~In Another Life~
The Cullen family left Bella in the forest. In this story they didn't come back to forks. Bella ended up a vampire. She's now a feared member of the Volturi. She's got a daughter, and she's had no contact with the Cullens for almost a century. But the best laid plans of mice and men...
Title: In Another Life
Rating: Mature - Some violence, sexual situationss, and occasional coarse language
Genres: Drama, Suspense, Action, Romance, Family
Canon Status: Alternate Universe (divergent from the moment Edward left Bella in New Moon)
~ Chapter One ~
Every single night the same arrangement
I go out and fight the fight.
Still I always feel the strangest strangement
Nothing here is real, nothing here is right.
I've been making shows of trading blows
Just hoping no one knows
That I've been going through the motions
Walking through the part.
Nothing seems to penetrate my heart
The curved hallway was already clear as the cloaked and hooded figure stalked through it, her very presence intimidating. Her posture, the tilt of her shoulders, and her aggressive gait made it clear that she had neither the time nor inclination to stop and talk with anyone. This was one of the reasons why no one even attempted to get in the way, the other was her reputation, which was such that the guard knew better than to bother her in the slightest. In the past three quarters of a century, she had been the cause of many of their number having to literally be pieced back together, when training sessions got a little too intense, they made the mistake of outright challenging her, or worst of all on those rare occasions that one of them was foolish enough to actually anger her. Her violent temper had made most feel the need to dance on egg shells around her. It didn't help that the ancient hallways were barely wide enough to accommodate a single person going in each direction if they hugged to the wall. She didn't even notice that she took up the entire space, since no one had gotten in her way in a long time.
"I'm hoping for Australia, I'm *so* done with winter right now. Where do you think we're going to end up this time? I'm guessing the States are a problem again, cause I know Jane and Alec just took off not too long ago. That place seems like it needs visits regularly. Wanna place bets on where Aro sends us?" Eliza sent Isabella with a touch of playfulness through their peculiar connection, which was one part telepathy and one part physical bond.
They shared thoughts, memories, and sensations effortlessly along an ethereal tether. To them it was as natural as feeding. Eliza had desperately wanted to go along for the summons, but Isabella had refused since Eliza's mood at the moment was bordering on insolent. When she got like that, it was best to keep her away from Caius, who's impatience was legendary.
Eliza sighed outwardly, resting her chin on her hands which were balanced on the big windowsill of their shared room. The sharply angled rooftops of Volterra were always a welcome sight to her, but a tiresome one. She had been staring at the same view for nearly three-quarters of a century. Isabella tried to ignore her daughter's melancholy mood, and instead focused on the situation ahead of her. She didn't even acknowledge the secretary as she strode by, although she did glance at her once as she pulled back her hood. The exquisitely beautiful, short, raven haired woman stood up respectfully at her passing. Isabella flinched inwardly, she looked too much like someone she didn't want to think about from her human past. And the passing resemblance made her scowl. She was half tempted to mention her displeasure to Aro, but she had no doubt that another would soon take her place, since she was just the latest in a very long line of secretaries, a position that mostly ended up ending when they were used as meals.
"Does it matter Eliza? It's not exactly like we need to worry about parkas except for show, and you don't tan so what's the difference? Would you prefer it if we stayed here, with nothing to do for months on end?" Isabella's slightly playful response was a positive sign, at least to Eliza. It meant her mother was ready to get out again, which meant she would have a measure of patience this time around. If she had been emotionless like normal, they would go, kill, and come back without so much as a shopping trip.
Isabella could immediately feel the response floating back along the link they shared, the mocking disgust at just sitting around. Elizabeth was her daughter, even if they didn't share DNA. Isabella had frequently wondered if she would be as close to Eliza if she were simply her birth mother. Their connection was far more complicated, especially given the circumstances surrounding Eliza's conversion.
It was easy to tell there was a physical connection between the two. Their pale faces had the same structure, except for a couple of minor differences. Their dark hair was of similar cut and length, even though they styled it differently. To human eyes, the two women did look more like teenagers, and they could easily be identified as close relations, not quite identical to the most attentive of eyes but most definitely siblings. Their eye color was what really set them apart though; Eliza's eyes were a deep violet which stood in stark contrast to Isabella's which were a dark red.
