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Breathe for Mercy

Summary:
No one knows her real name. But everyone calls her Mercy. And she's running from a world of pain and fear, desperately searching for a place to hide from the monsters that haunt her footsteps. But she's found again-this time by Dr. Carlisle Cullen, who takes her under his wing even though he's vampire and she's human, and takes her home to live with the rest of his family, unaware of the wicked web she's caught in. But they don't know who she is, what she's done, what she's capable of. And the voices just won't go away. This is my story. My nightmare. And now I'm putting you through it. *Rated for some graphic violence* What the heck, why is no one reviewing? Is my story that bad?


Notes:
Her real name is unknown. But everyone calls her Mercy. She's running from a world where there is nothing but pain but she is looking for a new life, a new way. That's when she runs into the Cullen family and they bring her in and take her under their wing, even though she is human. But they don't really know who she is, what she's done. And the voices just won't go away. This is my story. My nightmare.And now I'm putting you through it.


6. Overcome Step One

Rating 5/5   Word Count 8578   Review this Chapter

Each breath breathed means I'm alive

And life means that I can find

The reasons to keep on getting by

And if reasons I can't find

I'll make up some to get by

Till breath by breath I'll leave this behind

No one would believe Aimee. Not a soul.

Things like that don't happen. Things like that never happen, especially in families like theirs.

"Have you ever told anyone?" I whispered. "Haven't you told your mother?"

"When?" She snapped. "The last time I saw her I was fourteen. I was never alone with her. There was always other people there, friends, family, my brother. And he praised the bitch so high that Mom began to believe she'd done the right thing. By then she'd had four or five boyfriends. Later, I'd try to call, but she was always on her way out, always with someone. I don't think she answers the phone when she's alone. So now I have an unavailable mother and a stepmother who makes me feel so ugly and dirty and ashamed. I mean, what guy would want me? I'm a lesbian."

"You are not!"

"What am I, then? I don't know. What am I?" She rocked and rocked and rocked.

"I'll kill her," I said. "Chad and Kyle and Jason, even Kates would help. We'll kill her."

"Don't be ridiculous." She sounded tired. She unsnaked her long legs and stretched them out before her-long, slender, shapely. She saw me looking and pulled the blanket over them.

"Then I'll tell my parents. My mother will help you. She's a lawyer." I didn't add that she would love such a sensational case and the renown it would bring her, especially if she won. "All we have to do is prove what she's done."

"And how are you going to do that?"

I hesitated. "Well, you'd have to tell your story."

"And who'd believe me?"

"Believe you?" I echoed. I believed her. What was not to believe? But I knew what she meant. There was no physical proof. There wouldn't be semen to test for. Was there any way to test for female stuff? Secretions? Probably, but that would mean telling, and Aimee's empty face told me that she wasn't going to do that. "So what do we do?" I asked, twisting her around and looking her full in the face.

She met my eyes without tears, without regret, without pain. "What I've been trying to do all along. Die."

I think back.

I think about Aimee's accident prone behavior. Everyone figured she was a klutz. After all, who could fall down a flight of stairs at school and crack their car up in the same month? No one thought it was odd that she would be driving with her leg in a cast. She was Aimee. No one questioned Aimee. Straight A's, good parents, good behavior (at least when at school), and kiss-up-to-the-teachers Aimee.

I remember once, when she got in this huge fight with her dad, which she lost, she went into the bathroom and slammed the shower door on her arm over and over. Until it broke. Yeah. Broke. She told her father she fell in the shower. He was so stupid, he never noticed that she was dressed and her hair was dry when she walked out of the bathroom with her arm dangling.

And the car accident? She was driving with a cast, but it was on her left leg and it didn't come above her knee. And the accident happened on this mostly straight road with only one curve, not even a forty-five degree curve, more like a fifteen-degree curve, that sweeps up and across an overpass by the highway. She was going at least fifty, the cops said, when she lost control and went off the road. I don't know how she survived it, but she was wearing a seat belt, so I guess that helped. And it always helps, if you're planning an accident and you want to survive, to remember to drive the car with air bags. The car she was not supposed to drive. Ever. Hers was the clunker from prehistory with no air bags and no four-wheel drive. Wonder why she drove the forbidden car that day? She said it was because she could get in and out easier with her cast.

Believe it or not.

******

I kept my hand on the shivering form curled up on the floor. I was afraid. Afraid that if I left her she would fall to pieces. She didn't move or flinch away from my touch but I knew she was weak. Weak and helpless. Scared. Of me and my family. Of me especially.

Another intense round of hysteria wracks her body, her cheek pressed into the carpet and her eyes squeezed shut. I watch her grip the threads of the carpet with angry fists, saw how the blue-green veins strained against the back of her hands.

"Shhh..." I mollify gently, laying a careful hand the side of her face. I feel the heat pulsing beneath the skin of her temple; I smooth back the curls of black velvet. Her crying had made her feverish and sweaty. Her heart beat fluttered like the blurring wings of a humming bird. "Deep breaths..." I murmur.

