Author Note: This story is already several chapters along so there won't be a problem with abandonment. This is not a crossover, but I am using a single element of another media to introduce Bella's new predicament. So you might recognize it when the time comes. You don't have to know anything about the element since I explain what needs to be known within the story. I'm trying to keep this as true to the canon characters as I can, but obviously Bella is going to be OOC because of the change. There isn't any character bashing and as of 50,000 words there are no lemons. Twilight is owned by Stephine. If you absolutly have to know what the element is that I'm using, it's owned by Marvel Comics and it's X-23's mutation. That's it, nothing else from the Marvel universe. They're comics and movies in this universe, like in real life.
"Hang on, Bella. We're almost there."
Seth Clearwater had his fingers pressed firmly against the side of my neck vainly trying his best to stop the flow of blood. Being carried bridal style while being rushed to the Cullen home wasn't the most comfortable of positions. I kept my eyes closed against the constant flashes of light, the sun doing its level best to break the canopy of the Olympic Rainforest. It was giving me a headache. With the accompanying pain in my neck and the broken arm I was cradling, let's say that I wasn't in the best of condition.
Victoria's newborn army was dead. She and her chosen second, Riley, were burning on the lee side of a random mountain where Seth and I were hiding out from the danger. I blame Edward for this. If only he would have stayed with me like I asked, or even let Jacob stay to watch over me then none of this would have happened.
Considering his size, Seth did the best he could. Riley was no hard task. With Jasper's training, my young wolf guardian ripped his head off with one leap, leaving only the psychotic redhead to deal with. Ten minutes later and I was lying on the ground with my arm broken from Victoria's grasp, and my neck cut from her razor sharp nails. It was a last ditch effort to kill me since Seth had her by the neck, pulling her away from me. She knew she was done for and didn't want to be dragged down to Hell without dispatching me in the process.
I lost consciousness somewhere along the way and only came back to awareness when I felt cold hands pressing down on my chest.
"I hear a heartbeat!" Alice's voice was one I immediately recognized.
"Bite her already!" an angry Seth snarled.
Jacob seemed to be there as well. "Seth, get out!"
"No, you two should have been there. She begged you! I'm not leaving her."
Carlisle was rarely one to raise his voice even in tense situations, but these were werewolves we were talking about. You pretty much have to yell just to be heard. I was seriously groggy, but aware enough to see him lean over me with a tense but compassionate look on his face.
"Bella, there's been a complication and I won't proceed without your consent."
I blinked and tried to focus on what he was saying.
"Seth's blood has been introduced into your body. It was only a small amount, but from what I know of our interactions with each other, it could prove fatal when encountering vampire venom. We've already had to revive you once with CPR. Any attempt to move you to the hospital will also prove fatal. Knowing this, do you want me to attempt the change?"
Even in my half-conscious state I thought he was crazy for asking.
"Just bite me already," I whispered.
"Yes!" Seth nearly yelled out. "Take that, bitches!"
When the Cullens spoke to me about the burning of the change I thought it was a metaphor or perhaps that it was the result of a high fever. No. The burning was like someone tapped veins all over my body and inserted a hydrochloric acid drip that lasted three days. I could have sworn on any holy book you set before me that I thought my body had been submerged in the stuff and then set over an active volcano to slow roast. These examples pale in comparison to what the venom did to me, so it's useless to explain it anymore.
After the burning eased I could already tell things were different. I still wasn't able to move, but I could hear things a hundred times better, and smell things a thousand times stronger. My body ached bone deep, throbbing in time to the sound of my heart, and there I lay for what seemed like forever.
"We can't wait any longer," I heard Carlisle say.
I heard a door close and the sound of Jasper's voice. "Go. Bella will be safe with me. Her new scent has no effect. We'll be fine."
"If you're sure."
An exaggerated sigh sounded. "Carlisle, I have dealt with more than my fair share of newborns in my time. I have no idea why it's taking so long, but Bella still isn't exhibiting any signs of the final change. Odds are that she'll be in the same condition by the time y'all make it back."
"Very well. We will see you in three days then. Call if there's any change in her condition."
"I will. Have a good hunt."
The sound of a door closing and a car engine starting surprised me. It was as if it was in the next room. After the car faded off in the distance I could still hear Jasper puttering around in a different room, closer to me. Paper tore and I recognized the resonance of a hard covered book binding cracking nearly echoed in my head. It was a sound that I was quite familiar with in all my time spent in libraries over the years. Jasper was reading a book.
His footsteps closed on the room I was in and paused at the door. I could smell the presence of worn leather and some cologne that I was familiar with. I don't know all the different scents there are in the world like the Cullens and the wolf pack seemed to. They could pick out flowers and spices like they could see them right there. I just knew what leather smelled like.
"It's time to wake up, Bella."
I was awake. I just couldn't move.
"I can feel your frustration. We're going on fifteen days and this is the first time I've felt anything but agony from you. Granted, I've been off hunting for the past couple of days, but still."
My fingers tingled from where he touched me, maneuvering my hand in his.
"You're still warm, almost hot. Carlisle thinks it's because of the wolf's blood. Your heartbeat is stronger than I've ever heard it, and your blood no longer calls to any of us. It's different, but not in a bad way."
Hearing him sniff at my hand was odd, but the feel of his cool lips on my fingers sent a little surge down my spine. It wasn't anything inappropriate; they just seem to touch when he smelled me.
"You're all healed up… your arm I mean, and where she cut you on your throat. There's not even a scar."
For some reason, it was right then that my eyes fluttered open.
"Ah, Sleeping Beauty finally wakens."
I gripped his hand tightly and Jasper's face lit up in shock.
He nodded and grabbed my other hand. "Can you sit up?"
