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Hard to believe, but when I rewind my life,
starting from a point when my heart
was destroyed by a hurricane of grief,
I see the dominoes rising, how that storm
was just a gale weeks earlier, a gust
days before that. Finally I see where it all began.
-The Butterfly Effect by David Hernandez
Brown eyes, so heartbreakingly similar to my own were looking back at me. But they weren't the same, not anymore. They were vacant, lifeless; the eyes of a corpse. An agonising scream ripped through the air, causing my body to shudder and a chill to stab its way through me. It was only from the stinging pain in my throat that I realised that it came out of me – it didn't sound human, which I guess was appropriate as one of my last links to humanity died in my arms. I cradled his head to my chest. His blood – the very same blood that flowed through my own veins oozed out of his neck and on to my jeans. It was warm, still heated by his body and the thump of a heart that had stilled only moments before. It would never beat again. I lived in a world where this didn't mean the end of everything anymore. I looked around me in hope, at the numerous sympathetic gazes reflected back at me. It couldn't be over – he was still so young, had so much life ahead of him. I wasn't ready to let go yet. It wasn't his time.
"Edward, please... you have to change him... I can't-" a sob choked my throat as the tears came. "I can't do this, not yet. There has to be time – he can stay with us, we'll move away... "
I knew before I even finished the sentence how futile my begging was. If I'd just stopped for a second to think, then I'd know that I was out of second chances.
"Bella, love, it's too late. You know we couldn't do it anyway – the treaty, the wolves...His heart's stopped... he's already gone."
"No!" I snapped, feeling my voice breaking, betraying the despair I felt inside, not the anger I wanted to convey. They had to do something. "He isn't! He can't be, I had more time. We had more time."
I looked around for allies, settling on one. "Carlisle, tell him. Tell him there's more time!"
The look in the doctor's honeyed eyes was so pitiful, I would have begun crying all over again had it not been directed towards me.
"Bella, you know if I could do anything, I would. I'm so terribly sorry. It all happened so fast - " His words were drowned out by more of my tortured sobs.
The sudden warmth at my back didn't bring the comfort I was so used to drawing from it. For the first time ever, Jacob couldn't chase the nightmares away. My nightmare was real. He was dead, and I'd have to live without him for eternity.
"Bells, come on baby, you're in shock." His voice was no more than a croak, sounding foreign and distant, and I knew if I looked into his eyes it would be my undoing. I sat stock still, refusing to move. This couldn't be it.
"He can't be dead, Jake, he can't be. He's still warm – feel," I whimpered, taking the hand that was on my shoulder and pressing it into the still, hollow chest.
"I know sweetheart, but please, you have to let us take him home. Do you want him out here in the cold all night?"
I couldn't tear my eyes away from him. My tears ran down the length of my nose, gathering on the tip before dropping one-by-one on to his shirt. I gathered the jacket that hung loosely on his chest and pulled it together, trailing the zipper up, locking in the very last of his heat as I smoothed it out lovingly over his body. Jacob reached beyond me, running his large russet hand delicately over his face, shutting his eyes with finality.
He buried his nose in my hair, enveloping me in his embrace as I finally allowed myself to be moved. It was just a body now, anyway. He wasn't there anymore. He never would be again. Jacob's muffled sobs clawed at my heart. I'd never heard him cry before. It was unfathomable.
How could this happen? I had an army of protectors laying their lives down for me, and one of the most important people in my life had been the sole casualty, an afterthought now that he'd been killed. It was my fault. It was all the devastating result of a chain of events starting with my unhealthy obsession with Edward Cullen.
I knew that's what it was now. Sometimes, it takes a time of true heartache and pain for us to see the truth about ourselves. When we feel like the world is crumbling round our shoulders, it is then that we take the time to appreciate the safe harbours in the storm. I'd lost one of mine – he was growing colder now, each passing minute draining the last of his living heat away. Never again would his eyes light up with laughter, or would I witness one of his awkward smiles or the ever-bashful clearing of his throat.