Gradually, her hysterics fell into quiet sobs.

Behind us even the fading sunlight seemed too weak to bear the sorrow of this little girl and quietly bowed below the horizon, giving twilight full ascendancy. Gray darkness crept over the land. Shadows fell and darkness came unhindered, bringing with it the icy claws of a growing winter storm. With vengeance, she flung a billion snowflakes towards the earth, smothering out the shimmering stars and leaving only furled clouds and the violet twilight gave away to complete darkness.

"Oh, Mercy," I breathe without thinking. It was more of a prayer than anything else-a small cry for help.

The chaotic events that had fallen seemed like a cruel twist of fate. She wasn't supposed to know. About us, I mean.

My mind continued to race through the events that had happened and what had lead up to them-it was like a bad movie being played over and over and over behind my closed eyelids. Over and over. I wonder: what could Alice have been thinking? Did she know that it was all going to lead up to this? Didn't she know? Didn't she see all this? I turn that thought over in my head, mulling, trying to find our mistakes and the point where we had messed up. We, I, was only trying to save a broken girl who seemed beyond repair. But I had to have hope.

There was always hope, wasn't there?

Mercy knew-she knew without even doubting-she knew what we were, as though she had already believed. In vampires, I mean.

Vampires.

She suddenly shudders, her breath catches, and she begins sitting up, her chest still heaving with the effort to breathe normally. She glares at me.

"I don't believe it," she spats at me but I hear the fear embedded in the words and I see the hurt and disappointment glimmering in her eyes. The dim light of the lamp created flickering shadows across her lovely, but sad face. The tears glistened on her cheeks and her exotic eyes watched me in distrust. And fear-always fear.

My words come out heavy, slow, tired. "I promise, I will not hurt you-you're safe with me."

No response.

"I promise."

Still nothing.

"I am a vampire," I hesitate, feeling that single word burning my insides as though I was on fire. "We all are."

She looks away then and she couldn't seem to hold back the sobs fighting to claw their way out. For a moment her shoulders quake and I wince. Her sobs weren't of fear or pain this time but carried the mournful sound of a fragile soul giving up and letting the darkness overwhelm every part of it.

I hated it. I knew she thought I was going to kill her.

She quiets again, her cries deflating out of her as if that was all she had left. Then she does something I do not expect. The fiery warmth of her finger tips touches my cheek. But only for a second then she drops her hand.

"Th-the cold skin-like marble..." she wasn't speaking to me but to herself. Her eyes flash.

"What about your eyes-why aren't they red?"

I start, going still momentarily. "How do you know about that?"

She doesn't answer. I didn't really expect one.

"You need not be afraid," my voice came raspy. "We're different. We don't hunt humans. Just animals."

Nothing. Again.

"Just animals," I repeat myself, nearly sounding foolish.

I watch her tears fall to the carpet. I reach to brush them from her face. She twists her head away from my touch.

"That's not what I'm worried about."

Her voice still came as a shock every time she spoke. Her silence seemed a prominent part of her that when a sound did emit, it was nearly strange. I blinked. "I'm afraid I don't understand."

"I don't care if you hunt animals," Mercy whispers, rubbing the back of her hand across her wet face. "Or humans for that matter."

I freeze in consternation. I didn't know what she was saying or what she was trying to say. "Then what do you care about?" I ask, crouching down and resting my arms on my knees.

Mercy drew her own knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them as though she were trying to pull her already diminutive frame into an even more compact space. I knew she wasn't going to answer.

Then: "I trusted you."

Her tiny, pain-stricken voice strove deep within me like a red-hot lance and unnecessary guilt washes over me. We sit in dead silence, listening to the moan of the wind outside and the rustling of tree branches against the window pane. She refuses to look at me, keeping her eyes averted. She looked at the hands in her lap and I can see the tiny white ridges of healed scars overlapping each other on each palm. I guessed that those were from her digging her nails into her palms either out of stress or fear. Or maybe even both.

I wasn't sure.

"Mercy," I whisper. "You're not alone."

I didn't know why I was prompted to say this but it seemed to be the key for her to look up at me with wide eyes as though what I had just said was something foreign or unheard of. That thought made my gut wrench even more and I cleared my throat, feeling slightly uncomfortable.

"Why?"

"Why what?"

She seemed to struggle with some inner turmoil for a moment and I watched her hands curl into fist at some unseen force. She was digging her nails into her skin.

"Why are you doing this? Why are you trying to help me? What are you trying to prove?"
"I'm not trying to prove anything." I counter cautiously. "Sometimes, when you see someone in need, you know you need to help them because who else do they have to turn to?"

"So this is all out of pity?" her voice was strained. "Just...pity?"

"No," my voice was more forceful than I had meant it to be.

"Than what? What is it?" she demanded. Her nails dig deeper.

I sigh. I knew she deserved the truth now. She already knew everything else. "It was because of Alice."

"Alice?" Mercy jerks in confusion.

"Alice...felt...that we had to help you."