Letting my muscles go limp wasn't very difficult, because I was already pretty much there. Jasper tugged me into a sitting position and then let go of my hands one at a time until I was under my own power.
"How do you feel?"
I shook my head slightly and then looked around the room. "Thirsty… hungry."
The room, Jasper, the world all looked like I had switched from analog to high definition. Everything was simply much clearer and sharper, so I was easily distracted. When my eyes found his I noted his intensity.
"What are you thirsty for, Bella?"
Oh, I suppose that is a good question considering what I went through. Vampires drink blood, obviously.
"Wait… my heart's beating." Something seriously didn't go right with the change. "It didn't work?"
Holding his hands out for mine he nodded to them. "Here, let's get you on your own two feet and downstairs. We'll try some water first."
"Jasper," I snapped. "What happened? Why am I not a vampire? Was it Seth's blood?"
He sighed. "Probably a mixture of your own blood loss and the introduction of his along with my venom…"
I blinked, shocked. "You bit me?"
"No, nobody did the biting." He paused for a long moment before seeing that I expected an explanation. "We've all known of Edward's reluctance in turning you. Alice had one of her visions this summer and thought it best if I were to start saving up my venom just in case Edward couldn't go through with it. That way you could do it yourself and he couldn't whine about someone else being your sire. Carlisle injected that into your heart to help speed things along since it would be a lot more than you'd receive from a regular bite. We thought it would stand a better chance of overpowering the wolf blood. Obviously, it didn't work."
Edward chickened out. "Oh." Figures.
"Now, let's get you downstairs and find out what you're thirsty for."
It was then that I realized that I wasn't wearing my jeans and sweatshirt that I had on for the day of the battle. Instead I was wearing this ugly blue dress.
Jasper chuckled when he saw where my attention drifted.
"Alice," I said with a small growl. "She finally got me into a dress."
"She left you some other clothes in our room. Drink first. If you have any newborn tendencies then that will help keep your anger at bay."
He was probably right. Taking his hand I hopped down off the hospital bed without any effort or stumbling. That was probably a first. Jasper led me downstairs and into the kitchen without releasing me the entire way. It was kind of odd that I didn't feel weird about hold his hand. I mean I have been Edward's for so long I would think I'd be blushing or feel like I'm betraying my boyfriend, but I didn't. Besides, Jasper had Alice. It wasn't like he was going to dump her for homely old Bella Swan.
When we got to the kitchen he opened the refrigerator and grabbed one of many bottled waters that Esme always had on hand for me, and twisted off the top before handing it over.
"Just sip it first," Jasper warned. "If it tastes off then spit it into the sink."
Steeling myself, I took the tiniest of sips and let it settle for a few seconds. Nothing seemed odd about it other than greatly relieving my dry mouth. Then I took a big gulp, swished it around and swallowed.
"It's fine," I said before chugging half the bottle.
My stomach immediately grumbled and I paused thinking that it was going to explode or something.
"You haven't eaten anything for over two weeks. What are you hungry for?"
Honestly, I thought I could eat a large horse, but my stomach probably had shrunken considerably. I was kind of surprised I had as much energy as I did. When I was younger, I was laid up in the hospital for a strep infection for almost ten days. I lost fifteen pounds and couldn't eat more than half a bowl of soup when I got out.
Jasper nodded and opened the refrigerator again. "We have sandwich meat…"
"No," I said and stepped up next to him. "Something more… beef."
I spotted one of several packages of steaks that Esme kept for the wolves when they came by. I grabbed the first one on top which turned out to be a New York Strip steak. My nails ripped through the packaging like it wasn't even there, but I stopped myself from taking the meat and shoving it in my mouth like some kind of animal. My eyes widened and I wasn't surprised to see Jaspers just as enlarged.
Without waiting, I grabbed the first pan I saw hanging over the stove and dropped the meat on top.
"You were about to eat that raw."
"No I wasn't."
He looked at me like I was blatantly lying. "Yes, you were. Vampires have perfect recall, Bella, and let me take a moment to recall… yes. Yes you were inches away from putting a raw steak into your mouth before you looked up at me and decided that would be a bad idea."
I frowned at him. "There's no need to be sarcastic. I thought you were supposed to be some sort of super southern gentleman with a flying red cowboy hat or something."
Jasper raised a single eyebrow at me, but didn't say anything so I grabbed a fork from the drawer and flipped my steak over. A single minute was more than enough time to cook that side, right? The steak was just an inch or so thick. That was probably more than enough time.
Grabbing a plate from the cupboard, I set it down beside the pan and made sure I had a knife handy.
"That's enough," I said in my impatience.
"Bella, it's not even warm yet. Aren't there bacteria to kill? I was sure I came across a cooking show…"
The first bite was in my mouth and I groaned at how good it was. Another bite followed it as I ripped through the tough meat like it wasn't even there. It was like butter.
"That was a fourteen ounce steak," Jasper said dumbfounded. "You just ate it in a minute and three seconds… raw I might add."
Looking down at the plate I frowned. "It was seared! Can I have another?"
Two more equally large steaks later and I was full and quite happy. Jasper let me use the shower connected to his and Alice's bedroom so I could wash off the week's grime. Supposedly Alice gave me a sponge bath and dressed me in the tacky blue dress that I found out Edward bought for me specifically for this occasion.
When I hopped out and dried off, I spotted the clothes Alice left for me. It was jeans and tee, thank God. I never thought that she'd ever by me something that I'd actually like and I was sort of right. The jeans were skinny style that hugged every inch of my skin and the tee had "Hotter Than a $2 Pistol" in western scrawled on the front.
Apparently my Converse were missing and if I knew her they were probably in a landfill right about now. Instead, there was a pair of ornate cowboy boots in their place. The trouble was, when I pulled them on they fit perfectly and they were really comfortable. On the plus side I gained two inches in height and I didn't feel like I was going to fall over.
