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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:


5. Perpetual Motion Machine

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PART FIVE: Perpetual Motion Machine

Jacob Black had still not returned by the time the gray light filtering through the window shades dimmed to black. Isabel had insisted on getting me something to eat, and I had to wonder which one of us looked more ridiculous. Me, the supposed human, picking at the offering as though he'd never seen food before, or her, watching me in fascination as though she'd never seen anyone eat. I managed, and felt better for it afterward, although some part of that may well have been Isabel's continued presence. For the hundredth time, I ran through my mind the similarities she shared with Bella, cataloging the differences. Isabel seemed more sure of herself, more comfortable in her skin, and yet at the same time more innocent. I realized that I missed Bella's wry smile, her infuriatingly contrary nature, I even missed the talent she had for getting into trouble. If Isabel shared any of that, I hadn't been around her long enough to see it. Oddly, it didn't make her less... just different.

Lost in those musings, it barely registered when my body began demanding sleep. Isabel appeared at my side as my eyes drifted shut, gently coaxing me to lie down. I looked up into her pale face, shining faintly in a shaft of moonlight from the window. "You're not uncomfortable around me." She blinked down at me, going still. "The blood craving... you don't feel it?"

For a long moment, I wasn't sure she would answer. Then she took a deep breath and shook her head. "It's not that, exactly." She frowned, choosing her words carefully. "I told you a little about my father, that's part of it." Yes, I could understand that, Carlisle seemed to have that effect on others. "The rest... it's strange." She gave me a wary look. "You have to promise not to laugh."

Again, deja vu. I grinned and nodded. "I solemnly swear."

"I'm serious." She narrowed her eyes until I smoothed my expression to her satisfaction. "I have this feeling, when I'm with you." Settling on the floor, she pulled up her knees and hugged her arms around them. "Like I know you. It's like... I'm supposed to be near you. I'm aware of you, I can smell you, you can only imagine how well I can." Her eyes were rueful. "But the idea of hurting you..." She lifted one hand and hesitantly placed it on her chest, above a heart that did not beat. "It hurts me." Taking a shaky breath, she looked up at me again. "Last night, I shouldn't have revealed myself to that nomad. But I couldn't let him kill you. Something inside me just wouldn't let it happen."

I longed to tell her the truth then, all of it, to share with her what I knew and see if we could puzzle through it together. I couldn't say what kept me silent, only that I couldn't make myself say the words. "You expected me to laugh after hearing that?"

"I'm not sure what I think about it. I couldn't exactly know what to expect from you." She bit her lip, thinking. "I think Jake knows. That would explain why he was so volatile today." I muffled my snort of disbelief. Jacob Black had been like that every day I'd had the misfortune of knowing him. Still, it truly bothered her that he was so upset.

"Emmett was right. Jake is young." I smiled, trying hard to be reassuring. "I'm sure it'll be fine." Now it was my turn to be careful with my words, fighting back the things I wanted to say in favor of the ones I should say. Finally I reached out to her, and was gratified when she placed her cool hand in mine. "It doesn't bother me, you know," I told her softly. "What you said to me."

"It should." Her voice was little more than a whisper, but she didn't let go of my hand.

There was no way she could know that I was the greater danger. That my answer to her sweet openness was subterfuge. Lies. I didn't belong here, wherever 'here' was, and my heart was with my family, with Bella. And yet... selfish monster that I am, I couldn't let go, either. I couldn't take my eyes from her pale and lovely face. Bella's face, but as it might be rendered by the hand of a master, set for eternity in flawless marble. As I drifted towards sleep, it was with the feeling of her fingers twined through mine, the coolness of her cheek against my skin as she lay her head against the couch beside my face.

Edward. Edward, can you hear me, son? Esme's voice. I'm here. Bella was exhausted, so Alice put her in bed for a little while. I hope she rests, but she's as stubborn as you are. My adopted mother, she sounded so worried, so worn. Just hold on, my sweet boy. Carlisle will be back soon, and he'll put everything to rights. I know it.

Her words were... confusing. I tried to reconcile them with what I knew, but I couldn't put the bits and pieces together to form a proper equation. It took me a long moment to simply shake off the certainty that Carlisle was dead. I struggled with it, trying to make the facts line up properly, but my sleeping mind had no taste for logic. So instead, I strained to listen, desperately trying to hear something more as if the rosetta stone I needed was just out of reach.

All at once, the dreamscape shuddered, the agonized cry of a wolf in pain tearing across it. This was not the same as the strange, half-heard voices that kept troubling me in the dream. This was real, immediate. I clawed my way free of the possessive arms of sleep with desperation, breathing hard as though I'd been running a marathon when I finally forced my eyes open. Isabel was still leaning against the couch, the hand that was not clasped with mine holding a worn, dime-store copy of Wuthering Heights.

She looked up at me, startled. "Edward, what's wrong?"

"Jacob..." I wrenched myself into a sitting position. "The Volturi."

"We haven't heard from Jake." She searched my face, trying to decide whether to be alarmed or not. "But I'm sure he's--"

"No, he's not." I put as much force behind the words as I could muster. "There's something I didn't tell you, Isabel." I slid to the floor and grabbed her shoulders, forcing her to meet my eyes. "I can hear thoughts, and please trust me when I say that Jake needs your help. He's alone and they have him cornered. If you don't help him soon, it will be too late."

Eyes wide, she simply stared at me for a long moment. "I-I'll get Emmett and Rose." Then she was abruptly gone, moving with a vampire's supernatural speed.

I sat back on the floor, staring at the doorway where she'd disappeared. I'd done the right thing. Of course I had. So why had it hurt so badly to see that flash of betrayal, of distrust in her eyes, just before she left me?