Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyers created this world in which I like to play.
My thanks to those of you who went over and voted for Downward Spiral at the TwiFanFictionRecs site. Downward Spiral came in second out of a list of amazing stories. I am extremely honored.
So…this is it, the last of my envisioned outtakes. With a curiously saddened heart, I leave you with (my little version of) Edward's story.
The last ray of sun blazed across the city in a valiant attempt to avoid the inevitable, but then, the vibrant light lost the ageless fight and surrendered to the twilight; a warm milieu spread across the town. Set atop a small hill, it appeared almost as if it was a cherished jewel set in a crown. The safest place in Italy, Volterra offered its inhabitants an almost crime free, both natural and supernatural, existence. Very few individuals knew the presence that lived in and around them that guaranteed the former.
The castle occupied a large portion of one of the historic districts. There were rumors as to how long it had existed, but the most common assumption was that it couldn't be as ancient as the stories allowed. Surely the elders within the community had misunderstood their grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents.
But the world was changing, and now written record would exist through the Internet and other technologically advanced methods, so a new day was dawning even for the Volturi. New methods, expanded technology, and global identities - they were all concerns that a business could and would experience and need to adapt to in order to survive and prosper. The business of the immortal world was no different.
It was why I'd been finally summonsed, along with my wife and siblings.
"Who better to guide us into a new world than those who have spent over one hundred years living in and amongst humans," Marcus had proposed to the council in a called meeting to which we'd been "invited."
Red and golden eyes alike had turned to dissect and assess us at Marcus' inference.
It wasn't enough that our golden eyes allowed us to mix with humans. The man intended to exploit our every difference – our experience around humans and ability to intermingle, our gifts, and "young and fresh outlook on life compliments of spending so much time around youthful humans in high school and college." It didn't matter that we hadn't been back to high school since meeting Bella in Forks. What was almost twenty years in a vampire's existence, but a blink of an eye for those who ruled in Volterra. Most of them credited their existence in centuries…some even millennia.
Carlisle pulled into the city ahead of us. Esme, Jasper, and Alice rode with him; whereas, Emmett and Rose sat in the back seat of the Mercedes I drove. Bella squeezed my hand, obviously sensing my discomfort. Taking a deep breath, I imagined Jacob, Nessie, Colin, and Moirai to relax. Generally, the thoughts of my grandchildren turned me into a "gooey mess" as Nessie described it, and the effort didn't fail me this time. Although still registering his age in single digits, Colin already appeared a man grown, and Moirai was fully on her way to maturity.
Moirai…her name meant Fate. Warmth wrapped my heart as I envisioned her lovely face. My and Bella's genetics had failed there; she was the epitome of a Quileute beauty - long black hair, mocha skin, and dark expressive eyes. But our vampire nature had made her immortal, just like her mother and brother. I'd always hoped that Colin would be the one to pay Jacob back for some of the angst he'd caused Bella and me, but instead, Moirai had been the answer to my prayers. Full of mischief and highly intelligent, she'd led Jacob a merry chase while Colin and I watched from the sidelines. We were "no help" at providing parameters as Jacob had often accused. Jacob had snarled at us many times over as we rolled in the grass together in laughter.
Yes, Moirai had given him more grief than the poor man had ever thought to cause me, and so all had been righted in the world. Even in love, she'd fulfilled my every hope; though imprinted upon, Jacob had had to fight off dozens of advances from unknowing Quileute youth.
If he would've just accepted help from the one who would have protected her with his life…
Jacob and Seth would've made too much of a front for anyone to bother her. It didn't matter; Jacob still wanted to kill his best friend at times. Even though I'd wanted to be the one to do it, Bella had stolen my thunder and thrown Jacob's words back in his face. "You know…he can't help it."
I still snickered at the memory. I'd wanted payback, and in the world of poetic justice, Seth's imprinting on Jacob's daughter, my granddaughter, was about as good as it could get.
