SAFE AND SOUND
I would have never known to be this strong, if you had not made me weak.
I wasn't running away.
"Do it quickly, dammit!" I scolded myself, failing to zip up my toiletry bag, fingers trembling and vision blurring even though my thick lens glasses were propped steadily on my nose.
The bag jumped out of my grasp, performing a single cartwheel in the air as my tooth brush, toothpaste and skin cleanser broke free-before clattering on the bathroom floor, the other escaped contents serenading its landing.
I jumped away from the sound, my heart pushing ferociously against my chest. I had to stay calm; I had to slow my breathing.
I wasn't running away.
So what if I had grown up here? Fallen in love here and had my heart broken here too? Did it matter that this was all I knew and the sunny places after the perpetual cloud cover I lived in could wield demons of a different kind? Could there be demons of a different kind?
"Don't think like that, Angela!" I groaned, dropping to my knees hard, pain flashing from the sudden impact. I squeezed my eyes shut all I saw was Isabella's red eyes. "Just contacts, Angela, not her eyes" I murmured to this weaker side off me that was content to curl in a ball right here in my too pink bathroom and never move again.
One too many times I had a broken heart, too few times I felt love and a migraine too painful ending in black outs of late... I was simply taking an extended possibly never ending vacation. Away from Forks, coincidentally. Away from anything cold. Or pale. And especially beautiful this had nothing to do with the Cullen's.
I wasn't running away.
"Shit" I stopped my folding of clothes and froze over the suitcase. The soft rapping on the front door continued, the sound fleeting up the stairs to my tenses ears.
It carried on without a break and I laughed at how silly I was being. When had Isabella ever knocked? Or called to say she was 'popping by'? She appeared like a spectre. A nightmare. My sanities tormentor with her hard smile and flat red eyes.
Contacts, Angela! I hissed to myself, cantering down the stairs. They are just bloody red contacts.
I moved slowly through the lounge, glaring briefly at the lumpy plastic covered furniture. I would send that to the twins for their bachelor pad. Although I shouldn't be promoting their single lifestyle in their late twenties. Single was for the lonely. Single was being lonely. And I found out too late how dangerous it could be too.
I didn't even have the excuse of being a divorcee. There had been no wedding; there had been no marriage and certainly no Fiancé. There was the high school sweetheart; there was the one night stand while I was drunk out of my mind and the heartbreaking four year relationship with a married man...
"NO!" I shrieked, the moment I swung the door open and found myself gazing into flat black eyes encased in lavender eyelids and captured perfectly like Michelangelo's marble angels. Only they were not angels no, maybe in disguise... but underneath, none of them were angels.
"Angela" she gripped the door before I had even raised my hand to slam it in her angel-faced underlying demon form.
"No..." I choked, backing away and shaking my head vehemently. She entered calmly-startling me with how very human she kept her grace (I was expecting teleportation-like movements. That I come to expect since Isabella...)
She closed the door carefully behind her. She cast her dark eyes at my covered furniture, then at the many cardboard boxes littered on the floor and then finally, with a delicately raised eyebrow-she looked at me.
"Where would you go, Angela?" she asked softly-her voice was the same tinkling bell from high school "Texas?" she answered in the same breath. It didn't surprise me that she knew the answer even though I had not told a soul. I doubt I had really told myself, come to think of it.
"She will find you there" she stated-and this too didn't surprise me "She will kill you, Angela. Or worse" this too wasn't any sudden bit of information I had failed to come up to. I had mulled over this during my escape-no, vacation plans.
"Don't you want to know what is worse?" she asked, her dark eyes still wide "You think death is as bad as it gets" she smiled. She wasn't playing a guessing game with me-she knew through and through.
"Well, it isn't Angela" she said sadly.
"Being a red eyed demon" Alice Cullen finished grimly "That's as bad as it gets"
And finally, surprise and shock took me over and my jaw dropped.
"Tell me as much as you know and can remember, Angela"
"And what?" I kept my expression cold "You will protect me? And only if I give you what you want?"
"I will protect you because many years ago..." Alice Cullen smiled "You were a girl with horned rim glasses, atrocious fashion sense but a heart big enough to include my family when you had no need to"
"Family" I scoffed-tried to scoff anyway, the sound came out high pitched.
"You really don't have to tell me anything, Angela" she gave her small smile-but something in her eyes remained positive that her request would fall through eventually.
"And I wont tell you!" I yelled, rising from the kitchen table in fake bravado although my anger was so intermingled with my fear of her small white form sitting calmly in my kitchen.
"You know why I wont tell you?" I demanded, my lips pulled in a cynical sneer-who cared if it was slightly manic, my sanity was something unhinged because of these... these Cullen's.