Eliza had been a captive all her short life until Isabella found her on one of her first missions. What occurred that night was still a matter of debate among the few that knew the particulars, but what wasn't up for debate was that it left the two of them changed. The bond was only one aspect of that transformation, the rest was the reason they were so feared. Though some made the arguments that the two of them were no longer true vampires but... something else.
Since that night, they had been connected to one another as mother and daughter for almost seventy-five years, sharing their lives as a family. Isabella had never wanted to have a connection that was so personal, her past was such that interpersonal relationships were difficult for her.
She was taciturn in demeanor and stoic in manners, although the phrase "heinous bitch" had been used to describe her on more than one occasion by members of the Volturi coven and guard; though never when they thought she was in ear shot. Eliza might've been the more verbose and friendly of the two outwardly, but she had her own violent streak mostly stemming from her formative years as a test subject.
"I guess not. Say hi to Gramps, Uncle C, and Marcus for me." Eliza had never been able to come up with an appropriate nickname for Marcus, and since he was so dead to the world she never felt a need for one. Still, she engaged him more than anyone else did, and he responded to her in turn. She wasn't sure if he was fond of her, but he did seem to be slightly less morbidly zombie like around her. Isabella shrugged, and gave her an mental nod. Eliza sighed again, and continued to look out the window, although most of her attention was completely diverted as she used her connection to look through Isabella's eyes.
Isabella ignored the page that announced her appearance in the main chamber of the Volturi throne room, he was a little weasel of a vampire named Collins, who very much reminded her of the oblivious cousin of Eliza's namesake. Eliza kind of wished Isabella eye's would wander, because the room was very plain at eye level, but the large ornate dome structure of the ceiling was simply marvelous. It was patterned after old Italian or Greek architecture, and Aro boasted that it was built during those times.
Before her on a dais, raised several steps above the floor were three large ornate chairs. In those overly ostentatious chairs sat the men who sat at the head of the Volturi coven. A coven that felt more like a monarchy, with the members of the coven acting as nobles, and the guard as their knights, generals, and soldiers. Aro, Caius, and Marcus' ages were completely indeterminate, but their skin betrayed their advanced age. It appeared almost paper thin, even though it was an illusion. Their physical power might've been diminished over time to a degree, but their speed and skill was practically unrivaled. Each were capable of eliminating any vampire or group of vampires one on one. Except for Isabella and her daughter.
Individually Isabella and Eliza were stronger than a newborn and faster than an elder, which separated them out from the rest of their kind. They had each also spent most of the last century in one form of combat training or another. It was that fear that gave them their position within the Volturi, and stayed Aro's hand when they acted against orders on occasion.
Together they were extremely formidable, and had been accepted into the family as the trio's personal enforcers. Except they didn't know that their vaulted place within the coven wasn't entirely based on merit, Aro kept them close partially out of paranoia. Fearful that they could become like the dog that is mistreated, that eventually turns and bites its master.
Isabella faced the dais, from her position Marcus was on the left, his utterly apathetic expression brightened ever so slightly by her appearance. He hadn't changed at all in Isabella's tenure within the Volturi. He had dark hair and a face that would be kind if he was able to convey any kind of emotion. Unfortunately he was a prisoner of his own misery, trapped in a never ending monotony in a place that only marginally kept his interest. His eternal torment was having survived the death of his beloved Didyme, Aro's sister, and one of the founding members of the Volturi.
For most of his three thousand years he passed through life barely aware of what was happening around him except in the most passing of ways. Eliza had once mused that if she set fire to his loose dull hair, he might only react enough to tilt his head and watch it burn rather than do anything to stop it.
Eliza closed her eyes as a memory came up after Isabella glanced at him. A memory of Marcus tending the flowers that had bloomed for as long as the structure had been standing. He kept the private garden in memory of Didyme, and it was the only time of day when he was active. Even with his apathy he as a fount of knowledge, his extensive reading on practically every topic was a source of never-ending interest for Eliza. She went to him practically every day, as he hummed the same melody. She would ask questions, and he would answer her without complaint.