Her face was blank.

"Some vampires have, well..." I felt it was nearly ‘Bella' all over again and I realized the danger in telling her all this. That it might cost her life. But it was too late now.

And I regretted this immensely. Bell had wanted it. She had chosen it. I didn't know what Mercy had chosen. Not this, I could guess by the look on her face.

"Some vampires have extra abilities. I believe some of the abilities were amplified from when they were humans-"

Mercy claps her hands over her ears. "No!" she cut me short abruptly.

I stare at her in bewilderment, not understanding the sudden outburst. She had squeezed her eyes shut and had pressed her lips into a thin stubborn line.

"Mercy?"

"I don't want to know!" she answers, shaking her head violently several times.

I sit back on my haunches with a sigh. I wasn't getting anywhere with this. Then:

"Let me see your hands." I say softly.

I know she heard me for her pulse spiked loudly. But she didn't move.

I gently, careful to avoid her wounds, draw one hand from her ear to inspect it. She was trembling. Sure enough, little red lines had appeared, fresh cuts over the old scars. "You need to stop doing this."

Mercy glares at me again with such ferocity that it startles me. For such a little person, she was awfully brave at times.

Mercy

He didn't walk away once the door was shut. I see his shadow under the doorway as he hesitates. A brief feeling of security touches my heart at the thought that he didn't want to leave me alone. But the feeling quickly vanishes.

He's a vampire. The monsters were all the same.

I back away from the door, my body still trembling from the adrenaline rush. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. But I couldn't get my mind to shut down.

How could I have been so stupid.

The cold skin, the odd colored eyes, the perfection and devastating beauty...I should have seen it earlier when I would've had the chance to run. Run away from this waking crypt where the dead never rest.

But now I was alone. A stranger in a strange land. Or house.

I was tired. I wanted to sleep but I also didn't want to let my guard down. Not that I would be able to defend myself against a house filled with vampires. But I would rather go down with a fight than to be taken while I slept.

I hated vampires.

I lower myself back down to the floor, feeling the thick carpet beneath me and the warmth of the heating vent a couple feet away. The matching sweatshirt that Alice had redressed me in sagged over my body. I carefully roll up one of the sleeves and stare at the multitude of stitches crisscrossing my arm. How ugly and disgusting they looked and I wonder how bad of scars they would leave behind. I wish I could see the gashes on my back.

I have a high tolerance for pain.

If I didn't, I probably would have lost my mind by know...that is if I haven't already lost it to the voices.

I stood again, contemplating my next move. The window was inaccessible and the door would most likely be locked or have somebody guarding it on the other side. I hated being locked up.

Then I make up my mind.

I see the pale, blue shirt lying on the floor by the lamp where I had hurled it earlier. I snatch it up and momentarily hold it to my face, inhaling its sweet scent. Then I switch off the light, leaving only the silver moonlight to guide me to the bed.

It was a large bed, high off the ground with a lavender coverlet and a thick white comforter. There were two large pillows, both matching the comforter and two small, dainty ones, the color of pale lavender and lined in white lace. And the frame was a dark mahogany, contrasting starkly with the light colors.

I didn't need any of it. With the tee-shirt in one hand, I scooted myself under the bed until I was completely covered by the frame.

I lay still in the darkness, my head resting on Carlisle's shirt.

"Aimee," I whisper with a swollen throat. A single tear slides down my cheek. "Look what we've gotten ourselves into."

Then I fell into a deep, deep sleep, with Aimee's face floating in my mind and the shirt's perfume lulling me like a lullaby.

Carlisle

"That was a smart move, Jacob," Edward spoke in a condescending tone. He had his arms crossed over his chest and sat against the back of the couch with an annoyed look on his face.

Jacob sneered at him. "Lay off, vampy, I didn't know she was here. I was just trying to warn you guys."

"Thank you," I interrupted quietly. "I appreciate your consideration."

"So who is the girl anyway? Did Edward find himself someone else?"

Bella hissed, glaring at Jacob's towering form.

"It was just a joke." He held up his hands as if to stop her anger. Seth shoved his shoulder.

"The girl is not the concern right now. Right now, I need to know exactly what you saw." I directed the conversation away from Mercy. It was too complicated a situation at the moment.

Jacob looks at Sam who nods slightly.

"I'm not exactly sure but there were at least eight." Jacob narrows his eyes and clenches his fists. "They were running east as I said, going a direct path to you guys. I think we might have startled them, but they vanished."

"Just eight?" Emmett flexed his muscles. "We could take them."

I held out my hand towards him to quiet. "Did you happen to know what some of them looked like?"

"Not really," he grimaces. "All I saw was that one of them was really, really small. Like a kid or something with short hair and a black robe."

Venom flooded my throat and I felt the hackles rise on the back on my neck. "Jane," I hissed through clenched teeth.

"The Volturi?" Bella springs to her feet, hands balled into fists. She shoots her eyes to Edward than Alice. All the werewolves tense at the name. Especially Jacob who knew remembered the stories that Bella had told him when she was human. "Why? What would they want?"

