Disclaimer: I own none of these characters.

Bella tentatively brushed the back of her hand to Edward's, smiling shyly to herself when he clutched it without thinking twice. Her engagement ring still felt foreign against her skin. She glanced up at him, blushing when she noticed his eyes darting towards her. Their smiles widened until Edward gave in and pressed a fond kiss against her lips. "Love you," he whispered.

"Mhm," she sighed. They had had a lovely late night dinner with wine and Italian music. She couldn't ask for more at that moment.

But before she could say as much, he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her back, causing her to stumble over her feet.

Just in time too because, at that moment, the door to the house they were about to pass in front of shot open and out stumbled a man. From the looks of the woman who stood on the porch with her hands at her hips and a fierce scowl on her brow, there was no mistaking the kind of the trouble he was in. "I never want to see you again," she hissed.

He dusted himself off as he got up. However, he didn't voice his opinion.

She stormed out and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. "What? Got nothing to say for yourself?" she snapped.

"What do you want me to say?" he asked quietly. "I never-"

She pushed him back again. "You know what?" she muttered with a teary voice. "Good riddance. I can't handle you, Evans." She ran inside and slammed the door shut.

He stared at the door for a moment with a hand clutching a duffle bag. His dark hair fell messily against his head, hiding his eyes. He looked plain – t-shirt, jeans, sneakers and all. He just seemed like a genuinely tired young man, normal in every aspect-

Except for the fact that Edward couldn't read his mind.

"Let's go," Bella murmured urgently, tugging her fiancé to the side so they could sidle past the drama. Edward allowed her to herd him away but he looked back before they could turn the corner, committing Evans to memory.

It was past midnight when the coven got wind of the newborn army, created by Victoria, preparing a raid in the middle of downtown.

Edward and Emmet were absolutely livid at the thought. "Why haven't the Volturi arrived yet?"

Carlisle shook his head. At that moment, he could think of nothing else but the devastation that would befall the city if the vampires were set loose. Alice was seated at the dining room table and she was frantically sketching her visions in her book, her brows creased as she tried to concentrate.

"Where is Bella?" Esme asked Edward.

"She's at home."

"Home is not good," Alice interjected. "Mountains. Take her up there. One of us will have to stay with her."

The Cullens glanced at each other. No one wanted to leave their family alone to fight rabid creatures alone.

"I will stay," Esme offered after a minute of deliberation. "But," she turned to Carlisle, "you must let the shapeshifters know that-"

"What?" Rosalie snapped. "No. Definitely not. They will use this as an excuse to attack us."

"We are clearly outnumbered," Carlisle tried to explain.

"And when the dogs get there, we will have signed our death wishes," Rosalie snarled. Emmet reluctantly nodded . He knew that his wife had a point. The shapeshifters hardly felt a need to protect the Olympic Coven.

"But they will want to protect Bella," Alice murmured. "Talk to Jacob Black. He will help."

The night was thick with tension and anticipation. The coven were scattered through the edge of the forest, strategically placed so almost all of the trails were monitored. The shapeshifters patrolled the area between them. They could feel vampires on all sides but could do nothing until they had received a nod from Carlisle and Jacob. Besides the soft crunch of leaves and the occasional cricket, the forest was deathly silent.

One single hiss from the shadows caused both sides to spring into action. In the middle of the night, the newborns appeared to have glowing red eyes. Their expressions were that of hunger and frustration. But they were slower and less experienced than the coven. They did not know what to do about the shapeshifters, so they tried to skirt around the large wolves. That proved to be a mistake as the wolves pounced on them with furious growls and bared claws.

Edward and Alice were the first to realize that Victoria was among the newborns, biding her time to attack. However, her thoughts were so erratic that her actions could not be read.

"There!" Jasper pointed to the side where Edward caught a glimpse of movement.

He felt time slowing down when he heard her thoughts but realized that he wouldn't be fast enough to stop her. His voice caught as he spun around in time to see a blur leap over them and land onto the road. He pressed on after her frantically. If she made it into the city, then Bella-

"No," he breathed when he realized that that wasn't Victoria's plan at all.

She had just chanced upon her first human.

Edward flew through the dark street in time to see her leap at her prey.

The man was launched off his feet and sent flying into the wall with a sickening crunch.

Their eyes met for a moment and, for that moment, Edward felt as though he could have read Evans' thoughts if his own horrified ones weren't echoing in his head.

The lifeless body fell onto the pavement in a broken heap, lips parted and dead eyes staring straight ahead.

Newborns buzzed in frenzy around him as they caught the metallic scent in the air.

