Hello! I'm back and super excited for this new story. I'm taking a shot at vampires, and it's like nothing I've done before so I'm kinda nervous. I hope you enjoy it.
Big thanks to dowlingnana for being a great beta!
I own nothing at all.
Thanks for reading!
Normal vampires do not experience jet lag, but as I trudge through the airport the urge to curl into a little ball and rest under a row of bench seats right there in the terminal is almost overwhelming.
The exhaustion is mental, not physical, another lovely part of my so-called ability. Carlisle calls it a gift. Aro calls it special. I call it a headache.
But it allows to me protect the ones I care about; the ones who give my unlife purpose.
I let myself enjoy being surrounded by beating hearts and pulsing veins for a moment as I walk at a painfully human pace. It's a delightful combination of scents, and I find it somewhat soothing, even if I have no urge to make any of them my meal.
Yet it's another example of my vampiric abnormality. I feel no blood lust. Never have. Not really.
One of the living, moving bodies in my general vicinity has tousled copper hair. Pain twists in my heart as I'm assaulted by a human memory of the man I once loved with everything I possessed.
What would he say? Knowing what I do now?
When I reach the exit I am unsurprised to see Alice and Carlisle both leaning against the silver Mercedes parked at the curb. They're here to take me home. No phone call on my part was needed to tell them I'd be arriving. That's what makes Alice special.
Well, as special as she can be with my freaky little ability mucking up her foresight.
Yes, I am unsurprised to see them here and also somewhat annoyed. I was looking forward to a good mind clearing run.
Alice rushes forward with a squeak, throwing her arms around my neck. I return her backbreaking hug, closing my eyes and letting her familiarity soothe me.
"You're back!" she exclaims, pointing out the obvious. "I know it was only ten days but I swear it felt like a year."
"It felt like a year to me too," I murmur. Alice winces, and nods in understanding. She sees my fatigue, understands my mental exhaustion, even if I keep the details of how I got this way. It will forever be my secret.
I don't know what my family would do if they truly understood the full extent of my arrangement with Aro.
I turn to Carlisle, the one exception to my secrecy. He was there when this all started. He knows just what I do for the vampire ruling elite.
He knows I have no choice. No sacrifice would be too great.
Carlisle gives me a sad smile and opens his arms. I go to him with speed that is slightly inappropriate given all the humans loitering about, but I don't have it in me to pretend to be like them in this moment.
I rest my forward against his chest as he hugs me harder than Alice. I let out a sigh, closing my eyes as I let his presence calm my head. Carlisle, knowing me better and longer than anyone, says nothing. He lets me have my moment undisturbed.
"Okay," I say, giving him an echo of a smile to let him know I'm relatively unharmed. As always, "Get me home."
"Yes, ma'am," Alice says, saluting me. I chuckle when she opens the door to the backseat with a flourish and a bow, holding it open as I slide in. She prances around to the driver's side as Carlisle takes the passenger side.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Alice asks, as always.
After all these years it's all become such a routine. From the moment Alice gets a vision that a member of the guard will be coming to collect me in the near future, to the moment I'm picked up at the airport somewhat against my will, it's always the same.
And I've gotten used to it. My little trips to Italy are familiar, if not comfortable.
"There's nothing to talk about, Alice," I assure her. "The whole thing was standard. The Volturi felt some rouge vamp might possibly expose us, they identified him as a threat with a dangerous ability, and I went there to shield the guard. Routine."
Alice gives a little huff, but doesn't push the issue. Like the rest of the family, she hates to see me go, worries I'm in danger, and recognizes that protecting a ruthless bunch of demons with my mind is not exactly ideal for my own well being.
But it's necessary, so extremely necessary.
I leave out the two days Aro demanded I spend with him in Volterra. Thankfully, I have enough control of my gift now that I'm able to prevent Alice from seeing the details of my future. It's complicated and imprecise, but thus far she's only seen my arrival and departure from Italy when I go on my little trips.
I think. It's difficult to really know what Alice has seen if she chooses to keep it to herself.
"Did I miss anything?" I ask as I lie down in the backseat. I curl myself into the fetal position and wrap my arms protectively around my head.
"Nope," Alice replies, "Just the usual good old nothing of Forks."
"Good old Forks," I murmur, pretending to drift into sleep. Because it's been such a long week, I even conjure my dream husband. I'm so good at this long practiced make believe of sleep and husband, the delusion feels real.
They give me peace for the remainder of the drive home.
When we arrive home several hours later I let Esme dote on me and hang out in the garage as Rosalie works on the beat up old Chevy I found abandoned on an equally abandoned road about a month ago. She calls it a challenge. I hunt with Emmett and allow Jasper to calm me down with his manipulative little gift.