I hadn't a clue. We've kept up an inconspicuous existence and we've done nothing out of line.

"Carlisle," Esme murmurs behind me. Her hand touches my shoulder. "You wouldn't think it is because of Mercy? Would you?"

"Mercy?" Jacob echoes, his voice clueless.

"It would be impossible that they knew about her-she only found out we were vampires an hour ago." I shake my head, crossing my arms and spreading my feet out unconsciously. Being around so many humans every day had made a habit out of my ways to blend in. I had no need to shift my stance. I could've stood in the same position for hours without being bothered. But to humans, that would be completely unnatural.

Unnatural isn't the way to go, is it?

Esme nodded, seeming to accept my explanation.

"Who's Mercy?" Jacob looks to Bella, Esme, Alice, than me. "Is she that girl? Why do you have a human in your house?"

"Why not?" Bella challenged.

She had seemed a bit on the edge lately. I shoot her a calming look, willing her to sit again. I could tell that the werewolves were getting nervous. No matter how long we know each other, we were always natural enemies and ill at ease feeling would probably never go away. Except for Seth who seemed to have no problem at all.

"Jacob, that is not the issue here-stay focused." Sam stepped in front of Jacob, his calming demeanor making the La Push boys cease their fidgeting. A feeling of calm washes over me and I exchanged a meaningful look with Jasper. Sam looks at me with obsidian eyes. "We will have continuous rounds around our territory and yours if you will give us permission. We will let you know if anything goes amiss."

I dipped my head in gratitude. Though it was written by nature that we be enemies, our two groups countered that. It sent relief through me each time I thought of it, knowing that the world around us would be just that much more peaceful. "And we will do the same if you wish."

Sam shrugs. "If you feel the need, go for it."

"We could do tradeoffs," Edward suggests, looking at me for approval in which I nodded a swift nod in ascent. Working together would lighten the load for the werewolves, who unlike us, still needed to eat, sleep, and relax at times.

Esme seemed to read my thoughts. "And don't ever hesitate if you feel the need to seek rest here, or food because we'll always have food prepared if you wanted. Even clothes, if you wish. We always have plenty of that."

Alice grinned.

Sam nods in thought and looked at his comrades. "We'll be here if you need us." He says as the boys slip out.

"See ya, Carlisle," Seth grins at me. "Catch you later Bella. And Edward, you still owe me a race!"

He bounces out last.

"He's just a child, Carlisle," Esme whispers, her face sad.

"But a capable one, Esme," Edward answers. "Seth is smart, he won't let anything get the best of him."

"A race?" Bella raises an eyebrow at Edward who chuckled.

"Seth was dying to know if he was faster than me or not."

"Is he?"

"No-I'll always be the fastest."

Emmett snickered. "I think you're right about that, Edward...I think."

Bella rolls her eyes. "Moving on..."

I smile at their antics and wait till the werewolves were out of ear shot. Then I turned to Alice. "Have you seen anything about Mercy?"

Alice's face clouds over. "No," she replied grudgingly. "I've got nothing. Why?"

"Upstairs, when I was speaking to her, she asked me why I didn't red eyes."

Esme gasped. Alice's eyes widened.

"Well, then, that constitutes that she already knew about vampires. At least, the ones who hunt humans." Edward concluded. He spun on Esme. "Maybe you were getting on to something."

"See, Carlisle!" Rosalie had returned about twenty minutes ago and had remained silent until now. "An unneeded problem you've brought unto us. Now we have the Volturi stalking us!"

I turn away from her, narrowing my eyes at the night outside the window. "But when would she have come in contact with vampires and survived?"

"What would the Volturi want with a small, insignificant girl?" Edward added pointedly.

I bristle at his words but remind myself that he was right in a way. What was one, tiny human girl to a coven of the deadliest vampires in the entire world?

Alice lowers her head and whispers: "Maybe she's not so insignificant."

Mercy

The golden rays of the sunlight pierced my eyelids and made me squint. I roll over and realize that I was still under the bed with the blue shirt splayed beneath me. I stretch my legs out and jump when I see a pair of black ballet-style shoes next to the bed. Then Alice's face appeared.

"How long were you planning to stay under there?" She asked brightly, her gold eyes glittering with happiness.

I shrink back, fixing my face into a mean glare. She was a vampire as well.

But Alice only laughed. "Oh quit it," she takes me by the foot and slides me out before I had a chance to react. Her eyes narrow. "Look at you," she accuses. "You're a mess. Did you even think about putting pajamas on before going to sleep?"

I say nothing.

"Obviously it doesn't matter when you sleep under the bed."

I couldn't help but smile and that small gesture seemed to make her eyes glow even more.

"We'll worry about a shower later since Carlisle said it's not good to get your wounds wet constantly." And the next moment she was at the closet, moving so fast that I didn't catch the movement. It paralyzed me for a moment.

This time, like her Barbie doll that I was, she dressed me in black leggings and a pale lavender hoodie. She slipped a pair of black slippers on my feet with a tiny purple bow in the center of each one.