But the fact that our family was prospering didn't relieve the pressure of why we were in Volterra. My time was up. Even though I wouldn't admit it to him, Marcus had been more than patient. He'd given me time to spend with my grandchildren, to watch them grow and prosper. It wasn't just that he'd allowed me the opportunity; he'd come to adore Colin and Moirai, visiting often and adopting them as his own in an uncharacteristic move. He was an unusual and intriguing creature, now that he lived instead of just existed.
But that still didn't make me like his decision to finally pull in my marker, I thought, pulling into the space beside Carlisle. Exiting the car, I wondered at the classic vehicles that filled the spaces in the underground garage beside us. Rosalie whistled in excitement seeing sleek European pieces of art alongside American muscle, and I literally saw her fingers flexing as if she couldn't wait to get her hands on them.
"Master Carlisle, this way," a strong male voice called out, drawing our attention to the Guard member who stood at ready. Emmett snickered at the address, causing our father to glare for a moment.
Still dressed in the unrelenting black, the man was at least outfitted in stylish dress pants and a button down shirt. Marcus had forgone the long Volturi robes in exchange for more "modern apparel." The long flowing garments were only used now when there was a necessity to advance in daylight. And there had only been one event that had necessitated that; a quick but useless attempt by a vampire in Asia to start his own regime. We hadn't even been called for it…other than Alice, and that only by phone. Marcus had used her visions to decide how and when to send forces.
With one last longing look back to the cars, Rosalie forced herself to turn and follow Carlisle and Esme. Emmett threw his big arm over her shoulders, as Alice slipped her hand into the crook of Jasper's. Bella and I, well, we linked our fingers, holding hands. We would seem a group of casual visitors, but as we entered the castle, Jasper, ever the strategist, monitored the mood around us while I sampled the thoughts.
And their wives…
I smiled to hear that Carlisle's nickname was still being used. But the fact that we'd been referred to as "the brothers" irked me. It was too close to associations that had existed with Aro, Marcus, and Caius. Then I saw the reasoning…
That Jasper and I were easy to assess and label, I didn't doubt, but I was in wonder that they'd already determined Emmett's gift. No, he wasn't "gifted" in the typical manner, but his keen ability to assess people, develop relationships, and diffuse difficult situations with his charm and wit was not something to overlook or be discounted. But I growled to see the inference that many were making about us as a whole. Although I would admit that the similarities to the previous triumvirate were astounding, we were not the Volturi and never would be. The subtle glances and thoughts had yet to take in consideration that I could hear them. They would be insulted and most likely horrified when they remembered I didn't need touch like Aro.
But more importantly, our journey through the hallway made me reassess Marcus and his ingenuousness. Perhaps his comments about us leading them into a new world, providing a fresh infusion into the Volturi structure, were right, because I found many of the thoughts surrounding me archaic. Not once did they look to our mates, to Alice, Bella, and Rosalie. Not once had they assessed Esme's worth. In my humble opinion, the Cullen women were the ones they should've been afraid of as the power my wife, mother, and sisters possessed through their gifts and their hold on us was unimaginable. But I reasoned that what the castle inhabitants didn't know would be to our advantage.
However, all of my thoughts on strategy were dispelled when I heard my name.
"Edward!" Tanya called out and glided forward as we entered the throne room.
Love had made her mesmerizing, and I heard more than a few covetous thoughts as she approached us. I wondered if Marcus knew, but put the question aside when she grabbed me. As she kissed my cheeks, Felix, the brute, picked Bella up smacking hers as well. He constantly harassed me with reminders that he was standing in line for the day Bella got tired of me. Normally, I would have decapitated anyone who even inferred such, but the giant and I had become good friends over the years, and I knew his heart. There was some strange piece of me that was glad that I knew I could trust him with her, that he would protect her with his life if it ever became necessary. His teasing was in good nature, knowing that Bella's heart belonged only to me. But he was still searching for his Bella, his hopes, after seeing Marcus find Tanya, that his mate existed somewhere. We switched, and Felix and I did the appropriate man hug/back thumping as Tanya and Bella chatted like magpies. Marcus had captured Carlisle and Esme as Demetri and Heidi took turns with my siblings.