Even with his sensitivity to emotion, over the years I've become very good at hiding what I feel from everyone, myself included.
Self-disgust and wariness kept at bay by a carefully constructed state of numbness.
Still, it's worth it. I have one priority in this strange unlife, and she's worth everything I have.
I stay close to our sprawling home deep in the Washington woods long enough to reassure them that I'm fine, that I'm here. Although being back with them is a relief, I'm twitchy with the need to go through my own cleansing ritual.
I need to run. I need to immerse myself in the crisp mountain air that smells like home.
After a day of this Carlisle places a hand on my shoulder, "Go," he whispers in my ear.
I don't need to be told twice.
My speed is unmatched by any vampire I've thus far come across, and it doesn't take me long to get deep into my woods. I'll run until I can manage to stop thinking about it.
Each time it's the same. Alice almost always has a vision, giving me some time – be it a few weeks or a few days – to mentally prepare myself. Some one comes to fetch me. If I'm lucky it's Felix and if I'm not then it will be Jane. I really fucking hate that sadistic bitch.
The feeling is most definitely mutual.
This time it was Demetri who showed up at our door. He might be the only shy vampire I've ever met but his company is almost pleasant.
Sometimes we meet the rest of the guard somewhere, sometimes it is straight back to Volterra. I use my ability to protect the group of vampire royalty and try hard to stay removed from the situation. Sometimes the threats are legitimate; usually it's just a lost "soul" trying to navigate immortality.
They all die – if you can even call it that.
When I'm done I meet alone with Aro. That's the worst part, the part that always has me running into the woods until I don't feel dirty and trapped anymore.
But what I feel is of very little consequence. I haven't mattered in a very long time. From the moment Carlisle turned me almost a century ago I've had one purpose. My arrangement with the Volturi protects what's mine. That's all I care about. I do whatever is required to make sure she's happy and healthy and whole.
And she is. For now.
This is the first summer I've let her be so far away. I'm sick with fear for her, but she's having a grand old time.
As I run through the woods, that heaviness that has been sitting right in my belly since Alice's first vision of Demetri coming for me almost two months ago gets a little lighter. Out here I feel free. The world becomes a comforting mass of green as I dodge trees and rocks without any thought. I visit all my favorite spots – jumping the river, running the edge of a large ravine, scampering up a cliff. I reach the end of what I consider my woods and then keep going. I slow as the sun comes up to climb the tallest tree and I can find a good view of it rising over the mountains.
I pause for only a few moments, letting myself focus on only this one beauty.
I don't stop running until I get well into Canada. It takes me that long to get the numbness back in place. Nothing hurts out here. That's how I know it's time to head back to Forks.
"Tanya called while you were running around in the woods," Rosalie informs me when I glide into the kitchen. My eyes immediately focus on the stack of unopened mail on the counter, and I find this much more interesting than a phone call from the leader of our sister coven.
"Oh?" I ask absently, sorting through the mail. Occasionally I'll get a beautiful calligraphy letter from Vanessa. Although we've adopted all the modern means of communication, e-mail, texts, and the like, Nessie loves a good old fashion letter. As do I.
"Yes," Rose continues, obviously annoyed she doesn't have my full and undivided attention. It's silly as my brain was built to multitask, but Rose will be Rose. "Pack your bags. Or I guess let Alice pack your bags. We're going to Alaska."
"Why?" I inquire dryly, disappointed that the mail contains only advertisements and bills. "I just got home."
"Apparently Tanya has fallen in love," Rose says sweetly, batting her eyelashes and making me laugh.
"Another human" I venture. Tanya's antics bore me. She has fallen in and out of love more than anyone I've ever come across. With a flare for the dramatic and a constant need to be the center of attention, Tanya has always gotten on my nerves but she is even worse when she claims to be in love.
She also thinks I'm a prude, and I've done nothing to dissuade her of this opinion.
Twenty years ago, Rosalie told Tanya that I was still hung up on my dead human husband, and the she-vamp has been impossible to be around since.
"Don't be silly," Tanya told me with a condescending pat on my head. "Humans can't even know true love. Their emotions are too simple. They aren't capable of feeling all that."
Ridiculous words given how many humans she's claimed to love. After five hundred plus years, you'd think she would be able to distinguish love and lust. I gladly take my version of true love over Tanya's. It's become her own personal mission to get me laid since then, and I do not appreciate her efforts.
"Nope, vamp this time," Rose informs me. "Apparently a group of nomads have been staying with them for a couple days. Tanya thinks this dude is her mate."
