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Juxtaposition

Summary:
Edward/Bella. Edward POV. Reality turns on its ear and you have no choice but to forget everything you think you know about Twilight. Is it AU? I guess you'll just have to read to find out.


Notes:


1. Through the Looking Glass

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1363   Review this Chapter

PART ONE: Through the Looking Glass

Caught in a Web
Removed from the world
Hanging on by a thread
Spinning the lies
devised in my head


--Caught in a Web
by Dream Theater

"BELLA!" It all happened so fast, there was no time to react. Red eyes savage, the vampire lunged for her. It required no thought at all, Edward simply moved, slamming his shoulder into her attacker's side. The impact of stone-hardened body against the brick wall behind them sounded like a gunshot in the narrow alley.

"Edward, watch out!" The warning was unnecessary, he had already gathered himself, sinking back in a crouch as the murderous stranger turned to face him. He was male, hardly remarkable and not well dressed. Edward might have thought him for a newborn save for the fact that there was too much calculation in his movements for that to be true. At the same time, his mind was a cacophony of random thoughts. It was all but impossible to sort them out as they flew around wildly, as sharp-edged as daggers. Edward's eyes narrowed, he had to finish this quickly. Emmett was not far behind and gaining rapidly, but he didn't dare make a mistake with Bella so close and vulnerable.

The stranger snarled, and he answered, the sound that rumbled from his chest heavy with menace. Dull red eyes, the mark of a human-hunter, raked over him and then locked suddenly, finally with his own. Neither of them moved, but the impact of that gaze hit Edward like a freight train. Pain, searing and awful, shuddered through him, and he was unable to look away. It was as if every muscle in his body had finally hardened over, rendering him completely in stone.

"Edward, what's wrong?!" Run Bella, he longed to shout it with every fiber of his being. He couldn't move, couldn't so much as draw breath to say the words. "Edward!" God Emmett, hurry, he begged silently, realizing in one horrified moment that Bella was going to watch him die.

His tormentor made a low, rough sound that might have been laughter and shuffled closer. He heard Bella's scream, and then it was drowned out by the blessed sound of Emmett's powerful, bass roar. Bella would be safe. As the darkness rolled over him, he carried that thought down with him.

*****

The pavement was cold, that was the first thought that came to mind as I became aware of my surroundings. Cold, and unforgivably hard. I dragged in a deep breath of chill air and it caught in my chest, making me cough. Rolling onto my side, I tried to remember where I was and why, but the answer didn't immediately present itself. I blinked, trying to clear my vision in the strange half-light of the alley where I lay, but the world got no brighter, and something about that struck me as odd.

I dragged my hands into position to push myself upright and swore softly as pain unexpectedly bloomed on the back of my knuckle. Startled, I sat up, turning over the offending hand. With disbelieving eyes, I observed that I'd torn the knuckle open on a bit of glass. Blood welled from the wound, and as I watched, it pooled and ran, dripping to the pavement in fat, crimson droplets. I stared, mesmerized, completely disconnected from the sensation of pain, of wetness.

The blood could have been paint and I would have been none the wiser... and it was then I realized that the scent was gone. Blood flowed from a gash on my soft, human hand, and I could smell nothing but the dank surroundings of the alley. Trembling, I slowly pulled the uninjured hand to my chest, and a low sound issued from my lips as my fingertips registered the alien pulse of my heart, racing with an emotion I couldn't name.

Why was I human? Why was I here? Why-- My eyes widened, my head snapped up. Bella... Dear God, where was Bella? I nearly choked on shame when I realized how long it had taken to register her absence. Shoving aside the mystery of my condition as temporarily unimportant, I staggered to my feet, looking desperately for something familiar that might give away my location.

The last thing I remembered was.... fighting. A vampire had attacked Bella, I thought I'd had him, but-- Something went wrong. I remembered being frozen in place, held there by his eyes. Helpless to watch as he closed in. Fear choked me at the thought, and it wasn't for myself I had feared, but for her. Still... Emmett had come, I was sure of it. I fought to remember more, searching for some reassurance that she had my brother to protect her. There was nothing, all that lay beyond that tantalizing hint of Emmett's presence was darkness. There was no choice but to cling to my fleeting hope. I had to believe that he had her, that Bella was safe.

Trying to steady myself, I began to walk toward where the light grew brighter, coming gradually to the mouth of the alley where it opened onto a deserted street. The buildings to either side were commercial, warehouses and shuttered shops. Some were abandoned, others in a sad state of disrepair. I randomly chose a direction and began walking down the sidewalk, shivering as a cold wind blew through my clothes. It was strangely quiet here, not even the disjointed thoughts of a restless mind to disturb my solitude. It made me wonder if I was now as alone in my thoughts as I was in body.

The answer to that question came swiftly, and I think perhaps it was that alone that saved my life. I heard his hunger, heard him following my blood trail like bread crumbs. I walked a little faster, looking for shelter, skirting the pool of light from a street lamp. He continued to follow, swift and silent, his thoughts coming clearer as the distance closed. 'This is too easy,' came the smug thought, not my own. 'All seasoned up and soft.'

The barest hint of a sound behind me was the only other warning I had. Heart pounding, I broke into a run. I knew the effort was futile, knew it better than any human had a right to. But something inside me refused to give up that easily, not until I knew the truth about Bella's fate. I heard the angry snarl of a predator in pursuit, and I knew that in a matter of heartbeats it would be over.

The impact never came. Instead I heard an answering snarl, higher in pitch but furious in intensity. Skidding to a halt, I whirled, praying it wouldn't be the last thing I'd ever do. Not ten feet from where I stood, they were locked together, struggling. The one whose voice I had heard in my head nearly dwarfed the smaller female, the light from the street lamp above them making their pale skin glow. He tried to overpower her, but she was quick, so light on her feet she might have been dancing. The male broke away, lunged... never realizing his fatal mistake until she flashed past him.

The pool of light illuminated his look of shock as his head gently drifted free from his neck. It made a dull thud as it hit the pavement, the bulk of his body a bit slower to join it. The female stood over it, contemplating what it would take to finish him off. At least, I could only assume she was. Her thoughts were a mystery as she ran a slim hand through a long mane of hair the color of polished mahogany.

I knew that gesture, that shape. It was carved into the very fiber of my being. I waited, wanting her to turn, but not quite willing to accept the impossible. She took away the chance for denial, turning towards me. Her face was hauntingly beautiful, achingly familiar. And as she looked at me with her shining golden eyes, I felt my heart stop.

"Bella..."