He wasn't impassioned like a lecturer, or as dull as a bored professor. His pleasant baritone, although devoid of intonation, had a quality to it that was very easy for Eliza to listen to. It was years before she thought to ask what he was humming. It was the only time he ever paused from his task. He stood with a blank stare, and tiled his head towards the sun.
"It was her favorite, taught to her by her mother. She would sing it to me in the dead of night, when the human world slumbered. She said it was her way of letting the flowers know it was okay to bloom the next day. I do what I can to keep them happy, since they don't have her anymore." It was the one and only time she had ever seen him express an emotion, it was a smile so vague that it made the Mona Lisa seem like she was grinning ear to ear. Yet it was enough to let Eliza know that the memory of his beloved wife was an ember still burning deep within his dead heart. It gave her hope that her mother might be able to love again someday, because if someone like Marcus had something inside left, may she did too.
"How did she die?" Eliza risked. Marcus turned form his reminiscing, and stared at her, his attention completely focused on her for the first time ever.
"We were at war with another coven, they took Didyme, Sulpicia and Athenodora as leverage. Caius didn't listen to their demands so they destroyed Didyme and burned her in bonfire that left no bones. Sulpicia said they took her into a tent, so they wouldn't have to witness the death. Then they tore her limb from limb. Athenodora said she could hear her short scream as they removed her head, and then the ripping of stone as they started to tear her to pieces. Aro lost his mind from grief, she was his sister after all. He marched on them, and destroyed every last member, save one. That survivor was the first member of our guard." He turned away from her than, a far off look of longing quickly fading from his features, and went back to his gardening. Eliza never brought it up again.
Isabella's gaze shifted past Marcus to Caius, a man whose face was set in a permanent expression of anger or discontentment, and unlike the other two men sitting next to him, his long hair was a very pale blond. Isabella barely acknowledged him, because they shared an intense mutual dislike of one another. Caius never failed to remind her that he barely tolerated her existence, and she generally ignored him because she thought his hostility was petty and based entirely on wanton ignorance and bigotry. Eliza held to the belief that he was just a giant asshole that hated pretty much everything and everyone. The few times either of them had interacted with him outside of formal audience, he played miserable games of malicious intrigue and made a show of flattering them with back handed compliments.
"Caius looks like he's sitting on a pinecone again." Eliza interjected, forcing Isabella to repress a smirk.
"At least his contempt is universal, or I'd think he disliked us or something." Isabella threw back, making Eliza nearly fall over laughing.
In the center of the raised platform was Aro. His hair was long and pitch black, and like the other two men, his skin was very pale, an almost chalky white. Unlike the other two men though, his face bore an almost perpetually excited smile. Isabella met his smile with a softening of her own chiseled frown. She didn't reciprocate his affection, but she had to admit he had always been generally good to her.
From the first day she arrived in Volterra, half crazed and totally unable to interact with anyone on a social level, Aro was the one that was initially able to get through to her. He was patient, and fascinated by her story, which took a long time to coax out of her. They didn't exactly have a familial bond like the one he shared with Jane and Alec, but he was very fond of her. Enough that he sponsored her and Eliza's admittance into the Coven, elevating them to the position of princesses. It afforded her some luxuries which Eliza liked, and rank above the rest of the guard which she didn't really care about, but the freedoms it allowed suited her mercurial nature.
Isabella respectively removed her hood and gave a bow of respect to the three men. Her hair was a dark brown with the slightest bit of red in it, her skin also was pale but nearly as white as theirs, and her eyes were a deep dark red.
"You summoned me, Father?" She addressed Aro as father out of respect for her official adoption into the Volturi. Calling him that was something that it had taken her years to get used to, and even longer to say without being obviously uncomfortable. She frowned slightly as she glanced about the room. Usually there were eight to ten of the Volturi guard present at all times, however only four figures were in the room.
"I wonder where everyone is." Eliza sent through the connection, mirroring Isabella's own unspoken question. Yet Isabella responded with the physical sensation of a shrug, it was a curiosity, but not an important one in her eyes.
"Daughter, thank you for joining us!" Aro stood up, sweeping down the stairs to embrace Isabella. A gesture Isabella took in with a measure of good natured tolerance, since she hated to be touched by anyone except her daughter. Aro was by nature a touchy feely person, because that's how his powers worked. He could read anything about a person he touched, and could see their entire life, and everything they'd ever experienced in an instant. Both Isabella and her daughter were immune to his ability unless they wished to be otherwise, but old habits die hard and few habits were older than his need to introduce himself with a touch.
