with something new by now. How boring."

"What are y-you going to d-do with me?"

"Nope, still nothing new." He turned to me and had his face in mine a split second later.

"What the hell!" I screamed. "What—"

"Am I?" he finished. "So predictable." He sounded almost bored, quite the contradiction to the fear flooding my senses.

"Are you going to k-kill me?"

He nodded.

My body reacted normally, fight or flight kicking in. Even though I was petrified, I decided to flee—with his size, there was no way I'd be able to fight this guy. I took off toward the lights I could see in the distance—they had to mean humanity.

As I expected, he was in front of me in moments, moving much faster than should have been possible.

"You're going to have to try harder if you expect to survive," he said through dark laughter. "Give me a reason to keep you."

"Keep me?" I asked, all the while wondering which fate was worse: death or imprisonment.

He laughed again, this time a forced sound. "Victoria wants a . . . friend. I suppose you'll do."

I gulped, not sure what to say.

"She likes brown hair." He held up a piece of my hair and sniffed it.

I wondered how the hell I was going to get myself out of this.

"And you're young enough to mold."

His words frightened me. Mold? Into what?

"Um . . . I d-don't underst-stand." I moved away as far as I could with his hands still on my arms. "Please."

"Please what," he scoffed.

"Um, sir? Please, sir?"

He laughed, mockingly. "That's not what I meant, but I like it all the same. What are you asking for, child? Do you want to live? Do you want me to save you?"

I knew I didn't want to die, but I wasn't sure what his offer entailed. However, I guessed that as long as I survived, I'd be able to escape, able to get back to my mom. I would definitely leave her so she could travel with Phil. I wouldn't even begrudge trading her happiness for mine. I'd gladly do anything just to see her again.

With that realization, I nodded my head. "Please don't kill me."

"I can't guarantee that," he answered cryptically, pulling me close to him. "You have a very nice smell. Floral." With a filthy hand, he grabbed my chin and tilted my head to the side. The chill of his skin was disturbing.

I opened my mouth to scream, but it was muffled with his hand as he leaned into my neck. I'd expected him to kiss me. I had essentially given myself to him. Instead as his mouth met the skin of my neck, a horrible, sharp pain cut through me. After that, the burn began, coursing down my neck and to the core of my body.

"Does the child have to come with us?" Victoria's childlike voice pulled me back to the present. She took every opportunity to show me what a disappointment I was. I was nothing like she had hoped. I had a conscience. And there was nothing specialabout me.

James had hoped that I would be special, like he and Victoria were. Instead, I fought their lifestyle, and my change brought nothing of merit. I was a failure on all accounts.

"We can't leave her alone," James said clearly, leaving no room for argument. "Any trouble she causes will be on our heads. We don't want the—"

"Fine," Victoria huffed, cutting his words short, then shot me a dirty look. I didn't want to necessarily please her, but I would have settled for less animosity.

"I'm going with you," our other companion called out. "I'm not staying behind to babysit." He turned towards the direction of the sounds still streaming from a distance. "Besides it sounds like fun." Laurent usually tolerated my presence, but I was still nothing to him.

"I'd like to—" I began, their eagerness had rubbed off slightly.

"No one cares what you want, girl," Victoria snapped all the while glaring. Why she refused to use my name, I'd never know.

"She comes with us." James' decision was final. My failure to be the type of vampire he wanted clearly wore on him. However, I was his responsibility. It was either kill me or keep me. His choice was apparently made—made months ago.

I wasn't sure how I felt about that. But he wasn't one to second guess himself or believe he had ever made a mistake, so here I was.

We ran through the trees, the sounds—some sort of game, I realized—growing louder with each step. James held up a disgusting, grubby finger, signifying that we should slow. We walked a few feet, and I saw that we were on the edge of an enormous clearing. There were seven vampires strewn about the large open area, playing some sort of game that I knew I should recognize.

A dark-haired man sitting in some sort of room, staring at flickering movements on a picture box of some sort flashed before my eyes. I wished I knew what that was. Unfortunately, it was like looking through a dirty window, the image was blurred and nearly impossible to make sense of. However, this game looked like a copy—albeit an extreme copy—of that one.

Then it came to me—baseball. I couldn't remember the intricacies, but the basics came back. Someone from my past had loved the game. I was certain of that fact. Though I didn't remember having much time for watching it.

James pushed me ahead and motioned to Laurent and me to enter the area first. I lowered my head, following a few feet behind Laurent, only allowing myself to see his bare feet as we entered. Behind me, James and Victoria followed.

