Ohhhhh-kay. Well. Don't I feel bad. I'm so sorry for the EXTREMELY long wait for this chapter! To be honest, I was simply in another world, stressed out because of the everyday stressors of life, and this project slipped my mind. I ask for your forgiveness, please!

More vampire history in this chapter – I was fascinated with all of the vampires' backstories when reading Stephenie Meyer's books. I put my own spin on things, but most of it is wrapped around the stories of Edward and Jasper.

Chapter Twenty-Five of Twenty-Nine

Bella's Point of View

"In about half an hour, we should be able to stop for the evening," Edward told me. We'd been on the road for twenty-two hours. My back was aching from the uncomfortable way I was laying in the reclined passenger's seat of his very small Volvo. I hadn't realized how small that car was until about two hours into the driving. We had just barely been outside Seattle before my back had started to bother me. I was restless and my knees were cramped from being bent for so long. I was tired but I couldn't sleep. Edward must have sensed my irritability.

I nodded. "Okay."

"Do you have a special hotel preference?" he asked. "A chain hotel, perhaps? Or do you prefer the small-town motels?"

"Ha," I chuckled. "I don't prefer small-town anything."

"You like Forks," he reminded me.

I shrugged. "Yeah, well – I think I like the company I keep better than the town itself."

A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "Perhaps you're right."

I looked down at my hands, twisting and pulling at each other in my lap. "When do you think they'll . . . be there?"

Edward's fists tightened on the steering wheel. "We're not sure. Jasper's positive that the only reason Alice had a vision that they were coming was because Aro wanted her to; he wants us to be afraid. He won't be expecting us to be . . . running." He grimaced at the word. His opinion on our plan had always been negative. He thought we were admitting that they were more powerful. But they are. They had many, many more vampires than Edward's family was made up of. They'd all be killed.

Who's to say they aren't all going to be killed now? a little voice whispered in my head. I almost choked on a sob. They were my family now, too. I loved them; they were all important to me. I couldn't stand it if any of them were killed or injured.

Suddenly, a thought that I'd forgotten about dawned on me. "I thought the Denalis were going to help us. I thought they were going to stay."

Edward shook his head. "They were supposed to. But Tanya was . . . irritating me, so I sent them away. Eleazar gave Emmett and Jasper . . . battle tips, just in case. Not like that will do anything to help us if it comes to a fight. They'll have many more fighters than we will. Kate – well, Kate's opinions are never helpful. They're entirely too biased to be considered. Carmen was helping with Esme's grief over us having to leave, but Esme was just getting more upset. It was better that they left. Plus, I just couldn't . . . trust Tanya around you."

"I spoke with her once," I said. I glanced out the window, squinting at the sunlight as it streamed into my eyes. "She was . . ." What was she? ". . . er, nice."

He smirked. "Yes, I'm sure she was. But however nice she appeared to be to you, she can snap in a moment. Trust me; I've seen those moments."

"Won't Aro go searching for them now?" I questioned. "Because they knew of our plan and didn't say anything?"

"Possibly," he granted, shrugging nonchalantly. "But they knew that. They took the chance of putting their coven's name on the bad list on the Volturi when they left. They could have stayed and defended themselves with backup, but they left. It's not our problem."

"Are you scared, Edward?" It had been on my mind for a long time. I had to know if I was the only one feeling fear.

"Yes," he admitted. His eyes left the road – something I'd become accustomed to when he was driving – and his hand lifted from the wheel to caress my cheek. My eyes fluttered closed. I felt his lips on my temple. "I'm afraid of losing you. I'm afraid that I won't be able to protect you."

"I'm afraid of us being separated," I told him.

"That won't happen," he responded instantly. "I promise you, Bella. I won't let them take you from me."

"But you just said you were afraid of losing me!" I yelled, cringing when my voice echoed loudly around the small car. "You're contradicting yourself."

"I suppose I am," he murmured, frowning. He didn't change either declaration, which gnawed at my heart a little.

I pressed. "Do you think Aro will kill them all?" The reality of our situation had sunk in, it was safe to say. I hadn't anticipated the sadness and depression I would feel after we'd left our family behind. I was overwhelmed with anxiety over their safety – would I ever see them again? Would I ever get to go back to Forks? Was my father okay?

Edward, it seemed, was completely at peace. "Of course not," he said. "He needs us."

"He needs you," I repeated, confused. "Why does he need you?"

