My take on the classic "What if Edward hadn't kept his thirst in check the day he met Bella" story.
2. Chapter Two
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It felt like my entire body was on fire. No, not only was my body on fire; it was like fire was running through my veins. The pain would come in currents, crashing down on me in waves of blazes. There was always an undertow, threatening to pull me under the surface and never let me return, sending me to the depths of death. But, unfortunately, it never did.
I knew I stayed conscious, because I could feel things. Right after the pain began, I could feel chilling arms wrap around me and carry me somewhere. I felt coolness every now and then on my forehead, my cheeks, my forearms. I could hear whispers, not only aimed at me, but aimed at people around me. There was never silence; always someone talking, if not to me, then to someone near me.
Whatever I was lying on, it must have been ruined by now. I continued clutching the fabric frantically, wanting the pain to either leave my body or take me over completely. I felt completely surrounded in liquid, and I knew I was hot. I was sweating myself into oblivion. My clothing clung to me, seeping with my body fluids. And whenever a new wave of fire crashed through me, I’d push my head farther into the object beneath me and arch my back, clawing my fingernails at whatever I could find. By now, I’d probably soaked and ripped everything and everyone that was near me.
But I honestly didn’t care. I wanted the blistering heat to stop, and I’d do whatever it took to succeed.
I could vaguely hear people talking to me, trying to soothe me. That never worked. Words like okay, fine, and calm went through one ear and out the other. I could feel their cool breath on my neck and my temple, causing shivers to run through me. But those shivers would be immediately encompassed in the inferno that was my body. I wished death would just come and find me already.
Through the haze of my pain, I remember thinking about Edward. I knew he had caused this hurt, but how? I was missing a big part of the picture, I knew I was. All of the Cullens seemed to know something, be in on something, or be something totally different, in general. The extreme beauty, absurd gracefulness, unusual eyes… but what was I missing? How could one person cause such a fire as this to rip through one’s body?
I remembered how he’d apologized right before he had punctured my neck. So he must have realized what he was about to do. How could a person cause this kind of pain on another, knowing fully well what they were doing? How could someone consciously choose this torrent of flame upon another? The idea itself was crazy. I would never do this to someone. I would never cause someone so much hurt that they wished and prayed, constantly, for death to come.
Then, finally, after what seemed like forever, the pain began to subside. The waves of blazes were becoming smaller, shorter in length, smaller in amount. My skin began to dry. It felt as though all of the sweat and fluid had poured out of my body. The fire running through my veins dimmed and calmed, until there was none left.
And then, after I felt no more flames, I listened to my heart – the only sound I heard now. All of the whispers stopped once I began calming down. I heard how it began to slow, the beats becoming longer and quieter.
Until. Thump. Thump.
I. Thump. Thump.
I gasped in pleasure when I no longer heard my heartbeat. Surely, at last, death had found me.
“Bella?” I heard a soft, musical voice ask. The angels of heaven – or demons of hell – had finally come to claim me.
I opened my eyes and found myself face to face with an angel, who was leaning over me and my bed. Oddly, though, this angel looked familiar. I had seen her short black hair, her golden eyes, her pixie-like face somewhere else.
“I’m so glad you’ve finally come,” I told her, my voice gasping.
Her face contorted into confusion, her eyebrows furrowing. “Bella? What are you talking about?”
“You’re my angel,” I stated. As if she didn’t already know. “I’m just glad you finally saved me from that inferno. I never imagined death feeling so… painful…” I told her, slowly fading off as memories of the pain consumed me.
Her face became understanding; the wrinkles in her forehead smoothing out. “Bella. Oh, Bella. You’re not dead.”
I stared into her eyes. “Yes, I am. How could a human possibly have lived through the hell I was just dealt with? I have to be dead. There’s no way I can be alive right now.”
“Well, you’re not exactly living, either…” she muttered. “Bella, I – and my family – have some explaining to do.” The angel turned her head toward the door and softly said, “Come, everyone.”
I was sure that no one could’ve possibly heard her quiet words. But, surely enough, six other angels made their way through the door. Four of them, again, looked familiar. One, in particular, I recognized more clearly than the others – the bronze-haired boy. Edward, as I recalled. He took a seat in one of the seven black leather chairs surrounding my bed; he chose the one farthest away. I noticed that Edward never made eye contact with me once. He continued staring at the floor, like there was some extremely interesting pattern on it. With a quick glance, it was nothing more than cream carpet.
The two lovely angels I didn’t recognize sat in the chairs closest to me. The sandy-haired man and maternal-looking woman both continued to stare at me reassuringly, sending kind smiles my way.
My pixie savior sat in another chair, and the other two took a spot in the remaining seats. Now there were seven angels, surrounding my bed in a half-circle.
