A/N: #1: Well, I don't know if my Twilight readers are going to be happy to see a new story or frustrated that I haven't finished the other two yet, but we shall see! I know I still have As Good As Dead going in True Blood, I'll finish it. I've got the ideas, but the dialog muse came over here. Actually, blame Fintan. He's the one who is currently tight lipped on the brink of a lecture to Sookie. I go where the muse leads me and at the moment, she's led me to this intriguing idea.
#2: I do not own these characters. I don't make any money from this. But it is fun! The other kids always seemed to have better toys!
#3: Thanks to my super-betas Felicity Deadwood and Knitzi_Killer! (Felicity Deadwood is going to start posting one of two totally amazing fics soon, so be on the lookout for her stuff. And if you haven't read Knitzi_Killer's stuff yet, my question to you is WHY!)
#4: Now, I may write for my enjoyment, but I still like to know what you think so don't forget to review! I write, you review, I write, you review…it's a nice happy give-and-take relationship.
SUMMARY: Bella meets the Cullens through another avenue…her brother (Just trust me on this). AU (obviously); canon couples (because anything else skeeves me out).
It seems like I've been doing nothing but pacing my room for three days now; ever since my brother and uncle left to go hiking. I saw it for the ruse that it was on my uncle's part. He hated us. He hated that he was saddled with being our caretaker when our mother died. 'Useless,' he called us; 'money suckers,' he'd seethe.
My brother and he constantly fought and it all got worse when my uncle snuck into my room late three nights ago, reeking of beer and cigarettes and something else I couldn't quite put my finger on, but my brother said it was stale sex. I never asked him how he knew that. I didn't want to know. Some things about my brother are best left alone.
That night my uncle had pinned me down on my bed, a crazed gleam in his eye. I struggled, but was no match for his strength. His hand was clamped over my mouth. He fumbled with both our clothes and I squeezed my eyes shut, trying so hard not to let the tears fall. With my eyes closed so tightly, I could only hear the door slam open and a whoosh of displaced air as I was suddenly free of him. I had scrambled into the corner, wrapped my arms around myself and rocked myself while I stared in shock as my brother threw my uncle into the dresser.
"I'll kill you this time," my brother ground out harshly.
"You'll have to if you think you're gonna stop me, boy," my uncle snarled back. "You're 18 tomorrow and out of my house, but she's still a minor, and I've got plans for her."
"She comes with me," my brother vowed.
"That's not what the law says."
"I don't give a shit what the law says."
"Of course not, you're uppity and stupid, just like your useless mother was." My uncle ranted on. My brother stayed firmly planted in front of me, an immovable wall, as always. "Why she saddled me with you two instead of our brother, I'll never know."
"I ask myself what she was thinking every day," my brother replied in a low voice.
I knew that voice. That voice was reserved only for those who messed with me. Back home in Arizona, I'd only heard it once or twice; the first time was at the homecoming dance when Josh Landon got a little too 'friendly' with me under the bleachers. It was not a friendly tone of voice. My brother was ferociously protective of his baby sister and he's always had an uncanny sense for when I was in trouble. Not that I was all that much of a baby. I was going to be 17 in two weeks.
My uncle glanced at the clock on my desk. "You're officially a man in half an hour. What do you say you and I take a little hike and settle this man to man once and for all?"
"My pleasure," my brother sneered.
"I'll meet you downstairs," my uncle replied, and left the room.
As soon our uncle crossed the threshold, my brother crouched down in front of me, quickly scanning my body for signs of injury.
"Are you alright? Did the son of a bitch hurt you?"
"I'm fine, but you can't go with him," I pleaded, grabbing his rock solid forearms. My brother worked out, obsessively. "I can't lose you; you're all I have left!"
"Bells, you'll never lose me. Only one of us is coming back and it's not going to be him. I swear I'll never leave you to him. I'm finishing this tonight and I'll be back for you. Don't leave this room."
"No, please!" I cried.
But he left me there. I screamed out for him and begged him not to leave with our monster of an uncle. I stayed locked in my room and huddled in my corner through the wee hours of the morning. The morning turned into afternoon; afternoon turned into evening. I didn't get much sleep during my long wait. I was pretty sure I was alone in the house as I paced and paced, waiting for…anything.
