Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

Midnight

Summary:
She is his world. He is her world. She wants to become like him, to be with him forever. He wants to remove himself from her, to save her precious life. What happens when he fails in the only thing he has ever cared about?


Notes:
Spoilers: New Moon. Practically original fiction.


1. Midnight

Rating 0/5   Word Count 5740   Review this Chapter

Midnight

The world ends at midnight...

It was midnight.

The world was at its darkest, the stars hidden behind a thick, typical layering of gray clouds.

The roads of the small Northern town were deserted, all respectable members of society safely tucked inside their plain little houses surrounded by their safe little town.

The irony was nearly tangible. How they all thought they were so safe, even as they were surrounded by the greatest dangers to exist in all the world. They would never know it, but at any moment all their lives, all their perfect safety, could come crashing down. The poor, innocent, ignorant small town was sitting on a virtual time bomb, and would probably never know it.

Hopefully.

Justin was able to appreciate the irony, as well as the location itself. The vampires who chose Washington knew what they were doing. The North is favorable, and of all the places in the United States, there was no better place for sunless living than Olympic Peninsula, which possessed the highest rainfall statistics in all fifty states. It was the most perfect place for his kind that he had ever come across in all his years of nomadic living.

The only thing that could be seen by human eyes in the lonely stretch of road and empty land were four black splotches slightly darker than the rest of its surroundings.

Two of the four points of darker darkness were immobile, one much larger than the other, standing about fifty yards apart. One was a lightless house, the other a parked car.

The other two splashes of shadow were much smaller, and moving. Two human figures, one taller and thicker, the other softer and slower. One was a human girl, the other a male vampire.

They were moving from the car to the house. The taller figure—Justin—moved behind the slimmer one—Caroline—his hand instinctively, protectively on the small of her back. He matched her pace, unhurried and patient despite his obvious restraint.

Caroline was quiet for a human, at least as far as her movements were concerned, but she was nowhere near noiseless. Justin was the epitome of stealthy silence. It was as if he wasn’t there at all. All she could sense of him, even as he stood so close to her, was his hand barely touching her back. His hand moved from her as they reached the porch, which creaked under her light steps. His heavier frame didn’t even upset the air he moved through.

It was Caroline’s greatest fear that, one day, she would turn around and see what the rest of her senses claim that she should: nothing.

But, as she reached the front door and turned around, Caroline saw Justin standing behind her, as she has for so many years and planned to for many more to come.

Her heart stayed calm, her breathing normal, even as she stepped to the side, out of his way so that he could unlock the front door.

After living with a vampire for so long, one learned to control tell-tale human reactions that used to give her away and drive Justin off. Now she never does anything that could alarm him and make him move away, although sometimes he does anyway. Her heart soars in silence.

He didn’t look at her as he opened the door and ushered her inside the house. She knew, however, that he was watching her as she wordlessly, and obediently, complied. The thought warmed her.

The inside was not only pitch-black, it was also empty. Bare and barren, possessing no signs of life or living, past or present. Caroline stepped forward to give Justin some room to step inside and close the door behind them.

Instantly Caroline was rendered blind. She wasn’t afraid, not even for a second, her pulse as

even as ever.

This reaction—or, rather, lack of one—was odd for a human. If the house was empty of anyone but her, as all evidence said it was, a human would still react, no matter what their intellectual mind tells them. They would fear the terrors lurking in the dark, even if they "knew" that no such creatures existed. The horrors of the unknown were not rational.

Caroline had more reason to be frightened than most. She was alone in a house with a vampire who held every advantage over her, from his sense of sight to his strength and his noiseless movement.

It was irrational for her to be calm, even more so than it would be irrational for a perfectly safe human to fear. It was a trait of hers that never ceased to worry Justin.

Seconds later light flared, candles lighting slower than Justin was setting them ablaze. Caroline blinked, and suddenly the entire room was filled with the soft light of a thousand candles ranging from small to large scattered throughout the wide open space, mostly on the windowsills, and in odd, free-standing containers. She wasn’t surprised at their seemingly sudden appearance. She often missed the obvious, especially around Justin. He was a surprising creature.