"We're . . . not unknown to the world of vampires," he explained. We made a sudden left turn, which threw me into my door momentarily. I groaned, rubbing the spot where my arm had made contact with the car. He reached out and massaged my arm for me, but it was awkward because it was the arm that was furthest away from him. He continued. "Vampires all over the world look at us like we're crazy – and maybe we are. It's because of the way we live, you see. They don't understand why we don't drink from humans. They wonder why we fight our instincts, our nature. The whole world is aware that we exist, how we exist, where we exist. When Aro realizes that his plan to give us information to scare us really just gave us the opportunity to run – a stupid mistake on his part, really – he'll be furious . . . and embarrassed. He'll want to kill our entire coven, yes, but if he wants to do that, he'll have to tell the rest of the vampires who watch us from afar the reason that he did it."

He paused, chuckling. "The vampire world already doesn't like the Volturi and their rules. Aro knows that. All it would take would to be an unnecessary and unexplained massacre of an entire coven to set them all off. They would attack. If you put all of the world's population of vampires together, excluding the Volturi and their guard, they could overthrow them easily. You see how our diet comes in handy sometimes? If we were not the most well-known coven, simply for our food source, then Aro could kill us easily without anyone noticing – except for the Denali coven, of course, but who would believe them over Caius and Marcus? There's another reason that the Denali coven is safe – they practice the same diet we do, you remember."

"I understand," I said, nodding, "but you said that if all the vampires in the world teamed up, they could take down the Volturi. Why don't they, then? Why don't you all take them down since they're so . . . loathed?"

He pondered that. "How do I explain? Well, there's one thing – the amount of human lives that would be lost. You can't have Vampire World War ll without killing almost all of the population of humans off of the Earth."

"What about Vampire World War l?"

"Oh, that happened a long time ago – newborn armies were erupting. It was when Jasper was changed; he was a part of it. But that's part of the past."

"Oh," I murmured. Yes, I remembered that. Jasper had told me his story a while ago. He'd been changed by a girl named Maria and made a 'major' of her newborn vampire army. The human life that was being lost – both because of the massive amount of newborns being created and the lives that the newborns fed on – was a very large number. "Continue. I'm sorry for interrupting."

"It's no problem at all," he assured me gently. Patiently, he continued. "Vampires would automatically turn back to newborn armies because those are simply the easiest way to fight a battle. The creator doesn't even have to participate in the actual battle. The newborns will do the fighting themselves. Thus, humans would be killed. And newborns can't control their thirst for anything, so count the hundred or so lives they'll take per day. The human population would decline greatly, and if the human population dies off completely, how will we deal with our thirst?"

I laughed. "They don't care about human lives. They just care that they need food."

He chuckled with me. "Yes, that's right. Silly, isn't it? Selfish. The other reason is the lack of authority that we would have after the Volturi and their guard are all dead. You see, the vampire world needs a government of sorts, just as the countries of the world do. Rules need to be followed and punishments need to be given for those who fail to do so. That's simply the way things have to work to keep everything balanced. If there were no Volturi, every human would know of vampires and you all would live in fear."

I interrupted again. "Why don't the Volturi want humans to know? It's not like we can hurt you guys in any way."

He sighed, frowning, though I knew it was not at my disruption. "For those who hunt humans, the kill is the most exciting part. The thrill of chasing prey is the most accelerating feeling . . . that is what makes it fun to be immortal to them. So, humans finding out about vampires would . . . well, it would take away their hope. If they know they cannot win a battle against a vampire, why fight? There will be some brave souls, of course, but after fifty years or so, the fight of the human species would be gone. The will to live would end. And that's just not fun for those sadistic beings out there."

"Oh," I breathed.

"Anyway, if there is no government, then there are no rules, and no consequences." He licked his lips. "The sanity of the world would end. Everyone agrees that some authority must be had. But how do we choose that new authority? Would it be elections similar to those of the United States'? That would be the simplest, most obvious option. But you know there will be covens who want the power for themselves. They'll claim that they played the biggest part in defeating the Volturi, and they deserve to be rulers. They'll say that they have the best interest in the goodness of our entire species. But that's just a load of –" He frowned. "So, the rest of the world will be forced to take them down, too. And more humans will die, and more war will occur, and the whole situation would ruin the entire world's peace."

I sat there, staring at the dashboard for a few seconds, letting that sink in. "How insignificant humans are to vampires," I muttered.

Edward scowled. "Yes, many of my kind have no regard for human life at all. Obviously, since they don't think anything of killing them to feed themselves."