"I match my bed," I say without thinking.

Alice laughs and her voice shimmered and danced like chimes. "Come on," she grabs my hand and I flinch at its coldness but she didn't seem to notice. She skipped down the hallway with me in tow.

"We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!" She sang in a high soprano voice as she pranced along, swinging our hands to and fro. Then she lets go of my hand and does a delicate twirl, spinning her way to the top of the staircase.

"Crazy, isn't she?"

A massive shadow suddenly encompassed mine. I freeze momentarily, shocked by the booming voice behind me. Taking a deep breath, I whirl around to see the vampire-gorilla wearing a wild grin on his face. He flexed his muscles several times for show, the look on his face more than slightly intimidating.

I take a step back, unsure of what to do. Fear sent my heart pounding against my ribcage.

Where was Alice?

"Impressive, aren't they?" His eyes brows lift on his face and his gin turns nearly menacing.

This time, I take several steps backward, stumbling as I hit what felt like to be a brick wall.

I gasp when I feel cold hands steadying.

I spin to see Carlisle standing directly behind me, a bag slung over one shoulder and clothed in mint-green medical scrubs. Without thinking through my options, I quickly turn to hide behind his towering form, peering around his elbow to glare at Emmett, who began to roar with laughter, his massive body shaking in his mirth.

Carlisle shakes his head to himself and eyes Emmett for a moment before raising his arm up to look around at me.

"Just ignore him." He tells me with a smile. "He's just a really big toddler."

"A really big, scary, toddler," I mutter, gripping his loose sleeve until my knuckles turn white.

He chuckles and offered his hand.

I look at it for a moment. This was a vampire. A monster that you were supposed to flee from not flee to. I didn't care anymore. I release his shirt and take his icy hand and shivered, but I allowed him to lead me down the staircase where the smell of breakfast curled its tempting figures around my body.

"Esme's cooking today," he informed me once we reached the bottom step. Tempted by the wonderful smells wafting from the kitchen, I break away from his hand and walked towards the stove where a black pot sat with steam hissing out from under its lid.

I reach to remove the lid, curious to see its contents and what I would be eating.

"Stop!" Esme was suddenly there beside me. She caught my hand milliseconds before I touched the lid. "It's hot." She says.

"Oh," was all I said. I look around for Carlisle and saw him picking up a set of car keys.

Was he going somewhere? The hospital?

My heart breaks into a sprint than drops sickeningly. He was going to leave me here by myself with these...these...vampires?

Carlisle glances at me and I suddenly remember that vampires can hear your heart beat and I quickly look away, staring at the tiling, taking in several deep breaths.

I hated fear. It was like a monster all in its self. It takes it murderous claws and grips your heart and soul, refusing to let go until you slip over the edge. Because of fear, there is anger and pain and sorrow. Fear is where it all starts and fear seemed to be the end.

"Why don't you take her with you Carlisle?" Alice prances in, appearing literally out of know where and winks at me. I snap my head up in surprise. "I'm sure she'd love to get out, wouldn't you? And you said you were going to the Seattle hospital today. Think of all the shops and places you could go afterwards-some nice, fresh air."

Carlisle looks at me; I look at him. My eyes were wide. Would he get angry for such a suggestion? Would he say no? Maybe I didn't even want to go. Then he smiles.

"It doesn't matter to me," he says. "But you have to get a coat on-it snowed last night."

My heart leaped. Snow? I couldn't remember the last time I had seen snow. I close my eyes trying to picture the white beauty in my head but the only thing I see if four gray walls and a pair of red eyes.

I shiver and snap my eyes open. My muscles were trembling from being so tense.

"Got it covered!" Alice announced distracting me, as she produced a faded gray pea coat with lavender colored gloves and hat and boots and scarf.

I scrunch my eyebrows. It was kinda freaky how she did that.

By the time I was all bundled up, Esme had packed me a lunch and wrapped up my breakfast to eat in the car. She brushes my cheek with the sweetest smile I have ever seen and kisses my forehead-a jolt of shock hits me when she does that but she didn't seem to notice.

Carlisle gives me a warm smile and offers me his hand again. This time I don't hesitate but slip my hand into his cold one.

He opened the door and guided me out into the white rush of bone-chilling winter. Earth, sky, and everything in between lay in a frozen milky haze, embalmed under a thick layer of shimmering white filigree. I wanted to giggle in delight and I let go of Carlisle's hand to hurry down the snow covered steps and into the winter wonderland. I wanted to feel it under my feet and on my cheeks.

Tiny snowflakes danced through the brisk morning air. I stuck out my tongue to catch one, tilting my chin back and closing my eyes. Aimee and I used to do this-seeing who could catch the most. We'd tilt our heads back at the pearl gray and sky, open our mouths wide, giggling as we did so, and count aloud in garbled voices.

I open my eyes to try and catch one with my hands, cupping them and holding them out to see if I could gaze at its unique, intricate beauty. But they melted on contact and I was extremely disappointed.