"Ha, right," I reply with a snort, leaning against the granite counter of the kitchen as I recall the number of times I've heard Tanya make this claim, at least thirty-seven. "Like we all haven't heard that before."
"I always forget that you hate Tanya," Rosie muses, just to bate me no doubt.
"I don't hate her. We just have nothing in common. And if I recall she isn't your favorite vampire either," I reply.
"Yeah, she brings out the bitch in me."
I bite my bottom lip to stifle my giggle. Almost everything brings out the bitch in Rosalie. My daughter is the one exception, and for this I truly love Rose, bitchiness and all.
"Although it's fun to have a party girl around every once and awhile," Rose continues.
"I'm totally not going," I declare. I hate parties. I hate crowds. I hate how much energy I'm forced to expend faking happiness in such situations. "I'm tired."
"Yes you fucking are," Rose snaps, leaping up from her seat at the kitchen table and descending upon me menacingly. "If I have to go, you have to go. Everyone is going. It's a mandatory family outing. And vampires don't get tired, you little freak."
"I don't want too," I say because this seems like a damn good reason.
"You'll be closer to Ness."
"No I won't."
"Urg—"My incomprehensible groan is interrupted by the matriarch of our little family.
"Listen to your sister," Esme says, gracefully entering the room with Carlisle in tow. "We all leave tonight."
"Bella, I believe the Denali's have slightly different reasons for inviting us north," Carlisle says before I can argue.
"Other than Tanya rubbing her latest love in my face, you mean?" I ask sardonically. My father rolls his golden eyes at me before continuing as if I didn't speak.
"These nomads that have been lingering, two male and one female, live a more traditional vampire lifestyle," he explains as the rest of the family drifts into the kitchen. I can tell that this is only new information to me, and everyone has agreed to go north while I was running. "One male, the one Tanya fancies, and the female seem very interested in our lifestyle, but Eleazar does not trust the third companion."
"So we're going to provide a little muscle." Emmett interjects, strutting across the kitchen and obnoxiously flexing his biceps. He earns a smack on the back of the head from Rose for his efforts. The move would have clearly decapitated a human. Luckily, Emmett – and all of us for that matter – is much more durable than that.
"Yes, we are going to provide security for our extended family while encouraging the interest of these nomads in our lifestyle," Carlisle concludes.
"Fine," I reply, crossing my arms over my chest and scowling at my family. "I guess I'm in. How are we getting there?"
"We're driving to Seattle and then flying to Anchorage and then driving the rest of the way. I've already taken care of all the arrangements," explains Alice, beaming with her excitement in planning shit.
Well, fuck that.
"I'll run," I insist, hating the thought of getting back on a plane so soon.
"I'll go with you," says Carlisle. "I don't want you running all that way alone, especially with these strangers in the area."
I roll my eyes at his whole overprotective dad routine, but don't complain. Alice's spotty and unreliable visions when it comes to me make Carlisle nervous. He'll slow me down a little, but it's not like I'm in a huge rush to see Tanya all over some poor unsuspecting fool.
I'll pop in on Ness at snowboarding summer camp on my way back. She'll accuse me of smothering her, but she's lucky I let her go so far at all. My daughter will just have to deal.
"I've already packed everything you could possibly need," titters Alice, grinning at me.
After stuffing a few pairs of jeans, several t-shirts, and a pair of tennis shoes in my stunningly large suitcase, I call my daughter. Again.
She didn't pick up when I called her the moment I got back into Forks, but I forced myself not to freak out about it. If anything happened to Nessie, I would know.
"Ciao, Mamma," Nessie shouts into the phone, picking up after only one ring. She may be ninety-five, but developmentally she's only about thirteen. Both body and spirit age seven times slower than a human child.
"Hello, my darling daughter. How are you?"
"Awesome! I went off my first jump today. It was so cool."
Nessie makes me laugh, as she usually does. If it wasn't for her light, I would be completely dead inside. She is all I have left of him and my only real reason for existing at this point. My love died almost a century ago and most vampires could not survive such a loss. But most vampires don't have children.
I listen to Nessie chronicle her adventures with her fellow campers, laughing and commenting at appropriate times.
"Ma, what are you doing? Where have you been? Why haven't you been calling to bug me every three seconds?" she asks. I stifle a sigh. Ness has always been one for the drama.
And usually I limit my calls to once a day. My travels made that difficult.
"I just got back from Italy," I tell her, trying not to worry too much about her being a state away. She's safe. I've done everything that's been asked of me. "I called you the moment I got back but you, my love, failed to answer."
"Mom, I was on the mountain." The duh is apparent in her voice. "Jake said he'd call you."
"Jake," I spit out, "is an idiot."
