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Paris

Summary:
What if Bella had never jumped off that cliff? What if Alice had never seen her die? What if the Cullens had never had a reason to return to Forks? AU


Notes:
There are a few passages in this story taken directly from New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. That's because, in order to write this Alternate Universe successfully, I have to be able to take scenes already in the canon and alter them to fit the consequences of the different choices in my own universe. The characters are still the same, so they would still say and think very similar things to what they said and thought in the original story. That being said, obviously the entire Twilight Universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I am not that brilliant.


15. Chapter 15

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 2595   Review this Chapter

Paris

Chapter Fifteen

When I opened my eyes the sounds of the battle were louder than before. I swallowed, climbing shakily off of Esme’s back.

“Charlie?!” I yelled, stumbling towards the house. I had never felt so jittery after running with a vampire; I didn’t know if it was because of my blinding guilt and terror or if it was because that in her rush Esme had not flown quite so evenly as Edward always had. She reached out a hand to steady me, but I pulled away, running clumsily. “Charlie!”

“Bells?”

That was Charlie’s voice. I wanted to cry in relief. He was ok. He could hear me, could call after me. I almost fell to the ground my knees went so weak.

“Charlie, stay in the house!” That was Billy’s roar. I almost smiled. Of course Billy would be taking care of Charlie, making sure he stayed in the safest place. I reached the door, threw it open to find Charlie on the other side.

“Bella? What’s going on?”

“Dad!” I gasped, falling on top of him and holding him to me. Charlie hugged me awkwardly back.

“Are you all right, Bells? Were you calling me Charlie?”

Oops. I looked up. In my panic I had forgotten that I was not supposed to call him by his name.

“Bella,” said a grave voice from around Charlie and I knew that Billy was staring at me intently. I stepped away from my father to look at him sitting there in his wheelchair. He looked so noble and full of power that it was hard to believe that he was really confined to just sitting down. “Bella, what is going on.” It was not a question; it was an order.

“Victoria,” Esme said from behind me, causing me to jump; I had forgotten that she was there. “She showed up with friends.”
There was a yelp so high-pitched it sounded as if it was a scream. I remembered that there was a battle, and my euphoria at finding Charlie in one piece faded into my guilt.

“Get out of my house, leech,” Billy growled.

“Billy!” Charlie yelled, shocked and angry. “What are you—“

“Who else is going to protect you?” Esme asked, a real question rather than a threat. “My family is out there, same as yours is. There is no one else for you to rely on should things get even more out of hand.”

Billy glared at her, almost murderously. I had never seen the man show so much rage. Charlie was staring wordlessly from Esme to Billy, but when he spoke it was to me.

“Bella?” he asked, turning to me. His eyes were bewildered and concerned, his mouth a little open in confusion. Worry lines began to crease his forehead as he looked at me more closely. In a windowpane I saw that my face was pale and clammy; I looked sick. I felt sick. My entire body was shaking. “Bella, honey, what’s going on?”
I felt as though I was going to cry again. The sounds of the battle echoed in my skull as though it were suddenly hollow, though my head felt overly large and heavy. I swayed where I stood and Esme was suddenly there, her cold arms leading me maternally towards a chair. My head was beginning to ache behind the eyes, a throbbing pain from too much worry and fear. I sat down heavily, and immediately I knew that getting up again would be difficult.

“I’m sorry, Dad,” I choked, trying to keep my breathing even. Another screech from the distance, and I winced as though I had been hit. “I never wanted this. I never wanted any of this.” I tried very hard not to cry. Esme kept a hand on my shoulder and Billy nearly snarled at her.

“Step away from the girl,” he warned. Esme just looked at him, not moving.

“What the hell is going on here?!” Charlie demanded. I knew he had finally had enough. It took a lot to get Charlie angry, and we had reached that limit.

“Dad,” I mumbled, “don’t get upset. Please.”

“Charlie,” Esme said grimly, “I’m so sorry to be upsetting you. We just happen to have a situation right now.”
Another pained sound, a sort of yowl. It had to have come from a wolf. I let loose a sob against my own will.

Billy sat there, mutely glaring.

Charlie said nothing. He was breathing hard, frustration clear on his face. He also looked a bit awkward; there was clearly something up with me, and he was unsure as to how to comfort me. We all sat there, waiting to see if Esme would explain for us. She squeezed my shoulder gently, but did not speak. We all sat there in stiff and awkward silence and the sounds of the battle grew louder, and no one seemed to be the one to explain everything.

