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Bella

Summary:
Twilight had passed. The new moon was out. Alternate approach to the second book.


Notes:
Spoilers: New Moon. Was begun before Bella became friends with Jacob (though that is not when it takes place).


1. Bella

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Bella

Bella, empty and tearless, is no Bella at all...

The day that Isabella Swan walked into my garage was the day that changed my life forever.

And as a vampire, I can tell you quite sincerely, that that is saying something.

The day was like any other, really. The sky was dark, as if the clouds were so heavy with rain that they were about to break open above us, although it was dry outside. There wasn’t even any wind. Yet I wouldn’t call it peaceful, really. My life is never peaceful, even at its dullest.

I was working on a car, as I always am, whether I have any repairs to complete or not. This one was a real beauty—and though I can usually remember everything about every car I ever see, and more about the ones I actively work on, to this day I cannot recall even what color this one was, much less the year, model, or what I was doing to it.

Bella stepped into my shop, the large front door halfway open and high enough for a shorter person (say, a girl) to walk under it comfortably. She hardly even noticed, much less flinched, as most of my customers do. Instantly I was intrigued. I paused in my work and stood straight up, watching her curiously. You would think that I had seen God himself with the way I was so frozen. Usually I am a very animated person, especially around people, being empathic and all. One good thing about feeling the emotions of others is being around humans. They are such chaotic creatures, full of life, even when they are unhappy or mourning or apathetic.

But not this one. And I reflected that. People I’ve known over the years always say that I am like a mirror for the soul. I can only remember ever being this still before I gave myself completely over to my "special ability", and when I am only in the presence of one other vampire who is either meditating or empty.

At first I thought she was one of my kind, since I could feel nothing radiating off of her. Literally. But no, as she got closer I smelled her, and instantly I became confused. She was human alright; with a slightly flowery scent about her, very pleasant; and delicious blood flowing through her veins, better than that of most. But it was wrong, all wrong. She was so empty. If she was a vampire like me I would say she was cold, but she wasn’t. Cold implies emotions and life frozen beneath the surface. She wasn’t warm; it was as if she had no blood. And she wasn’t cold; it was as if she had no soul.

I shivered involuntarily.

"How may I help you?" I instantly queried, a long-since natural response. Before this place, this sunless sky there had been other, sunless skies, and always it was the same; I was the mechanic everybody loved.

She was standing in front of me, on the other side of the car that was some dark color—that is as much as I can narrow it down. And only because of how it affected her. For the longest time she didn’t say anything, and I shifted nervously. Which was almost as odd as my shiver. As odd as I am for a vampire, not even I ever act so...so...human.

In that way, I figured later, Bella was perfect to find me. We were opposites.

Finally she spoke in a flat, never-living-never-dead voice, infinitely polite and perfectly rehearsed, "My name is Isabella Swan. I am looking for Kayne Sarain." She looked up at me then, her eyes catching mine, a slight question in the brown depths she would never translate into inflected, human speech.

Her eyes. Gods, they hit me hard. I nearly fell over, instead staying perfectly still as she did. They were so deep, not quite black, but still dark. Like some odd gemstone. If they were alive they would belong to a most beautiful soul. But I saw no glimmer of life—no glimmer of anything, not even of reflected light.

I took a deep breath and spoke back in a flat voice I despise, but that was somehow deeper than her own. "I go by Kay. How may I help you, Bella?" I don’t know what possessed me to call her that—probably the same oddness that made me forget all about the car of that moment. It was as if I knew...perhaps I did. I believe in more now than I ever did then, and that is definitely saying something.

She reacted to my use of her proffered nickname, if only for an instant. Pain flashed in her eyes so bright and so vivid that they almost went mournfully red. It was as if a fish skimmed close to the surface of black water and disappeared even as its slight ripples diminished. At the time I wasn’t even sure I had seen it. The life that I caught a glimpse of was more painful than the emptiness.

"Hello, Kay," she said, the false smile she wore more painful than the flat greeting. "I need something from you."

The way she said that made me break away from her aching spell; my brow creased and I frowned in confusion. Instantly I knew she wasn’t after a car, and that I was the only one who could help her.

I swallowed, instantly tense and wary. The atmosphere thickened, though Bella didn’t seem to notice. My words were careful, hers unchanging, but we both knew things weren’t quite the same.

"What do you need, Miss Bella?" I asked, trying for nonchalant, even adding a slight Southern accent to the sentence, to go with the "miss" bit I threw in for some false calm. It reminded me much of my own upbringing, which was such a pleasant prospect that I was able to resist her gaping emptiness a bit better.

She blinked slowly, and I wondered if she had before that moment. She must have, but I couldn’t honestly remember. I’m fairly sure I hadn’t. "I need a vampire," she blurted out, although there was nothing rushed or spontaneous about her words. Which made them all the more eerie.