I looked down at my hands, twiddling my thumbs. "I have another question," I stated.

He made a turn that took us down another random, deserted ally. "Ask away," he said softly. His hand slipped off of the wheel to reach for mine. I accepted it, tightening my fingers around his, glad that the tension he'd been feeling due to the topic was gone.

Too bad I was going to bring it up again. "You said that . . . during Vampire World War l . . . a lot of humans died."

"Yes," he confirmed, a hint of confusion in his voice. He didn't know where I was going with this. "The human population was so low that your entire species was dangerously close to extinction. Or so I hear – I wasn't alive at that time, you understand. This Vampire World War l occurred long before the World War l that your human history books speak of. You understand that I was born in 1901 and –"

"Wanted to be a soldier," I finished, grinning. "I remember that story."

He nodded. "I did tell you that story, didn't I?"

I nodded, too.

"Was that your question?" he asked after a second. "That wasn't much of an inquiry."

"No, that wasn't it," I mumbled. "I just wondered . . . why humans didn't . . . figure it out." That didn't make any sense, so I elaborated. "I mean – if the population was so low and so many humans were being killed by vampires and turned into vampires, then how did the secret . . . stay a secret?"

He chuckled. "Some humans did figure out our secret – those who were left alive after an attack. But not enough of them were believed by those who hadn't had experiences like they did. But your history books explain the number of deaths as a response to a disease that had no vaccine. The amount of overpopulation during that time in the world is how they explained not having exact records of who had passed on, how they had passed on, and where it had happened. The human world was chaos – stories being made up about evil bloodsucking vampires were pushed aside. Everyone focused on the fact that it took America so long to enter the war – well, the focused on the fact that Woodrow Wilson was so intent on keeping us out, for so long."

I was still focused on his first sentence. "Survived an attack?" I repeated, incredulous. "How is that possible? Wouldn't the venom . . . but I thought vampires couldn't stop after they . . . started. Newborns."

He nodded. "Yes, newborns taste human blood – any vampire tastes human blood – and a frenzy begins. It is almost impossible to stop – almost. The only thing that would have stopped a newborn if he or she was feeding would be the distraction of a human who smelled better than the human they were feeding from. They would instantly drop the bled-out human and leave them there to die while they attacked the more delicious-smelling one." He paused, glancing at me to see if I was still listening, not freaking out at his wording. I gave him a calm look and he continued. "Leaving a catch alive like that would allow the venom to spread – I think you said something about that. But sometimes the human would be so . . . so . . . well, you know that when a vampire bites, he or she essentially injects venom into their prey. So, when a vampire . . . excuse my wording, but when a vampire drains a human, he or she basically sucks whatever venom had been put into the body back into them with the blood. If a newborn had been almost . . ." He grimaced. "Er, finished with their . . . meal, their venom would have already been sucked out. If enough blood was left in the human's system and the venom had all been removed, the human could lie there and recover, and therefore, survive."

My mouth gapped open in my stunned fascination with it all. "That's . . . cool."

"That's lucky," he said. "For the human, anyway. But of course there were cases where the hungry newborn would return to the less-wanted kill after the better human was . . . gone. But some survived. And then they were put in a mental institution for talking crazy about a demon who sucked his or her blood."

I could tell he was struggling with thinking of humans as food – it wasn't something he'd done in eighty years, but I laughed at his attempt at a joke anyway. It was funny, really. "That's . . . really interesting."

"You mean that, don't you?" he murmured. His thumb traced patterns over the back of my hand. "You're actually interested in vampire history."

"Of course," I said. "It's your history. These events ultimately led to you being created. Some of these were things that you experienced yourself. I think it's very thought-provoking."

"Thought provoking," he repeated. I detected a hint of teasing in his voice. "Is that so? And what thoughts has it provoked?"

"I'm wondering what events I'll be a part of when I'm a vampire."

He sighed, frowning. "You're so eager for that, aren't you?"

"Aren't you?" I asked. "We can be together forever."

"Of course you know that I want to spend eternity with you," he whispered, suddenly sullen and remorseful, "but I do wish that you didn't have to become like me in order for that to happen."

"You don't want me to be a vampire," I stated. My chest hurt at the thought that he didn't want me in the same way that I wanted him – unconditionally, irrevocably, and forever.

"I don't want you to be," he agreed, "but I can't deny that it will happen."

I perked up. "Has Alice seen –"

"Yes." His voice held a note that told me he did not want to talk about it. He probably didn't even want to hear me say the words.

