Authors Note: I don't own twilight, nor any of the characters. They belong to the fantastic Stephenie Meyer.
This story initially follows the Cullens, from Edward's point of view, as they prepare to move to Forks. It is set pre-twilight.
Later chapters will deal with the anxiety of the Quileute Tribe, from Jacob's point of view, as they learn of the return of the Cullens, also Bella's point of view as she realises the only way to make her mother truly happy is to sacrifice her own happiness.
I have tried really hard to keep the characters as the wonderful SM created them, and also to keep to the original story line. I may have had to make a few minor changes to the timing of a couple of events, but hopefully nothing significant.
Please review - I always love to know what you all think.
Chapter one - Decisions
Denali, Alaska, Summer 2003
I had been in an insufferably bad mood for weeks now. Today was no exception, although somehow, it was worse. Today was sunny and it meant that I was confined either to the house, or the dense forest where I wouldn't be noticed. I couldn't go out in the sunlight for fear that I would expose myself as the vampire I was, to the normally unobservant humans. Yes, today it would have been a real give-away.
Not that I could really be bothered to do anything anyway, but it would have been nice to have a choice. I wanted to distance myself from the sickening position I found myself in of being the only single vampire in a family seemingly overflowing with love-struck couples.
It was nothing new, Carlisle, my creator and mentor, and adopted father as far as the outside human world viewed us, had found the love of his life Esme, in 1921 and in over eighty years their love had never faltered; only grown stronger. Esme, overtly kind and compassionate in every way possible had been my adopted mother for as long as I could remember. Not that I blamed them for being a loving couple, any more than I blamed Rosalie and Emmett, or Alice and Jasper, my adopted brothers and sisters, it was just that I was growing tired of being the bachelor, or even the grumpy old man, as they were beginning to refer to me as.
Today, I just wished they weren't around me. I wanted to sulk and be petulant, but more than anything, I wanted to be alone. Their harmonious intimacy was irritating me beyond belief. I didn't want to be included in the home-making discussions that were taking place regarding our impending move to Forks, Washington.
Although I always knew a move was inevitable with our lifestyle, it didn't mean I had to share in the enthusiastic planning of it. I understood the reasons for it; we had to remain inconspicuous, and the humans were beginning to get suspicious. None of us had aged in the five years we had been here, one of the traits of being a vampire. Not only that, but with our cousins living nearby, there were just too many vampires to remain discreet for long. So, our stay in Denali, Alaska had not been as long as the customary seven years we had become used to. It was time to move on to the next destination.
I decided I had to escape from the four walls that were beginning to stifle me today. I would hunt, that would kill a few hours and put some distance between me and the happy content couples. Maybe I would return in a better mood. Maybe I would return and find they had gone without me? Right now, I didn't care. I had survived on my own before.
In one swift movement I had reached the door.
"Where are you going?" Alice chirped, not picking up on my scowl. Alice, the cheerful one; Alice the psychic. Huh! She hadn't seen that one coming. I guess she was too preoccupied at the prospect of a whole new wardrobe in our new house to fill with the latest designer fashions. That would explain the unnecessary cheerfulness.
"Out!" I retorted, and then I felt slightly guilty for being harsh on her, the hurt expression on her face didn't go unnoticed, so I added in a softer tone, "I'm going up into the mountains to hunt."
"Why don't you wait for tonight, Jazz and I will be going later," she suggested.
Oh great, I thought, hunting with a smug couple, just what I need. It was a good job sometimes that I was the only-mind reader in the family, or maybe it wasn't. If they could read my mind too perhaps they would lay off the eternal optimism that one day I would find a mate and then we could be four happy couples.
I scanned the room for their thoughts. Rosalie was designing her new bedroom in her mind. Jasper and Emmet were both simultaneously planning the strategy for their next play-fight in their heads, a rematch of last night's draw no doubt. Carlisle was planning the documentation we would need, and thinking about a patient at the hospital he had treated the day before with severe head injuries, and Esme, Esme was thinking of me, he really doesn't look very happy, I wonder if there is anything I can do. I wonder why he is so reluctant to move to Forks. I will have a quiet word with him later.
I pulled myself out of their heads and answered Alice's question as politely as I could manage. I really didn't want to cause offence. "No, thanks anyway Alice, but I would really rather go on my own."
"Ok," she replied cheerfully, "suit yourself." There was no malice in her reply, there never was any malice where Alice was concerned.
"See you later Edward," Esme said in her soft velvet voice. I do hope you feel better soon, I wish I could help.