I finally moved to my worn sagging bed. I got hungry and thirsty, but I didn't care. For once, I obeyed my brother and never left the room. Finally, on the third morning, I scrambled to my feet when the front door slammed. My breath coming in heavy, nervous pants, I watched the door anticipating my brother's return.
But it wasn't him.
"It's over, little princess!" My uncle slurred from the living room. He was drunk and my brother wasn't here to protect me. What did he do to him? "It's just you and me, little girl and I've got plans for you! I'm finally going to make some money off of your sweet ass."
I ran to my window and threw it open. There was no way I could jump. I was on the third floor. If I tied my sheets together, I'd probably still have a two-story drop. I thought about taking my chances anyway. If I was dead, it was better than being at my uncle's mercy – or lack thereof.
What had happened to my brother? Was he alright? Did my uncle kill him? Was he lying out in the woods hurt?
I really hated New Hampshire.
I could hear my uncle downstairs trashing the house. I didn't care; it wasn't my house. Nothing here meant anything to me, other than my brother. All our stuff was in storage in Arizona. My uncle wouldn't move any of it cross country and we had no access to any money our mother may have left us, though my uncle said she didn't leave us anything; it all went to him for our 'care'.
For two years we've been stuck in this hellhole. We had no friends here that meant anything to us. My brother ran with a crowd that was a little less than upstanding when he bothered to associate with anyone other than me. Back home in Arizona, he had been on the football team. They'd been talking about making him captain. He was very popular; everyone loved him. He was so goofy, so fun-loving. Girls all but threw themselves at his feet.
There was a girl he liked there. Her name was Kerry. He was just getting a little serious about her when our mom was killed by a drunk driver. We didn't know our father. He'd left us when I was only a few months old and my brother only had very vague memories of him. He didn't show up when our mom died either. So we got stuck with Uncle Lou.
We have another uncle in Washington and we wanted to go to his house. He wanted us to; he said we could. We loved him. He was nice. He had spoiled us rotten whenever he visited. He came to Arizona immediately after my brother called him to tell him about mom and he stayed with us the whole time. He had taken care of all the arrangements. He'd let me cry my eyes out into his shoulder and just kept his comforting arm around me. He had argued with Uncle Lou too in an attempt to take us back home with him, but Uncle Lou said that it was in mom's will that we were supposed to come with him. There was nothing anyone could do.
My brother had made it his mission in life to take care of me and protect me from Uncle Lou. Despite the influence of his less than savory friends, he got an after school job and bought a car. Every day when school got out, I went to the library and stayed there until my brother was done with work and came to pick me up. He wouldn't let me be alone with my uncle and the night they left was the reason why. It didn't take us long to realize what kind of man Uncle Lou really was. The police were frequent visitors to the house, but my uncle had a lot of money and greased a lot of palms, so nothing we said ever stuck. This house was a luxurious hell.
When we first moved here some kids tried to be friendly, but I'm painfully shy though, so they ended up thinking I was weird. Of course, with my brother's good looks, it didn't take long for the girls to start sniffing around him, but he was so focused on me, they ended up thinking he was a snob. My uncle also had a lot of influence in town and the kids all were of the opinion we were stuck up, and that we must have come from money too.
But we didn't. Our mother was a kindergarten teacher and we had survived on her salary. I didn't have a lot of friends in Arizona either, but I had a few. We had grown up with those kids, so some stuck around. And, of course, there were the legions of my brother's friends. In Phoenix, he always had a date on Saturday night; Friday night was always football games and Saturday was the after parties. His friends were nice to me, always laughing at how easily I blushed. The girls that hung around him treated me like either the indulgent little sister or arch rival for my brother's affections; I didn't care either way. I loved my goofy brother, but until Kerry, none of his girlfriends were ever around that long.
In New Hampshire, per my brother's instructions, I escaped to the library every day after school. Once I had my homework done, I absorbed myself in the books. 'Crazy little book worm,' my brother liked to call me. But those books saved me. They took me to faraway places; to other countries, other times, other worlds. They made me believe that there was good in the world…somewhere.