This was my burden; the guilt mine to carry alone. But I couldn't live with it, not with his death on my conscience. Too many people had been hurt as a result of my selfish actions, and this was the last straw. I was going to fix this. Edward wasn't making the decisions for me anymore, and I couldn't hide behind him and allow him to be the navigator in my life. I should have stayed away from him all that time ago. I should have ran in the opposite direction once I found out who he was, but stupidly, I forged onwards, letting myself get swept along in the chaos that loving a vampire wreaked on my life. Our worlds didn't mix; they never would, and I was a fool to believe otherwise. All that had resulted from our pairing had been one disaster after another. I could live with it if I was the only victim, but not now. In that moment, I wished I'd never set eyes on him. I wished his family had never come to Forks. I wished the wolves had never phased. I wished I didn't have to constantly live in fear of death.
Out of all of this, I had gained one thing – something I'd use to get myself through this. Only I had the means to make this right – the world didn't deserve to lose him, none of us did.
I pulled away from Jacob's arms and fixed my eyes on Edward. I didn't want a long goodbye. I didn't want to give myself a chance to talk myself out of this. It had to happen now, or I'd never do it. Edward's eyes registered confusion, before a quiet realisation, coupled with horror marred his flawless features. He shook his head, taking a step towards me before I held up my hand. I looked away, I had to do this now.
I had to go back. I had to save him.
Chapter One: Nostalgia
"Jeez, who died?" Emmet's voice rang out, full of mirth as he entered the spacious home office.
One stony glare from Edward and he knew that no-one was in the mood for joking. I didn't see what the big deal was – so I'd fainted, it's not as if it was the first time. Hell, any drop of blood I'd come in contact with my whole life had had the same effect on me, it didn't mean I was in life-threatening danger.
Okay, so yeah, I was in life-threatening danger, but the fainting had little to do with it, and in my opinion, we were just wasting time that could be spent strategising against the real threats.
"Alright, what'd I miss? Bella decide to strip off and do a rain dance with her friends in the forest or something? Attract the wrong attention yet again?" he asked, looking between Edward, Carlisle and me. Carlisle sighed beside me and held up his wristwatch as he took my pulse. I couldn't help the splutter of laughter that escaped, and tried to hide it behind a cough. I knew I wasn't convincing anyone when Edward shot me a pleading look, squeezing my un-bandaged hand lightly.
"You know I'm pretty sure that's racist, Emmett. In fact, why don't I ask some of the Rez guys and see what they think?" I said, quirking an eyebrow. He just gave me a confident grin and shrugged.
"Go ahead, I'm pretty sure I could distract 'em with a frizbee or a nicely chewed tennis ball."
"Okay, now you're just asking for it," I giggled, shaking my head, Leave it to my big bear of a brother-to-be to diffuse any situation. Edward pinched the bridge of his nose wearily.
"Bella, please, try to take this seriously. You've given us great cause for concern."
I instantly felt guilty for worrying him, but the truth was, I was pretty scared too. It was nice to let myself be distracted for a second.
"Edward, seriously, I'm fine. It was just a dizzy spell. I skipped breakfast, probably hunger pains," I soothed, not believing a word of it. He gave a frustrated grunt and looked at Carlisle, no doubt trying to pluck the diagnosis from his mind.
"Bella was swooning?" Emmett interjected. "Nice to know you've still got it, old man." He patted Edward roughly on the back and gave him a mischievous smile which was not returned.
"She was most definitely not swooning," Edward retorted. "She was online, emailing her mother when her eyes glazed over and then rolled back in her head. It was only sheer chance that I was on my way to see her or she could have seriously injured herself."
Emmett chuckled. "Damn, Bella, who faints sitting down? That's got to be a new one."
"It lasted for ten minutes. Carlisle, do you have any conclusions?" He asked, looking across me. I was getting increasingly irritated that they were talking like I wasn't here.