I never imagined that heaven, or hell, was so… Earthly-looking. I felt like I was back in a hospital. Everything was so clean and polished.
“Hello,” I said faintly. Apparently, my voice still hadn’t found its strength. “I’d like to thank you for saving me. You, in particular.” I nodded toward the spiky-haired beauty. She tried to smile, but the anxiety in her eyes gave her away. “I thought the fire would never end.”
Each of their faces suddenly changed to a different emotion; I recognized confusion, understanding, worry, and, finally, agony.
“Bella, my name is Carlisle,” said the blonde-haired man comfortingly. He then went on to introduce all the others.
Their names each stirred memories in my past. I was back, sitting in a school cafeteria, gazing across the room at a table full of beautiful people. And, strangely enough, those sitting at the lunch table were now surrounding me in heaven – or hell. Which one it was, I still wasn’t sure.
Rosalie was the long-haired beauty; Emmett, the body-builder with brown curls. Alice was the angel who originally saved me, and her mate, Jasper, was the shy blonde. Carlisle introduced his wife as the motherly woman, and lastly, there was Edward – the lovely auburn.
“Bella, can you tell us what you remember about us? About Edward, more specifically?” Carlisle asked, leaning forward ever so slightly.
Edward’s name brought back pictures of biology class; the image of two black orbs pierced my memories. I saw myself walking to my car… and he was waiting for me. He had wanted to walk with me. I felt the pain, sharp objects in my neck. I placed my fingertips to the place where the fire started. I could feel two small bumps.
“I remember the fire, the blazes. Punctures in my neck. Black eyes, full of hatred and loathing. Edward –” I unconsciously winced as I spoke his name “– was standing by my truck, after school, I believe. He wanted me to walk with him, in the woods. I remember he looked at me like… like I was something to eat.”
Everyone was silent. I glanced over at the slouching boy. His head was placed in his hands; practically every pore of his body exuded remorse.
“Can I ask a question?” I asked Carlisle.
He gave a short chuckle. “Of course, Bella. We still have many things to explain ourselves, so I’m sure you have plenty of questions. Go ahead and ask us anything you like.”
I took a moment to gather my thoughts, and then spoke them slowly. “Am I in heaven or hell? Wherever I am, why are you beautiful creatures with me? And what are you, exactly? Are you my angels, or my extremely gorgeous demons? Did you die as I did?”
Carlisle leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest. “You are currently residing in neither heaven nor hell; actually, you are in Alaska. We are with you because you are one of us now, and we would truly like to help you with whatever you may need help with. We are not angels – far from it, actually. We are more like demons than anything. And yes, we have died as you have. Though, you aren’t exactly dead, either.”
I could feel the stare of each person burning holes in my face, and I realized that my jaw was hanging open since Carlisle had answered my questions. Immediately, embarrassment washed through me – but, strangely enough, my cheeks didn’t feel warm. I put one of my hands on my cheek, only to feel that it was the same temperature as the rest of me.
“I am confused, to say the least,” I told my group of saviors. They each chuckled quietly. Well, all except for one. But I didn’t expect much from Edward. He hadn’t said a word the entire time.
“May I ask only a few more questions? Then you can explain everything to me.”
Again, Carlisle was the one to answer me. “Yes, dear. Ask away.”
“Edward was the last person I saw before the pain – did he cause my death? You said I’m one of you now. If I’m not living, but I’m not dead, then what am I? If I’m in Alaska, where is Charlie? And Renee?” I stopped, and then remembered my recent embarrassment. “Oh, and why didn’t I blush just now? Any other time, my cheeks would be bright red… but not now.”
Carlisle took a deep breath. I saw him cast a quick look at Edward, who looked even more sorrowful, if that was possible.
“Yes, Edward was the cause of your… change. Because of him, you are now a member of the living dead.” He gave a short, non-humorous laugh before continuing on. “Charlie is still in Forks, and Renee is still in Phoenix. Your cheeks refused to redden just now because you no longer have blood in your body to provide the blush.”
I didn’t say anything, mulling over the details that Carlisle had just given me.
“I am part of the living dead,” I repeated. “I don’t have any blood in my body. And Edward made me this way.”
I thought I heard a soft, strangled noise coming from the bronze boy’s chair.
I didn’t realize that my voice had grown into a whisper. “How did he make me this way?” I said softly. “What am I, exactly?”
Each person in the room grew stiff as I spoke the last sentence. Only Carlisle seemed able enough to break the silence and tension. But even his usually comforting voice had become quiet and repentant.
“Edward bit you, dearest Bella. He is a vampire. As am I, and Esme, as well as Emmett, Jasper, Alice, and Rosalie.” He paused – to gauge my reaction, I’m sure – then continued on. “And, because Edward bit you, you are now like us, Bella. You are a vampire.”