Carlisle comes up beside me and shows me his ungloved hand. I gingerly take his fingers to pull his palm closer to my face; it was beautiful.

The snowflake didn't melt on his palm, like it had on mine, and was very quickly joined by a dozen others-each one different but equally magnificent.

I was startled out of reverie when I heard a shout and I look up wildly, looking for the source of the noise.

Bella was up in a tree, flinging snowballs at a blurred Edward. And I marveled at it for a moment, listening to Bella's joyful laughter as she dangled her feet in mid-air, hurling snowballs at nonexistent speeds but only a few seemed to make contact.

Suddenly, a snowball-if you could even call it that-the size of a wrecking ball came barreling through the air towards Bella's tree. The tree cracked than splintered. Teetering for only a few seconds it began to fall.

"TIMBERRR!" Emmett bellowed with the roar of a rabid bear as the tree landed in an explosion of white powder. Startled, I moved closer to Carlisle, hearing the crunch my boots made in the snow and wondered how Carlisle wasn't making a noise at all.

He led me to a sleek looking, black Mercedes and opened the passenger door. "Hurry," he said. "Before they get any wilder." He winks and I slide in, quickly buckling up. The next instant, Carlisle was in the car beside me, turning the keys to the ignition and revving the engine. I saw Emmett wave at me, his face nearly split in half with a beaming grin.

Hesitantly, I wave back as Carlisle pulled from the driveway. I turn in my seat to stare at the outrageously expensive mansion enclosed by white forest. It looked majestic-unfit for its surroundings. It belonged in a fairytale of some sort.

The driveway we drove down was winding and narrow, weaving through many trees and over a small bridge suspended over a frozen stream. It seemed so unreal.

Maybe today wouldn't be such a bad day after all.

If only the voices would just go away.

Carlisle

The drive was uneventful-the twenty minutes it took to get to Seattle Hospital. Most of the time she stared out at the snowy world around us, captivated by the sight and I wondered when the last time she had seen snow before. I guessed it hadn't been for a long time.

When I pulled into the reserved parking space for staff, I saw her fall back against the seat, her face pale. I noted the rapid pace of her heart but I fought against the urge to place a hand on her forehead in case she had become feverish.

"Are you all right?" I ask, pulling the keys from the ignition and reaching for my pack behind the seat.

Mercy swallowed hard and nodded. "I don't really like hospitals." She stated, opening her passenger door and climbing out. I walked at a normal, human pace to her side than matched her small stride, burying my hands in my pockets to look as though I had been chilled by the winter air.

"Hospitals are there to help you," I counter in an act to extract information from her, watching her struggle through the deep snow drifts that the county hadn't scraped up yet. I offered a hand and she took it without hesitating, which surprised me. I let her use me as an anchor to pull herself out with each step.

"Not all hospitals," she murmurs, apparently not going to offer me any more details and she glowers at the hospital doors.

"You didn't have to come."

"I know."

I waited, but she says nothing else.

"Why didn't you stay with Esme then? Or Alice? They would've taken care of you." I pause than added: "Quite willingly, in fact."

She stumbles and falls forward but I quickly catch her, pulling her upright again.

"Thanks." She mutters, brushing snow off the front of her coat. We enter the automatic doors of the emergency room and Mercy stomps her feet on the matt to rid of snow. She lets go of my hand and pulls the hat off her head, leaving her curls in disarray, making her look more like a child.

I point her to the direction of my temporary office and shut the door behind us.

"It's big," was all she says, unbuttoning her coat and placing it on the coat rack.

I smile at her bluntness, making sure she didn't see me. I put on the lab coat, stethoscope and put a couple pens and tongue compressors in the front pocket.

"Did you want to come?" I ask as she moved slowly around the room, examining the paintings on the wall.

She looks at me and shakes her head.

I hesitate leaving her by herself.

"I won't runaway," she says.

I chuckled. "Well, if you need me, just use the phone over there and dial the extension 6 for the emergency room. Ask for me and they'll let me know as soon as possible."

She only nods and sits on the floor with a book in her lap. She doesn't even look at me.

Downstairs, the emergency room was moderately busy. I greeted the chief of emergency who was an older man, who looked as though he was more of a grandfather than anything.

"Who was that little girl with you when you first came in?" he asks, pocketing his pen and tucking his clipboard beneath his arm.

"My niece," I lied smoothly. "She's staying in my office while I work."

"She was as cute as a button." He chortled to himself. "Reminds me of my granddaughter when she was younger. She went off to war when she was eighteen, came back at twenty-eight then got married to this odd, strict fellow. They had a daughter but the poor dear died when she was fourteen. Never got to meet her."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I say sympathetically. "What did her daughter die of?"

The old man paused as though thinking. "They were never sure. It was quite sudden in fact-right after her friend. Maybe it was stress or suicide. Never know-will we?"

I didn't answer. The man clears his throat. "It doesn't really matter what you do, just hop right in and grab a chart, I'm sure you're used to doing this kind of stuff."