"Not as yet, I'm afraid," he said apologetically. "If it was simply a dizzy spell, as Bella suggested, it wouldn't have lasted that long, and it certainly wouldn't have happened during a sedentary activity."
"What am I, a pond creature?" I said exasperatedly. Edward ran a soothing hand through my hair and laid a loving kiss on the crown of my head.
"Please, just indulge me, love. I couldn't stand it if you were unwell."
I sighed, knowing I was falling pray to that butterscotch gaze once again.
He looked thoughtful for a moment before speaking once more. "Could this be a risidual effect of the venom? Maybe there was some traces left in her blood stream. It could be a delayed effect, only manifesting now," he queried. Carlisle studied the scar on my wrist and frowned.
"It would be safe not to rule it out, but I would prefer to run some tests for confirmation."
"Yeah well, it won't matter once I'm turned, will it?" I said, looking between my fiance and future father-in-law. The latter opened his mouth as if to agree, before thinking better of it and closing it again.
"Maybe you're just pregnant," Emmett joked, leaning against the door frame. I blushed profusely.
Chance would be a fine thing.
"Don't be ridiculous, Emmett," Edward snapped, and his grip on my hand tightened uncomfortably.
"Ouch, Edward, puny human over here," I whimpered, and his grip relaxed instantly, being replaced by soothing circles and an apologetic expression. Guess he forgot that I only had one fully-functional limb after breaking it on my best friend's concrete jaw.
"Are you sure there's nothing else out of the ordinary you can think of, anything you ate, maybe hurt yourself in some way that you dismissed?" Carlisle enquired. I looked away, shrugging before shaking my head.
Nothing other than the incredibly lucid dream I had, where I was back at the graduation party, dancing with Jess and Angela, just like in the photos I'd been sending. But you don't dream when you're fainting, right?
"Really, nothing. I'm sure it was a once off. A fluke."
Edward let out a weary sigh before helping me off the examination table. I smiled up at him.
"Stop worrying, you'll give yourself wrinkles, I teased. He chuckled softly before taking my hand and leading me back downstairs.
Esme had just offered to prepare dinner for me when the growl of an engine roared from outside, and tyres screeched to an abrupt halt before the door was almost torn off its hinges and Alice was before me in a blur of movement. She was focusing intently on my features, as if trying to solve a puzzle. Esme appeared back in the family room, wiping her hands on a dish towel.
"Is something the matter, Alice?" she asked, looking between both her children in turn. Edward was staring at his sister in much the same way she was looking at me, and I was feeling entirely exposed under her gaze.
"Something's happening." Alice said, absent-mindedly. "Why did you lie?"
I gaped at her, looking at Edward's accusing expression and attempted to play dumb.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I said weakly. Edward's gaze hardened minutely, and he took my hand in is.
"Bella, darling, you have no need to keep things from me, especially if you're afraid. Please tell us what happened when you blacked out," he pleaded. I looked questioningly at Alice, who took her cue to explain.
"I saw you blacking out, several times, in fact. It keeps happening over the course of the next week, and you ended up blurting out that you're seeing things – but I didn't see what they are."
My eyes widened in shock. This was going to happen again? It was just a stupid hallucination. I didn't get why I'd feel the need to share it with them – it was just my stressed brain reliving a random memory, that's all.
"Bella, are you having visions?" She sounded almost hopeful. Like there was yet another thing we could bond over as soon-to-be sisters.
"No, Alice, I swear. It wasn't even anything," I admitted. Edward looked hurt that I owned up to the lie.
"Tell me exactly what you saw, please. Don't leave anything out," he asked. I sighed and sat down on the plush sofa.
"It was a memory, of last week – the party. I'd just been looking at photos when I was sending them to Renee, so it's not like it's completely out of the blue."
"A memory," Alice said evenly. "What happened, was it significant?"
I shook my head. "No, It was just of me dancing with Jess and Angela, from before Jake showed up with Quil and Embry. That's all."