Taking a gaze in the mirror even I had to admit I looked good and it wasn't all that often I ever felt like that. I couldn't exactly tell, but it looked as if my hair was full and healthy looking. After living with it limp and lifeless for so many years it was a welcome change. If I could only gain another cup size everything would be perfect.
When I emerged from the bedroom to hunt Jasper down I didn't even need to listen any more than usual to hear him outside talking on his phone.
"I have no idea, but she is no vampire. She can eat and drink just like before. She's warm and her heart still beats. There's something more, but I can't put my finger on it."
I wasn't close enough to hear the conversation on the other end, apparently.
"Very well. Charlie comes back tomorrow, so we'll be limited on the amount of time we have to accomplish this."
"Bella is out of the shower, Carlisle. I need to go. Tell Alice to call me later when she gets the chance."
To make it seem like I wasn't eavesdropping, I headed to the kitchen to clean up the dishes from earlier, but they were already stored away. Instead of standing there like an idiot I grabbed another bottle of water and headed back into the living room where Jasper suddenly appeared.
He stopped and looked me up and down with appreciation. "Nice boots. How do they feel?"
I felt my face warming. "They're comfortable."
"Good. I ordered them from Heritage, down in Houston. They do nice work and they're sturdy."
I smiled and tried to make a joke out of actually liking them. "I feel like I need a cowboy hat now. Yeehaw."
Jasper pointed at me. "Don't joke. It'll be here next week."
When he saw me freeze and my obvious hope that he wasn't serious, he explained. "You like the boots?"
"Then don't hate on the hat before you've even seen it. Along with my venom, you've got Texian in your blood now, Bella. Trust me."
He almost had me for a second there. "Texian?"
"I was born in Houston a year before it became a state. If anyone has a right to call it anything it's me, and that's what we called it back then."
"So, I'm supposed to become a Texian too? Please tell me I don't have to listen to country music."
Jasper just smirked at me. "You'll find that every vampire you come across will develop a certain trait or traits akin to his… or her maker."
Now I know he was full of it. "Are you telling me Emmett has traits that Carlisle has?"
"Indeed he does. Emmett has Carlisle's love of the arts, specifically ballet, but don't ever tell him I said anything about it. He and Rose slip away every now and then to catch a performance whenever they're near competent dancers."
I could not, in a million years, picture big and lovable Emmett sitting still through Swan Lake. It boggled my mind. "What about Edward and Esme?"
"Edward has Carlisle's excellent control. That's an easy one that you should have seen. You were his singer, Bella, and he never bit you. Esme is his mate and they have so many things in common that it would take the rest of the day to list them."
I didn't bother asking about Rosalie, since I was sure Jasper already had something ridiculous waiting in answer.
"What did you get from your… maker?"
"Maker, sire, there's a dozen others, but those are the two most popular. Maria gave me her bloodlust." He paused and then stuck out his bottom lip thoughtfully. "That could be why you like raw meat so much."
"It wasn't raw! The steaks were just rare," I insisted.
"If they were any rarer then they'd be mooing. And since when have you even liked red meat? I thought you were more of a chicken person."
It was true; I liked less fatty meat. At least I used to. Turning around I went to throw the empty bottle away. "I like hamburgers just fine, Jasper, and I mix ground beef in my lasagna as well."
"If you say so."
He waited patiently for me to return without saying anything else to raise my ire. It wasn't my fault that I liked the boots, but I sure as heck wasn't wearing any dusty old hat because he thinks I inherited some stupid Texian thing from him. I mean really… Texian? Whatever.
"Carlisle would like me to run you through a small series of tests, if you wouldn't mind."
"Tests? What kind of tests?" There better not be any needles involved.
"It's to determine what, if anything, about you has changed due to my venom and the wolf's blood."
I bristled at his less than complementary term. "The wolf's name is Seth and he's the one that took down Victoria and her goon, thank you very much. It's something nobody else was able to do and he's only been a wolf for three months."
Jasper bowed slightly at my correction. "Pardon me, ma'am."
I wasn't sure if he was being serious or not, but I took it at face value. When it seemed as if we were finished getting on one another's nerves Jasper held out his hand to the front door. The sun was out. I guess that explained the rest of the Cullen's absence. Evidently, they took advantage of the nice weather to go hunting.
When I reached the bottom of the steps I turned around to see jasper holding a catcher's mitt.
"We're playing catch?"
His lips turned up slightly at my lame joke. "Given enough time I would have bought the proper equipment, but this will do in a pinch. It's more for your protection than mine."
He stood in front of me and held the glove out at chin level for me. "Hit this for me."
I raised my eyebrows. "You want me to punch a catcher's mitt?"
Jasper nodded. "I know you know how to throw a punch, Bella. Spraining your wrist on the wo… Jacob Black's face told me as much. That's why I brought the mitt. Now, give it try."
Frowning, I closed my fist like Charlie taught me and jabbed it out to the center of the mitt with a dull thud.
"Okay," he said. "Your form is good. Does your hand hurt?"
I looked down at it. "No."
"Hit it harder then, and keep hitting it progressively harder until it starts hurting."
This seemed easy enough. Taking the proper stance again I jabbed harder, and then harder still, barely making Jasper's hand move at all. My knuckles were fine, so I dropped all pretenses at protecting myself and reared back to punch it with everything that I had in me.
There was a loud thud and stuffing flew everywhere along with the guy holding the mitt. Jasper stumbled backward a good five feet, barely catching himself before he fell. My jaw dropped open and I immediately looked down at my hand. The skin on three of my knuckles was split open, but only for a moment. Right before my eyes all three wounds closed themselves leaving only a tiny smudge of blood behind.