He hinted several times over the years that he was the primary reason that people all over the world shook hands in greeting.
After the short embrace Aro returned to his chair on the dais, his face settling into an expression of complete seriousness. "We summoned you here because we have an urgent and rather... unique situation. Once more the United States has become a problem. Jane and Alec were just sent to New York again to handle a resurgence of intolerable activity."
Isabella frowned at that, and her daughter's puzzlement joined her on the mental link. "Again? We were there three months ago. There wasn't a single vampire left, newborn or otherwise." Isabella asked, her tone slightly defensive at the possibility that their performance might be in question.
Aro nodded gravely, all trace of humor gone from his face though he held his hands up in a slightly placating motion "Peace daughter, you did a fine job in New York. We have no complaints. But to answer your question, yes, again, and that's not the only issue that we're having with the United States. We have a rash of newborn attacks. There were several all across Los Angeles three weeks ago, five less than two weeks ago in Portland Oregon, and two in Seattle six days ago. They do not overlap though, so we believe it is the same group, because, when one area dies down, another picks up a few days later. Or at least that was our assumption, until this latest one. New York flared up at the same time as a resurgence in Los Angeles."
"At the same time? That's... unusual... I know Jane and Alec were there on the west coast two months ago." Isabella's reply was more placid and more thoughtful now that she had some specifics. Eliza's interest was also peaked, and she opened up her side of the connection a little bit more to catch every detail.
Aro nodded looking serious. "Yes. And now they're in New York. We can't tell if we've got a rash of vampires creating newborns recklessly, or if this is something more concentrated. Perhaps it is someone trying to challenge our ability to enforce our laws. Already we have lost two guards in these attacks, call it hubris, we underestimated them."
"Shit this must be serious if Aro's copping to arrogance, what's next Marcus will stand up and dance a jig, and Caius will smile and laugh at one of my jokes?" Eliza quipped with genuine shock. Aro being even marginally forthcoming about guard losses unsettled them both.
"So you want us to go take care of Los Angeles?" Isabella asked curiously.
"I think it's bigger than that. I'm getting a vibe, and Gramps hardly ever gives off vibes. Maybe we're getting that pony I asked for sixty years ago." Elizabeth's sarcastic tone echoed through Isabella's head with an accompanying giggle. She managed to keep a straight face though. Eliza's pony plea was legendary, it was also the first time she called Aro "Gramps" to his face. It was one of the few things Isabella found genuinely amusing. Aro at least had the good humor enough to laugh that first time; since then his amusement with her less than formal address had waned considerably.
Aro nodded his head. "Yes, but there's more than that, the nature of these events have forced us to re-evaluate our methods. We can no longer afford to be reactionary, when our secret is balanced on the edge of a knife like this. So, in an attempt to quell the tide of these newborn armies we are sending you there to take care of this immediate problem, and then we would like you to stay in the area. Establish a base of operations so to speak."
Isabella's emotionless mask cracked and she displayed surprise. Eliza feel off her chair melodramatically, her face contorting in exaggerated shock. Isabella pushed her daughter's antics to the back of her mind and paid full attention to Aro who paused for only a second before continuing. "We have spent the past few years putting out fires, and things haven't gotten any better. It's time we stopped governing from afar. Jane and Alec will be our liaison's on the eastern American coast, Felix and Demetri have central and South America, and you and your daughter will represent us on the western American coast."
Isabella frowned at that, though she could feel Eliza's already building excitement at the idea of such free reign, "I have a major problem with that." Isabella spoke up. Eliza and Caius both hissed slightly in response although for very different reasons. Eliza was very excited about the prospect, and Caius always got indignant when anyone even attempted to question orders.
Isabella ignored them both and addressed Aro directly. He realized quickly that her objection was in earnest and he made a slight appeasing motion with his hand to calm Caius down. "I am not countering your orders,, I just don't understand the need to expand like this. While I agree it's troublesome that we no sooner return from fixing one problem to immediately head out to stamp out another, but this might simply be a plot to rouse suspicions regarding our effectiveness. Or maybe it could be random. Either way my major concern is that with so many of the guard being gone, Volterra and the council would be left far too exposed, perhaps even vulnerable."
