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The More things Change

Summary:
The Cullen family undergoes many changes--some people leave, some people arrive. Marriages, babies, and imprints confuse the issue even more.


Notes:
This is a sequel to "Home"...you don't have to read that to totally understand this, but it would probably help alot! Yeah, I know I sound like I'm begging for reads, but I'm just trying to be helpful! So go read "Home" if you get confused...


3. Chapter 3: Haven't You Ever Played Poker?

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2322   Review this Chapter

"Haven’t You Ever Played Poker?"

I hate it when I’m right. Well, sometimes...and this was definitely one of those times! As soon as I entered the square, I heard Edward, in my head, yelling at me.

What did you do, Sean? Heidi just came storming in here, ranting about some hybrid she just encountered, who said he was on his way! Now, they’ve posted guards in the hallway, and outside in the alley, and Caius is turning angrily on us, thinking we had something to do with all this! You were supposed to keep a low profile, and let us handle this! And it was going well, too, until you pulled your little stunt!

I pretended to be looking around the square. Luckily, I had one of those disposable cameras, so I started taking pictures. The fountain was especially beautiful. Gah—why couldn’t I really be just a tourist? No, I had to go confront arrogant, sadistic vampires, while another angry vampire yelled at me in my head. Ah, what a life!

No need to shout, Edward...and I’m sorry, but I’ve never been much for sitting around waiting for others to fight my battles. This was my idea, I did that to Felix, and I should be the one to fix the problem. Besides, I want to make the Volturi think twice about messing with your family again. Now quiet, so I can concentrate!

I casually glanced towards the alley, and noticed two hulking figures lurking just out of reach of the faint sunlight. They were scanning the Square, and I looked away quickly, pretending to take another picture. I strolled off to the left and out of sight of the alley. Emmett and Rosalie had entered the Square now, and I relayed that fact to Edward. I stood under an overhanging roof that jutted out into the Square a little, and looked around. Thanks to the rain, the Square was still fairly empty. So when no one was near, I thought, ready of not, here I come!

I concentrated on the waiting room that Edward had told me about, and shifted to just inside the inner doorway. There was some girl at the "Receptionist’s Desk". She was human, but she looked different form the one that the Cullens had told me about. I shrugged. I sauntered down the hallway, pausing to light a cigar (yeah, one of my many moral failings—smoking is not cool, kids!) right next to her. She jumped a little, emitting a frightened squeak.

She quickly recovered—a benefit of working with vampires...I guess not much startles you anymore. "You’re not supposed to be here!" She exclaimed.

I leaned toward her, planting my hands on the edge of her desk. "Do you know who I am?" I asked in a pompous-sounding voice.

Her eyes widened, and she blinked at me. "Um...no, not exactly."

"Hm. Well, we’ll let it go this time!" I gave her a scathing look, and she gulped. I turned and headed down the corridor. Once out of her sight, I stopped and started laughing. I’d seen that in an old Cary Grant movie once, and I’d always wanted to try it. But I couldn’t believe it had worked. The Volturi obviously didn’t pick their human help for their brains, that’s for sure!

Suddenly, two huge figures were standing in front of me, bringing an abrupt end to my laughing. "What are you doing here, human?" one of them rumbled in a deep, ominous sounding voice, obviously meant to intimidate me. I suppressed a laugh. Besides—I was getting sick and tired of being called "human" like it was an insult or something. I saw some big doors a little way down the corridor, which must have been the doors to the Volturi "throne room" (or whatever they call it), and decided to make a dramatic entrance.

I sighed and shook my head. "What makes you think I’m human?" I said, smiling at them. They exchanged glances with each other. Before they could react, I slammed my hands into their chests, which sent them flying down the corridor, and busting through the closed doors. Shouts and confused voices greeted my ears from within the dimly lit room. My smile deepened. I walked down the corridor, and slowly entered the room. The two vampires who I’d knocked into the room were slowly standing, and brushing debris off their clothes. When they saw me, they snarled rather viciously, and would have lunged at me if a voice hadn’t called out, "Stop!"...the two instantly froze, but still glared at me.