"Are you okay?"
I just nodded dumbly and kept staring. "It…"
"Healed, yes; just like the wolves."
Dread, like baseball size if ice, dropped into my stomach. "Oh, God. Tell me I'm not going to turn into a dog."
Jasper snorted. "Wolf… and I doubt it. You don't smell anything like them."
I just nodded with relief, still not taking my eyes off the perfect skin of my knuckles.
"We need to pick up some weights and try to see what your limits are."
That broke me from my reverie. "Limits?"
"Darlin', you knocked me backward. No human is strong enough to do that, much less one that couldn't be more than a hundred and twenty pounds dripping wet."
This was evidently the day to stupefy me into submission with revelations. Instead of standing there looking like an idiot, I turned in place and peered around.
"Isn't there something heavy around here?"
"Well, yeah, but it would be safer in a controlled environment with proper tools. You'd be less likely to hurt yourself."
Instead of saying anything I just raised my newly healed hand.
Jasper measured my tenacity for a few moments and then beckoned me with him. "I'm sure we can find something in the garage."
When he led me past the cars and Rosalie's workshop to the back of the garage, I was curious. When he opened a door to a small room filled with building materials I was intrigued.
"What's all this for?"
He chuckled. "Emmett lives in this house. There's not a week that goes by where we haven't had to patch a large hole or even replace an entire wall. Esme buys these supplies in bulk. It saves time traveling back and forth to the hardware store, not to mention a lot of questions from the humans. Here."
Jasper handed me a thick metal bar that had to be eight or nine feet long. Then he set two five gallon paint canisters straddling me on the floor.
"Slide the bar underneath the handles."
I did so and watched as he moved them in a little, just on either side of my feet, and then grabbed a roll of duct tape.
"This will hold them in place so they don't slide off easily."
"How much does one of those weigh?"
He just smiled. "I don't want you to hold anything back, so I'll tell you after."
Once he made several loops with the tape, Jasper stood and backed away, motioning me to give it a try. I knew better than to bend at the waist. Crouching a little, I grabbed the bar and took a breath before lifting both buckets up and swinging the bar to shoulder level. It barely took any effort. Paint must not weight all that much.
"Okay, down. There's enough room for two more. Hold on a second."
With a total of four five gallon canisters secured I lifted the bar. It took a little more effort, but I still wasn't really trying all that hard. It was the balancing I was having more trouble with, since they kept rocking back and forth.
Jasper just eyed me with no comment. "Alright, put those down and let's try something heavier."
"How much was that?" I asked as I hurried to follow him.
"One more test… maybe two more."
I scoffed, but followed him to the back of Emmett's jeep and watched him point down. The floor was virtually spotless – like any garage of Rosalie's would be any different – so I didn't have any excuse not to lay down.
"Are you serious?"
He nodded. "You're not trying to lift the entire car, just the back end. It's a lot lighter. If you can do that then we'll move to the front. The jeep is the only one with enough clearance space underneath to do this properly."
Crawling underneath, I looked around. "Where am I supposed to grab hold?"
"Try the axle. Put your hands on either side of the differential… that's the big bulking thing in the middle."
Is it my fault I had no idea what he was talking about until it was dumbed down for me?
"Just give it a go whenever you're ready."
Now this gave me problems. I could feel the tension in the muscles of my arms and back. I pushed the axle upward, much like a bench press. It definitely moved a few inches before I saw weight being eased off the tires, kind of like jacking up a car. By the time the tires barely came off the ground my arms were shaking with the stress and I thought it a good idea to let it back down before I dropped it. When I felt the pressure ease off, I dropped my arms because I couldn't even hold them up anymore.
Jasper whistled softly. "Impressive."
I sighed and then felt him grab my ankles and pull me out from underneath to give me hand up.
"You feel okay? Did you hurt yourself?"
Rolling my shoulder, the feeling came back rather quickly. Whatever muscles I strained seemed to be healing. "I'm… cool. How heavy was that?"
"A little over 3600 pounds, but remember that you only lifted the back half and barely did that. Call it forty-two percent and you're looking at roughly 1500 pounds. That explains you actually moving me."
I just stood there in wonder.
"Don't get that look. Vampires and even the werewolves could lift and clear this this entire thing easily."
My eyes narrowed and I pursed my lips. "Spoilsport."
We went on and on, one test after another. First was speed, broken down into hand eye coordination, running, and dodging. That's where I excelled… except for the running part. Jasper could easily outpace me, but my hands and arms moved just as fast as his. Stamina, I had in endless amounts. After a few seconds rest I was ready for whatever he threw at me. It was astounding. By the time the sun set he was ready to call it quits, but I was still bursting with energy, although I was starving.
The wolves were pretty much out of luck if they came to visit. I'd eaten all the steaks. In my defense, they were very tasty, and due to all the physical activity Jasper had me engaged in, I was famished. So it's his fault. Maybe Carlisle could take some of the blame too; it was his idea to start all this stuff anyway. Though it was kind of nice to know I was harder to hurt these days. My insurance provider would be doing backflips if they found out, but the owners of Curad and Neosporin were probably going to lose money in their stock this year.
We still hadn't done any testing on hearing or scent detection, maybe because I still hadn't told Jasper that it was well above normal. Since he could manipulate my emptions at the drop of a hat I figured we were even. That's why I didn't feel bad about eavesdropping on the phone conversation in the next room. Being this close, I could actually hear both ends of the conversation.
"1500 pounds?" Carlisle almost seemed shocked. "Are you sure?"
"Well I didn't put the back end of the jeep on a scale, so that's a pretty rough estimate."
"May I speak to Bella?" Edward's voice called from the background.
"That might not be…." There was a definite pause before he continued. "Hold on a minute."