And so I did and we remained busy for the remainder of the morning with odds and ends cases, nothing really too serious. The most dramatic patient was a little boy who came in throwing up worms in a serious case of parasites.

By one o'clock I was heading up to my office for break, quickly leaving behind the noises and smells of the ER.

I opened the door to my office and find Mercy spinning in circles at my desk chair, using the desk corner to push herself to go faster. I smiled and walked over to the front of the desk.

"You're going to make yourself sick doing to that," I chided gently and her stopped, her heart racing and her eyes slightly crossed. She smiled a genuine smile which momentarily takes me by surprise. I hadn't seen her smile yet and for a brief moment the exotic etchings in the midnight blue of her eyes look like silver moonlight dancing upon the surface of a still lake and not like the shattered glass of before. But it was only brief as her soul withdrew back within her.

"Did you have fun?" she asked me, getting up and wobbling her way towards me as her equilibrium struggled to right itself. I caught her as she stumbled into me and held her steady.

"You could say that." I answer back with a soft laugh. "Actually, I wanted to look at your stitches."

Her face grows somber.

"I'll put numbing cream on it," I promised, guiding her back to my desk. I lifted her up and placed her on the desk, taking my seat beside her. Carefully, being as gentle as I could, I pull the sleeve up over her arm, holding back the grimace and keeping my face smooth. "These look a lot better," I told her in assurance. I open a drawer up and pull out a stitch kit. I saw her tense in my peripheral vision. "I'll be fast."

She watches my work quietly. She didn't look away once nor did she flinch again and I realized how much immunity she seemed to have for pain. She breaks the silence with her quiet voice.

"Did anyone die today?" she asked, her voice serious.

I pause, taken aback by the question than resumed cutting out the stitches.

"No," I answered. "Everyone that has come in today so far has had no serious ailment."

"Oh."

"Why do you ask?"

"I was just wondering." She says this than presses her index finger to my arm as though she was feeling for the iciness of my skin or trying to convince herself that I really was a vampire. "You're a contradiction." She said.

I laugh. "Why do you say that?"
"You're a vampire-you're supposed to hurting people, killing people-not helping them. Yet here you are-this doctor everyone looks up to."

I didn't look up as I answered her. "I suppose you're right. I'm not exactly the stereotype."

She shifts in her spot as though she was suddenly uncomfortable. "I wouldn't exactly say stereotype-just a rule of nature. Like how a lion will always kill to eat and a deer will always eat the grass that comes from the decomposition of the lion."

"Touché," I mutter, starting on her other arm. I spoke: "I never wanted to be a monster-I didn't want to be the killer of a billion of innocent lives-who was I to decide who should die and who shouldn't?" I finish within minutes and lay back in my chair, studying her. "You're awfully brave to say that being a vampire is a rule of nature. Do you think, that since I'm a vampire, I have the right to kill you?"

Mercy lowers her head and looks at her hands, curling them into fists. "A vampire wouldn't kill me, anyways."

I let out laugh without humor. "Why would you say that?"

I suddenly realized that I had treaded forbidden territory. Mercy didn't answer except for tightening her fists. But I couldn't stop now. I lean in, placing my hand on her knee, forcing her to look at me.

"Mercy," I speak softly, tenderly, not wanting to frighten her. "Have you ever met a vampire before you came to my house?"

Silence. But that was all I needed. She could have screamed yes but I would have gotten that same gut wrenching feeling in my stomach. I didn't need to breathe, but I was suddenly breathing heavily. I lower my voice even more, not even thinking of whether she could hear me or not.

"Mercy-did these vampires that you met...did they go by the name of the Volturi?" I felt as though I had just spat out a cuss word, which I could have judging by Mercy's reaction.

She snaps her head up, terror in her eyes, her face bone white. She began breathing fast.

I felt sick but I tried to keep my reaction to myself. Why are earth did Alice insist on bringing her out here? Why?

Suddenly, my cell phone let out a shrill ring and I nearly ripped it out of my pocket. Alice. Speak of the devil.

"Hello?"

"Carlisle, you need to get out of there right now!" Alice demanded. "Preferably before ten minutes is up."

"I'm way ahead of you Alice," I snapped the phone shut and lifted Mercy from the desk without even asking. "I need you pretend like you're sick."

"Why?" she asked, chest heaving, squirming in my arms. "Are they coming for me? Are they?"

"Just do as I say, Mercy."

As fast as a strike of lightening I had bundled her back up and she cooperated like a rag doll would have. She was going into shock and I wasn't helping any.

I lift her into my arms, and push open the door.

"I have to go," I almost shout at the clerk. "My niece has the flu...I have to get her home."

The young woman stared at Mercy in my arms, eyes closed, face pale and breathing fast.

I didn't wait for her response but continued on out. It took extreme effort on my part to keep at a human pace. People stared as I walked by but I just ignored them, strapping Mercy into the passenger seat of the car and jogging to my side.

I peel out of the parking space and speed my way to the cities limits.