"Because we are working with her-after all, we made her pale and beautiful like ourselves. The Bella you knew somehow died when she married Edward?" she quoted my thoughts perfectly before I had a chance to voice them out. I stared at her, my mouth hanging open.
"But you see, Angela" Alice folded her hands delicately over the tabletop, an expression resembling weariness fighting to remain on her gorgeous fairy-like face. She closed her eyes and inhaled a careful breath before opening them with such heart-breaking regret and sadness swimming in their inky depths that when she finally uttered the words:
"She isn't a par of us and we are not a part of her", I was sold.
Hook, line and sinker. And didn't it make crystal sense then?
"Red eyes" I fell back into the chair, muscles releasing in painful relief.
"Our eyes..." Alice said seriously "Are not red, as you well know and drop the self delusions Angela, you know it has nothing to do with contacts"
"Make no mistake; she will either turn you into what we are or kill you" she answered my unworded question "And no, we are not demons. Not really"
"Why does it matter to you if I die or... worse" I asked her softly, it felt like she was lifting up a ton of concrete off my chest "No bull about past friendships that had centred around Isabella"
"Honestly?" Alice asked. I nodded and she took in a breath "If she does manage to turn you, and you become what we are... my family will be doomed"
"How could I possibly..."
"I don't know how" she cut me "But it will end in violent blackness
The drive out of town was different to how I had envisioned it for three days since I had sold the Mercedes and purchased the Volkswagen. I had expected deafening silence, I had expected paranoia and more importantly (it was easier to admit this now that I was seated next to Alice in the Lamborghini, cruising to God knows were and assured that I would be arriving there whole), I had expected death.
I had packed everything, arranged for a tenant to take lodge in my house and sold all the unnecessary or given it away. The car was bought that would be economical for fuel and the housing paid for in Texas. All of this had been done, but I hadn't expected to survive the very journey. I had nightmares of her in those three days; she would appear in the middle of the lonely highway, her gown flowing like fire from hell about her and those red eyes staring at me. A cruel smile on her red lips and that Volkswagen I got would turn into my coffin, and Isabella would be my undertaker.
Alice doesn't say much and I suppose it's because I haven't asked her much as yet. Occasionally her eyes glass over and I know she isn't watching the road but her pace remains steady and straight. She hasn't changed, nothing about her has changed-her hair maybe shorter but that could just be the style she has worn it in. I suppose what I am seeing is physical stagnancy... she is the same sure, but after an hour of travelling, I notice other things.
Maybe her skin is much smoother, maybe its whiter and maybe her eyes have a different depth too them. She isn't the bubbly quirky girl from high school who made it a habit to 'dance' from class to class. She is a woman in there, and something more...
"We are going to have to change cars" she sighs. "Maybe something a little less flashy"
"You haven't really told me where we are heading?" I ask her and she smiles slightly. All her smiles are somewhat sad; they fail to reach her dark eyes (I am not sure I want to know why they are black and not the tawny colour I remember).
"You don't need to know" she smiled "Not yet. But I can tell you we are going to where my family is"
"I just told you she isn't a part of us, Angela" she said quickly, looking at me sternly for a minute-ignoring the road but overtaking a slow truck easily without so much as blinking "It's a case of safety in numbers"
"Why are you certain she is coming for me for that particular purpose?" I asked her. Maybe she knew the same way I did; how many times can you stare into the devils eyes before being consumed by hells fires.
"I fell upon your future..." Alice said and it bothered me how apologetic she sounded. She looked away and I did the same. I watched as the world zoomed past us. She was watching my future; now, that was easy to believe considering everything.
"Ever since we found out she had visited you, I have been watching" Alice continued "When you came by our house and Edward..."
"I remember the day" I said. "Well, she came again"
"She... came... again?" she asked slowly, watching me from the corner of her eye.
"Yes" I said softly. "This is the first visit from her that I remember completely; without migraines and memory loss"
""She came again!" she growled, her tiny white fingers gripping the steering wheel angrily "And I didn't see? And here you are... alive. With a beating heart"
I frowned in confusion but remained silent. She was pissed, angry... maybe it at Isabella but it was still confusing.
"You remember because all of Joham's children were with him" Alice said in a disgusted tone "No Flora or the other one, the one who steals memories"
"I don't know what you are talking about"
"I know, but it doesn't matter" she said in a softer voice, smoothing her expression "What did she want Angela?"
"She wanted to know how long you had gone away for and where to?"
"Now why would she think you would know that?!"
"I don't know" I mumbled. "But I don't think that she comes to Forks to source information only. She comes to drive me insane. To torment me"
"What does she say to you?" Alice asked softly-in a hollow voice.
"This is the only time I remember clearly" I said frowning "And she didn't really talk about anything of importance, she just..."