But I could find none of those thoughts and feelings now as I paced, waited, and tried to plan. My food stash was gone; I would have to leave this room soon. I had enough water since my room had an attached bathroom, but I couldn't go for long without food. I had no phone in my room and no computer. Those were in my brother's room and I still didn't know what had become of him.
I heard the heavy footsteps on the stairs. Each one an ominous thud that confirmed in my heart what my gut already suspected. The pounding on my door started. "It's time, little girl," my uncle called through the door. "I can ram the door in, but I'll only be madder when I get in there."
I didn't doubt that. "Where's my brother?" I demanded. My voice quavered, but I stood firm.
"Dead in the woods."
"Liar!" I screamed. He was lying. He had to be.
"Last I saw him he was bleeding on the ground. I didn't stick around to watch him die. I had to get home to you, after all."
I was sure he was lying. But then where was my brother? Why hadn't he come? If it was true, I had nothing left to lose. I would make him pay!
In a blind rage, I flung open the door. My uncle was there with a very hunting large knife. He immediately swung it at my face, but I refused to be intimidated. That is until he shoved me up against the wall and his forearm pressed on hard my windpipe. He tossed the knife aside and started fumbling at my clothes again. There was nothing to stop him now. As the last air left my body, I was losing my will to care about what happened to me along with it. His free hand was everywhere. My vision blurred.
Suddenly, I fell to the floor and there was a loud crash; there was someone else here in the room. I was sure I was hallucinating, because I saw the new arrival pick up my uncle and toss him out the window like he weighed nothing at all. Then my savior jumped out the window after him. With a hand to my bruised throat, I stumbled over to look down.
To my blurred vision, the shape of the new man down below was my brother's, but I knew that couldn't be right. My brother, strong as he was, could not jump in and out of third story windows like he was jumping a track hurdle. It was a testament to how affected I was by the choking that I was seeing any of this at all. The newcomer stepped up and kicked my uncle where he lay prone on the ground. My uncle's body surged off the ground and flew back a good 15 feet.
Yes, I was dreaming. I was sure of it. That was impossible. My uncle weighed, according to my brother, a good 225 pounds, so he quite clearly couldn't be kicked by another human being across the lawn like he weighed no more than a cat. One second, the man was right under my window, the next he was crouched over the body of my uncle.
"Who are you?" I whispered huskily, the best my abused throat could manage. I gasped when he looked up, as if he heard me.
I was looking into the face of my brother, but it wasn't him. He was pale, very pale. He grinned devilishly up at me. When I saw his eyes, I shook my head frantically. His eyes were a demonic fiery red. I grabbed hold of the window sill trying to will myself to wake up from the nightmare.
"Bella…" My name echoed in the night and my brother's voice swirled around me.
I drew in more air with a gasp, my wounded throat burned, but I used all my strength to call his name.
The last thing I remembered was the sensation of falling.
My name was no more than a mere croak from my sister's lips, but I could hear it clear as a bell.
It was followed by a half gainer towards the ground.
Leave it to Bella to fall out a fucking window after I saved her.
I caught her in time, of course. My new speed and keener senses made it effortless.
I could smell my uncle's fresh blood and I growled. The beat of my sister's heart echoed through my head like a drum. They'd said I wouldn't be strong enough to resist. But they were wrong.
Well, they were mostly wrong anyway.
I wanted to drain my uncle dry, but my sister just tripped out of a three-story window. I could hear Rosalie coming. I had a feeling that she was going to be pissed.
I jumped back up to my sister's window to remove myself from the temptation of my uncle's fresh corpse and Rosalie followed me a moment later, hissing over my shoulder as I laid Bella down on the bed.
"Emmett, we have to leave," she ordered.
"I know," I agreed. We couldn't stay here. They'd explained it all to me. No problem. I couldn't agree more.
I moved quickly around Bella's room, making hasty judgment calls on what to shove into a bag. There really wasn't anything here that she cared about anyway. I tried to remember what was essential to a human, what was essential to me only three days ago.
"What are you doing?" Rosalie demanded.
"Packing her a bag."
"Where are you taking her?"
"Emmett! It's impossible," Rosalie insisted. She grabbed my hand, but being stronger, I shook her off. I felt kind of bad about it. She was a babe, after all. I was a little confused about this attachment I felt to her. I didn't even know her really, and yet, I felt as if I'd always known her. When I had opened my eyes this morning, I thought, 'Well, shit. There you are.' It was very strange.