The door opened and Jasper stuck his head out looking at me with confusion before closing it back.
"I think Bella is listening in on us."
Fear of getting caught washed through me. Was I that obvious?
"In fact I'm sure of it now. Apparently she has heightened senses as well. And no Edward; I don't think talking to her would be in your best interest at the moment. Every time your name is mentioned, Bella gets extremely annoyed."
"What," my negligent boyfriend nearly yelled. "What happened? What have you been saying about me, Jasper?"
"Not a word, Edward. Though she might be wondering why you wouldn't bite her even while she was fatally injured. I could be wrong."
"Boys," Carlisle intervened. "Now is not the time for this kind of conversation. "Besides, if you are correct in your assessment, Jasper, Bella is listening to your bickering."
He cracked open the door and I saw a portion of Jasper's face peering through the opening. I just gave him a thumbs-up and smiled. Let him wonder what that meant. You'd think after decades these guys would be more circumspect regarding preternatural powers, but after what Jasper said I really didn't think he cared. There's something to be said for his forthright personality. At the bare minimum he wasn't treating me like I was an innocent anymore. I wondered if that had something to do with my smelling less desirable, blood-wise.
Understandably, he would be more at ease not having his guard up and having to watch his every move… or my every move rather. It kind of made me wonder what I smelled like to Edward. Was I no longer his singer? Would his desire for me wane? I would almost be relieved if it did. Jasper was right on one aspect. I was extremely annoyed that he wasn't the one to change me. After all we had gone though in the past few months, one would think we'd be closer than ever, but no, that wasn't the case.
"They'll be here in about an hour," Jasper said as he entered the room.
I just gave him a thin-lipped smile and leaned back with no comment.
"So, your hearing has improved."
It wasn't a question, so I didn't bother answering.
"Any other surprises I should be aware of?"
Glancing out the window into the forest I said, "I can see better. Even with the sun down it's like a cloudy day out there."
"Anything else?" he prodded.
"I can't shoot laser beams out of my eyes if that's what you're getting at."
Jasper smiled appreciatively. "You're a lot more sarcastic than you were yesterday."
"Another gift from you?"
He just shrugged.
If there was one thing I didn't want to do that evening it was listen to Edward apologize one more time and Carlisle poke at me. "Will you take me home?"
I saw his tongue briefly work the inside of his mouth. "You don't want to wait for the others?"
"Not particularly. I think I need time to…"
A nod was my answer. "Good word; fitting."
The drive home was quiet, thankfully. Because of all the drama, I didn't think I wanted to talk about anything. I just wanted to lie in my own bed and gel for a few hours, maybe all night. My body was still humming along with no end in sight. It was probably because of the fifteen days of sleep.
When Jasper dropped me off I asked him to make sure Edward didn't visit. Frankly, I was tired of vampires for one day… maybe for the week. I didn't get what I'd desired since that fateful day I found out about the supernatural. I wasn't a vampire. I wasn't a werewolf either, for that matter. Being something in-between wasn't a good feeling. I'm sure Jacob would be thrilled that my heart was still beating and with my attitude toward Edward, but that wasn't much of a balm for my emotions.
I showered, washed my hair, and shaved all the appropriate places for my own pleasure, and not because I thought tonight might be the night Edward won't hold back. Frankly I was tired of his starchy behavior. While it's nice to read about a love interest being a gentleman, in real life it's frustrating as hell.
When I made it to my room, I had just enough time to check my email, return one from Mom, and sign off before there was a tap at the twice checked and locked window.
When I moved the sheer curtain aside there was the goofy face of Jacob Black staring back at me. I just raised a single eyebrow back at him before opening it and blocking the way so he couldn't come in.
"Is there something wrong with the front door?"
"Hi, Bells." He paused to sniff at me. I was really getting tired of being sniffed at like all the boys were waiting for me to go in heat or something. "You smell different."
My nose wrinkled. "And you smell like you haven't taken a bath in three days, Jacob. They have this little invention called deodorant. It doesn't even cost that much. I hear Right Guard even makes some that lasts for seventy-two hours for those less hygienic boys out there."
"Whoa," he said "What crawled up your…"
"Finish that sentence and we'll see if I can break my wrist again. Now please go down and use the front door like a normal person."
Jake barely missed having his fingers squished on the window when I closed it. I did manage to catch the glare he threw at me when he landed on the ground. A few seconds later the doorbell rang. Even though I was in shorts and a cami for bed, I threw on my bathrobe and answered the door.
"Sorry," he said with genuine remorse in his eyes.
Stepping back, I let him. It's been months now, but I'm still in awe about how Jake has grown. He even ducks slightly when he goes through any doorway. He still has a few inches to go before he'd crack the top of his head. I guess it's a subconscious thing.
"So, you're awake and still alive?"
I nodded and found a place on the couch, pulling my feet up under me as I sat. "A Frankenstein needle full of venom and I still can't seem do it right. How'd you find out I was awake anyway?"
"Seth goes over every night to check on you."
My heart lightened at that news. I was really beginning to like that boy. He had all of the power of a wolf and the heart of a medieval knight. Too bad he wasn't three or four years older. He'd make a good boyfriend, not like… Nevermind. It wasn't good to dwell on negative thoughts.
"That's sweet of him. Tell him I said thanks, and don't tease him when you do."
Jake just smiled with mischief in his eyes. "You're taking all the fun out of this, Bella."
I didn't bother letting him attempt to rile me up. "He saved my life taking on and killing the vampire none of the pack or the Cullens could catch, not to mention getting me to Carlisle before I bled to death. He deserves the respect he's more than earned, and not to be teased because he's the smallest wolf. His heart's definitely the largest."
That seemed to sober Jake's mood. He sat up from his reclined position on Charlie's chair and narrowed his eyes at me taking everything in.