Refused to leave my house when I begged her to, watching me eat with glaring anger filled eyes and what had broken my feeble hold on controlling my fear... was when she gave me a haircut. I touched the beanie sitting warm and snug on my head with a shaky hand.
"She terrifies me" I whispered-voice quaking and pitching "She is insane. She is evil... she stayed at my house for a week until those evil eyes had turned to coal. And in those days, I could not leave nor could I allow visitors. She killed my cat"
"How did she kill your cat?" Alice asked in a tiny voice, pulling into a service station. She parked the car in front of the convenience store and continued to stare out the window the way she had been while driving. Like there was something in the distance that frightened her but she was determined to plough through. She wouldn't look at me and wore something similar to guilt on her face.
"I don't know" I said. "It was dead and had a gash by its throat"
"You say she stayed for a week?"
"A whole week" I murmured. "She... she insisted on bathing me. She insisted on..."
I stopped and let the hot tears fall over my cheeks. The rest of what Isabella 'insisted on' had stripped me of integrity and comfort of my own body. It hadn't been mine, in the end. It had belonged to no one, this body...
"Don't cry Angela!" Alice begged, her hand hovering over my face. A cold finger touched my cheek and I flinched violently away.
"Do not touch me!" I hissed, pushing against the closed car door. "Don't you ever fucking touch me you... you...!"
"I apologise" she stated stonily. She gave me a minute to compose myself, watching the outside of the car-the people moving by, the different cars driving in and out. "Would you care for something to eat? I tend to forget about such things; Edward is... well, he is better at it than I am"
"You don't eat" I scoffed "Like her, I know it. I remember it from school"
"Do you want me to eat, Angela?" she asked, that sad smile ghosting over her lips. It almost made me remorseful for my outburst. Almost... but her eyes were still black coal sitting in white desolate planes No matter if I believed her or not. Red eyed or amber. She was an 'it' and I wasn't about to let that go.
That's what had led me to being Isabella's living Barbie Doll, after all. Such naivety born out of having a coddling Priest for a father who overcompensated for my mother's early departure from this 'earthly life'. None of that; and I had made damn sure of it with my brothers.
"I can eat to put you at ease" Alice smiled. I shook my head. "Oh, okay. Do you want to come in the store with me?"
I opened the car door awkwardly without answering her, it made a whoosh sound and propped upwards. It did the same thing when I pushed it downwards. She waited patiently for me to walk around the car to her and we went in together in the store.
"Oh" she breathed while her eyes did their rapid blinking before glassing over dance. She had been in the middle of asking me what crisps I would like. She had picked the very ones I liked in fact, smiling sheepishly before asking me if I liked them. Like she had forgotten she shouldn't know that and in an effort to make me more comfortable with her (I was still refusing to let that make me feel bad) she had asked.
"We will be driving a Toyota truck" she announced, dropping the crisps in the basket swinging on her small arm "I hope you don't mind; it really isn't as fast and smooth"
"No, I don't mind" I said. She smiled again, and remained silent after that-paying for the basket full of junk food, opening the car door for me and driving about thirty minutes out of the little town we had passed through with the stereo on.
Like she promised, we got the Toyota truck.
Well, she got it. Stole it I suspect and she seemed very proud of how fast she brought it and I didn't bother asking her why the doors where still locked even though she managed to move it from point A to Z. She said in an eerie tone, tugging at my door once, a sick metal squelching erupting from the inside although she appeared to open it freely "I won't be asking Edward to get me this for Christmas like last time..." and then added glumly while wiring the car to a start "I really hope we celebrate Christmas"
It spooked me how absolutely fragile she seemed, pained and troubled. Demons were not like this. Demons had red glow in the dark eyes, they had perfectly charming and inviting smiles... they didn't talk about things with such wilting despair and worry about not being able to see the future clearly.
But it could have all been a trick.
God, had I gotten so used to suspicion and the safety of my paranoia that the thought of it being anything else was inconceivable? Or worse, I wanted it to desperately be a trick, for us to reach our destination and have Isabella waiting for us... because I could understand that. I was so used to fear...
God, let it be a trick. Please.
We arrived eventually after maybe a day of travelling. Or less. It would have been longer had she not driven endlessly from Forks to the backwater town we arrived in the dead of night. The pit stop she announced around the same time I had a call of nature couldn't even be counted in denting the time.
"Here you go" she murmured, producing a single key from the top pocket of her blouse. It was cold, wherever we where-but it was that kind of windy chill that let me know morning would definitely bring the sun.
She opened the door and swung it open for me, smiling back at me as she stepped into the apartment of the crappy building she had parked the Toyota in front off. I followed her drained, sitting and sleeping for hours on end in a car didn't constitute as any form of rest.
