A/N: I own nothing.
When Bella opened her eyes she felt panicked. She sat up and found herself alone in a room that wasn't immediately familiar to her. She was wearing clothes she didn't remember owning.
Things like this had happened to her before. She'd been a sleepwalker for some time but she couldn't remember ever waking up in a strange bed in new clothes.
She got out of bed and looked around. It all came rushing back to her at the speed of a freight train.
The cliff and the water. Alice. Italy. Edward and the Cullens. The wolves. Laurent's demise.
That all happened...
She was in the Cullens house where she'd fallen asleep. That was what she found most surprising. She'd fallen asleep and judging by how she felt, she'd slept for a while.
Bella went to the bathroom and washed her face to refresh herself. It was strange having slept. She felt almost disjointed and hoped that would leave her quickly. It was probably just from where she'd become so used to being awake constantly.
She dressed and finally felt like herself again. Whoever that was. Having slept with the black scarf on, she found a different one. This time a soft aubergine colour that she liked. It was something that she could have picked out herself.
The house was quiet but she knew better than to think she was alone in it. Vampires were silent unless they wanted otherwise. Bella opened the door and walked towards the stairs.
Esme greeted her at the bottom of the stairs with a warm smile. She reached out and gently cupped Bella's face, studying the girl's appearance like only a mother could.
"You look much brighter. Well rested."
"Yeah. How long was I asleep for?"
"Almost two days. At one point Emmett was stood outside the room singing show tunes to see if it would disturb you. Thankfully it didn't."
Bella couldn't believe it. Two days? As in nearly forty eight hours of uninterrupted sleep? It felt like a dream, a very strange and unexpected dream.
Esme smiled. "Carlisle wasn't worried. It made sense that would need longer than usual to fully rest."
Bella nodded. She'd gone weeks and weeks without proper sleep so she wasn't going to get worked up over sleeping longer than average. It didn't mean she was going to become Sleeping Beauty.
"Where is everyone?"
"Hunting. We insisted on it and Carlisle has a meeting at the hospital about returning to work there."
The surprise was clear. That meant they were planning on staying for a while otherwise Carlisle wouldn't be bothering with a job. It wasn't like they needed the money.
"We're not going anywhere Bella."
Bella was inclined to believe her. When Esme said something you couldn't help but believe her. She was so caring and genuine and she'd always been lovely when Bella saw her.
"I uh, need to go somewhere."
"Okay. You can borrow one of the cars if you'd like."
"Thank you but... I don't mind running. I'm used to it now since... with everything."
She didn't know how to refer to it. The change? The transformation? The bite? There wasn't a proper word for what had happened to her. Thankfully Esme just nodded, understanding.
Bella walked to the door and let herself out. That was it. A simple be careful and she was out the house. Either Esme trusted her completely or she was worried that if she'd tried to keep Bella in the house it would only drive her away.
Whichever it was, Bella wasn't going to argue.
Bella slowed from a run to a brisk walk as she neared the point where unspecified territory became Quileute land. The wolves would be on alert and would probably have someone patrolling near the boundary line. She didn't want to be running and get caught up in anything.
She was looking for Sam knowing that if she ran into Jacob or one of the others there was a good chance there would be an argument. The wolves knew she was there and within a few minutes Sam found her.
"I wondered when you'd show."
"Would have been sooner but I had things to catch up on."
Sam didn't sound angry or annoyed. He was just establishing the facts. Once again Bella was thankful that he was the one in charge of the pack and not Jacob.
"That's what they say."
"Do you believe them?" Sam sounded wary.
"Everything points to them remaining here. They do seem sincere when they say it."
Bella couldn't see any reason why they would deceive her and if they were, the whole family were going to great lengths to do so. Surely if they wanted to leave they would.
"Is it going to be a problem?" Bella asked.
"No one's happy they're back. We wanted them to stay gone."
That was understandable. Bella didn't know if she agreed with that. It was probably too soon to tell. She knew that they blamed the Cullens for Victoria and Laurent's presence.
"But they are. Is there going to be trouble?"
"Not from us. Not if they keep to the treaty." His voice turned hard and cold. "They stay away from our land or there's going to be a fight."
"There won't be a fight."
Bella was happy to act as UN Peacekeeper between the two groups as long as it prevented trouble. Of course it wasn't just a one sided situation and she was going to make it clear what the rules were.
"Of course you have to keep out of their territory too."
"You better make sure of it. I know how some of them can get, especially if they're worked up."
Bella turned to see Jacob running over. His shoe laces were undone and she realised he'd rushed to see her before she left.
"Catch you later Bella," Sam said and walked away.
She turned to Jacob who grinned, pleased to see her. He'd been worried about her after she'd gone off with the vampires.
"How are you?" Jacob asked.
"I'm good, yeah. I meant to call you but I fell asleep and two days had gone by."
Jacob knew of the trouble she had sleeping and was glad to hear it was improving. Though he couldn't help but wonder at the timing of it. Especially now that Edward was back.
"I went by the house but you weren't there."