And things had only gotten stranger from there.
I was supposed to be hunting; I guess you could say I already did that. Taking down a full grown bear was…a new experience, but when I'd drained it dry, my head cleared and I headed straight for 'home'. No way was I leaving my sister with our slimy uncle.
He'd obviously picked up right where he left off. Had he been doing this to her for three days?
The mere thought lit a fire in me to rival my change. I should jump back down and tear him apart for daring to hurt her this time or any other. I should shred him into tiny little pieces for even thinking the things he has, let alone acting upon them. I wanted to. I could and it would only take seconds, just a few extremely satisfying seconds.
Carlisle was right. My throat burned around my sister. But Jasper was wrong; I did not feel the urge to kill her. My last thought as a human was that I had failed her and once I'd fed, I could only think of getting to her and getting her out of this hell. Beyond that, I had no plan.
"Emmett, she's human; she can't come with us. Don't you feel it? Can't you smell her?" Rosalie followed me around the room.
Once Bella's duffle bag was stuffed, I slung it over my shoulder.
"Bella," I said tapping my sister's cheek as gently as I could. "Bells, open your eyes. I'm here; I'm back. You're safe."
Her eyes fluttered behind their lids, but she didn't wake up.
"You can't do this, Emmett, there are rules! If the Volturi find out, they'll kill her."
"They have to get through me first."
"They can do that with very little effort."
"My, my, Rose, just this morning you were telling me about love at first sight, now you don't sound so impressed! Is the honeymoon over already?" It would be a shame if it was because she was a goddess.
"Emmett, this is not the way things are done."
"Looks like I'm writing a new book."
I slid my arms underneath Bella and rose easily. She was always light to me, but now she felt ridiculously so; like my arms were full of soap bubbles, instead of my sister, who weighed maybe 115 pounds soaking wet. She cuddled into my chest and fiery thirst ripped through me. I swore and dropped my chin to my chest.
"Do you see?" Rosalie was all over it. "You are not strong enough. You'll kill her, Emmett."
"I have to be strong enough, Rosalie." I lifted my head and looked her straight in the eye. "I'm all she has."
"She doesn't have you anymore, Emmett, I'm sorry."
"That's unacceptable to me," I snapped and jumped back out of the window with Bella in my arms, landing softly on the lawn below. I still marveled at my strength and grace. I was never as klutzy as my train wreck of a sister, but a big guy like me wasn't exactly graceful. When I'd played football I was a lineman, not a 'back.
Alice and Jasper emerged from the woods as my feet hit the ground.
"Just put her down, Emmett, and Rosalie will take you back to the house. We'll make sure she's alright and we'll clean up here," Jasper said, and everything got creepy calm. Once I knew Bella was okay, mostly, I wasn't really all that amped up anymore, so I didn't really need to calm down, but now I felt positively mellowed out. Jasper could be fun to have around; he was kind of like vampire pot.
"I'm not leaving her," I said, as I shook my head and backed away. Jasper took a few cautious steps towards me. He's supposed to be the big expert on newborn vampires, but I think I was throwing him for a loop.
"Emmett, you'll never forgive yourself when you kill her," Rosalie pleaded.
"I'm not going to kill her!" I growled.
"He's right," Alice piped in, in her little pixie voice. Everyone looked at her. My understanding so far was that whatever Alice said was gospel. "I don't see him hurting her at all."
"Alice, how can that be? He's a newborn; she's a human." Jasper said.
"Because he knows he'll never forgive himself if he hurts her, so he's decided he's not going to," Alice replied with a shrug.
Everyone looked at her, seconds stretched by. "You're incredibly strange," I finally said, "but I'm glad you're on my side."
I headed for the trees and the three of them were hot on my heels. "That doesn't make this okay, Emmett!" Rosalie continued. Man, she was a nag. Why didn't I care about that? Girls like her cramped my style when I was human. Of course, when they looked like Rosalie did, I can't say that I really cared about what was coming out of their mouths. Then again, none of them ever really looked like Rose. I stopped abruptly and turned to her.
"Rose," I began.