I guessed that Laurent was playing the part of leader to meet this other coven—God, how I hated that term. But surely we were nothing else—there was no way family worked. That term was far too intimate, implying emotions that weren't present with my little gathering. Still that was what I desired, what I'd never have.

When we were about half way to where the other vampires stood—even though I refused to look up, I could tell we were close because their scents were so strong—a gasp grabbed my attention. Before I knew what I was doing, my head shot up to the other group.

I was amazed at the way they moved. It was so unlike us. They were more polished, more urbane, more . . . human. I was engrossed by these others. How had they remained so refined, when those I surrounded myself with were animalistic? I longed to hold on to tiny remnants like that, even as they had slipped through my fingers.

I moved closer to James, unsure of the large group before me; they were too different for comfort, so like all I knew, yet so diverse. It made me uneasy. James may not have been my choice of leaders, but he'd protect me if needed. Laurent and Victoria followed my actions, closing in on either side.

The others moved into a loose line, clearly a show of strength while still seeming friendly. At first, I was amazed and intimidated at the sheer size of this coven—seven vampires was unheard of. Then I noticed the color of their eyes. They appeared to be almost yellow—a strange golden color—from my distance. How was that possible?

With their eyes and postures, they could almost pass for human. Perhaps to humans, they would—their eyes were so weak. I was instantly jealous.

Why had I gotten the red eyes? I would have much preferred the yellow. That way, when I'd gathered control, I could have spent my time with humans without having to hide behind sunglasses or wear annoying contacts.

In an attempt to mimic the others, I straightened my posture. James must have thought this a good idea as he quickly did the same. The rest were upright a split second later.

We stood, each group sizing the other up before Laurent interrupted the tense silence. "We thought we heard a game." His slight French accent was always more prominent when he met new people. I wondered if the others were aware that he wasn't the one who led the pack, that James' subservience was a pretense. "I'm Laurent. These are Victoria, James and Isabella." I fought the eye roll at his use of my full name—he refused to use my preferred nickname.

One of the other males, probably their leader, answered. He introduced himself as Carlisle and then listed the names of those around him, calling them his family. He explained that he and his family lived in the area and that we needed to stop hunting nearby. James seemed a little annoyed about that, but he said nothing.

Laurent mentioned that we were leaving the area anyway, so that wouldn't be a problem. He mentioned us heading north, which was a lie. James had said we were going east, not north. Carlisle and Laurent continued on with the pleasant conversation.

I was most amazed by Carlisle's mention that they had a permanent residence. How could they stay here permanently? And a residence? Did that mean a house, a real house? I longed for a real house, a place to live without constantly looking over my back. Even more surprising was the mention that there was another group like them up near a place called Denali.

Nothing more of worth was mentioned as the others decided to join in on the game.

All throughout this conversation, I noticed that one of the others seemed particularly interested in me, his gaze curious and frustrated at the same time. He was young, probably around my age at his change, and gorgeous, though they all were. I didn't know how to deal with him. Should I acknowledge him? My only experiences in this life were with hostile vampires, so I wasn't sure how to handle his attention. As a result, I did nothing but keep my head down and peek periodically.

I said I wanted to sit out when I was asked. I walked to the edge of the clearing, keeping out of the way. One of the others, a woman with rich light brown hair came and stood next to me, her expression kind and welcoming. As with the boy, I had no idea how to react. I was sure she noticed my cringe as she neared, but she didn't respond to it.

"Hello," she said, approaching closer than I liked. I was used to distance, expecting it, virtually requiring it.

I retreated a bit before speaking, intimidated by her showing of her teeth. Was it meant to be comforting?

"H-hi." My voice was quiet, barely a whisper.

The look on her face changed rapidly. Had I annoyed her? Responded improperly? Why did proper social interactions bother me?

It didn't seem that she thought I was rude, as she looked almost . . . sympathetic? I wasn't sure; it wasn't a look with which I was familiar.

"Oh, honey," she began, then moved closer to me.

I barely contained the flinch, then scooted a step away from her.

"What have they done to you?" she asked, so quietly only I'd hear.

I shook my head. "N-nothing." The lie burned more than my throat. "I'm not sure what you mean."

She lifted the corners of her mouth, not displaying her teeth this time, her eyes retaining their sadness.

It didn't help me feel comfortable.

"You're quite young, aren't you, Isabella?" she asked kindly. "I remember my early days." She laughed lightly. "Of course, I do."

"Um, please call me Bella. And I'm seventeen?" I wasn't sure what she meant.