Edward and Alice shared a look. "Seriously? That's it?" Alice said. She sounded disappointed.
"That's it. It wasn't even that exciting, just having fun and then it cut out and Edward was holding a wash cloth over my forehead." I puffed out a weary breath before Esme interrupted.
"Okay, I'm sure we'll figure this out, but you can't expect Bella to hold up to an interrogation on an empty stomach," she diffused, holding out her hand towards me. "Come on, Bella, let's get you some dinner."
I left them to their silent conversation as I followed her into the kitchen, thankful for the escape. Whatever was happening, it was scaring the hell out of me, and I felt the weight of everything all at once. Not only was I being hunted my a sadistic vampire hell-bent on revenge, I had been keeping my engagement from my best friend while he had been relentlessly trying to change my mind about being turned. I was keeping absolutely everything from my father, and now on top of everything else, I was blacking out at random times. I wondered when it would end, or if I'd just end up cracking from the pressure of it all. The rift with Jake was hardest to bear. After I'd punched him for forcing me into a kiss, he'd shown up at my graduation party and apologised. I was grateful that he'd shown the maturity – it seemed that more and more lately he just liked to push my buttons – but I was still wracked by guilt that my pursuit of happiness would end up ultimately hurting him.
I'd known Jake had felt strongly for me, but after he confessed to being in love with me, something changed between us. I knew that part of it was his refusal to hide his feelings – something that, as Charlie Swan's daughter, I was very good at. It was also that he was forcing me to face my own. I knew I loved Jake – I couldn't have survived the last year without him, but I simply didn't feel the same way for him as he did for me; there just wasn't enough of my heart to go around. Part of me worried more what he'd do once he found out that I was marrying Edward. I'd already committed to being turned, but Jake had always joked that it would take either a shotgun or a bomb threat to get me down the aisle. I didn't want to admit that it had been neither – just bribery.
I wanted to be like Edward so badly that I'd agreed to do something that was so out of my comfort zone, I'd broken out in hives the second Alice suggested going dress shopping. This wasn't me, and it never would be, but if it was what I had to do to be with Edward forever, then I'd do it. I just wished he'd be more accepting of Jacob and The Pack in my life. He'd made the point that I wouldn't be able to go to La Push after I was turned, and probably wouldn't be able to be around loved ones for several years, if ever, but was it so wrong of me to want to wring the last few weeks out of my time with them? Maybe I was just torturing myself, but the thought of never going to another bonfire again, never hanging out in Jake's garage or helping Emily cook for the troops had my stomach clenching in grief. The only time I got to see any of them these days was at the training sessions, and even then it was overshadowed with the guilt that all those full, happy lives were being put at risk for me. I didn't see how it was fair. After the amount of hurt I was about to inflict on Jacob, any one of those wolves was worth ten of me. Even Paul.
I pushed the mashed potatoes around my plate as Esme kept up the illusion that she wasn't watching me. The guilt was heightening, and my appetite wasn't the only thing that suffered. I gulped down more of my glass of water, willing the pounding in my head to subside, when I felt it coming on again. That feeling of floating, like my body was no more than an illusion as my mind drifted elsewhere. I squeezed my eyes shut, wanting it all to go away when a familiar scent hit me. It was welcoming and so missed that I found myself smiling involuntarily – gasoline and pine. Opening my eyes, I gasped sharply as I looked around myself. I was in Jake's garage, sitting on an upturned crate with an English textbook on my lap.
What the hell?
"Dammit, I am going to kick Em's ass for taking my stuff without asking," Jake grumbled.
I whirled round in shock at his voice – it no longer had the deep timbre he'd acquired since his wolfy growth spurt, and that wasn't the only thing that was different. He was shorter for one, with only about half the muscles he'd packed on in the last few months. More than that, my heart jumped as he turned to look at me – his hair, it was long and flowing past his shoulders, just like before he phased and had to be subject to Sam's attempts at hair care.