Justin turned to her, the picture of beauty, and finally Caroline reacted as a human being should. Her breath caught, her heart speeding up unevenly. He was beyond gorgeous, almost too glorious to look at for long, impossible to turn away from. She was caught, like a deer in headlights, the fly that wanted to be devoured by the spider.

Justin’s eyes were red, scarlet, brighter than the maroon of a few days ago. They should be terrifying—they would be to an ignorant human, and even more so to one that knew what they meant—but Caroline saw them only as beautiful, like the rest of him.

His skin was pale, smooth and flawless, his features well-defined and painfully perfect. His hair was long and dark brown streaked naturally with red. It was pulled back in a ponytail, flowing down to his waist. He wore a plain, cream-toned plaid button-down shirt over long, straight blue jeans rolled up over his ankles.

He wore no shoes, his feet bare. They were a waste of time and beyond useless. They couldn’t protect him, not that he needed protecting, and he never approached a human in a manner that required them. He could afford constant replacements, of course, but that was far more trouble than it was worth.

His face was carefully composed, blank, distant, and cold. The sort of face that would drive away any rational human being, for they would be able to sense the danger instinctively, even if they didn’t understand the odd color of his eyes.

Justin wasn’t hungry, but that wasn’t why Caroline wasn’t afraid. She was never afraid of him. Love births stupidity and destroys reason, so even the constant threat of death didn’t drive her away. It couldn’t. The small comforts seemed to be enough for her. Such as the fact that if he did kill her she would never feel it. And the fact that she knew he would enjoy it. Such morbid thoughts, or so it seems. Caroline felt as if she had nothing to fear.

Justin sighed, a barely audible sound, which he does often. Caroline ignored it and threw herself into his arms. He caught her gently, cradling her frail form in his long, muscular arms, as if she was a newborn babe who’s head needed supporting. She inhaled deeply, taking in his

warm, sweet, masculine scent, which comforted her already calm self.

He smelled of a strange mixture of cinnamon, oranges, and wood-smoke she could never tire of. His smooth, graceful arms were impossible hard against her soft human skin, and unnaturally cool, as was his sculpted body, but the marble consistency of him only comforted Caroline further. He held her close and breathed deeply every once in a while between long period of immobility, taking in her scent as she took in his.

After the eternity of five minutes Caroline pulled back, sensing that it was time for Justin to leave. His arms fell to his sides, and it was as if he had never moved.

"When will you come back?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper, sharply melancholic.

Caroline’s tone stabbed Justin in his unmoving heart. "Soon," he responded, his voice purposefully raised so she could hear, completely even and falsely unaffected.

She nodded, still saddened, as always. "Why can’t you stay tonight?" she mumbled, looking up at him like a petulant child, her lower lip pouting. "Why can’t you stay here?"

Justin shook his head, his hand raising slowly even by human standards to touch a lock of her soft light brown hair. He didn’t move closer. "It will take me a while to find a place where I can hunt safely."

Caroline did not question the truth of his words. Her pout receded and she nodded slightly, sighing in resignation, her pale blue eyes never leaving him. The blue eyes he hated to upset but refused to alter.

Gently he traced the outline of her lips, not wanting to leave. Finally he gave up—there was nothing more to say—and inbetween the starting and ending time of her next blink he was gone without so much as a slight breeze.

XXX

With a sigh Caroline turned back, her heart already lighter in anticipation for his return. She moved on to the next room, the second half of the downstairs, and found the pile of mostly her possessions waiting beneath the stairs. By use of flashlight she lit the second large set of candles. By the time she was done with that she was decidedly exhausted. She still took the time, however, to set up her plethora of pictures on several round tables before preparing herself for the night.

XXX

The next day Caroline woke up at noon more than fully rested, even after the exhausting previous day. Forks, Washington was cloudy, as always, and Caroline found that she liked it already, the most of any of the hundreds of places she had lived before with Justin. Dressed in a plaid jacket and blue jeans much like those Justin usually wore she danced about the oddly warm house, listening to music booming out of her advanced and expensive stereo system, singing along, her thoughts on Justin as she examined photographs that illustrated their years together, waiting eagerly for his inevitable return.