At her explanation Caius seemed to relax slightly, not that his permanent scowl lessened to even a fraction of a degree, but he did seem to be less irritated that her question of his authority was based mostly on a concern for his safety.
Aro nodded and spoke again. "We debated that very thing, however we have our reserve guard here, and several more are going through training as we speak, and all six of you can be back here in less than twenty-four hours should we discover that we are under any sort of threat. I promise we will watch our borders very carefully, and you'll be among the first to know should Volterra find itself in any sort of real danger."
Isabella nodded slowly, "How long should we plan to be standing guard over these territories?" she asked.
"We hope this problem should be eradicated relatively swiftly. After the immediate threat is gone, we believe you should remain there for a decade or two to quash any other challenge to our authority, and put to rest any question about our ability to project our strength. However if things work out then it's possible for this to become a longer term prospect." Aro responded, reclining back into his chair slightly.
"Where do you want us to live?" Isabella asked curiously. She didn't really relish the idea, but it was clear that Eliza was excited at the prospect of this new adventure. In truth the idea of being alone was mildly appealing, but it was an indulgence and perhaps a dangerous one. Eliza's nature was curious and explorative, she could easily find herself immersed in dangers she couldn't even begin to imagine. Yet that was hardly the issue at hand, because she already knew exactly where Eliza would want to go. Her only hope was that Aro had somewhere specific in mind.
Aro shrugged negligently, "Establish yourselves wherever you chose, I leave the finer details up to you. You have the full authority of the Volturi. Meld into the herd to hide your identity if you prefer, since I assume you won't want to sit in some apartment just waiting to go deal with any newborn issues that may pop up. Be safe, Daughter." His tone made it clear that in his mind the conversation was over.
Isabella nodded slowly and bowed her head in respect once more, before turning on her heels and striding out through the same door she entered through. Normally she'd be beyond irritated at this, but she could feel her daughter's exuberance and it began to effect her opinion. Elizabeth already thumbing through ideas like some kind of mental picture book. In truth, Isabella may have been wary of this turn of events, but she hadn't strayed far from Volterra except on missions. It was something that neither of them resented since it was a rule of the Volturi, but sometimes they'd each craved more freedom at times. Especially Eliza, who had never lived outside of the walls of the city.
Isabella made her way quickly back to her quarters, striding through the halls purposefully until she reached their shared domicile. Although technically Eliza's own room was an adjoining one, she rarely if ever shut the door, making it one large space. They didn't like to be apart very often. With an economy of movement she started to pack a suitcase and a duffel full of clothes. Eliza was sitting on the windowsill again, she had already finished packing, her own stuff was sitting by the door.
"I guess I don't have to tell you to pack." Isabella said upon noticing the bags. Eliza shrugged. She started packing the moment Aro mentioned their assignment.
"Well, this is kind of a big deal. I grabbed everything though, since we're not coming back anytime soon. Do you think I should leave like a book or two so it doesn't look like I'm being too excited about this?" Eliza said as she scanned the empty bookcases and shelves. She had been pretty thorough in her whirlwind packing job.
"No, we may never come back on a permanent basis." Isabella frowned slightly at the thought, she really did think of Volterra as home. Elizabeth moved in and hugged Isabella easily, and Isabella wrapped her up in a gentle hug "You're really want this don't you?" Isabella asked her daughter softly. Even though they didn't need to speak vocally, there was something they both liked about the warm quality of the spoken word. When they were together physically, they rarely used their connection.
Elizabeth grinned and nodded, holding the hug for several long seconds before stepping back with a slight bounce. "Absolutely, I love this idea. You know sometimes this life drives me insane. Mission, boredom, mission, boredom, with nothing else between. About the only thing I'm going to miss is the Stargate SG-1 marathon I had planned on."
Isabella nodded with a small smile, her daughter was much more exuberant and free with her emotions than she was. Isabella understood why, and it was always a contrast to her rather stoic view of life. "Well, don't forget Eliza, mission first. We have to quiet the newborn attacks before we consider settling anywhere."