"I really wish you wouldn't call me that," she sighed, or whatever it is we do since we don't have to breathe. Wait until Bella finds that out.
"Put it in the suggestion box," I retorted. "Listen, all I want to do is make sure she's safe. I can't leave her here. Our uncle was a filthy pervert. If I left her alone with him for five minutes, he'd have her in a corner. I told you what happened the night you found me. He apparently picked up right where he left off as soon as he got back here. I have no idea what he did to her."
"And he's dead," she said, her voice was icy as she nodded to where our uncle lay. "You killed him for it, just like he deserved. And if you hadn't, I would have on general principal, please believe that. But you have to leave her now. You're dead to her. You have to be. She can't survive in our world. She can't defend herself."
"She doesn't have to defend herself, I'll do that. It's what I do."
"It's what you did."
"Let's just stop a second," Jasper said.
They all circled around me again and we stopped in the woods. I was getting worried that Bella hadn't regained consciousness again. There were ugly bruises forming on her neck. Her heartbeat sounded strong, at least to me, but shouldn't she have woken up by now? She's never been a fainter, at least, I didn't think so. Things were pretty hazy to me now, just like Carlisle said they would be. That's why I wanted to act fast, before any other memories got any more dulled.
"Let's just hash this out," Jasper continued. "Emmett, what is it exactly you intend to do?"
"Take her to Uncle Charlie in Washington," I replied. It just came out of my mouth, but it was as good a plan as any at this point. "He's a cop there. We wanted to go with him when our mother died, but we ended up with his prick of a brother instead. He'll take her in and he'll take care of her."
"And then what?" Jasper asked.
"What do you mean?"
"What do you plan to do then? Do you plan to just leave her there?"
"I don't know. I didn't think that far ahead; I just want to get her there first."
"What are you going to tell her about where you've been?" He continued his questioning. "Isn't she going to ask? What are you going to say? Your eyes are bright red. As long as you don't feed on humans, they'll eventually turn golden like ours, but that will take months. How are you going to explain anything to her in the meantime? You have to get your story straight."
"I have no story to get straight," I replied. "I'm going to tell her the truth."
"You can't," Rosalie piped in again. "The Volturi -"
"They don't even know about me!" I roared. Birds flew out of the trees and the tension eased again under Jasper's strange influence. "They don't even know I exist; how are they going to find out about her?"
"They have talents," Alice explained pointedly. "We can't hide her forever. They will eventually find out about her and you'll be forced to turn her into one of us, or they'll kill her. No exposure. That's the law."
"I'll cross that bridge if I come to it," I said. I didn't remotely know everything there was about this new life of mine, so I wasn't about to make any sort of decision regarding bringing Bella over to join me in it. "Right now, I need to get her to a doctor – to Carlisle. She's been unconscious for a while now. She should have woken up."
"She's been unconscious for just under two minutes," Alice replied. "It's not that strange for a human and she's going to wake up soon."
"What are you talking about? Two minutes?"
"Things are faster for us," Rosalie said. She sounded a little more patient now. I guess Jasper calmed her down too. Handy guy. "Time moves differently for us."
"I still want Carlisle to look at her. You said he was a doctor, right? I'm going to take her to see him. Look at these bruises! That fucking guy was choking her."
"Alice?" Jasper asked. We all looked to the little pixie fortune teller.
"I don't know." She shook her head and shrugged. "I can't really see clearly; she's human."
"Okay, well, I've decided not to kill her." I continued moving and they kept pace with me. "You all talk about this magical restraint you have, so she should be okay, right?"
"In theory," Rosalie said.
"Well, make it in practice. If I'm staying in this family, she's coming with me. For the foreseeable future, no pun intended for Alice, we're a package deal."
So there; that was that. I'm the one they were so worried about freaking out and killing her, right? I hadn't done that. Maybe I was working off the rush of killing my uncle, but so far, I'd kind of gotten a little used to this scorching in my throat that I started feeling once I was around her again. I was the X factor and I was doing okay. Everyone else was supposed to have some great restraint that enabled them to mingle with humans. They were just going to have to mingle with this one for a little while. If I could do it, then each one of them could do it
A/N: What the! Emmett? Bet 'ya didn't see that coming. It's gonna be fun! Title makes sense now though, doesn't it?