XXX

Justin had not gone out to feed, as Caroline believed. Instead he had gone out to travel the extensive green and black forest, his mind wandering as he lost himself in his depressed thoughts.

At around noon he came across the house he had been dreading visiting for weeks upon weeks, more by instinct than anything else.

Within was contained his true purpose for this excursion—of which Caroline was blissfully unaware.

He wasn’t sure that he could be happy with the results of the encounter, no matter the outcome.

On one hand, he could be banished. Permission could easily be denied him to share this area that was another coven’s territory. That would leave Caroline here, alone, never to see him again. She wouldn’t know that he was gone for good for three days, at which point she would react horribly, and no matter what, be unable to ever find him again. She would be beyond scared and unhappy, but she would also be safer than she could ever be with Justin around—which is all he wanted. It would kill him to leave her, but he was too weak to do it of his own free will, and it would be best for her in the long run.

That would be the end of him mentally.

On the other, he could be allowed to stay. Then he would be unable to abandon her. He would continue to put Caroline in danger with his very presence, his relief and happiness bitter and painful. He would forever be haunted by the fact that, one day, he would undoubtably lose control and kill her and she would never be warm and beautiful and tempting ever again—a possibility that the mere thought of ripped Justin apart with guilt and fear.

That would be the end of him emotionally.

Or, perhaps, in a very unlikely turn of events, the group of vampires larger than any he had seen since his time in Volterra so many centuries ago would attack him and tear him to shreds.

That would be the end of him physically.

That seemed like the best possibility, but also the least likely.

Finally he knew he could stall no longer. No doubt the famous mind-reader and Seeress would sense his presence soon enough if he didn’t just go and get it over with.

It was easy for Justin to find the house, though he had never seen it before. He wasn’t even familiar with the vast forests that surrounded it. This was easily explained by the fact that he had been painfully aware of it for the past several days, ever since Caroline and himself had crossed the border into Washington state in their procured black Ford truck.

Slowly he made his way through the last stretch of forest, although his pace would leave any human in the dust. Justin found that he emerged from the forest far too soon for his tastes. If he had a heart he was sure it would be beating erratically at the moment when his feet touched soft grass and even ground, leaving behind the sharp branches and soggy moss of the overbearing and ancient forest. Then he looked up and stood before his final destination struck still in his awe.

The house was beautiful, but not at all what Justin had been expecting. True, he had heard many things about its peculiar inhabitants, and sensed even more odd things about the place since he had come into range of it, but he had not thought he would be seeing a large, white house when he finally arrived there. It was the opposite of guarded—it was open, hiding nothing, despite what the inhabitants were, and how dangerous it was to be noticed and known. Behind it, stretching out for miles, was wide open land, healthy and green, peppered with gargantuan ancient trees and large detached buildings, all more ancient than any human still living.

Justin wasn’t sure what surprised him more—the subdued humanity of the place, or the sheer normality of the glorious surroundings, far too bright for the dark concept of "vampire".

It makes sense, he decided, in a very odd way, and shrugged. Justin took a deep breath and realized that his body was hesitating subconsciously. He was still undecided. After several moments he shoved away all troubled thoughts, having no other choice but to proceeded. He steeled himself for whatever he would face in the very immediate future, and started towards the front door with unwavering, yet reluctant by definition, conviction.

It opened before he reached the wrap-around front porch, which surprised him. Not for the typical reasons, but rather because it had taken so long to occur. Justin knew that he would be sensed before he made his own self known, but it seems as if the recognition of him had come delayed, taking longer than it should have—an odd and unnerving revelation. He frowned, feeling that something was not as it ought to be.