"This isn't about you not turning into a leech." He paused obviously thinking hard. "You're different. You're definitely angrier."
I just sighed and rubbed my forehead, waiting for the headache to settle in even though it probably wouldn't with this new healing thing I've got going on. There wasn't a way I was going to avoid the topic of my change, not with all the danger I seemed to attract. Sooner or later I'd fall or cut myself and Jake would see me healing way too fast. Despite my current anger issues and rapidly devolving personality changes, he was still my best friend, not to mention the kiss we shared that I still haven't dealt with.
"I am different."
Jake's expression opened up with concern. "What happened?"
I sighed again. "Carlisle and Jasper think it was because I lost so much blood… well that and Seth's blood."
"Look, Seth was hurt fighting Victoria. She had these wicked sharp nails; that's how I wound up with a slit throat."
A phantom pain opened up where I was injured and I rubbed it self-consciously.
"When he applied pressure to the wound, he had his own blood all over his hand. That, mixed with the venom and my blood loss… it changed me into something new."
I could tell he was totally confused. "New?"
"I've got traits from the wolves and the vampires. Speed, strength, senses, rapid healing… I don't know what else. I left before Carlisle got back to the house."
Jake dropped boneless back onto the chair. "Huh."
"And to top the whole thing off, Jasper says when vampires are made sometimes they take certain traits of their makers."
"Hold on. You mean you're going to start acting like Edward."
I wasn't sure, but I think that was the first time Jake had ever said his name. It was always 'the leech' or 'the bloodsucker' or even 'the mind reader'. I was probably wrong.
"No. Nobody bit me. Jasper saved up his venom because Alice told him to. They shot it into my heart. Technically, Jasper would be my maker if I actually turned into a vampire."
Jake was stumped again. "Saved? How do you save that stuff?"
I shrugged. "I guess it drips from their teeth or something. I never really asked."
"Hold on. You've got vampire spit in your veins?"
A murderous glare from me shut him up. He even raised his hands in surrender. After Jacob coughed a couple of times to officially end that topic we both sat there in silence for a few minutes. It wasn't uncomfortable by any means, at least not for me. I had too many things on my mind: Edward and the inevitable train wreck of our relationship, the new and somewhat improved Bella Swan, Jasper and whatever funky traits that have been passed on to me, what I was going to tell or not tell Charlie when he decided to show up the next day, and…
Jake's eyes met mine and then dropped to the side. Shyness really wasn't part of his personality anymore, especially since he started phasing. Oh.
"I was wondering… if you've thought anymore about what happened that day."
That day. That day was pretty much yesterday for me, or maybe it was more like a thousand years ago due to the never ending fire I experienced under the effects of Jasper's venom. I wanted to just tell him that I was too busy to think about it. Putting off the subject for an indefinite period of time seemed ideal, but I couldn't do that to him.
"I need you to hear me out before you start jumping to conclusions, alright?"
Jacob closed his mouth somewhat firmly and slipped his hands underneath two very thick thighs. I guess it was his way of keeping himself in place for a short time.
"After what happened that day… I don't really know where Edward and I stand."
His eyes opened hopefully, but I guess he remembered my warning and relaxed under a nervous tension.
"I mean about Victoria, Seth, me, Jasper, the whole whatever I am thing. I was really disappointed that he couldn't go through with it. Not that I didn't turn into a vampire or anything. I mean I was laying there dying and he still didn't want to turn me, or couldn't. I don't know."
Fiddling around with the tie on my robe, I continued.
"If he would have just listened to me and been there to help Seth out then all of this would have blown over. And there's the problem. He doesn't listen to anything I have to say regarding important decisions… and neither do you."
Jacob's mouth dropped open in disbelief. "Bella."
I held up my hand. "I'm not finished. You and he are just different sides of the same coin. You're both brave, strong, handsome, courageous, and I believe you two do the things you do because you genuinely believe that you're doing it my best interest. But you see, I'm not an idiot. My opinion matters to me and it should also matter to the person who says they care for me, not summarily dismissed because I'm human or a girl or for whatever reason. It's not the case anymore."
Leaning forward I picked up the letter opener that Charlie always leaved on the coffee table after he opens the mail.
"I'm not human anymore, Jake. I'm part leech now. I ate seven New York Strip steaks today just barely seared on either side because I really like the taste of the blood and I was constantly hungry. My anger fuse is becoming constantly lit and I'm snapping at my friends. So, you see, I'm getting some of the worst of your traits as well as theirs."
Drawing the letter opened across my palm, I winced at the pain as I dug it in because the blade was so dull. Blood welled up and Jake bolted forward to grab my hand.
"Bella! What the hell?"
It was over before it even started. The wound literally sucked most of the blood back in and closed up right before his eyes, leaving a minor red smudge behind.
"There are some perks."
Another few seconds passed and the pain was entirely gone.
"You didn't have to do that. If you say you can heal then you can heal."
"Oh, now you're listening to me?"
He frowned and became more than serious. "That not fair."
"It's more than fair, Jacob. You and Edward both have to be slapped in the face with reality before either of you believe anything from me."
"Bella… Bells, that's not…"
"It's true and you know it. I always listen to you, to hear your side of things, even though it's usually filled with hate or name calling. I always listen even when I disagree. You just yell and think I'm deluded. Edward just dismisses my concerns and changes the subject. Well, that ends today."
Turning, I started to walk to the door and open it for him so he could leave, but he wound up grabbing my forearm, holding me in place.
"You don't want to do this, Bella. You're angry. I get that, really."
Snapping my hand out just as fast as the wolves or the vampires could, I grabbed the wrist of his free arm. "I'm not defenseless anymore. Let me go."
