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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.


11. Inner Monologue

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PART ELEVEN: Inner Monologue

[POV Shift: Isabel]

"Dammit Jake, stop that." Annoyed, I glared at him over my shoulder.

"What? What am I doing?"

To prove my point, I stopped, and he all but ran me over. "You're hovering."

"Fuck Bel, don't do that!" He rubbed the back of his neck, glaring back at me. I turned to face him, arms crossed.

"How am I supposed to hunt with you on my heels like that?" It was hard enough to concentrate at the moment without him making it worse. All I could think about was Edward lying in that hospital bed, still broken and fragile.

"How am I supposed to hunt when all you want to do is moon over him?" He growled, more a wolf growl than a vampire growl. One time he'd asked me how I knew the difference. It's impossible to explain, you just know.

"I'm not mooning over anyone." I sighed. "I'm just concerned."

Jake snorted. "I'm not blind, Isabel. Do you really think I haven't seen the way you look at him?" He curled his lip. "It's enough to make anyone lose their appetite."

"Jake..." I trailed off, suddenly furious with him. "You know, how dare you accuse me of being the one looking for a fight? You didn't bring me out here to hunt, you brought me out here so you could whine about us!" He rocked back on his heels, looking startled. Good. "I'm tired of having this conversation, Jake." I sighed, shaking my head. "I love you. You know I do. But you can't force me to give you what you want."

He shook his head, and his eyes when he looked at me were angry, yes, but there was also an odd sadness to them. "You know... Sometimes Bel, you're so brilliant it takes my breath away. But sometimes, you're too stupid to see your own hypocrisy." Stepping towards me, he lightly grasped my arms, giving me a gentle shake. "Listen to yourself. Are you going to do the same thing to him as you seem to think I'm doing to you?"

I...stared, completely unable to form a response to his words. "I-I'm not doing that," I whispered.

"He doesn't belong here, Bel. I tried to tell you that from the first." His eyes hardened. "You keep trying to shove him into our family and it doesn't work."

"Edward saved your life," I protested, stung.

His jaw clenched, but he nodded. "And I'll thank him for that. But that doesn't make him one of us."

I didn't know what to say, I wasn't sure how I felt, what I was thinking. Did I have those sorts of intentions? What were they? God, could I really be as much the hypocrite as he said? Taking a shaky breath, I turned away, wrapping my arms around myself as I started walking further into the trees. "I need to go," I said faintly.

"Bel--" He started to follow me.

Whirling, I snarled. A vampire's snarl, that animalistic language that we all knew by instinct. "No. Leave me alone." Turning my back on him, I took off running, not caring which direction I went in as long as it took me away from him, away from the hospital, away from everything that hurt. I lowered my head and leaned into the wind, running as fast and hard as my body would take me.

When there was nothing in the world but the wind, the ground beneath my feet, and the endless trees that swallowed me... that was when I heard her voice.

Isabel. I faltered, nearly stumbling. Isabel... can you hear me? I skidded to a stop, holding onto the trunk of an oak tree to keep my balance.

"Who's there?" I looked around, expecting to see another person.

Oh good, you can hear me. The voice, which I now realized I heard only in my mind, sounded pleased.

"Who are you?" I turned, putting my back against the tree, still unsure of whether or not to expect an attack.

My name is Bella. Bella Swan. A shiver went through me. 'I thought I knew you,' he'd said, that very first night. The name he'd said then... it had been Bella. It seems like I've been watching you for so long... it's nice to finally 'meet' you.

"Watching... me?"

Every time I close my eyes. Every dream... I've been with you. Bella paused, and when she spoke again, it was with great emotion. Thank you, Isabel. Thank you so much. I don't know if I can ever properly repay you for what you've done. It's been easier, knowing that you were watching over him.

"I didn't do it to be repaid," I said faintly. "I did it... because I care for him."

I know. Perhaps better than you could ever imagine. It's a trait we share. One of many.

I slid down the trunk of the tree, curling up at its roots with my arms clasped around my knees. "You're the one he sees when he looks at me," I whispered.

Maybe. There was sadness in Bella's voice. Would it help you to know that you are everything I long to be? That I wouldn't blame Edward if he looked at you and didn't think of me at all?

It didn't help. If anything, I was only more certain that I was right. "How can you long to be me? My world is falling apart."

I know. I'm so sorry. She hesitated. That's why I need your help. I don't want to hurt you, Isabel. But Jake is right. Edward doesn't belong there. His family is here, and they can't understand what's happened. I closed my eyes, forcing myself to listen even when her words were painful. He's trapped... and you have to let him go. Part of what's holding him there is you.

"Let him go?" My voice shook, but I swallowed hard, forcing myself to continue. "How... how do I do that?"

I'm not sure yet. But... Bella paused, and for a moment I thought she had gone silent. I was hoping... that you loved him enough to help me figure that out. For the first time in many years, I wished that I could cry. There was an ache in me, a hurt that went soul-deep, and I wondered then, if Bella felt it with me. I do, she whispered to me, and I had the oddest sensation of being pulled into a gentle hug. I feel it, too. And with those words came the relief I'd longed for, as though eyes more human than mine shed the tears that washed my soul clean.

I took a deep breath and slowly let it go. "I'll try my best."

That's all I can ask for.

It would have to be enough... I had nothing else to give.