Carlisle looked up now, "Yes, see you later son." I wish he wouldn't go out in broad daylight. Oh Well, I'm sure it will be ok, Edward is sensible.
No-one else noticed, for which I was grateful.
Alice was hovering, as if she was going to say something, but in the end she just waved and resumed her position on the sofa next to Jasper, cuddling in to him and giving him an adoring smile. Love you.
Ugh Enough! Get me out of here!
Once outside the house I ran the short distance to the forest, my feet hardly touching the rough stony ground beneath me, and within a couple of minutes I had put a few miles between myself and the love nest. I needed the space to think about my options, and this was impossible while I was surrounded by the intrusive thoughts of my family.
I was now surrounded by the dense forest. My skin that had been glittering like a thousand diamonds under the direct sunlight as I left the house now looked almost human, just a slight translucent glow giving away my true identity to anyone who ventured close enough to examine it, and that didn't happen too often. There was something about us that made humans fear us, even though they couldn't fathom out what it was, they sensed danger, and kept their distance.
Fantastic! I thought to myself. Now I am going to have to face the worried Esme later. What will I say to her? It will break her heart if I tell her I am thinking of not joining them in Forks. Besides, I hadn't quite decided yet, which is why Alice hadn't seen it in one of her visions. I was being deliberately vague. She suspected that I was having doubts, but she wouldn't see it until I made my mind up. It wasn't just the thought of living in a continual love-fest that was giving me reservations about my future, there were other considerations.
So, what were my options? Well, I could move to Forks with the rest of the family, and go through High School again, for the umpteenth time. How many times had I graduated now? I had seriously lost count. There was nothing left that a High School teacher could teach me that I didn't already know.
Of course, Forks had other complications. The last time we had lived there, before Alice and Jasper had joined us, our presence had triggered the Quileute's, an ancient local tribe of Native Americans living at La Push, West of Forks, to start phasing into werewolves, mortal enemies of the vampire. It was something in their genes that caused this to happen when ever they felt the need to protect their people from our kind, the cold ones, as they called us, or vampires, as we called ourselves.
Fortunately, the last time Carlisle had managed to demonstrate to them that we were no danger to them, or to any human for that matter, because of our rather special diet. After a while , and after they had observed us feeding on animals rather than humans, the Chief at that time, Ephraim Black had trusted us enough to make a treaty. If we promised to refrain from hunting on their land, and promised never to bite a human, they would not expose us to the humans, or pale-faces as they called them. Non-exposure to humans was the single most-important rule that a vampire had to follow.
I cast my mind back to the day Carlisle had announced his intention for the family to return to Forks. He had called a family meeting around the large mahogany dining room table, which of course, was never actually used for its intended purpose. It was more of a board room table, a place where important discussions affecting the whole family took place.
Being able to read his mind I had a little foresight into what was coming, although I knew he had been blocking something from me for a couple of days. He had been reciting one of his medical journals in his head and had then translated into Latin. He always did this when he wanted to block me out, but he had slipped once or twice when he thought he was far enough away from me not to notice, enough for me to realise that Carlisle was for some reason thinking about Forks, Washington, and it didn't take a genius to work out why. But even though I had an idea of what was coming, it was still a shock to hear it. I had somehow convinced myself that he had been thinking of Forks for some other reason, not wanting to believe the truth.
"What?" I had snorted. "Forks? Carlisle, have you lost your mind? Don't you remember what happened the last time we lived there?"
"Nothing happened Edward," he had reminded me.
"No, nothing happened, because Ephraim Black was a reasonable man, enabling us to make the treaty. But it will not be the same now."
"We don't know that. The Quileute's are a proud race and their traditions will have been passed down through the generations."
"You don't know that, Carlisle," I had replied, twisting his words. "What if it hasn't?"
"Well, we have two extra in our number now, let them try!" Emmett had chipped in, a huge grin spreading across his face. Emmett was never the one to shy away from confrontation.
"That won't be necessary, Emmett. I feel sure that the Quileute's will honour the treaty."
And so, after a family vote, it had been decided that we would move to Forks in time for the new school semester. I had been the only one to vote against it.
A few days later, Carlisle and Esme had taken a trip to Forks to check the condition of our house, which had been uninhabited for more than half a century, and had reported back that there was no trace of any werewolves in the area. Furthermore, Carlisle had secured a job at the hospital to start at the beginning of September, so it seemed that it was settled.