"Not until I get my say," he ground out. Even I could see he was holding his temper a lot better than I was.
I tightened my grip on his wrist, not letting him pull away and he did the same to me. With my enhanced senses I could hear bones being ground together underneath the skin. Whether they were his or mine I had no idea.
"Bella, we need to…"
Something shifted underneath the pressure he was applying to my forearm.
Pain erupted from the fist of my left hand and almost faster than I could see two off white things came out of my hand and embedded themselves into my best friend's chest. Jacob's eyes went wide and he jerked as he inhaled with shock. I screamed in fright and in the same second Jacob coughed and pulled away, spraying blood from his mouth right in my face.
The two claw-like things pulled away leaving at least two inches bloodstained and I screamed again.
He stumbled back and threw his hand up to cover and apply pressure to the wounds and he stared at me wide-eyed.
"I'm sorry! Oh God! I didn't know they were there, I swear!"
Backing up a step he dropped down on Charlie's chair and waved me off. It looked as if he was going to say something when he coughed again dribbling up more blood.
"Don't move," I virtually yelled. "I'll call Carlisle. He'll know what to do."
Jacob shook his head and grabbed me as I tried to get around him.
"I'll…" he wheezed. "…be fine."
My brain was obviously not in gear. The wolves had their own quick healing. I just needed to make him comfortable.
"Okay… I'll grab a towel then."
Turning in place I moved again to the kitchen and Jake had to duck out of the way of the things sticking out of my hand so he wouldn't get skewered again.
"Dammit! This is impossible! They're… ugh!"
Grabbing one of the things I gripped it to try to push it back in, but the bottom portion wound up sliced into my fingers down to the bone.
I swung it away and Jacob ducked again. "Bella! Stop freaking out before you cut off an arm!"
"Interesting," Carlisle said as he turned my hand over to look at where the bone claw, as he called it, exited out from between my index and middle finger while another came out between my pinky and ring fingers."
"Interesting? I nearly shish kabobed my best friend with my new super claws and it's interesting?"
Carlisle glanced up at me and he shrugged an apology. "You have to admit, Bella, that this is quite the turn of events. Not only have you become an entirely new race of supernatural… well, being… your body has also generated quite the defense mechanism."
I narrowed my eyes at him indicating my lack of enthusiasm.
"They appear to have thicker protrusions at the base that prevent them from being removed, effectively locking them in place between the carpels and metacarpals. What I don't understand is how they made it past the carpels without destroying them in the first place. Perhaps a spontaneous…"
"Carlisle. Do I really need an anatomy lesson right at the moment? Can you just tell me how to get them back in or take them out?"
"My apologies, Bella." He studied one side of my hand and then the other.
While I could still move my forearm, the majority of my hand along with my wrist was locked in place. The only fingers I could move slightly were my pinky and index finger. My thumb was just fine. My dream of becoming a professional hitchhiker wasn't entirely lost just as long as people could ignore the eight inch blades sticking out of my fist. Yes, Carlisle measured them. He also cut himself in doing so.
Evidently, my claws could slice through the vampire's granite like skin with ease. It wound up healing about as fast as Jacob's wounds did. Given a few minutes I couldn't even tell where it had sliced through his palm.
"Try relaxing your hand."
"I have tired," I said through gritted teeth.
He just cocked his head and stared at me. Okay, I was a little pent up with a massive amount of frustration. It had been a really hard day. I tried taking a deep breath and it just shuddered out of me. There was no way I was calming down at least for the next year or two.
"Jasper," Carlisle said. "Your assistance please."
A waved of peace washed over me and I nearly dropped right there on the examination table. The second I went limp I heard that sound again from before.
And they were gone. The tension in my wrist and hand eased away along with the sudden pain from where the blades exited from my skin. Carlisle wiped away a smudge of blood and everything was as good as new.
"Thank you, Jasper."
I nodded along my current and private physician thanking my stars that he was available for me.
"Now, Bella let's see if you can activate their release once more."
"What? I just got them back in!" There was no way I was chancing getting them stuck again.
"You must understand, my dear, you hold within your arm a weapon capable of slicing through vampire flesh with little resistance. Would you endanger your father with an innocent hug not knowing if you would skewer him in the process?"
Why does he always have to be so reasonable? Carlisle was right. If I didn't figure out what triggered the claws then I'd always be a nervous wreck.
"Jacob squeezed my arm right here and they just popped out."
There was a loud thump from downstairs. I wasn't really paying attention to anything except for what was right in front of me until that moment. Once I focused I could hear Esme berating Edward and Jacob. I frowned at how they were back at each other's throats.
"Jasper, is it true that people who fight all the time are just releasing their unresolved sexual tension?"
He was standing by the door with his arms crossed when he smiled devilishly. "Are you saying Edward and Jacob need to get a room?"
I smiled back. "Well, it would explain a few things."
"I'm not gay!" was bellowed from below.
Carlisle chose that moment to squeeze my forearm, but nothing happened.
"No, turn your hand around," I said and showed him exactly where. "He was pushing the two bones together I think."
Again, there was nothing.
"Maybe we need to get the… Jacob up her to tick her off again."
My eyes went to narrow slits again as I raised my other fist and mockingly threated Jasper. "Don't make me come over there and…"
Two new bone claws ripped their way out of my right hand this time.
"Oh, come on! Not my other hand too!"
Jasper leaned forward to get a better look, but stayed well out of my reach. "You know, I think spring loaded weapons are illegal in the state of Washington."
Carlisle was too busy examining my right hand this time. "I highly doubt there are any springs in Bella's forearm. This is more likely to be caused by the formation of new muscle and quite possibly new tendon as well. My dear, make a fist with your left hand and straighten out your wrist to align with… yes, right there. Now, try a little manipulation of your hand and arm muscles, and possibly the tension level of the…"
Brilliant. Now I have to sets of claws and I can't release my fists. Pointing my right set at Jasper I said. "Not one word."