I interlaced my fingers, then separated them again. I held tight to my tears, almost as though hugging them to my chest, because I knew if one managed to fall the rest would follow. Everything felt tight, tense. I refused to close my eyes against the shrieks in the distance; each one was my fault, I needed to remember each one. I needed to pay attention, try and figure out who might be winning, who might be hurt but it was impossible. There was no way that my ears, so weak and human, could discern such valuable information from wordless moans.

“Bella?” Charlie asked, his voice as strained as the room’s atmosphere, and suddenly all eyes were on me. I felt the unspoken urging, the inference that it would be me who had to explain these horrors to my father. Charlie was part of the police; it was only out of confusion and trust of Billy that he probably had not called in the force to take care of the clear violence occurring not too far away.

“Dad,” I tried, my voice too soft and hoarse, “I—“

“Hush,” Esme interrupted suddenly, and in that moment the world went silent; nothing could be heard but what seemed to be my own frantic, shallow breathing. Esme was still as stone, head cocked as she listened. Billy’s face froze in a frightened, grief-filled expression. Only Charlie seemed to still be blinking, his nose wrinkled and creased with his lack of understanding. I thought I might explode from panic.

And Esme breathed a sigh of relief. She still remained quite tense, her face only slightly less worried but still calmer than before. I did not know how to interpret the gesture; was it over? Had she caught some sign that her family was still alive? And what about Billy’s family, what about Jake? Jake, who had given me everything I could not give him in return. Jake who had spent his final moments with me acutely aware of the power Edward still managed to hold over me.

And Edward. Was Edward alright? And Alice? And Jared, and Paul, and Sam? My mind swam with the faces of those who were in danger for me, more clearly than I had allowed them to in the past hour or so. It was a mistake. The weight of my guilt, my worry, pressed down on my like a hot and impossibly heavy jacket. I felt weighed down by it, almost unable to move, and my shoulders shook under the pressure as I struggled ever more to keep from breaking down completely.

“What is that smell?” Charlie asked.

“Smoke,” Esme said, her voice thick with relief.

“Leech,” Billy said with almost matching release.

I smelled it too, sickly sweet and uncomfortable in my nostrils: I shuddered a bit. I blinked and Esme was at the door, holding it open. Whether it was because she had moved at her normal speed or that I was blinded by fear that I had not noticed the motion I did not know.

And through the door came Alice, not a hair out of place or a bit of cloth torn. She looked grim but calm, and I felt suddenly airy in the pit of my stomach, like I was floating uncomfortably high. Alice was all right. A bit of the guilt eased itself from my shoulders. I tried to stand but found my legs too shaky.

“Alice?” Charlie asked, thoroughly thrown by her sudden appearance.

“Alice?” Esme asked, requesting information just as Charlie was requesting answers.

Alice nodded.

“We’re alright,” she said softly. “Some of the wolves were hurt before we got there, though. Carlisle is with them.” Alice glanced over at me for possibly half a second and then back at her mother; I thought I might have imagined the pitying look in her eyes.
All the worry drained from Esme’s face; her eyes closed peacefully.

“I’ll go and help him,” she said and disappeared through the door.

I felt simultaneously relieved and terrified, a curious sensation that left me shaking near uncontrollably. The Cullens were okay; they had come to protect me but in doing so had protected many of the wolves who had turned out to be, despite their claims, unable to handle the threat.

But what did it mean, “some of the wolves were hurt”? I could feel the bile rising in my throat. I tried to understand the way Alice had looked at me, to explain to myself what her tone could have meant. Did “hurt” mean broken bones, or fractures, or sprains? Or something so much, so terribly much worse?

“Alice,” I tried to choke out at the same time Billy demanded heatedly, “What has happened to my son?!”

Alice blinked slowly and visions of death and paralyzed limbs and bodies floated in front of me.

“There were three seriously injured members of your pack,” Alice said slowly. “I don’t know how badly they were hurt.”

“And Jake?” I choked. “Was Jake badly hurt? Will he be okay?” My voice was desperate, pleading. Why, when it was needed most, did Alice’s ability to see the future fail us the most? What was the point in it anyway?