An idiot I trust with my daughter's life, but still an idiot who can't manage to return a simple phone call.
"Mom, relax. What could possibly happen? We're both almost as indestructible as you." For some reason the annoyance I hear in her voice makes me smile.
"I'm your mother. It's my lot in life to worry about you."
"Was Italy bad? Are you tired?" she asks.
"I wasn't there long," I murmur, not wanting to think about it.
"What did they have you doing this time?"
"Oh, the usual," I say dismissively. I'm so good at pretending it's a little alarming. "I was keeping everyone safe from even scarier monsters."
"You never tell me anything," she whines. I can picture the pout in her expression that matches that tone, clear as day in my head.
"Really, Ness, there is nothing to say. I don't like being away from home and it's mildly disturbing being around those who have no regard for human life, but it's fine, really."
"I'm your daughter. It's my lot in life to worry about you."
"What else have you been doing with yourself?' she asks. "Running around the woods and avoiding everyone?"
"Yes, it was something just like that," I reply. "Actually, that's why I'm calling. I just thought I should let you know that the family is going to Denali for an undecided amount of time. We leave tonight."
"Aw, lucky!" she exclaims. "I haven't seen them in forever. Oh, I really miss Kate and Carmen and Irina, Eleazar and Tanya, too. I guess. Are you excited?"
I fill her in on the situation up north, and we chat for a few more minutes before hanging up. I take a really long shower and then I crawl into my huge unnecessarily plush bed, pretending to sleep next to him for a while before Carlisle drags me north.
"Are you going to behave yourself?" Carlisle asks as we approach the Denali's cabin-inspired mansion. We're just out of hearing range of the multitude of vampires inside.
"Of course, Father," I reply. "I am nothing if not polite, poised, and courteous."
He has the audacity to snort at me.
We both catch the scent at the same time, turning towards the east.
"Eleazar," Carlisle says. "He must be at the lake. I'm going to meet him, have a word in private. Tell Esme, will you?"
"Yeah, yeah of course I will."
I approach the front door and inhale taking stock to those lounging inside. Rose, Em, Jasper, Alice, and Esme all beat us here, probably because Carlisle and I stopped for a quick caribou snack.
It was delicious, sort of.
I also recognize the scent of Kate, Irina, and unfortunately Tanya. Her high-pitched laugh has me cringing before I even see her.
There is only one scent I can't place, which is strange because it's oddly familiar. My vampire brain remembers everyone I've ever encountered, and for a brief moment, I worry something is wrong with me. I dismiss this inane thought because I'm a fucking perfect immortal.
"Oh, good," I hear Esme say. "Carlisle and Bella are here. You'll just love talking to my husband, Edward."
Edward. The name has pain tearing through my still heart, even after all these years. Although he is always in the back of my mind (and the front more than is really healthy), I can't bear to even think the name because it just hurts too much.
Hearing it now has my steps faltering. I pause with my fingers on the handle of the front door, doing my best to collect myself.
I'm going to hate this nomad and his interest in our vegetarian lifestyle. Taking a deep breath, I open the front door.
I take in everything at once, but the only thing I can really focus on is the immortal leaning against the mantle above the fireplace.
It's his face, his hair, his long, lithe body. High cheek bones, sharp jaw line. Tousled bronze locks.
This cannot be happening.
I'm vaguely aware of the conversation flowing around me, but for the first time in my ninety-five years of vampirism, my whole consciousness focuses on one thing. It's like I'm on the verge of passing out, and all I can see, hear, think is him.
The twisted, wrapped version of the man I knew my whole human life has invaded every nook and cranny of my being.
The whole thing is extremely vexing and rips my whole world wide open.
A ninth of a second feels like several lifetimes, but that's how long it takes for this ghost of my past to turn his gaze towards me. I brace myself for emerald eyes and am horrified to see pale red instead.
They are all wrong, red and horrible.
He looks like my husband. He smells like my husband, sort of. He shares my husband's name, but there is no conceivable way that he could actually be my husband. There is no way. The universe is just punishing me for being a demon, a soulless monster, by torturing me with visions of a person that no longer exists.
This is my hell.
But my brain still works really fast, and I figure out the only possible answer a millisecond after he turns to drink me up with his eyes. The world snaps back into clarity when I find the solution.
He stares at me with a bone melting familiarity before approaching me slowly. It's like all I've never dared to hope for in this second life is coming to fruition. And all I can manage to do is gape at him. By some impossible stroke of fate, he's here. It takes far too long for him to reach me, and he continues to look at me with wary red eyes. His beauty is even greater than I remember, or maybe that's just the vampire thing. My breath gets stuck in my lungs as I analyze everything about him while he approaches.