He just stood there, out of range, clearly amused.
"And relax," Carlisle continued. "Try shifting…"
He didn't even have a chance to get the rest of the sentence out before I finally figured the trick. I had to ease up on the forearm muscles and relax my fingers at the same time to pull them back in. I think as long as I don't make a fist then I'm in the clear. That should be easy enough.
"Excellent! Well done, Bella. Again, once more, to cement the positioning in your mind."
"You do know every time I do this, these things are ripping thorough my skin. It's not exactly comfortable."
Carlisle gave me a nod, but pressed on anyway. "A brief moment of pain, from which you will suffer no long lasting effects, is preferable to accidently releasing them out of your control."
Knowing he was right, again, didn't make me feel any better when I straightened out my wrists and felt each set of claws spring out of my hand at the same time and then retract a few moments later.
"Wonderful. You seem to have them under control for the time being."
"Until she tries to use them," Jasper added.
I glowered at him.
"I'm serious, Bella. A weapon is twice as deadly when the owner is clueless about its use."
"So I won't use them," I said as I stood and wiped at my knuckles. I was really going to have to invest in some baby wipes or something to clean off the little drops of blood; maybe some moist towelettes instead.
"And the first time you feel threatened when one of us isn't around? What are you going to do?"
I glanced over at Carlisle to see his reaction to what Jasper was saying. The man, when he wants to be, is an open book of emotional facial expressions. Currently he was wearing the You know it's best for you. Why are you even thinking about arguing? expression. It made me feel like an eight year old girl that had to go to the dentist. In my defense, dentists are creepy. I always wind up being scheduled with the men and I've seen where men put their hands when they think I'm not looking. There's no way they're going in my mouth after that.
Like I said; creepy.
I sighed and dropped my shoulders. "Fine. Can we do it some other time that's not right now? My brain feels like mush, and I just want to curl up with a trashy romance novel and fantasize about a normal life concerning guys with names like Steele Rathbone and Hunter Armageddon."
Did I say that last part out loud?
Jasper was busy thumbing through his contacts list on his phone before hitting one and bringing it up to his ear. This time I did concentrate on my hearing, so I could easily eavesdrop.
"Jasper," a female voice said on the other end. "What's wrong?"
"Why does anything have to be wrong for me to call you?" He paused for a moment when there was no answer. "Okay, I probably deserved that."
There was a slight giggle in return.
"There's actually nothing wrong this time. I was just calling to tell you about this girl that's close to our family. You remember when you said you wanted an apprentice for your Kung Fu stuff?"
"It's not Kung Fu stuff you retarded hick," she snapped back. "It's martial arts, and you're just jealous because you can't kick my ass anymore."
"Yes, Jasper. Are you saying that you've found a vampire that actually wants to learn something other than hissing and biting the person she's fighting?"
"She's not a vampire, Charlotte, but she's not entirely human either. Either way, she's family."
"Really?" She sounded surprised. "What is she?"
"There isn't anything new, just undiscovered."
"Nope, this is new. You might even say unique. Even Carlisle agrees."
"Reeaaaly. So what am I looking at?"
Jasper eyed me up and down before responding. "Human looking female, about five-four, dainty, about half as strong as one of us, but just as quick and she's got eight inch retractable bone claws that pop out of her fists."
"I shit you not."
"Hmm. You're timing's pretty good. Peter has to go to Hollywood to take care of some business. How about I show up there late tomorrow and we can get started. She's not stupid is she?"
Jasper's lips turned up as I glared at him. "That's debatable. She is hanging around a family of vampires."
I flipped him off from the side so Carlisle wouldn't see the gesture.
"Sounds like fun," she said.
"See you tomorrow."
"You're not funny," I said as I turned to the door.
"I'm pretty funny."
"You're like Wolverine." Emmett wouldn't get out of my way until he got to see the claws.
"I'm not like Wolverine. He had three claws and they were metal."
"Yeah, but that was after the government got a hold of him and painted his skeleton with adamantium." He paused for a second and got this delighted and goofy grin on his face.
I just pointed at him. "No."
"I said no, Emmett. There's no such thing as adamantium and I'm not getting my skeleton painted so you can have a geekgasm."
I turned and saw Edward standing there impatiently waiting his turn at the new supernatural attraction in the neighborhood.
"Edward. I'm going home."
"Darling, I haven't seen you in over fifteen days."
Passing him by, I headed to the door where Jacob was waiting. "I'm still going home."
"I'll come by tonight."
"My window is locked. Don't bother. I'll see you tomorrow."
I was starting to like the new Bella. She was sassy! Plus, she wasn't willing to be anyone's throwrug anymore. By the neutral expression on Jacob's face it seemed as if I could teach an old dog new tricks – no pun intended. He didn't tease Edward, only keeping his eyes on me the entire time. Maybe I misjudged him and he was listening to what I had to say. All it took was stabbing him in the chest to get his attention. Granted it was an accident, but still.
"Bella," Edward called out one more time.
I turned around and sighed. "I'm in a really bad mood right now, and I don't want to say something that I'll regret later. Just please leave it alone until tomorrow."
He nodded sullenly and let me go without making a bigger scene. That's a point for him. Honestly, I was pretty sure it was over between us, but I wasn't going to be a jerk and break up with him when I was still stewing about his decision to not bite me. I thought I owed it to him to be calm and rational if or when I do this. I owed it to myself as well. Maybe I just needed to be on my own for a little while.
No, screw that. I've been on my own for years. I just wanted a boyfriend who actually listed to me. Every other girl in the world wanted the same thing I suppose. We'll see.