Her eyes softened even more; I wouldn't have thought that possible. "No, I mean, how long have you been a vampire?"

"About six months," I answered, feeling inadequate. I knew being young, a newborn as they called it, was nothing to be proud of. We were undesirables. I couldn't wait for my first year to be over.

"Have you always been with the others?" She seemed genuinely interested, truly considerate, while there was still an undertone of some emotion I couldn't understand.

I nodded weakly. "J-James is my . . ." The ground had my rapt attention—I couldn't look away. "Yes." I sighed.

She breathed heavily before speaking again. "Are you familiar with vampire baseball?" Clearly she decided to change the subject. I wished I had the strength to tell this woman all I'd been through, how I yearned to leave the others. But I didn't.

Instead, I followed the polite topic of conversation. I shook my head, recognizing the word but unable to place it. "Not really. I sort of remember watching a game or two of regular baseball."

"Well, we play it differently."

The woman explained the rules of their version, her voice sweet. It lulled me into a sense of calm, especially when she noted how she usually didn't play, in order to keep the others honest.

Honest? Vampires could be honest? I wondered how that was possible.

I couldn't stop the burst of laughter when she complained that her children sometimes acted like they were raised by wolves. It sounded so motherly.

Unfortunately, the game ended too quickly. I knew that once they were done, James and Victoria would pull me off back to the hell I'd been living.

Esme, the woman I'd been speaking to, looked to me unhappily. "Would you like to come to our home?"

"Um . . . uh . . . I'm . . . uh . . ."

I knew that she understood my delay in answering as her face fell even further. She looked out to the clearing, her gaze landing on the leader, then flitting to the handsome boy I'd noticed before.

His eyes tightened before he nodded and turned to Carlisle. He flashed over to the blonde man, faster than I'd ever seen another individual move—even a vampire.

"I'd like to invite you all back to our home, if you're interested," Carlisle called after a brief conversation with the boy. "We can talk comfortably there."

"I think I'll go," Laurent answered. "I'd like to learn more about the . . . possibilities."

Would I be allowed?

James didn't appear angry, but I knew he hated having his power weakened. He just wouldn't show it in front of strangers or Laurent. When his gaze feel upon me, I saw that he'd never let me leave. Conviction was clear in his eyes.

"Would you like to come, young one?" Carlisle asked, his eyes on me.

I looked to James and Victoria. His eyes narrowed, while her glee was impossible to ignore.

"Go if you want," James snarled.

Even though I knew he didn't mean it, I answered as I wanted. "Yes. I'd really like to go."

"Then we go as well." James was going to fight until the end. Why did he want me so much?

"I don't want to," Victoria whined. Her little girl's voice made me wish I could still vomit. "I want to leave this place. I've had enough. Let her go. We don't need her. We don't want—"

"Enough," bellowed James. "Go, girl. But don't come looking for me after."

Biting back the desire to tell him that I'd never willingly look for him, I sighed in relief, pleased that freedom was so close.

I heard a low growl to my right, but before I could look, James crouched, standing not ten yards on my other side. I thought he was angry with me for wanting to leave, but when I looked, his eyes were focused beyond me, to where I'd heard the rumbling sound.

A few yards away from me stood the dark red haired boy, his posture defensive, his teeth bared. Was he going to attack me? Just as it had when my human life ended, terror took over. Were the others luring me to their home to kill me? How would that benefit them?

"So that's it?" James taunted, his voice cold and hard. When I looked, he was still focused on the boy, his head cocked to the side and his eyes matching his tone of voice. "That's why you want her."

"Why do you?" the boy countered. His voice was spectacular, all softness and caresses and choirs of young children. "It's clear the child's been abused."

I didn't like that. How could he consider me a child? I couldn't have been much younger than him.

"Abused? Abused? I gave her the most important gift anyone could have ever given. She owes everything to me."

Yeah, right. A gift. He'd stolen my life.

"Gift?" the boy mocked. "You've been nothing but a thief, robbing her of everything."

I was amazed at how his thoughts mirrored mine.

"He created her." Victoria was incensed that this boy could look down at her James. "She'd be nothing if it wasn't for him."

The boy tutted and rolled his eyes. "Nothing."

"I'd still be human," I whispered, looking to the ground. "And home . . . happy." I mouthed the last word.

"See?" the red head countered. "See what you've done?"

Victoria snarled at me, ready to leap.