Eliza regarded her mother thoughtfully for a moment, before murmuring "Well you only have to worry about your clothes, I got everything else." Elizabeth trailed off thoughtfully and returned to her perch overlooking the city. This was different though, it felt like a goodbye, and Eliza wasn't sure how to feel about that.
"What is it?" Isabella asked curiously as she finished stuffing clothing in her duffel, most of it black and generic. It wasn't often that there were any uncomfortable feelings between the two of them, given the connection they had.
"I never really… thought of this place as home you know? I just feel a little conflicted about it for some reason... also I know you're not going to like this, but I want to ask, as a favor to me." Elizabeth turned and slowly looked up to met her mother's curious gaze. Isabella didn't let on that she already knew what Eliza was going to ask, instead she regarded her with a raised eyebrow and didn't say anything.
Eliza finally met mother's gaze, aware that what she was about to say was going to touch on a very bleak part of where her mother's past. "When we settle. I want to go back to where it started for you. I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to go to Forks."
Let me start with a few disclaimers.
1) This story started out as a combination of two challenges. A friend of mine told me that if I didn't have any epic tale of my own tell yet, to start based on someone else's idea; preferably something you don't care all that much for. I was told that sometimes the best way to hone your writing and ideas was to write about something you hate. I know right? Sounds crazy. But apparently if you try and write about something you love, you tend to repeat what's already there. (There's a reason you love it after all) Whereas with something you dislike… It's like getting behind the wheel of a car you don't care about. If you end up driving that car over a cliff… well you don't really mind, provided you jump out first. (If you don't jump out, at least it's a hell of a ride down)
2) Twilight. This was the 2nd challenge I mentioned. I was having a conversation when I called the books/movies stupid. The person I was talking to agreed with me, but asked if I had ever read them, or watched the movies and I hadn't. (My response to that was VAMPIRES DO NOT SPARKLE.) She told me that I should read before making an opinion about something rather than relying on others to form my opinions. So guess what? I read the books and watched the movies. So when I have an opinion on them now, I'm actually basing that on actually having read them.
3) The idea for this story actually came when I read a fan fiction on . Yes I know. I do a crap ton of reading. I'll read almost anything. A story called Reach for Me by Black-Rose-Of-Night. I loved the concept of an angry and spurned Bella and a confrontation years later where she's not a helpless human. I loved the idea of Bella having someone else in her life at that point as a family member, and I'm a huge fan of the Bella/Alice pairing. However I think that the story written there, while it had great ideas, was abandoned with far too much on the table when it came to possibilities and writing. So I'm taking a crack at it under similar ideas. So please do not waste your time and mine by pointing out similarities as I give major props to the Author for having some of those ideas in the first place.
4) I'm doing a bit of hand waving when it comes to time. The elapsed time since Edward left Bella in the forest is 90 years. But since that would bring us to the year 2100 or so, I have some issue with that. Since I have no idea what technology will be like at that point. (If you do, lets chat. We can talk about stocks and investing) So I'm leaving the year kind of... ambiguous. Implying that she was abandoned a bit in the past and we're a bit in the future. There will be some advancements in technology but no lightsabers or flying cars or anything of that nature, we not going to introduce anything that fundamentally alters the way the world works, so to speak.
5) Samantha Minuet's Co-Author's Note: I wanted to start off by saying how grateful I am to Kathryn for letting me be a part of her story. Although I took primary on these revisions, they wouldn't be possible without Kathryn's wonderful foundation. I also want to acknowledge Dark Bella, she put a lot of work into this story, and her influence will hopefully not be erased since she did a marvelous job. I hope you all like this revision of chapter one. I know it's quite a bit longer, but that isn't a bad thing is it? The goal was to add details to the story that would benefit the whole. Not all the alterations will be as significant as this chapter, but everything up to chapter 28 will be touched up in some way. We are going to try to add one of these revised chapters per week with our new updates. Nothing will be changed exactly, just enhanced and extended. The exception of course are the first person chapters which will be converted to third person like the rest of the story. I really hope you guys re-read these very altered chapters.
6) I don't own Twilight or most of the characters depicted in this fan fiction. You may not like some of the things that happen, and I'm totally okay with that. I promise not to cry myself to sleep. I invite constructive criticism, but can't promise I'll listen to it.