The astounded thoughts of the other vampires, recruited into service at the castle, buzzed all around us. Only Santiago and the others that had stood with us in Forks could remember Marcus being so effusive. That I grunted at the man when he greeted me astonished them all, and I thought some would literally run when he threw back his head and laughed in pleasure at my grumbling.
He had me here. That would have to be enough for now, for surely he didn't think I was going to be happy about it.
"I just received new pictures of my niece and nephew last night from young Renesmee," he murmured, trying to make nice. "When will they be coming to visit me?"
I raised the corner of my lip at him and his puny attempt to coddle me, and he cocked his eyebrow at my effort. But there was no reason to ignore his question about my pride and joy. "At Christmas, but only if you allow her to transform the place. That is her bargain?" I murmured, looking around the throne room.
It looked vastly different from when I'd come begging for destruction, believing Bella had committed suicide. It'd definitely gained warmth under Tanya's direction, but I didn't think that Marcus could truly be prepared for what Nessie became at Christmas.
"Hm…" he murmured back, stroking his fingers down his chin as he looked around. "A little festivity wouldn't be amiss."
"A little?" I wanted to say thinking to Alice's and Nessie's efforts, but decided not to forewarn him. He'd used his manipulations to get our family here, so I decided to allow him to face the force that was my sister and daughter at Christmas time unaware.
Tanya shook her head at my mischievous smile, having obviously figured my thoughts out. I glared at her, letting her know I thought her a traitor is she warned him, but she chuckled at my look. That I dared to glare at the King and Queen seemed to make many in the room nervous, even though they'd heard of my family from the legends. But our reunion had gone on for a time, and I saw Marcus directing several of the guard members to carry our luggage to our assigned quarters.
The majority of what we needed had been shipped in the weeks prior, and I knew that the boxes awaited us in our rooms. We'd made a stop in Ireland before traveling on to Italy, so we only had a few suitcases to manage. I wanted, in that moment, to go back; Siobahn's easy Irish charm had been exactly what I needed before traveling to my new home. Ignoring the soft growl coming from me at the thought, Bella tugged on my fingers, directing me to follow her.
However not before Marcus whispered to me, "They're waiting for you."
And so they were – Dracula 1 and Dracula 2.
"You've kept us waiting…" Stefan murmured.
"…a very long time," Vladimir completed, rising from the sofa in the small sitting area that adjoined our bedroom.
We'd been placed in the same wing of the castle as Marcus and Tanya, just on a different floor. The appointments were luxurious, the cozy chamber magnificent, and it was hauntingly familiar with cherished pieces elegantly arranged throughout. It reeked of Esme's influence and her attempts to make our transition as painless as possible. Through their thoughts, I caught glimpses of my siblings' rooms beside us, rooms that also reflected the same attention.
"Pfft…" I answered the Romanians accusation, coming back to the moment after absorbing the ambiance of the rooms. "It is nothing compared to what you've waited before."
Vladimir grinned in his eerie manner before gliding forward to take Bella's hand in his. He bowed elegantly over their combined hands before kissing her knuckles. "My dear, you are possibly even lovelier than the last time I saw you."
She grinned at him, placing her other hand on top of his and squeezing gently. Stefan stepped to her side and kissed her cheek. At least his show of affection was more mannerly than Felix's had been.
"You're leaving," she accused, determining their plans in some way. I'd known from Marcus' thoughts, but hadn't mentioned it yet.
"Yes." Their voices combined to make the word sound almost like a hiss.
"But not just this moment, we'll stay until you are settled," Vladimir said softly, finally releasing her hand.
Would I ever be 'settled' in Volterra? I wondered.
Many scholars spoke about the concept of time, devising quotes about the immensity of it, the human propensity to squander it, and the benefits of managing the minutes, hours, and days given. For immortals, time held a different meaning. We saw the passage in events versus the ticking of a hand across the face of a clock.
Nessie and Alice turned Marcus on his ear, transforming the Volterra Castle into a masterpiece of yuletide joy at Christmas and surprising him with a leather jacket for a gift. Marcus' expression had been priceless at the gaudy socks that Colin and Moirai presented as a gag, but Tanya made good use of the mistletoe they'd given her…the two disappearing into the night.