The one that stood before him looked to be in his early twenties, although that was obviously not the case. He was young in body, with blonde hair and extremely attractive pale features and the usual purple circles under his eyes, but his eyes were amber in color, which was not a surprise, and far older than they should be. Wise and experienced, he was no fresh-blood, fairly radiating wisdom and intelligence—as well as compassion and leadership. The one in charge, of course, although not in the usual way. The controlling way. It was alien, even to the definition of the unnatural.

His posture seemed to be relaxed, but he was too rigid, even for a vampire, to be down on his guard. Justin caught a glimpse of vast whiteness extending beyond the figure, but the full details of the interior were obscured by the patriarch’s stance.

Justin came to an obedient stop and waited for a moment, allowing the blonde-haired man to study him, before bowing in respect.

Finally the stranger spoke. "Hello. My name is Carlisle Cullen."

The unspoken question did not elude Justin. He did not break eye-contact as he said, "Greetings, Carlisle. My name is Justin." He had no last name for he was not pretending to be human; rather he was pretending not to exist, the second of two possible vampiric strategies for survival. "I am here to speak with you." Justin said no more, waiting with his head bowed slightly for Carlisle to respond to his announcement as he chose, although there was nothing submissive about his stance or gaze. Merely aware of his lack of power in another’s territory.

Carlisle nodded, eyes still on Justin. "Would you like to come inside?"

That Justin was not expecting. Until he remembered that Carlisle didn’t live alone, and that there must be more Cullens living in that too large house. He was the head of a true family, not a coven, for he was merely an advisor they all listened to, not a ruler. He would allow the others to make judgements on Justin as well and input on his final decision. Justin suppressed a grimace. Option three was starting to look more and more likely.

Still—why didn’t they come out to greet him? It was so human to invite a stranger inside, too familiar, too casual, and too reckless.

He did not hesitate visibly, however. Slowly, unthreateningly, he moved forward. Carlisle let him in first. The door closed silently behind them, and Justin came to a halt ten paces inside.

The out-of-place vampire took in the front room—which was, in truth, most of the first floor—in silence, and quickly, immediately feeling out of place, his appearance rough and soiled in comparison to his surroundings. For the first time in a long time he wished he wore shoes on his bare feet, which had been cleansed partially by the perfect meadow-like grass on the way inside.

He lingered on the inhabitants longer.

To his right, on a raised platform, sat two figures on a wooden bench before a silent grand piano. One was a bronze-haired male vampire, who was watching him with slightly darkened topaz eyes. Beside him sat a human female, her eyes deep and dark brown, her hair long and brunette. She was pale, her hand still not as white as the one it rested on top of as she watched him incredulously, sitting close to the vampire, marking them as a couple.

Before him and to the left some, at the foot of the spiraling stairs, sat two more figures. They were both vampires, one male and one female. The male was tall and blonde, his features hard. The female was petite and raven-haired, more jubilant, although lacking a smile at the moment. She looked almost worried for some reason that had nothing to do with safety. Confused. Their eyes were just as light as Carlisle’s. They did not touch, but something about them made it obvious that they were a couple.

Further to his left stood two more figures. Again, two vampires, one male and one female. The male was burly and thick with muscle, intimidating but with a playful, cheerful way about him, and curly brown hair. The female was stunningly beautiful and curvaceous, with long blonde-haired and icy-cold, rock-hard features. Their eyes were darker, like the bronze-haired one’s. His arm was casually draped over her shoulder as she stood partially in front of him.

Justin did not realize that he was turning around to see all the house’s inhabitants until he came to a stop, having traveled full-circle, to face Carlisle once again. This time he was not alone. His arm was wrapped around the shoulders of another female vampire, only instead of being tall and icy-blonde like the one he had just seen, she was soft and motherly looking, the most human of all the vampires present. This family truly was as odd as he had heard they would be.

Not only was he trapped, but he was also drastically outnumbered by the oddest assortment of his own kind that he had ever seen—even odder than he had heard and sensed that they would be. And none of them were monsters that prayed on human beings, another mark against him.

Justin stood tall and respectful, waiting to speak. The silence lingered, and he could sense the same odd worry radiating from the grand piano and the bronze-haired god that was coming from the staircase and the raven-haired fairy.