"Oh," I asked, but because I absolutely had to know, I added, "Who?"

He took his hand from mine abruptly and moved it to grasp the steering wheel. I watched his knuckles turn white as he gripped the rubber, knowing that he had pulled away to keep from crushing my hand. After a long, pregnant silence, he muttered in a voice so low I could hardly hear, "Me."

Relief flooded through me. He was who I wanted to do it. I wanted him to be the one to begin my immortal life, the life I would live for eternity – probably. Maybe. Possibly. It wasn't like vampires couldn't be murdered. I fought a shudder.

"Okay," I said, going back and forth between biting and puckering my lips to keep the smug smile off of my face. He was upset that my "soul was going to be taken away"; I didn't want to make it worse.

"That bed looks awfully uncomfortable," was the first thing Edward said when he pushed the door to our hotel room open.

I trudged over to it slowly, finally feeling the sleep overcome me. Rubbing my hand over the rough comforter and keeping my internal grimace from showing on the outside, I shrugged. "It's okay. It's better than the car."

"I suppose," he murmured, "but Bella, we're not poor. We could leave; we could get a better hotel. I'm sure down the road there's a nicer –"

But I was already under the covers with my head resting on the hard pillow that felt like Heaven. "Mmm," I mumbled, trying to say no, that's okay, but it kind of sounded like a "nuh-uh" all blurred together.

I peeked open to look up at my boyfriend, who was smirking down at me, standing next to the bed. He reached down to massage under my ear. I fluttered my eyes closed again, sighing. I heard him kneel down beside the bed. "Don't you want to change your clothes first?" he whispered.

"No," I muffled quietly. "My jeans are comfortable." I'd originally been planning to wear my sweatpants, but the frequent stops at gas stations and fast-food restaurants made me want to look somewhat presentable for human eyes. Edward says I look beautiful, even when I wear my ugliest outfits, so I couldn't trust his opinion when he said, "Your sweatpants are fine, Bella. You would look perfect," before we left. I'd settled for my jeans and a nice sweater – it was pretty chilly outside for spring this year. So much for global warming.

He probably rolled his eyes. From across the room, I heard the sound of something being unzipped and then his cool hand was back on my cheek in about half a second. "Here are your pajamas," he told me softly. "I'm going to get you something to eat. Have a nice nap."

I smiled lazily. "Thanks."

"Has Alice called?" It was about five o'clock in the afternoon now. I'd taken about a two hour nap before Edward had woken me up for dinner. The sun was still shining, though it was less bright as it had been this afternoon during our car ride. The TV was on, but I wasn't watching it. It was a repeat of a random show I'd put on.

Edward sighed. "No. And that's very frustrating. But I suppose we just have to assume that everything's still okay there."

I nodded, biting into the sandwich he'd brought me from a nearby fast-food place. Two minutes passed, and then something dawned on me. "It's Friday," I spoke.

He knew what I was getting at. "It is," he said lightly. He flashed over to the small bag that Carlisle had held all of my medication.

The chemo pills came first. He handed me a paper cup from the bathroom and plopped the small, pink pill into my waiting palm. I tossed it back, sucked down my water, and nodded. "Next," I said.

He now held the needle that I'd always thought was too big. It was already filled with the chemo. We'd practiced this part, to make sure that Edward could handle this – injecting me with a needle. He'd always insisted that he could handle it, but Carlisle had been unsure. Thus, I'd been poked about ten unnecessary times with an empty needle, much to my dislike. I sighed, tossing my head to the side so that I couldn't see the arm he was going to inject it into. I felt his cool fingers grasp my wrist, pulling my arm so that it was straight. "Ready?" he asked.

"I guess," I muttered, squeezing my eyes shut.

He laughed. "It's just a needle, Bella," he reminded me. "It won't kill you."

"How do you know?" I teased back.

"I guess I don't," he lied. "Okay, ready? One. Two." He paused for an extra two seconds, probably internally laughing at the speed of my heart. "Three."

It had always hurt a little, but Edward was able to find the same spot that he'd injected the medication into last the Friday before last, when I'd had my last treatment, so I really didn't feel the pinch. I was being injected with a needle there so often that the wound never really healed between treatments.

"All done," he breathed. A second later, he was washing the needle off in the bathroom. I lied down on the bed, disregarding my meal. I wasn't hungry anymore, knowing that – in about twenty minutes – a wave of nausea would wash over me. Yanking the scratchy comforter up to my waist, in turned on my side, closing my eyes.