The New Year had us intermingling with many vampires we'd never met, and even acquiring a few that I would consider more friend than acquaintance. The process was awkward at first, as most traditional vampires didn't know what to make of our family, but curiosity finally won over for some of them. Carlisle urged us to be patient; we were different from Aro and Caius, and it would take some time for those in Volterra to accept that.
Alice strong armed Marcus into revealing the Volturi finances and swiftly divested him of the portfolio. They'd been smart in the investments they'd made, but not brilliant. We diversified them, hiding the money better to make them less of a target for a savvy financial investigator. Building layers upon layers of subterfuge with Jenks' help, the money was all but untraceable. The castle "fell" out of its long term owner's hands and under the auspices of a corporation…one that would survive for many years under its various immortal CEOs. Public image of the corporation was another thing altogether. There was so much work to do, but what was forever for?
In the weeks and months that followed, we were indoctrinated into the life of duty and responsibility. I found it not so different than what I'd imagined as a young man, when I considered the duty and responsibility of a soldier. Perhaps I'd wanted to be a hero then; my thoughts about the first World War had been that certainly truth and righteousness would prevail. But as an immortal, frozen young man faced with the day to day maneuverings of a regime, I saw the shades of grey that were more often the determiners of success or failure. As I'd pondered about Carlisle and those very same shades of grey the day I came upon him burying the ashes of Aro's and Cauis' army, I realized that it was the foundation of the man or woman that influence the road traveled.
Delegated to a place in the throne room that denoted our status, we watched and learned. When our talents became apparent to the whole, we were whispered about and feared. It was abundantly clear from Marcus' actions that we were being groomed for positions on the council. With Carlisle as our father and mentor and Marcus as our leader and the one that sponsored us, very few voiced dissension.
When Colin had questioned me about my and Bella's love story, I'd told him how she'd fulfilled my life and how nothing would ever change that. And had my story ended there, had our story faded as the words in a book, "and they lived happily ever after," I would've been perfectly ecstatic to live out my life with the woman I loved and with my family.
But I was never asked what I wanted. For certainly it would've been to disappear into the sunset with Bella.
So, I made the best of what we'd been given.
Marcus, alongside Carlisle, became my sage, even if I wanted to bite his head off at times. I shared a bond with him that was difficult to define. We'd both been shells of ourselves for a period of time, believing that the women that completed us had been lost forever. He had millennia of suffering on me, but the experience of the loss was horrific for both of us, and it was an experience that few understood. Others that had faced the loss of a mate had sought destruction only after acquiring revenge.
The only other two that could've understood disappeared into the night, but not before they'd served as my grueling taskmasters. Millennia of experience and warfare were their gifts to me. Unmerciful in their approach to "train me," the Romanians dumped memory after memory into my mind even when I threatened to tear them to pieces. In fact, my controlled aggression thrilled them.
"So like us, Stefan," Vladimir had murmured when I caged him against a wall.
"Such control…" Stefan had responded as I'd stalked off, snarling at the both of them.
I wondered often about Vladimir and Stefan. Alice couldn't see them, and I pondered if they'd somehow discovered a way to be destroyed. Perhaps they'd found a werewolf, or another vampire willing to do the duty. But they hadn't asked me to end them, knowing just how I would respond. Marcus and I had been given miracles, and I was certain they didn't want to hear my beliefs in it all. I'd begged for them to give fate a chance to rectify the wrongs done to them, but their only response had been to smile sadly. However for the time they'd stayed, I developed what I considered a friendship with the two, and the thought that perhaps they no longer existed in this world inexplicably saddened me. Wisdom and fondness came in odd packages. My hope was that we'd discover some new human novel filled with exaggerated stories of a Transylvanian Dracula. It would've fit their irreverent brand of humor to propagate such tales.