Alice looked so sad when she turned to me. Her childlike face was like a perfect, angelic reflection of the terror and grief that had bled from my heart to my face, with pity mingled in. She still looked beautiful even with the most horrific of my nightmares displayed in her eyes for all to see.

“Jake was hurt,” she said, gently and carefully. “So was Sam, and Paul. They were well enough to phase back into their human forms, so that Carlisle could do all he could for them. He’s doing his best.”

I wanted to let the howling hurricane of grief inside me out. I wanted to scream and smash and then run and run and not stop running, away from this house and this town and this life where all I did was hurt everyone around me including myself. But Billy’s face stopped me. It crumpled, like it was made of soggy paper, and he began to cry very very quietly. The weakness, the loss of control stunned me into silence and an exterior calm. It was Charlie’s shout that caused me to show emotion again as I started so badly I almost fell from my seat.

What is going on here?!” he roared, his patience finally at its end. “What has happened to these boys, Alice?!” He looked angrier than I had ever seen him, and I was shocked at the way he was seeming to blame Alice. He glowered at her when she merely regarded him calmly.

“I’m very sorry, Charlie,” she said, “I thought things had been explained to you. There was…an incident, in the woods. Many of the young men from La Push were attacked out in the woods and my brothers and father came to help save them. By the time they got there they managed to fight the attackers off but some of them were already hurt.”

Charlie raised his eyebrows. It was clear that despite Alice’s clear tone he did not buy it. The sounds of the battle had been too loud, too clear for him to believe that it had been just some random attack. Alice’s words were just slightly clearer than they usually seemed to be to me; her consonants were sharper, like I could feel them in my own throat. Was I listening so hard to find more news of Jake’s condition? Or had fear sharpened my senses?
What attacked them, exactly?” my father demanded.

“Leeches,” Billy said, before Alice could answer. He was looking up, his face shining from the damp tears that had coated it. There was almost a sort of insanity gleaming in his eyes. “Dirty filthy bloodsuckers who kill for fun—“
“Billy,” Alice snapped, interrupting him. Her eyes were full of warnings, if not threats.

“You think I’ll be bound by that treaty?” Billy whispered. “You’ve already gone and broken it--“

“We were invited—“

“I’m not understanding any of this,” Charlie said loudly. “You’re putting my daughter in danger and I don’t even know from what. I’m going to call for back up.” And he turned to move towards the phone.

Both Alice and Billy moved to stop him as one.

“No,” Billy said at the same moment Alice soothed, “That’s not a good idea.”

Charlie looked from one to the other, uncertain if he was being threatened or what he should do. Then he looked at me.

“Daddy,” I whispered and the term of endearment stopped us both. It had been years since I had even thought that word in regards to Charlie. It was something I had stopped saying after the age of five.

“Please,” I said softly.

“Sit down, Charlie,” Alice said in not an unkind way. “We’ll explain it all later, though I promise you that you will not believe it and will choose to accept the explanation I just gave you rather than the truth.” She glanced at me and I knew she was explaining to me rather than Charlie what she was seeing. She knew that I would understand.

But I was really barely understanding anything. The thought of Jake in pieces on the forest floor had overwhelmed all of my senses. I wanted to run out through the woods and find him, find him and Sam and Paul and beg their forgiveness for allowing them to get themselves so hurt because of me.

What if one of them had been bit, I thought, and then stopped breathing.

“Alice?” I choked.

She was next to me in a moment, her hand on my shoulder. It was the closest we had been since she had caught me at school kissing Jake in his car.

“Alice none of them…none of them were bit, right?”

I knew how poisonous venom could be to a werewolf. I knew how quickly they could die; Sam had explained it to me during one of my many afternoons on the reservation. I felt as though I might have turned to ice.

“I don’t know,” Alice said softly. “They were alive when I left but I can’t…” She wrinkled up her perfect face, frustrated and clearly upset, her voice rising slightly in volume. “I can’t see them.”

We all stayed there quietly for a few minutes more, Charlie sitting down across from me and Billy quietly clenching and unclenching his fists, Alice with her hand gently resting on my shoulder. The minutes lasted much longer than they should have it seemed to me. My breath came slow and deliberately and with much effort. Each inhale was a careful effort and it hurt to exhale. I touched the tip of my tongue to my teeth, and then the roof of my mouth. My fingers tapped against each other, my toes twitched inside my sneakers. I blinked rapidly to keep back the tears. I waited because there was nothing more I could do.