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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.


3. An Inconvenient Truth

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PART THREE: An Inconvenient Truth

"Death is the first dance, eternal...

As a child, I thought
I could live without pain
without sorrow
As a man I've found
it's all caught up with me
I'm asleep yet I'm so afraid

Somewhere like a scene
from a memory
There's a picture
worth a thousand words
Eluding stares from
faces before me
It hides away and
will never be heard of again

Deceit is the second without end"

-- Metropolis, Part 1
by Dream Theater

Edward, can you hear me? I could. The voice was distant, but clear. I knew that voice. Please come back to us. We need you. She needs you. Alice. My sister was calling me. I struggled, tried to answer, but in the formless void I didn't possess a body, much less a voice. 'I can hear you!' I wanted to shout. 'I'm here!' But the sad irony was that the only person in my family that could hear thoughts was me.

I strained to hear more, willed the voice to speak to me again, but I was drifting. The current of dream and consciousness was bearing me away, and I was at its mercy as much as any piece of flotsam in the sea. As the still silence resumed, I wondered whether it had been real, or if Alice's voice was merely a product of my mind, turning on itself. The thought dragged me further from the surface, and the dreamscape shifted.

A stag ran through a verdant forest. He was massive, magnificent and in the prime of his life, a glorious rack of antlers weighting down his proud head. However, being monarch of his domain didn't spare him from falling into the sights of the hunter. The stag was fleeing, desperately running with a white ring of terror around his dark eye. The predator was little more than a blur of motion, a fraction of his size, but gaining swiftly. The end, when it came, was too fast to see with human eyes.

The stag fell in mid-leap, his slim legs flailing. The hunter was on him, her slender body bearing him down with incredible strength. A chill wind washed over them, whipping back her shining, dark hair like a banner. I watched as she dropped her head to the animal's throat, swift as a striking cobra, the deer's frantic movements faltering as she drank deeply of his blood. It was a staggering sight, primal and terrible... and all I could think was that she had never been more beautiful.

Dark lashes shadowed her pale cheeks as she fed, one hand stroking down the stag's neck gently, as if to soothe him on his way to death. A ribbon of blood trickled from the corner of her mouth, and I longed to seize her in my arms, to lick clean that sweet droplet and share the taste of the stag from her lips. I knew I wouldn't stop with that, not when hunger for blood and hunger for flesh were so deeply intertwined. I would be the hunter, and she my willing quarry as I pushed her to the mossy earth in the shadow of the stag's body. No longer constrained by the frailties of mortality, she would be mine. Heart and soul I had, yes, but it was her body I would claim as my own. There on the damp and fertile forest floor, with the scent of blood her perfume and only the trees to bear wit--

My, my, someone's having a good dream~ The intrusion of that deeply amused thought woke me as nothing else could have. My eyes flew open, staring up at the stained ceiling with confusion. The thought had been... Rosalie's? I blinked, struggling furiously to get my bearings when the sound of someone discreetly clearing their throat drew my attention. "I see that you're awake," Rosalie's voice said from across the room. "So I don't mind saying that perhaps you should take a moment to... calm yourself."

Calm? What could she poss-- The realization hit me, and mortification was swift and merciless. Her soft laughter merely confirmed that not only was I still human, but that I was enjoying all of the truly horrifying aspects of being human, including turning the color of a beet. I sat up, scrambled for the blanket that was half-covering me, and quickly bundled it into my lap.

I'd forgotten how much fun human boys could be. The thought merely added insult to injury.

"I'm so glad I amuse you," I snapped. She was surprised for a moment, then merely curious. I took advantage of the intervening silence to study my surroundings. I'd been lying on an old couch, in the room of a house that made the couch seem new. Across from me was another vampire, she sat in a rocking chair, a pair of men's trousers in her lap that she was repairing with needle and thread. It was only because I knew her well that I could identify her as Rosalie. The beautiful face was the same, but she was dressed quite plainly, her long blonde hair pulled into a simple braid.