After a long moment he finally spoke, his voice warm and smooth, polite and respectful, open and honest. Diplomatic, but not charming, not in the purposeful, manipulative sense of the word. Just...Justin. "I am newly arrived to your territory. Forks is your town, your ‘property’. I recognize that you are superior to me in all ways. I am alone, and I must ask your permission to stay here for a period of time. I am asking for your permission to stay."

His question was loaded, meaning more than it seemed. Immediately they all picked up on that, but only Carlisle did not seem to be confused by it.

Out of the corner of his eye Justin saw that the bronze-haired vampire sitting beside the human female was frowning in confusion to match the raven-haired vampire. All eyes were on the newcomer, the outsider, and Justin kept himself carefully oriented towards Carlisle, relaxed and trusting. Almost reckless, it would seem, unless one knew Justin, his intentions, and what he can do.

Carlisle stepped forward, and his woman stayed where she was. He gestured behind himself in a sweeping, graceful gesture. "This is my wife, Esme." He turned towards the piano; Justin following his gaze. "There is my son, Edward, and Bella." He looked behind Justin towards the stairs, and Justin moved out of the way and turned halfway between them both. "Here is Jasper and Alice." He looked over to the stand-alone couple. "Here is Emmett and Rosalie." Once finished with introductions he stepped back and looked at Justin.

The silence lingered.

Carlisle sighed. "There are other, uninhabited places in the Washington state. There is no reason for you to come and live here," he pointed out.

Although no one came closer, Justin felt as if the eyes of Edward and Alice were somehow closing in on and watching him closely. He ignored the feeling and worked to suppress his wince. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to explain why he wanted to live in Forks so much.

Carlisle wasn’t finished. "And why do you want to stay in one place for a period of time? Most vampires never do such a thing, especially ones such as yourself."

He was referring to Justin’s red eyes and they all knew it.

Justin swallowed heavily. The oldest vampire was too smart. This would be harder than he had thought it would be. But he couldn’t back down now.

"I will not hunt in your territory. I will not be a problem," Justin promised, stepping away from Carlisle’s questions. Everyone picked up on that as well.

Carlisle frowned.

This time it was Edward who spoke up. "You didn’t answer his question," he growled. The sound was overly hostile, and no one seemed more shocked by Edward than Carlisle and Bella. Justin was perplexed; he didn’t understand. And neither did they.

Justin turned to face Edward, a respectful and brave gesture. His expression was blank and his eyes empty. "Are you the mind-reader?"

That seemed to strike a nerve in the bronze-haired beauty. Which confused his father and his partner even more than his anger. He growled, and Bella raised her hand to touch Edward’s face. It didn’t seem to affect the vampire, but in truth it was the only thing that kept him from leaping up, snarling, and attacking.

Justin turned again to face Alice, who was now standing, Jasper towering over her protectively. "And you are the Seeress, correct?"

Alice’s eyes mirrored Edward’s in frustration, but she was sweeter, more polite, and more calm. Jasper’s hand rose subtly to rest on her shoulder, and she seemed to relax further. "Yes, I am. And Edward can read minds." She gnawed on her lip and looked nervously toward Carlisle.

Justin turned to follow her gaze, feeling silly moving around so much. Carlisle had his arm around Esme once again, and he nodded. It was Justin’s turn to frown, but he refrained from speaking.

Alice stepped forward, Jasper staying still very reluctantly. She looked up into Justin’s eyes and asked, "Can you step to the side, please?"

It was an odd request, but Justin didn’t feel like fighting it. The request seemed harmless enough, in the current settings. Still, he hesitated before giving in, his eyes widening minutely.

Alice’s frown deepened. She nodded her thanks and stepped back. Her voice a low mumble, she said, "I don’t understand...it’s not working right...it’s as if..." Jasper pulled her close and made soothing noises as she trailed off.

Justin turned back to Carlisle, his mouth gaping open slightly to match his eyes. Bella was standing now, and she looked as confused and out of the loop as him.