It was all so real I could practically taste the impending rain on the air.
"Can you see it, Bells? Maybe I'm not looking hard enough," he continued, bending down to look under the Rabbit for whatever he'd been complaining out.
"See what?" I stammered, not completely comprehending the question. I looked down at the notepad on my lap – January 23, 2006. What? I wasn't sure dreams went so far as to include dates; especially not inconsequential ones where all I did was hang out with Jake and do homework.
"My socket wrench. I swear it was here this morning," he said, frowning from his place on the ground. "I swear, those guys are more of a pain in my ass than anything. You know this one time, Quil got me detention for snapping a straight-edge on our history teacher's ass? She-"
"Thought it was you, and made you write an essay on the feminist movement and why women deserve respect," I said, finishing the story and frowning again at my notebook. Jake straightened up to look at me, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah... how'd you know that?" he said warily. I think he was worried I'd heard Quil's side of the story first.
"You told me," I replied, cocking my head in thought. Jake wrinkled his nose and jerked his head back in disbelief.
"Pretty sure I didn't, Bells. Don't tell me, you're some sort of psychic now? Cause I'll have to knock a year off your age for believing in that," he said. I looked away thoughtfully.
"You'd be surprised," I said, wondering how the hell this memory had managed to defer from the original – Jake had told me this story, but if the date was true, we hadn't been hanging out more than a few weeks. When would he have told me? And more importantly, why was it different the first time. Jake resumed his search as I got lost in my thoughts. This day had definitely happened, just not like it was now. It was almost as if my memory of it was changing the memory itself. I'd been deep in my Edward depression around this time, but right now, I felt nothing but nostalgia for this time with Jake, back before he didn't have to answer to Sam and he didn't know all my secrets. The noise of him moving his work bench brought me back to the moment, and something else came back into my mind.
"Hey Jake?" I said, looking behind myself at him.
"Yeah, Bells?" he said, still concentrating on the task.
"Check inside your book bag," I said. He frowned at me again, but followed the suggestion. A bright smile split his face as he held up the offending tool.
"Damn, maybe you are psychic," he said.
My whole body jerked forward, gasping for air as the pressure in my head reached boiling point. I opened my eyes suddenly, taking in the changed scene once again. I was on the Cullen's couch, lying down while four anxious pairs of golden eyes stared down at me. I blinked, wondering how the memory had been so vivid. I could still feel the indentation of the milk crate on the backs of my legs and butt. Edward took my hand, leaning in as he brushed a lock of hair out of my face.
"Bella, love, what happened?" he asked fearfully.
"I have no idea," I murmured.
A/N: Yeah, as you can see, another plot bunny hopped its way into my brain. You guys are probably sick of seeing my constant updates! Haha.I had a suggestion from a couple of my reviewers that I write a Bella/Embry story following the Regression out-takes, and I said that if the right idea came along I'd be more than happy to. This is my first story with this pairing, and as you can see, it's going to be pretty angsty. But I do promise to balance it out with humour, and lots of delicious Pack life. I couldn't write a fic without it! There will be a few changes to canon which facilitates the plot, but nothing so major that it's really, really AU.
In case some of you haven't figured it out, I'm borrowing from several extra sources for this story, mainly The Butterfly Effect, and the British TV series, Misfits. This idea came to me really randomly, and it's going to be pretty complicated to execute so bear with me while I work out the kinks. I've tweaked the timeline of Eclipse a little too, giving it at least a week before Jacob found out about Bella and Edward's engagement. Hope you guys don't mind, as there will be a few more tweaks coming up. This chapter was pretty hard to write for a first – eugh, so much Cullens.
Regression is still ongoing, but it seems to be a pattern with me that once the story gets to the stage where it's all wrapping up nicely and I have no more twists and turns up my sleeve, I'm no longer as hyped to post. I do promise it will be finished, though – just like Not Your Type was.
Hope you guys liked the prologue and first chapter, and let me know what you thought!