Bella knew he was trying his best to sound casual and like he didn't care but he was failing miserably.
"I'm not staying there."
Jacob knew that. He'd put it together the second he'd found the house empty but actually hearing her say it was like a blow to the chest. She was at the Cullens place.
"Damn it Bella!"
His anger erupted from nothing and it took her by surprise. One second he'd been smiling and then his face almost darkened with aggression. It was a little perplexing.
"How could you let them suck you back in?"
"Suck me back in?"
"After what they did, leaving you and letting that leech come after you, I thought you'd know better."
Bella reared back and her fist flew at him. The force of her punch sent him sprawling to the ground. She couldn't remember ever being as angry with him as she was in that moment.
"How weak... how naive do you think I am?"
The pain in her hand only lasted a few moments and she pushed it aside. Jacob got to his feet looking shell-shocked. Even Bella was a little surprised by what she'd done.
"What the hell Bells?"
"I don't need you attacking me as well. I know what I'm doing and I don't have to explain myself to anyone."
"They're going to hurt you again."
Bella glared at him. "I'm not going to give them the chance."
Bella walked away. If she stayed then something worse would happen than punching Jacob.
She ignored him. Had she felt that she had better control on her temper she may have stayed and argued it out with him. Instead she kept walking.
Bella knew who it was following her. No one else would follow her for so long without attacking her and also do such a damn good job of it. She'd learnt to spot a tail in New York so Forks was no real challenge but this person was good.
She scaled a tree in mere seconds and crouched on a large branch to wait for her pursuer. A minute later he appeared, looking around as if he'd lost something. She smiled to herself.
"I thought you knew these woods well."
Rafé looked up at her and smirked. He raised his hand and beckoned her down from the tree. She only hesitated a second before jumping down, landing easily on her feet a few feet from him.
"The woods I know."
Bella he didn't know very well. She'd continually surprised him and he had to admit it made a change to the usual types he came up against.
"Why are you following me?"
"I find it curious the way you are liaising between the warring sides."
"They're not warring."
Rafé had seen it before. The smallest thing could spark a fight and then it would be war. It didn't matter if it was vampires, shape-shifters or demons. Enemies were enemies and very little could prevent antagonism, especially in such close proximity.
"Is that you're plan?"
"If it was I wouldn't go around telling you now, would I?"
If there was a war, dozens of people who lived in town could be harmed in the crossfire. Rafé wanted to inflict pain on the town and this would be a very good way for that to happen.
"Stay out of this. You will regret it otherwise."
"You know that's not going to happen."
He smirked, the picture of confidence. It showed who and what he'd already come up against in his life that he didn't see her as a real issue to his plans.
"Whatever you're up to, I'm not going to stand by and let you go ahead with it."
"Oh you're just adorable." Rafé shook his head. "I'm sure you'll do your best to stop me."
Bella glared. He was trying to wind her up and he was succeeding. It was important she not lose her temper and hit him like she did Jacob. She'd end up in another coffin.
"Why are you trying to get them to play nice? It has nothing to do with you."
"It's the right thing to do."
"Right? The right thing?" He laughed. "You'd be one of the few who give a damn about the right thing."
"What happened to you? Why are you so fucked up?"
"Not enough hugs as a child."
"Y'know I actually believe that."
Tessa Reeves hadn't come across as the most maternal woman in the world. Bella wondered how far back the woman's fear of her son actually went. Birth? Adolescence?
"Why were you following me?"
"Because when I pay someone else to do it, I never get as good results."
Bella turned and started walking away but Rafé caught up, keeping in step with her.
"About my offer."
"The one I made you. A job offer of sorts."
Bella looked at him in disbelief. "A job offer?"
"Not really a job. You don't get paid but at the end of the day I do have a certain amount of job satisfaction."
There were a lot of disturbed people in the world and Bella had met several over the years. Rafé was definitely at the top of the list though. He looked so normal, not creepy or like someone you would try to avoid walking near on the street. If you saw him at a bar you may even hope he'd come and talk to you or buy you a drink.
The words left her mouth and a second later she was slammed against the trunk of a tree. It was rough but not violent. His fingers encircled her hips and his mouth was on hers with bruising force. She gasped, utterly shocked by what was happening and his tongue slid over hers.
One arm was by her side but the other was on him, her fingers grasping the material of his jacket. His body was like a stone pillar against her own; her softness moulding against his. Chills washed over her and she shuddered in his hold.
Then he was gone.
As quickly as the kiss had begun it was over. Without his body there, she slid down to the ground, too shocked to stand on her own.
What the hell...
Bella was considering multiple personality disorder in regards to Rafé when she arrived back at the Cullens house. Every encounter with him was very different to the one before. It was hard to get a proper read on this man which was probably his intention. He wanted to throw her off and stop her from seeing what his motives where.
She headed up the steps and the door opened. Edward stood there looking terribly worried.
"Are you..." He stopped himself
Edward stepped back to let her in. She could see that he wanted to say something and gave him a challenging look.
"I thought you'd left."
She gave him a cold look. "No. That's your thing."