I want to tell him I love him but my voice gets stuck in my throat. I want to jump into his arms but it feels like my limbs are made of lead.
I'm overwhelmed. My still heart is too full. Joy and shock have me paralyzed.
His gait is the same, as is the tiny furrow between his eyebrows, indicating that he is thinking hard. I expect him to pinch the bridge of his nose or run his fingers through his hair at any moment.
I want him to cradle me against his chest and kiss my temple and call me love.
He gets so close I feel the long absent electric charge crackle between the inches that separate us. The sensation is amplified, much more intense that what exists in my human memories, and we aren't even touching yet. I tilt my face up, anticipating and craving his touch, preferably in the form of a passionate kiss as he bends his head slightly.
I am dazzled. I am undone. I am so willing to accept this and be with him again.
His eyes narrow as he studies me, and I'm on the brink of jumping his bones when he finally speaks.
"What's wrong with you?" he asks, his tone somewhere between wonder and irritation. His smooth voice is even more melodic then I remember, but this again can be attributed to the vampirism combined with the dullness of my human memories.
It takes me a full three seconds to realize that his first words to me in the better part of one hundred years are not those of love and adoration, but instead are questioning my sanity.
"What?" I snap, narrowing my eyes at him and resisting the urge to shove him away from me, Or to mount him. I can't tell the difference.
"I can't… what are you thinking? Why are you so silent? How are you doing that?" he demands, still sounding in awe.
"Doing what?" I reply. Maybe I'm wrong. This can't be my boy. My boy is smart and this vampire stranger is clearly a moron.
"Keeping me out of your head," he continues somewhat breathlessly. He looks so awestruck, so much like he used to when he was about to kiss me. So why in the fuck isn't he touching me already?
His gaze is painfully intense and he cocks his head to the side as he studies me.
"Edward," I whine, seamlessly slipping back in to old patterns even after all this time. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"He can read minds," Alice says helpfully from somewhere in the general vicinity.
Without even thinking about it, I reach out to my family, protecting them with my special shield. It's second nature when some unknown entity with special skills is around and I extend my protection out to the rest of my family instinctually.
Jasper winces, now exposed to the full fury of my raging and conflicting emotions. Oh well. He'll just have to deal.
"What the hell?" Edward yells, jumping in surprise. "Where did everyone go?"
"I'm a shield," I explain, talking quickly and dismissively with my impatience. He is focusing on the wrong thing. Why is he marveling at my ability while he should be marveling at the fact that we are miraculously standing in the same room after one hundred years of separation?
Also, he can read minds? What the fuck?
"A shield," he repeats.
"Yes," I snap, really getting irritated now. Maybe I should just kiss him? Is that too forward? There really is no established etiquette for this situation, and although I'm trying to follow his lead, I'm getting bored of the route real quick.
"Who are you?" he murmurs with amazement and my whole world shifts for the second time in less than five minutes.
He doesn't remember.
He has no idea.
"Bella," I say, taking a step back and looking at him in horror. He doesn't remember. He doesn't know me.
"Bella," he repeats, his lips slowly turning into that half smirk I adore. "Have we met before? You seem somewhat familiar."
Someone laughs, commenting on the nature of vampire memories.
In my horror, I can't really understand the meaning of words.
I take another step of retreat, my back hitting the closed front door. I can't seem to answer. How do I explain our whole human life together? He doesn't remember me and this knowledge is almost as painful as thinking he was gone forever.
Tanya chooses this moment to make her presence known.
"Oh, Bella!" she shrieks, rushing over and pulling me into a hug. I'm so surprised by her affection and his sudden reappearance and the universe in general, that I just blink and stay stiff in her arms. "It's so good to see you, darling. It's been far too long."
I glance pleadingly at my various family members, who look either highly amused or highly concerned. Tanya hugs me a little too tightly in silent warning, and I suddenly understand her attention.
He is Tanya's latest love.
I feel frozen. Well, more frozen.
"Anyway," Tanya says as she pulls away. "I see you've met Edward. Isn't he just the greatest?"
She hooks her arm through his and I gag a little, still never breaking eye contact with the man I once new better than I knew myself.
Edward is Tanya's latest love.
I can't be here anymore.
I need to leave before she has another chance to open her slutty mouth to talk like she knows my boy. Mine.
The whole situation is all too much and I take off. I run and I run and I run, trying to clear my head, trying to bring back some understanding to my existence.
So a lot is happening here. We're moving right along! So what do you think of Bella? Nessie? Poor, confused Edward? Reviews are lovely and so are you! See you next time. It shouldn't be too long.