Carlisle saw that and clarified. "Edward, you can’t read his mind properly, can you?"

Edward shook his head, obviously angry.

Carlisle nodded, and sighed. "And Alice can’t see his future properly, either."

Justin began to grow nervous. "I’m sorry. I don’t understand..."

Esme raised her hand, her expression soft and gentle as she stepped forward. She explained: "Edward’s gift works on a low scale. He can read the thoughts on the surface of a mind. With you, that isn’t quite the case. He reads the most dominate, the ruling thought in your mind, such as your need to ask us for permission. He cannot read reasons, or thoughts, in the way that he should, with you. Alice sees the path a person is on as soon as they make a decision that leads them there. With you, she only sees it once you are physically on it, not mentally.

"Understand?"

Justin nodded numbly. "Thank you," he mumbled.

Jasper spoke up now. "Why are things off for the two of them?"

Carlisle gnawed on his lip, thinking hard. He looked at Justin.

Justin didn’t need to be asked. "I have heightened senses."

Before he could continue Emmett interrupted, somewhat rudely, with a growling snort. "We all do. We’re vampires, afterall."

Justin ignored his outburst, as he would have even if he wasn’t a mere visitor. "In my former life—when I was human—I had extraordinary senses. And not only physically. Also spiritually, and emotionally. Now I have a sixth sense beyond any of any human or vampire. I sense things, houses, energies, people, etc."

Carlisle frowned. Nothing was clicking in his mind.

Bella spoke up, her voice soft and human, almost embarrassed—so very out of place in current settings. Her hair ruffled the hair as she moved, and Justin was instantly glad that he had eaten recently.

With a growl Edward was up and standing in front of her. Everyone froze. Justin stepped back, automatically. Not out of fear, but rather alarm. You didn’t have to be afraid to be worried—and the level of anger and protectiveness radiating off of Edward was enough to make even Emmett wince.

Justin swallowed, and Bella calmly moved him slightly to the side, so that she could see Justin and he could see part of her upperbody. She didn’t verbally protest, however, and Edward’s growl lowered out of the human hearing capacity.

"With this ability you have learned how to better hide your own self from the radars of others, since you have your own more heightened, correct?"

Justin nodded. Because he knew what everything felt like he was able to figure out how to shift his own energies and actions out of the ranges of others.

"Mightn’t that also go for your mental actions?"

Slowly, Justin nodded again.

"So it would be hard to read your mind or determine your plans..."

Because his mind worked differently, more subtly, more shielded than those of any other, human and vampire alike.

Everything clicked into place.

Emmett, Edward, and Jasper all stared at Bella, never ceasing to be surprised with how smart the human could be. Esme smiled, proud of Bella, as if she was her own daughter. Carlisle relaxed as the puzzle was solved. Alice looked troubled, but calmer now that there was a reason for the failure. Just like with her being completely unable to sense werewolves, although this, at least, wasn’t as bad.

Rosalie sniffed disdainfully, and everyone turned to her. Silence enveloped the household, and the icy-blonde that had, up until then, been silent, got her dramatic pause and outburst. "Why does it matter? He is a stranger in our lands. A monster."

Her tone was rude, and Carlisle’s look reproachful. But Justin raised his hand, everyone’s eyes shifting back to him. Still no one spoke, and he was able to wait a moment before speaking.

"She’s right. I am a monster. I kill human beings as my food source. I drink their blood. I care not for society or the frailties of lesser beings. I have been known to attack nearby mortals when I get too hungry, when I forget to feed or catch the smell of a particularly tasty morsel."

Edward’s gaze shifted back to Bella in a millisecond, nearly undetectable.

Justin paused before continuing. "I am a killer, a predator, an animal." His voice was oddly soft and sad.

Bella shuddered at his final words—more from his tone than what he said. Edward misinterpreted her reaction and growled, the sound low and far too animalistic to be human.

Carlisle frowned. Justin was purposefully incriminating himself, giving them reason to banish him. Even more than that, the way he spoke nearly begged for death right then and right there—the way he subtly hinted at killing Bella, for example, knowing what Edward’s reaction would be. He sounded eloquent in his speech, and his conclusion resonated off the walls of the Cullen residence.

