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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:


4. Interlude

Rating 0/5   Word Count 1759   Review this Chapter

PART FOUR: Interlude

Every muscle in my body tensed, instinctively responding to the barely-leashed aggression that rolled off of him in waves. I felt no fear, only an intense dislike for this person that transcended the traditional animosity between vampire and werewolf. Deliberately, I got to my feet, forcing him to take a step back unless he wanted a conflict. That would be laughable, I knew that. In my current condition he could snap me in half and use my spine for a toothpick. I found I absolutely didn't care.

Detached, my mind made note of the differences in him. Much to my satisfaction, we were nearly of a height, and I considered the possibility that his werewolf nature had not shown its mangy head before he'd been changed. Interesting. He continued to glare, but my behavior had surprised him. I wasn't behaving the way a good little human should. Silly me, I'd misplaced that memo.

"Can I help you?" Cold, polite, not giving an inch of ground, I made it clear that he was invading my space and I didn't appreciate it. Across the room, I heard Rosalie chuckle, followed by the quiet thunder of Emmett's voice. Oh, Jacob Black didn't like that.

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you where you stand." His voice shook with anger. I knew I was treading on perilous ground, this pup had never had much for self control. But in an instant, I had the perfect answer, one even he couldn't refute.

My eyes moved to where Isabel stood, still as a statue. Emmett had a restraining hand on her shoulder, and I was certain that was all that kept her from leaping between us. "Because she wouldn't forgive you." I met her golden eyes, held them. "Because her father taught her that life is precious." Her eyes widened. "All life."

A low growl rumbled in Jacob Black's chest, but he followed my gaze to Isabel's pale, still face. "Please Jake," she said softly. His thoughts were chaos, hard to follow, and then all at once the growl cut off in a sound of disgust, and he was gone.

Human weakness made the temptation to sag back onto the couch very great, but I refused to show that weakness. Not in front of three vampires. There was also the fact that, the longer I looked into Isabel's eyes, the stronger I felt. All thoughts of religion and the soulless nature of vampires were far away as I gazed at her. They had no place in light of the conviction I held, sure as I was sure of very few things in life, that while the body may have changed and they called her by another name, that I knew the soul behind those eyes. That it called to mine as much as it ever had.

The effort it took for her to break away was obvious, but she managed it, looking in the direction that Jacob Black had disappeared. "I should go after him..."

Emmett rested his hand on her shoulder again and their eyes met. "No Iz." He shook his head slightly. "Besides, it's your turn to babysit your pet human." He nodded my way, and I sensed that for the moment he was fine with my continued presence. I didn't seem like a threat, and he was confident that, even should I present one, he could keep them safe. That, and the fact that I had stood up to Jacob Black had impressed him. "I need to speak with my wife."

She hesitated, then nodded, moving towards me as Rosalie stood and followed Emmett from the room. Their voices and thoughts receded, and I was left in the perfect quiet of Isabel's company. "I'm sorry," we said simultaneously. I chuckled, and she tilted her head, startled.

"What are you sorry for?" She studied my face as she perched on one arm of the couch. I hesitated, and then sat back down as well, facing her.

"For causing you trouble." I meant that sincerely. "He's right, you know. You probably should have killed me." I raised a hand before she could protest. "But I'm grateful, very grateful, that you didn't."

She closed her eyes, shook her head. "Every day's a choice, a struggle," she said quietly. "Every day, the choices we make, the way we fight, defines who we are. That's not what I was taught to be. That's not the sort of person that I choose to be."

"I understand." She had no idea how perfectly I understood. I knew the struggle she mentioned, I had made those choices. Some right, some wrong.

"I have the oddest feeling that you mean that." Before I could answer, she changed the subject. "I still need to apologize for my part. Jake's the strongest, so we tend to defer to him." She frowned. "But he hasn't been at his best lately, and a lot of that is my fault." I badly wanted to know what she meant by that, and how the information fit with what I'd overheard of their conversation.