Bella walked past him and towards the sounds of voices. Between Sam, Jacob and then Rafé she was in need of some time alone but she had to do something first.
Alice smiled brightly when the girl walked in. There had been no guarantee that Bella would come back and they were all aware of it.
"Where did you go?" Jasper was completely casual with his question and as a result Bella didn't mind answering.
"I went and talked to Sam. He's agreeing to keep t o the treaty as long as you will."
Esme smiled as she spoke, very pleased that a fight had been avoided at least for the foreseeable future.
"We will of course keep to the terms laid out," Carlisle said.
"They better not come on our land."
"Emmett they won't."
"I told them they had to stay off your land or they would violate the treaty," Bella said.
That was more likely to spark a fight than anything else; a small thing like crossing the boundary line into enemy territory.
"I uh... I'm going to be upstairs."
She needed to get away from everyone. They may be used to the large family but she wasn't. Time to be by herself was definitely required and she hoped that's what she got.
Esme smiled and Bella nodded before turning and leaving the room. With Esme saying that, she'd basically told everyone to leave Bella alone and give her the space she needed.
Jasper's eyes followed her out the room. He couldn't a proper read on her emotions like he could with everyone else but he could feel enough to understand she felt rattled. He wanted to ask her what had happened but would have to wait for a better chance.
"Going to have to get used to having a human in the house," Rosalie murmured.
"She's not exactly human though."
"Closest we'll probably ever get to having one under this roof."
"Let's give her some time," Esme chided. The girl has been through enough, she's still a baby in so many ways."
"Mom come on."
It was very easy to forget she was only seventeen. Not even legally an adult and definitely not old enough to deal with the things she had to. Esme knew she needed support even if she was resistant to it at first.
Bella was beginning to realise that she wouldn't be able to go out and hunt with the pack like she had before. The Cullens would most likely follow, Edward without a doubt. It wouldn't make finding Victoria easier if she was being trailed by up to seven vampires.
She was curled up in the chair by the window in the guest room thinking all this through. The plans she'd had in place had been thrown out the window by what had happened. The Cullens returning had honestly never occurred to her and she was struggling to work out how to deal with it.
Not sure I'm dealing well...
A knock at the door made her head snap round to look at it. She called out for them to come in, whoever it was. Her heart might not have picked up in speed but she felt anxious. The door opened and Carlisle walked in, a reassuring smile in place.
"May I speak with you?"
Carlisle walked over and sat down in the other chair. He felt that standing might make her feel uncomfortable, she was small. Not as small as Alice but still petite.
"How often do you need blood?"
"I uh..." Bella couldn't finish her sentence; she was too thrown by his question.
"You'd need to regularly ingest blood. Am I right?"
Bella nodded before whispering. "Yes."
"How have you been going about it?"
There weren't too many options if she wasn't actively feeding from humans. Though he also couldn't imagine her hunting animals and consuming their blood.
"Did you go to the hospital for them?" He enquired.
Bella shook her head. "No, I wouldn't risk it. I learnt how to do it myself online."
Carlisle frowned slightly but it was too quick for Bella to notice. She really wasn't the type to ask for help, even if there had been anyone for her to ask.
"When was the last time...?"
"I was in Olympia."
"You were?" Carlisle looked a little surprised.
"I moved there for a while, stayed in a hotel. There were some things that I needed to sort out and I needed some space."
It was no surprise that she'd needed space. It was just a little surprising that she'd actually returned to Forks after everything that had happened. He wouldn't have blamed her had she stayed there.
"I'd be happy to assist you with the blood transfusions now. I can't imagine it was pleasant for you."
"Wouldn't that be difficult...?"
"No. I've done what must be thousands of blood transfusions during my time as a doctor. Don't worry."
Bella nodded. The blood transfusions had seemed like the best option to her. Though if there was another alternative, she wasn't sure that she wanted to know what it was.
Carlisle was being the same lovely man and doctor that she'd known from before. When he'd been gone it was hard for her to make peace with the fact that someone who'd always been so charming had been part of something that hurt her so much. Now she was sat across from him, it was even harder.
"Can I ask what you're thinking?"
"I don't really know. I'm trying to make sense of this but I can't. None of this makes any sense."
She was at the stage between tears and anger. This was forcing her to deal with emotions she wasn't willing to and pain she'd buried deep, deep down inside her.
"I made a mistake Bella, one I desperately wish I could undo."
"Do you... what are ..."
"Leaving. I should have trusted my judgement and not allowed Edward to sway us. I'd never seen him so terrified and miserable as after you'd been bitten. He was convinced we would destroy you and begged us to help give you the life you deserve."
They thought they were doing the right thing; giving her a better life. It didn't help Bella or make her feel any better. Knowing they felt guilty and regretted didn't help either.
"I don't expect you to forgive us or start trusting us again. I just needed to tell you that we know we made a mistake."
Bella nodded. That was all she would give him. It was all she could give him at the moment. Anything else was too much and she just wasn't ready. It wasn't that she would never forgive them, she wasn't the kind of person to hold a grudge but it was still so raw.
Thank you for reading.