My family…well we did what we'd always done. Carlisle was my father, Esme my mother, and my siblings the ones that drove me crazy at times. We fought, played, teased, grumbled, and tolerated the two mutts that'd joined us. I wouldn't have been able to withstand the placement in Volterra if there hadn't been provisions for frequent visits from the Black family and a Clearwater tag-along. Trips to Forks and Florida were "mandatory and non-negotiable" I'd quickly informed Marcus with a snarl when he'd "negotiated" my presence.
The months passed and a sense of contentment crept up on me. But it wasn't until I caught a reflection of myself in a still lake in Casentinesi Forest where Bella and I had traveled to feed that I realized it.
Clear and untroubled golden eyes reflected back at me as I leaned down to pick a particularly vibrant purple flower for Bella. My visage startled me, and I realized that I hadn't really paid attention to my reflection much. Smirking, I realized the reason why was because my wife generally ran her fingers through my hair in a futile attempt to train the mess and dressing was done without thought. So the man staring back at me from the still water seemed almost surreal. Leaning over farther, I stared calmly back.
"Edward?" Bella called out to my side, and I pulled my gaze away to smile at her, before turning back. "Everything okay?" she inquired softly, squatting down beside me.
The man in the water was joined by an extraordinary beauty. And I saw her smile slowly grow as she saw us in the almost mirror like quality of the water. I wouldn't call what I saw peace, because that would allude to the fact that everything was perfect, and there was no such thing as perfect, even in my almost perfect world.
"Yes, I was just a little taken back," I answered, shrugging my shoulder toward the reflection.
"He's a handsome fellow," she teased.
Smirking at her comment, I shook my head slightly. She grasped my hand and threw her shield away, treating me to an uninhibited view of her thoughts. Flashes of me flew through her mind. Not just the tortured ones from when they'd rescued me and from when I'd faced Beth's family, but also from when we'd first met and I'd struggled with what I was and what I was going to make her. Then, memories from the last years overwhelmed it all, my happiness with Colin and Moirai, my friendship with Jacob and Seth, my unusual relationship with Dracula 1 and 2, and my bond with even Charlie. The quiet satisfaction I'd gained from the training and responsibilities Carlisle and Marcus threw my way flew through her mind. This new man I saw reflected back at me had been a work in progress, bits of him reflected in the memories Bella shared, remembrances heavily infused with her love and support.
I hadn't had to say anything; she'd just understood what I was thinking as I looked at this new Edward. It was the magic of our bond.
Bella rose, disengaging from my hand and running her fingers across my cheek as she did. Her touch stirred embers that were constantly banked, and suddenly, the reflective man in the water lost my interest for a much more appealing subject. At my rumblings of acknowledgement and interest, she giggled and ran into the trees, allowing her instantly discarded red silk shirt to flutter to the ground in challenge.
No…not everything was perfect, but I'd definitely found contentment, I thought as I rose, already sniffing her arousal in the air and moving to begin the chase.
For in this new world that had been built from the ashes of that which I'd destroyed, there was room for everything…
The boy who'd once dreamed to fight upon the lands of war for what he believed in…
The teenage boy who'd struggled valiantly to defend what he'd thought was right before surrendering…
The young man that'd rose from hell…
The father and grandfather intent on protecting those he loved…
The son and brother who knew his responsibilities…
The man who finally bowed down to accept mercy and providence…
The man who'd taken responsibility for repaying a life-altering kindness…
And as I growled lowly, letting loose a little of the control and began to stalk my mate - the woman that completed me and made my life worth living - I realized as I lunged into the forest intent on my prey…
A place for my monster as well.
I would sincerely love to hear your thoughts, even if you're a lurker and have never left a review. For those of you interested, I've developed a PDF of this story that I would love to send your way. It contains the banners made for the story, as well as acknowledgements to all those that have been involved. Email me at content1akaapril at G mail dot com, and I would be happy to send it to you. I can't attach to a PM, so please email me and I'll send along.
Thanks for following along on this journey with me. It is a bittersweet thing to realize that I only have one more Fan Fiction story to finish.
To: Charles, Paul, and Nikki - it has been an incredible trip to take with you. Thanks again for all your help!