"I'm sure he's just concerned for your safety." I looked at our surroundings. Though I'd only seen this one room, I couldn't imagine that the rest of the house was in much better shape. "I get the sense that your family is hiding from something."

"Yes." She took a deep breath, looking down at her hands. "I'm sorry for that, too. By bringing you here, I've made you a part of the whole mess." Even without the benefit of reading her thoughts, I knew she was trying to decide how much to tell me. "There's a price on our heads, and we've just barely been keeping a few steps ahead of them. The...people... who are after us are very persistent. They have resources at their command that make them practically unstoppable." The Volturi, without question.

"What is it that they want from you?" I prompted quietly.

Her eyes, when she looked at me, were grieving. "My father was a great man. He taught us, all of us, a different way. A way to live without killing humans." A sad smile curved her lips. "It's a peaceful way to live, a good way, a way that allows families to exist." She shook her head. "But it's not the Volturi way. They decided my father's teachings were a threat. Three years ago, when the tensions escalated, he went to Italy to negotiate with them. And we never saw him again." The frightening thing was that I was not surprised by this revelation. It could only be a matter of time before the Volturi made a similar move on my family. Assuming I ever found my way home, I vowed never to let Carlisle go to Italy alone.

"That's terrible. I'm so sorry."

She nodded and gave me a slight, pained smile. "It still hurts, you know? My mother was never the same, she disappeared not long after we were sure he was gone. Emmett doesn't want to think so... but in my heart I know she's dead."

God, poor Esme. "So it's just you now."

"Me and my brother Emmett, his wife Rose and Jake." She was answering my questions easily, as though she felt she owed me that much. Useful for me, although I confess I felt a twinge of remorse that I was all but interrogating her. Her family was crumbling, just the four of them now. I wondered if Alice and Jasper had ever made themselves a part of it, but there was no easy way to find out. Perhaps for their sake it was better to have stayed clear, if Alice had seen something of this future in her visions I couldn't blame her.

"So," I frowned, showing her a bit of puzzlement. "How old are you, Isabel?"

"I'm 19." She answered me too quickly. Not the whole truth that.

"So how long have you been 19?" I smiled to myself, indulging the deja vu. She looked away, and again I knew that if her pale skin had allowed it, she would have blushed.

"For a while..." She ducked her head, glanced up at me through a fall of dark hair. The gesture was so much like Bella that it took my breath away. "It's been almost 25 years since I was human," she confessed shyly. "Em and Rose are older, Jake is younger."

"Ah, that makes sense." Unfortunately, every time I had more pieces to this puzzle, the puzzle itself got larger and more complex.

"Oh! I completely forgot, do you need something to eat?" Her expression was all concern as she searched my face. It was adorable, and it was only with an effort that I didn't grin stupidly back at her.

"Not right this second, but sometime soon." I glanced down at myself, realizing that I was as unaccustomed to accounting for this body's needs as she was.

That seemed to satisfy her. "Jake won't be back for a while, so we have time." She frowned, running her fingers through her hair nervously.

"Don't fight with him on my account," I told her softly. "Family is important."

She shook her head, impatient. "The fight was inevitable, your presence is just an excuse."

"A lover's quarrel, then."

"No." The quiet thunder of Emmett's voice carried from the doorway where he leaned. I was embarrassed to admit that I hadn't noticed his presence until he spoke. I watched him a bit warily as he came into the room, moving to slide an arm around Isabel's shoulders, stroking her hair. "Jake wants a wife, what Rose and I have." Isabel leaned her head against his side, eyes closed, content to let him shoulder her burdens for the moment. "All Izzy ever wanted was another brother." He sighed, and I felt his concern for her, the ferocity of his protective nature. I'd never loved my brother more than I did then. "Jake will come around," the words were said more to her than to me. "He's still young, he'll figure it out."

I wondered then, if she heard the threat behind the words. The wolf had stirred the wasp's nest, and I had to admit it would please me to see him get stung.