The light flashed on with a click from somewhere beside me but when I turned, expecting to see her standing small and beautiful by the light switches, she wasn't there. "I hope you like navy" she said from the other end of the lounge, drawing the curtains shut.
She turned around smiling. "You will be safe here, Angela"
"Are you staying with me?" I asked her and flinched when it came out hopeful. When it came out desperate and needy.
"No" she said and I pursed my lips shut to stop from begging her not to go. Not to leave me in this too quiet building, in this town surrounded by farms and located in the middle of no where.
"But..." she said cheerfully and my eyes went wide as if to snatch in every bit of hopeful light "I am staying here. My family is staying here. And if you need anything... you can just call"
"I thought when you said you where all together you meant I would be with you?"
"Trust me..." she chuckled morosely "Being with us, at present... would be counter productive to your mental recovery from Isabella"
Of course she was right. I didn't want to be with them because I wanted company so badly... I just hoped their added bodied might slow her down. I couldn't say I recognised this person I was, but she was constantly at war the side of me that wanted to bitch slap Isabella across the face and tell her to go to hell. But that would have been like telling her to go home...
"There is a phone in the drawer of you bedside table" she said moving towards the door, preparing to leave me here alone "I don't need to tell you to only call the numbers on it. That would be mine as for now, the others are... well, if you think you are up to knowing everything... that you can handle it. Maybe you can have lunch at our place someday?"
"You'll let me know soon" she said. It was a statement and not a question. "Try and sleep well, Angela. I promise you, you are safe"
"Why didn't Edward..." I asked in a small voice "I mean, he was... I was a lot more close I guess... I just expected if there would have been anyone to come in and well, intervene with the Isabella. It would have been him"
"It was him" she said, her face a hard mask-as if she thought loosening it would cause it to fall apart and reveal something shameful "In a way. You see Angela, as much as we try and be good... being good is really trying to us. Because sometimes you get so used to being good that when it calls on you to be bad, you are the worst"
"I don't understand?"
"I didn't have to be looking out for your future" she said revealing that shamed look"I had a lot on my plate. But he begged me; he didn't want Isabella to hurt you because of him"
"It wasn't his fault..." I began and remembered my mantra to not relate to them.
"Masochistic even when he is lying in pieces" she sighed cryptically. "Besides, I sort of broke my promise to him. I was the worst. Selfishly the worst. I should have seen Isabella come to you again"
"Why didn't you?"
"Because when my Jasper was away from me, when Edward came back torn up and other things you wouldn't understand..." she said imploring me with her eyes to understand her, to understand something gruesome and true "I couldn't deal with anything else. I shut it all out and looked only to those around my heart. And then this one day, when I was too sad to worry about concentrating on anything... I saw you dead. And I panicked, because of course I remembered what I had promised Edward... so I looked again, and this time, you were staring at me with red demented eyes. And when I looked again, you were dead. And it continued switching between dead and undead till I made sense that it was uncertain..."
"Whether I would live or die" I said quietly and she nodded.
"And I told him what I saw, and he begged me to get you. To keep you safe-but of course that's what I wanted too" she finished "And here we are"
"I still don't know why you say he is broken and torn when..." I began and she shushed me gently.
"Sleep, Angela" she murmured. "When you are ready to make that lunch date, when you think you are strong enough to be a part of our world-although, I advice you to keep well away and enjoy the quaintness of our present environment-then you will understand. And then there will be no unlearning what you understand"
She left and I quickly went to the windows in front of the lounge-the ones with the navy curtains-expecting to see her pulling out in the Toyota. It was parked there, beside a sedan, just like we left it. She stood still, just behind it and waved tersely and I thought I saw a smile on her lips. That same sad smile. And then she casually walked towards the trees growing freely at the other side of the road-these were strong and denser trees than the Forks trees-and with one final glance, she was out of my sights.
Even with all her imploring for me to sleep, that I was safe... I dreamt of Isabella Swan (for if she wasn't of the Cullen's, and they weren't for her... then she was really still just a plain old 'Swan'). She was watching me while I trembled in a bath filled with ice cold water; her fingers dipping under the water till they cupped my calf in a slimy cold hold.
She watched with red eyes. Then she smiled with red lips. And when she smiled further, enjoying my fear and taking pleasure from my pain, her lips pulled sensuously away from her teeth. Jagged, yellow shards were what they revealed when they were stretched to capacity in a cruel grin.
"Angela" she crooned. "Such an angel... such a lovely delicious Angel..." and just like that, her mouth widened gruesomely to something deformed, shark-teeth glinting in the light and her black hole swallowing me whole.
WELCOME TO THE CORNERS OF IMMORTALITY.
If you are confused, by the happenings, you might want to read They Set Out to Kill Fate.
What to expect from this-a lot of character change from Charles. You might not recognise him, so be prepared to yell if you have become attached.