Edward yelled out a frantic warning just in time. This was what Victoria wanted. She wanted the newborns to lose control. Smell of fresh blood had filled the air. The Olympic Coven leapt into motion, careening into errant, young vampires with all their strength and trying to knock them off course. The dark streets were soon filled with snarls, loud cracks and fervent howls. Edward tried to find Victoria in the mess but she seemed to have disappeared into thin air. All that was left was the small army of newborns ready to rip the Cullens apart in search of blood.

His attention was diverted when he heard Alice's cry for help. Before long, he was lunging at a burly vampire with his teeth bared and a furious roar rumbling out of him. He forced the creature off of his sister and threw him to the ground. His blows struck with precision and, although his hopes were to subdue the newborn, he put enough force into his punches to crack the vampire's nose and hardened ribs. This was anger he had never felt before and it both terrified and exhilarated him.

He came to a violent standstill when he picked up on a thought amongst the dozens that were teeming in his mind.

He took off in a dead run towards the voice. Then it was all a blur. He shoved vampires off of Evans, spinning around and crouching in front of the broken body while baring his teeth. He smelt blood behind him and it fueled his fury. He fended the newborns away with speed and strength, knocking them across the street and slamming them against the pavement hard enough to break the cement and tar.

"Edward! Stop! Please!"

Edward blinked as he returned to his calmer senses. He flicked his eyes over the carnage around him. There was rubble and dust everywhere he looked. His family was standing many feet away from him, arms outstretched in front of them as though to stop him from attacking them in a fit of rage. Most of the newborns had fled and the few that remained were amidst broken slabs of rocks, dazed and scared.

Carlisle and Esme had the worst expressions on their faces. "What are you doing?" they asked in horror.

Edward sagged suddenly and turned around, falling to his knees in front of Evans. "He's alive," he murmured, scooping the limp body in his arms. The man was riddled with deep teeth marks. "Why is he alive?"

The maids rushed into the room to find their young master straddling Edward and landing brutal punch after blow. They had to force Frederick back to stop him from killing the poor boy.

His fists were covered with cuts and blood and his cheeks were stained with tears. He screamed passionately and fell to the ground as his limp leg refused to hold him up."NEVER COME HERE AGAIN!" he screamed.

His ragged sobs were the last thing Edward heard before he fainted away from the pain that ran down his body.

It was also the last time they met before the Spanish influenza pandemic claimed the Masens…

The house echoed with tortured screams for hours. Carlisle and Esme paced the second-floor corridor while Emmet and Rosalie kept vigil in the living room. Jasper and Alice had not yet returned from their hunt even though it had been almost two days since their hurried departure. Truth was, Jasper could not handle being in the same house as a weak human.

And Edward was sitting on the floor in the corner of the darkened room where the man lay writhing in bed. He couldn't leave. His knees were pulled up to his chest and his chest tightened at intervals when he listened to the young boy who hadn't stopped screaming in days.

He squeezed his eyes shut and tilted his head down, hiding his face against his knees. Everything inside him ached. Listening to Evans made him hurt. At times it would just be muffled sobs. At other times the screams were so loud that he wondered if that would be reason Evans died, from lack of air and energy.

Carlisle would come into the room once in a while to check up on both his son and their guest.

"You need to hunt," he said quietly while stroking Edward's hair.

"No," Edward answered. His words were heavy and almost slurred, as though he were exhausted. "I have to stay. I don't… I don't know what else to do."

Carlisle didn't try to dissuade Edward. He offered some vague words of comfort and left the room without disturbing Evans.

Nearly five days passed that way.

Edward was pulled out of stupor at daybreak. He looked up blearily, roving his eyes over the man who was sitting up in bed. "Hello," he mumbled.

Evans murmured incoherently as he fell on his side, faint from hunger and thirst.

Carlisle and Esme burst into the room with wide smiles gracing their lips. Edward smiled back at them as he pulled the sheets straight over the bed and tucked Evans in. He was still a man, even after being bitten and broken. Edward let his fingers linger against Evans' wrist, feeling for the strong, steady pulse. How could a mere man be so strong?

He ran as fast as his little legs could carry him, his mind's eye flashing through too many grotesque possibilities as he neared the large and ancient tree. Off to the side, he saw a dusty pile and he groaned in dismay. He nearly tripped in his hurry to kneel down. "Frederick?" he panted through his tears.

"Mmm," the older boy mumbled. "Ow…"

"You're hurt," Edward cried. "Why would you-You aren't allowed to-"

"I'm fine," Frederick said sluggishly as he rolled onto his back. He bit back a yelp when his arm jostled. "Get Mother."

"Mhm. Okay." Edward struggled to get onto his feet and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

"Hey, Edward."


Frederick grinned, revealing his gap-toothed mouth. Dirt dusted his otherwise pink cheeks. "I'm fine. See? I told you I could get to the top."

"I hate you," Edward sniffled while stumbling backwards. "Don't move, okay? I'll get her."

"I can't go anywhere, silly."