I knew Edward had returned to my side when I felt the bed dip behind me. One of his arms slid around my waist as he smoothed my hair down the side of my neck. "I love you," he whispered in my ear.

"I love you, too," I answered. Flopping around like a fish, I twisted so I could see his face. I wrapped my arms around his neck and he flattened his palm on the small of my back, pressing me against the hard form of his body. Our lips met romantically, his chilled against my warm. My hands tangled in his hair when he pulled away to press butterfly kisses down my throat. I giggled at the feeling of his breath on my collar bone.

When my heart had had about enough, he leaned up to press one more kiss to my chin, my cheek, my other cheek, the tip of my nose, and lastly my lips. I kept my arms around his neck while he buried his face in mine. "My favorite place to be," he whispered.

I smiled. "My favorite place for you to be."

I felt him shake his head, laughing. "That's ridiculous, you know that? You're completely comfortable having a vampire's face in your neck, his lips near your throat."

"I've never been scared of you," I reminded him. "I've always trusted you."

He took a deep breath. "You smell like lilacs."

"Am I mouthwatering?"

It was the wrong thing joke to make. He swallowed and pulled back, leaving his hands on my hips but his face was hard. His eyes glinted with anger. "I could never, Bella. Not ever."

I cocked my head to the side. "I know," I assured him, reaching my hands out in a gesture to make him come closer again. The hotel room was hot and his cold skin felt good against mine. And I didn't like it when he pulled away; it felt better to have him close to me, where he belonged.

He pulled me closer, and now we were lying on the center of the bed instead of off to the right side. I tucked my face into his neck this time, and breathed in the scent of his cologne. I blinked, but suddenly I wasn't tired. "Are you mad at me?"

He shook his head. "No."

"Are you sad at me?" That one was an attempt to get him to laugh.

It worked; he chuckled. "No. I'm sad at me."

I frowned. "Why?"

I felt his shrug more than saw it because he was wrapped tightly around me. "I haven't done as good of a job as I'd thought I had when it comes to convincing you of my love."

"What?" I demanded against his throat. "What are you talking about? Of course I know that you love me, Edward! You've do things all the time that remind me that you do!"

"You thought that I was . . . breathing in your scent . . . because I wanted your blood."

"No, Edward," I breathed, frantically shaking my head back and forth. "I was only kidding, Edward. I didn't mean it. I wasn't –"

"Are you happy, Bella?"

I met his gaze. "Of course I am."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," I insisted, feeling an unsettling panic set in. "Where is this coming from?"

"You came here to be with your father, Bella," he said. "You came here to escape the memories of Phoenix. You came here so that the two of you could start over and heal and put the awful memories of your mother's death behind you."

I gasped at the feeling that his words evoked in my chest. My mother's face flashed before my eyes, but Edward's lips against my forehead pushed it away before it became anything more.

"I'm sorry," he apologized. "But my point, Bella, is that you came here to be a normal daughter with your normal father, and I stepped in right away and took that away from you. Now, you're gone – stuck here with me, away from your dad. I can't help but think that I ruined everything for you."

"I'm not stuck here with you, Edward," I snapped. "I love you. I love being here with you, just the two of us! I can't deny that I miss my dad. I can't deny that I wish I hadn't had to leave him without saying goodbye to his face. I regret that I had to leave him a letter. But us being here is going to save my life so that I can go back and be with him, be his daughter! You have saved my life, Edward. Without you, I wouldn't be alive and with my dad anyway!"

"Of course you would be," he interrupted. "You –"

"What about my treatments?" He needed to hear this; I had to make him listen to me. "Edward, the only reason that this leukemia hasn't killed me yet is because of those pills. If you and your father and your family hadn't been in Forks, then I wouldn't have gotten that option! You said it once yourself – it's only available with Carlisle. I would have died without it. Your presence in my life has given me the option to still be . . . alive! I would be dead by now without you. I would be gone. You saved me." I hadn't realized I was crying until I saw his hand reach up to whip my tears away.

"Sshh, Bella," he murmured, tucking my head in his neck again. "Shh. Sleep, love. Just sleep."

"No," I croaked. "It's six o'clock. I'm not tired, and you're mad, and –"

"No, sweetheart," he said. "Shh. I'm not mad. Just lay here, okay? Just lay here and relax. Shh." He started to hum a song I'd never heard before.

It didn't take long for me to stop being not tired.