It didn’t make any sense...

Esme stepped forward once again, and everyone stopped breathing, even Bella who couldn’t keep it up for long. Slowly she moved towards Justin, coming closer and closer. Justin remained still, frozen, even as every instinct told him to run away. Maybe this would be it, his freedom, his redemption...his death.

Her hand lightly rose up to touch his cheek. She looked into his eyes. In a whisper, she asked, "Why do you want to die?"

XXX

Caroline was settling into her new life marvelously fast. The house was large, perfect for her, laid out very simply. The rooms were large, closets nonexistent. No cellar, no attic, no kitchen. Just the way Caroline liked it. It was her dream home, and she wanted to stay there permanently, not just for their usual few weeks.

After a while Caroline grew winded and flushed from too much dancing. She laid on her bed, stretched out and breathing hard, classical music playing now to calm and soothe her. The beating of her heart, the roaring of her blood, the pounding of her headache. She smiled, loving every minute of it. It was so human, so simple. She would miss it when she turned into a vampire.

Caroline was determined to become a vampire. There was no other course of action left open to her. She still had time, of course; she was only sixteen. It would be best to age a few more years, so that she would be forever old enough for Justin. But there would be no getting around her fate, as she called it, no matter his damned tenacity. Humanity be damned, it’s only fun until you get too old to enjoy it. Then love is all you have, and she refused to lose hers.

After a solid half-hour of rest she got up to get some bottled water to drink. It wasn’t cool and refreshing, a little less than room temperature. Caroline figured that by getting used to having food itself being less pleasant the transition over to no food at all and only blood wouldn’t be hard to make at all.

Caroline Davis was not a girl who cared for the comforts or the pleasures of life. That’s why being with Justin would be so easy for her, and was already. He was a vampire, she was a human. But she was tough for a human. She never complained, she didn’t act silly, she never blushed or stumbled. Of course she wasn’t good enough for him yet, but she would be.

As soon as she turned eighteen.

XXX

Justin swallowed heavily and tried to look away, but couldn’t. Everyone waited, poised, curious beyond rationality.

Finally he answered her. "Because I love her too much to let her die."

His sentence didn’t make much sense, but the emotion everyone felt behind his words spoke for him. The silence rang in all their ears.

Esme nodded and hugged him close in an unexpected gesture. Justin sobbed a few dry sobs, and even Rosalie bowed her head in respectful silence.

After a long moment Esme pulled back and patted Justin’s cheek lightly. "Dying won’t help her, you know."

Justin growled, but the noise was half-hearted, and not directed towards her. "It will save her. From me."

Edward slumped, his own despair washing over him, and Bella growled, at him and at Justin. The noise was far from impressive, but it rang true nonetheless. Justin stared at her in his shock, and Edward reluctantly turned to see her flushed face.

"You are ridiculous!" she hissed. No one could tell if she was speaking to Edward or Justin. Probably both. "Love is more important than life, and being so damn noble all the time does nobody any good, least of all the ones that have to suffer through your indecision."

Edward snorted, and Justin mirrored the action. They refused to make eye contact.

"I am not undecided," they defended in unison.

Edward allowed Justin to continue first. "There is no decision to make. She will not have her life stolen and destroyed by me or any other. And that is final."

Justin allowed Edward the same courtesy. "And I know what I want. There is no indecision, just a blatant denial of obvious facts."

Bella groaned in her frustration.

Carlisle interrupted then. "Justin, you have my permission to remain here, if you stay adhered to a few simple rules. If you will come this was so we can discuss them..."

As Carlisle began to usher Justin away for a private chat, Edward read his thoughts as if Carlisle was speaking to him—a common and casual practice for them now, after so many years. His words were simple and very solemn.

He knows about the werewolves.

XXX

Caroline sat on the empty, silent porch, the house dark, and as the afternoon dragged on and twilight approached, she waited eagerly for Justin’s return.