"I'm sorry," her thoughts betrayed her on that score. "But you have to admit it's funny." Smiling, she lowered her eyes to her work again, and I could sense that she was even more curious now. "Can I get you anything? You've been out for a while."

Tempting, my throat was dry, my head faintly aching, but I had more important things on my mind. "Where is B- Isabel?" She was the last thing I remembered, and I realized that I needed to see her again.

"Izzy is with Emmett and Jake, they're discussing your situation. I'm Rose, by the way." Rosalie's thoughts warned me that she felt I was too much of a liability. But that telling me her name would do no harm either way. "Rose Cullen. Isabel is my sister in law." The name she gave me was different, and it was hard to piece together all the variables of this mysterious puzzle. But some things never changed, and the fact that Rosalie and Emmett was one of them was oddly comforting.

"So why aren't you with them?"

"Emmett speaks for us both, he'll tell me anything I need to know." Her faith in him was unshakable, I sometimes found that the most likable thing about her. "And someone needed to stay and watch you." She cocked her head to the side. "Speaking of which, I don't think I got your name."

"Edward. Edward Masen." That sounded so odd, like I was giving her the name of a dead man. Perhaps there was truth to that, Edward Masen had died the day that Edward Cullen had been born.

"So, Edward Masen. How long have you known about us?" There was a slight edge to her words, had I not been privy to her thoughts, I'm not sure I would have caught it. She was afraid, afraid that I might be... a spy? For the Volturi. What the hell? What was going on here? I wanted to dig deeper, but if I didn't answer her, she might become even more suspicious.

"Not long." God, what could I tell her? Not even I could quite believe the truth. "Someone I know... was killed."

"I see." She was seemingly engrossed in her sewing, making tiny, perfect stitches as she repaired a tear. But her mind was racing. As was mine. Her eyes flickered towards the doorway, and I sensed her impatience. The others had been gone too long, she was concerned they were fighting. Verbally, not physically, I noted with relief. Their decisions concerned her as well. 'If only Carlisle were here.' The thought, so clear, was followed by... grief. Carlisle was dead.

I didn't know how to feel. It was clear that nothing in this place I found myself was as I knew it to be. So...how to grieve a father that was not my father? I found it didn't matter. Any variation of the world was a lesser place without his presence. I closed my eyes, wondering if God heard the prayers of tainted souls.

"Still tired?" She seemed honestly worried I might pass out. "Isabel's power can be jarring, Emmett calls it getting a hard reboot."

There was no chance to answer her, the others were back. Rosalie was right, they had been fighting... and the fight wasn't over yet.

"That was a stupid move, Bel, you should have killed him and been done with it. As it is you've probably led them right to us." Oh no, it couldn't be... that voice was too familiar. "What the hell were you thinking!"

"There was no reason to kill him, he'd done nothing wrong." Her voice, a low and angry snarl. "But I couldn't just leave him, either. He knew. He knew what I was."

"That's exactly the reason you should have killed him." Him again. What concerned me was that Emmett was staying quiet, I could sense he was angry, and that anger was ready to boil over.

"I am my father's daughter. I will not kill an innocent." There was a long, tense moment, and then she tried to reason with him. "As long as I'm here, if they do come, they'll never find us. You know that."

"You can't shield us, forever, Isabel! Don't you remember what happened the last time!"

"Get your hands off me! I'm not your property, Jake." There were sounds of a scuffle, and Rosalie tensed, her entire being focused on what we could hear from the other room.

"Back off my sister. I'm not going to tell you twice." Emmett's voice was low, deadly. The few times I'd heard that tone from him, someone died.

"It's okay, Em. It's okay." I could see her, in my mind's eye, standing next to him, like a child with a tornado by the tail. Fortunately this particular tornado seemed predisposed to listen. "Jake, where are you going? Jake!"

The fight came to us, all at once. I heard the sound of footsteps, heard his thoughts before I saw him, and finally had to face a truth I'd known since he'd first spoken... but didn't want to admit to myself. Tall and broad, with skin the color of coffee with cream and black hair loose to his waist, Jacob Black loomed over me, glaring down at me with angry golden eyes. Vampire eyes.

This day just kept getting better.