Suddenly, James pounced and the boy reacted accordingly, almost before James even moved. Sooner than I could fully understand what was happening between them, my vision was engulfed by bright orange. Victoria. She was all around, attacking me, pummeling me. I tried to scream, to fight, but was unable.

As I struggled just to hold her at bay, she was unexpectedly lifted away.

"You bitch," screamed a female voice, as beautiful as all the others, even in its fury. "He stole her life, and you defend him. He took everything from her, and you fight for him?"

I looked over to see the tall, blonde female other beating Victoria around the face. As I looked, Victoria was surrounded by Esme and the last other female, a tiny black haired girl. Though I wanted to watch their next move due to morbid curiosity, I couldn't. I looked across the field to see the red haired boy and Carlisle grappling with James, ready to destroy him. Not much farther, the other two males had Laurent in pieces already.

I stood stock still. Would I be next? The others had seemed so nice before, even as I looked for a chink in their façade. Now they were as brutal and animalistic as all vampires I'd seen. Was there no hope?

I closed my eyes and covered them with my hand. That didn't help. I could hear every shriek, every scream, every high-pitched keening as James and Victoria were destroyed. The sickeningly sweet stench that hung in the air clung to my nostrils as I tried to ignore it and what it meant. I cried tearlessly, knowing that I was alone with no one to protect me and no ability to fight seven others. From the way the boy had moved earlier, I wouldn't be able outrun them either. It was like being terrorized by James in the desert just before he bit me.

"It's all right," a female—the blonde—called to me, her voice soothing. "You're going to be okay."

Okay? Did that mean . . . "You're not going to . . . I mean, you're going to—"

"We won't hurt you," the little black haired girl stated. "You're going to be a part of this family. I couldn't hurt my sister."

I wanted to believe her. Had they actually freed me from James and his sadistic ways? "Sister?"

She smiled.

I wasn't even sure what that word really meant, what it entailed. I couldn't remember ever having been a sister.

"You're overwhelming her, Alice." The other blonde male, the darker haired one, sidled up to the girl.

Though I was still confused, my earlier terror had dissipated, washing away unexpectedly.

Both the man and Alice lifted the ends of their lips at me. Why did they all keep doing that?

"I don't understand," I said stupidly. "How are you all so . . . so human?"

Laughter surrounded me.

"Will you join us at our home?" Carlisle asked again. "It's rather a long story."

In reality, I had no other option, other than branching out on my own. And due to my own newness at this second life, I was too frightened to do that. Maybe at some point, but not now. "I'll come."

"Follow us, then." Carlisle turned his back in a gesture that was remarkably trusting and began toward the opposite edge of the clearing.

The others went after him, and I followed behind the beautiful boy, unable to take my eyes off of him as he ran. I'd known vampires to be graceful and sinewy in their movements, but each of his strides was like music. Every step was a sonata, a symphony, brought to life. I could almost hear the highs of the flutes and violins mixing with the lows of the bass and tuba in how the wind flowed through his hair and his leg muscles bunched and stretched. His steady pace was the pounding rhythm of the drums.

Suddenly, he turned to face me, his face still a mask of frustration and curiosity. Then out of nowhere, he lifted his lips like the others had before.

"Hello, Bella" he said. "I'm Edward."

Unlike with the others, I liked his welcome, feeling both comforted and welcomed. Somehow, my own body responded automatically, returning the action. "Hi."

He held out his hand to me. I grabbed it, amazed at the comparable warmth and how right it felt against my skin. I rarely touched another, except for humans right before the kill. His skin felt substantial next to mine, its temperature matching perfectly. I never wanted to let go.

The run wasn't long, a few minutes at most, but when we came upon their house, I felt like I'd traveled a million miles from the familiar. The house was much larger than I'd expected, a mansion in the middle of the forest. It really didn't fit in with the rest of its surroundings, yet like the others, it had a sense of rightness, so human and polished while encircled by the disorder of nature. It stood proud and tall, serenity within chaos, almost like stepping into a fairy tale.

If these others could live like this, so could I. I wasn't doomed to the life of a nomad; I could be more, have more.

I released Edward's hand and walked up to the front porch steps, awed at the understated grandeur of this house.

The small black haired girl turned to me and motioned toward the door. "Welcome home."

For the first time since I'd awoken to this half life, I was hopeful.


I hope you enjoyed this. Thanks so much to the people who reviewed when it was posted for The Canon Tour. I appreciate all the love and send it right back to you (okay, I've been watching too much Ellen). :D But honestly, I am so grateful to everyone.

I plan on entering the next round. I'm actually quite excited for it. If only I could get the actual OS finished.