Mercy was panicking. I could see it in her face as she clutched her seat belt strap. I could hear the wild thumping of her heart and the fast breathing. Her face kept growing whiter and perspiration beaded her face.

"You have to calm down, Mercy." I tell her, the trees whipping by so fast that they resembled a brick wall. The snow whizzed past as well in a whirlwind affect. "Take deep breaths, for me alright. I won't let anything happen to you. I promise."

"This is my fault!" she cries despite of what I just said. "I thought all vampires knew!"
"Knew what?" I demand, my voice coming out in a rush of words. "What was I supposed to know? What would they want with a little girl like you?"

She only moans, burying her face in her hands. I resisted the urge to bang the steering wheel.

Esme was dead-on right.

Mercy

Nausea rushes through me in a violent tidal wave. What have I done? I shouldn't have run away in the first place! I should've accepted the fact of my destiny like a smart person would have done.

And now they were going to kill me. Me and all the Cullens for protecting me. No one had ever protected me before. I didn't expect anyone to start now. And now look what I've done!

You could stop them, you know.

They came without warning. I jolt in the seat, head throbbing, my vision blurring. They came strong this time, with a vengeance that seemed to grab my spinal cord and yank me back.

They come for you in fear. They know what you could do if you were a vampire. They want you.

"They can't have me!" I scream aloud without thinking and Carlisle jerks beside me.

"Who?" he asks in what sounded like nearly panic. His frustration was showing through the calm demeanor. It was me who did this.

The throb in my head increases.

You could stop them.

I could. I could stop them. But I was afraid.

There was a multitude in my head now, pounding, pounding. I start to cry, gripping my head, trying to push back the pain but knowing that I never would. My vision grows white and blurred at the edges.

Carlisle sees this though. "No," he says. "Mercy you have to stay with me. I can't have you unconscious. Put your head between your knees and breath deep and even. You're alright. You're safe. I won't let anything hurt you."

But he didn't know who I was, what I had done, what I was capable of.

This was my nightmare and now he was going through it. That just didn't seem right.

I feel my eyes roll back as darkness takes me and my head lolls forward and I sag against the seat belt.

This is all your fault, Aimee.

"Is she breathing?"

"Or course she's breathing, you idiot, can't you hear it? You are a vampire."

Vampire.

"Everyone just give her some space," another voices demands. Edward, I think. I suddenly feel a cool hand, like ice touch my cheek.

I try to open my eyes but they were a hundred pounds each.

"Do you know when she'll wake up, Alice?"

"No," said an angry, confused voice that sounded like it was on the brink of tears. But vampires didn't cry. "Her future's so jumbled up, it's hurting my head."

"Where's Carlisle? Why is he taking so long?"

"She's so still, I hope she's all right, poor thing."

"I still think it's kinda cool that she's a convict-by the Volturi, nonetheless."

"Emmett, have you ever tried thinking before you speak?"

"That doesn't really work because Edward can still hear it."

"But it saves the rest of us from suffering from his stupidity."

"Lay off."

"Is the only thing you guys ever do is argue? Seriously, you act like you were raised by wolves."

"Ironic, isn't it?"

"That is enough," a voice of authority broke through the babble. Everyone shushed. Suddenly, a potent smell hit my nose, causing me to flinch and jerk. I snap my eyes open to see eight pairs of golden eyes staring down at me. But the pair I looked for was Carlisle's.

He crouched directly over me, his face worried. But he smiles down at me and helps me into a sitting position.

The tears come fast and without even thinking through my actions, I collapse into the doctor's arms, burying my face in his stone chest, trying to hide from the rest of the world, wanting it all to just melt away.

His arms enclosed me, holding me to him and I feel another hand lay gently on my back. Probably Esme.

We sat like that for a long time, well it was long to me. For the first time in a long time I felt safe and secure. I think of my father. When I was a little kid, no more than six, he used to come to into my room at nights when I would have nightmares and hold me like this until memories of the dream faded, softly crooning in my ear, rocking me back and forth, holding me protectively to his chest as though he dared the world to come and hurt me.

He would never let anyone hurt me. That is, until Aimee died. Then he didn't care.

And now, the nightmares were real and the memories were never going to fade and I wasn't ever going to be able to just wake up and run for daddy. Because daddy wasn't ever there anymore.

Finally, Carlisle draws me away, holding me by the shoulders. His golden eyes force me to look at him even though I wanted to look away.

"Mercy, I need you to tell me why the Volturi are coming for you. I can't really help you until I know for sure."

I knew this question was coming and I knew I couldn't avoid it any longer.

I wipe the back of my hand across my cheeks and look at the vampire family around me. "It's a long story." I whisper, shivering.

Carlisle brushes the hair from my face. "We've got time."

I look at him, at the compassion on his face and take a deep, deep breath.

"It started with this girl named Aimee..."

I have everything to loose

By not getting up to fight

I might get used to giving up

So I am showing up tonight

I am my own enemy

The battle fought within my mind

I f I can overcome step one

I can face the ninety-nine