I had remained unconvinced, pressing the point that I didn't see the logic in going somewhere potentially problematic. There were plenty of other places. Of course, I would rather not go anywhere if it meant another farcical journey through High School, with all the annoying female human admirers, silly teenage girls who imagined they had some kind of a crush on me. They never got close enough to do anything about it, but I could hear their thoughts and that was enough to drive me insane.
Perhaps I could wear some spectacles, change my hairstyle to something from out of the nineteen forties and dress like a complete nerd. Maybe this would discourage flirtatious attention. I smiled to myself briefly as I imagined the horror that would be etched onto Alice's face if I chose this disguise. I couldn't help it though if I was extraordinarily good-looking; all vampires are, it is another of our traits. If I had a partner the monotony of sitting through uninspiring lessons would be just about bearable. But I didn't, I was single, and I was therefore bait for another sickening onslaught of High School admirers.
So, my second option then was to leave the family. I couldn't believe I was actually considering this, but necessity was forcing me to. I had left once before, many years ago to pursue my darker side, the monster that lurked within having got the better of me. I hadn't been gone for long though, and I had returned to the welcoming bosom of the family, Carlisle and Esme instantly and unconditionally forgiving me for my sins. Until very recently, the past three weeks to be precise, I had never thought I would leave again. The love and compassion had intensified over the years and I knew it would break Esme's heart. Carlisle too would be bitterly disappointed.
Would Rosalie miss me? I doubted it. She was too preoccupied with herself and besides, we had never had an easy relationship ever since I had rejected her affections. Even after she had found Emmett, she had never really forgiven me. No, Rosalie wouldn't miss me, but the others would, especially Esme. Dear sweet compassionate Esme, with her warm motherly smile and loving nature. How could I consider hurting her so badly? And Alice, with whom I had forged a really close bond; she would be devastated. No, if I was honest, I doubted I had the strength to go through with it.
My third and final option was to give in to Tanya and accept her affections. I could ask her to come and live with us in Forks as my partner. I was pretty sure she would accept. I could even, I suppose, remain with her here in Alaska as her partner. It would, of course, mean remaining incognito. I was too well known to show my face in public around here. The Denali coven, of which Tanya was a member didn't venture out into public view too often so it wouldn't be that much of a problem. Moving to Forks with her was the better option though, and Tanya was exquisitely beautiful, even by vampire standards. But I just didn't love her, which would mean I would never be entirely happy. How would I know when I found my true soul-mate? Carlisle said I would just know, but I didn't have a clue what to expect. Tanya was not it though, that much I did know.
It had gone dark while I had been wandering aimlessly in the cover of the dense forest, pondering over my future and trying to decide which course to take. I pulled myself out of my reverie and reminded myself of my need to hunt. The elk were plentiful in this region, though they didn't taste as nice as the bears. Both were in the vicinity tonight so I would have another choice to make. Elk to the West, or Bear to the East? I fancied the challenge of a bear tonight. Elks were too easy; I needed something to take my mind of the turmoil I was facing and the enormity of the decision I was about to make.
I scented the air to judge the approximate distance of the bear, and to check the exact direction. I then tested the wind direction. The wind was coming from the East, the same direction as the bear, so I would be able to creep up without it knowing. I moved silently nearer, keeping my breathing to a minimum, crouching low, my instincts leading me effortlessly to my prey. Once the bear was in sight I recalculated the distance and crouched ready to spring. The bear had its back to me so I had the advantage, but it was moving away so I had to recalculate again to ensure a clean strike. If it was one thing I had learned about bears, it was foolish to give them a second chance. Emmett had nearly lost his arm once when he had been showing off.
I moved so quickly the bear didn't have a chance to sense me coming. I ran the last forty or fifty yards in about three seconds and landed on its back, and in the same movement my sharp teeth were tearing into the bear's neck, shredding the thick skin. The bear tried to rear up and throw me off but I dug in further and fought to break its neck. Within a few seconds I had wrapped my strong arms around its head, there was a loud crack and the bear slumped down to the ground. I sunk my teeth into the dying bear's neck and feasted on its warm blood, feeling quite satisfied that although the bear had been huge, the experience had left me without so much as a scratch. Not that hunting was any challenge for vampires really, but I rarely tackled bears and I wouldn't have heard the end of it from Emmett if I had let the bear mark me in any way.
After sucking the bear dry, I discarded its limp body into the undergrowth and climbed back on to a rocky outcrop from where I could see the lights of the city twinkling in the distance. I wasn't ready to go home yet. I had to think of Esme, and what I would tell her. I still hadn't reached a firm decision and I didn't want to worry her unnecessarily. She deserved better than that.