I laughed nervously, my resolve breaking. The Southern accent came on thicker, and I tried to brush it off. It didn’t work; I sounded pathetic and childish to my own ears. "Now, now, everyone knows there ain’t no such thing as vampires," I drawled.

Bella was hard as rock. Harder. Hard and cold as diamond, because I was rock, and I was breaking. Crumbling. She wasn’t.

"Yes there are. I need to become one."

My eyes widened in spite of myself at that moment. That I was not expecting. Ten points for Bella, negative one hundred for me; she was winning by a long-shot. "What?" I whispered, suddenly intense and dark as I leaned forward, my hands on the shiny surface of the hood before me, inbetween us. So it was a dark, new car. Not much to go on, not that it matters.

She did not whisper, did not move, was not affected in any way by me...by anything, really. "I need you to turn me into a vampire, Kayne."

I snorted. I could play this off. It wasn’t any big secret that I lived an underground nightlife; so I slept sometime during the day, the people around me assumed. When I was seen too much in the bright hours I snuck off to hunt, so that nobody would realize I didn’t sleep. Beyond perfect for those sunny days on which I was nowhere to be found. She could easily know that...

I knew that wasn’t true, but desperately I tried like a good little country girl always does.

"I reckon you oughtta be going, Miss. It’s clear you are uninterested in my wares, and seeing as how there ain’t no such thing as v—"

She cut me off. "There is no need to lie to me. I know what you are."

I snorted again. "Very impressive. You asked around and found out that I was a member of the gothic underground. There ain’t no such thing as real v—"

She cut me off again. Only now do I know that she was halting the use of the word by anyone but herself. "Turn me."

I sighed. And stayed silent.

"I need you to turn me into a vampire," she repeated her earlier statement, word for word.

I shook my head, suddenly feeling as weary as my couple hundred years warranted by any human’s standards. "No, you don’t," I assured her softly.

Bella didn’t argue. "I need you to turn me into a vampire."

The first bit of inflection I ever heard from her had me looking up, alert. I searched critically for that flash of light the emphasis must have brought on, as if my life depended on it, but it was already gone. Slippery fish.

I met her gaze, and said in a voice softer than Ishould have been able to manage, "Why?" I almost sounded miserable, as if I was the one about to cry. I cleared my throat.

It was pointless. Bella wasn’t elusive. She told me the truth as I asked. I almost wish I hadn’t.

"Because I fell in love with a vampire. And he seemed to fall in love with me. But just as things were beyond perfect, his brother tried to attack me, and he got scared for my life. He and his family, my family, left, leaving no traces of their existence behind. And, just like that, they were gone. Nothing left but memories. I got lost inside myself. I went numb. For months I did not resurface. I did not want to remember, I refused to forget. And then came along the most perfect outlet. In danger I would hear his voice again, angry and beautiful, warning me, keeping me safe. I needed to hear his voice again, and again, so I approached the lion’s den—both figurative and literal—again and again. I was happy. The pain was still horrible, but I was stronger. It didn’t hurt to remember him like that. More time passed, his voice faded away. Now..." She paused for the first time in her whole monologue, the only proof I needed. "I can’t go on like this. I wanted to be a vampire when I had him, and I want it more now that I don’t. I waited, lingered, for my parents, my few remaining loved ones, not for his return. Now I’m supposed to be in college. But I don’t want a human life, no matter what he wanted. So if I become a vampire he can’t run away from me. He’ll be mad, but he’ll have to accept me. I’ll be beautiful and worthy of him. You’re the first one I’ve found who can help me. Who doesn’t know him, who might not refuse.

"Please."

If I hadn’t already been sobbing by that point I would have lost my composure at her sincere, numb rather than empty, plea. As it was I was aching all over, my heart ready to burst, so intense was my empathy. She wasn’t feeling it, but I was. I had never seen this woman before in my life, but suddenly, we were closer than sisters. I sobbed, and she waited.

When I resurfaced, wishing that I really could cry and have tears to wipe away in some form of closure, even while knowing that there was none to be had, still sniffling, it was dark out—the dark of night. Twilight had passed. The new moon was out. I felt more alone than usual. My face felt red and splotchy—an impossibility for a vampire.

Well, for a vampire who wasn’t raised a country gal who’s best features were her emotions and feelings. It’s the thought that counts, anyway. (Stupid cold, hard, bloodless skin.)

I swallowed and took a deep breath I didn’t need. I nodded and sniffled some more, the sleeves of my undershirt damp. I tugged a half-clean rag from my dusty overalls and said in an oddly calm and friendly voice, "Would you like something to eat?"