I looked around the room. I’m not sure how many vampires were there—maybe twenty, I guessed. Edward and Jasper were standing off to the side, staring at me with somewhat shocked expressions. Then Edward smirked. Felix was standing near to an old looking, white-haired vampire, while another old looking vampire with very dark hair was touching Felix’s face. They, along with nearly everyone else in the room, were staring at me. Well, Felix wasn’t...he just had that stupid grin on his face.

"Well! This must be the stranger the Cullens have taken in!" Said the dark-haired one. Thanks to the prep I’d have on the way over, I figured he must be Aro...kind of the Chairman of the Board, so to speak.

I nodded. "Yep, that’s right." Taken in...what was I, a stray dog or something? I glanced behind me. "Sorry about the door, by the way. Guess I don’t know my own strength." I noted that several vampires had positioned themselves between me and the two old ones. What the frog? Bunch of cowards! I heard Edward chuckle. Aw crap, he was reading my mind again!

The white-haired one was scowling at me fiercely, while Aro appeared to be smiling. But behind that jovial, apparently benign face lurked a dark malevolence that almost made me cringe. Fortunately I was able to appear unfazed. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Aro, never taking his eyes off of me, sweetly called out, "Oh Jane, dear!" Jane...what was it they’d told me about her?

I remembered as soon as the pain hit. I winced—yeah, it hurt like Hades. But, I was able to deflect most of it. I spun to where the pain was coming from, and noticed a girl, who couldn’t have been much taller than Alice, standing near the far wall of the room, a few feet to the side of the door, smirking at me. I’m not sure what look I had on my face, but it must have been nasty, because her eyes went wide and the smirk evaporated from her face. I shifted over and popped out right in front of her. Grabbing her by the neck, I lifted her off the floor, and slammed her into the wall. I know...all things considered, I did get a little upset with myself afterwards. I’d never treated a woman that way before. But at the time, I was pi—well, I was really angry.

"If you ever do that again, little girl," I growled through clenched teeth, "I’ll show you what pain really feels like!" And with that, I turned and threw her against the opposite wall. Then I spun back and fixed my eyes on Aro again. Even he looked a little rattled, and his guards were shifting closer to him protectively. I must have still had a nasty look on my face. I decided to rattle them even more. I shifted in right behind Aro, and said, "Now look—I already broke one of your toys—" I gestured at Felix. "Just how many do you want broken?"

As his guards changed position to try and block me from him again, I popped back into the center of the room. They all turned toward me again. I sighed. "Come on, guys. We could be at this all day, and I’m already getting bored. I just wanted to bring Felix back home, since I feel kinda responsible for him, seeing as how I’m the one that fried his brain and all. And, I wanted to give you all a friendly little message...now, I’ll say this slowly, so you all listen good, cause I don’t wanna have to come back and say it again. I hate repeating myself...it makes me angry. So here’s the message: Leave—the—Cullens—ALONE!!!"

The white-haired one, with an extremely angry look on his face, yelled, "How dare you come into our own home and dictate to us what we do or don’t do!"

I returned his look, and said, "Shut up, Blondie! I’m talking!"

One of his guards snarled at me, and said, "You can’t speak to the Master that way!’

I laughed, and said, "Oh, really? I just did!"

He turned back to Caius. "Please, Master! Let us kill this repulsive creature! He is a mockery of vampires, and his human nature makes him weak!" Caius just glowered at me, and didn’t speak.

I sneered at the vampire who’d spoken. "Weak, am I? You don’t see me groveling before a vampire I could easily tear to shreds! Look at you! Calling that weak coward ‘Master’! In case you didn’t know, it’s the Twenty-First Century out there—not the First! I’ve often wondered what hold these old cretins have over young, powerful vampires anyway? I mean, you could all turn on them and go live your own lives! Why stay here and cower in front of these three dried up husks?" I stopped my ranting, and muttered, "Pathetic fools!"

I looked at Aro again. "Remember what I said about the Cullens. Do not make me come back here again!" I glanced up towards the ceiling, and shifted three of the large stones out of the wall, dropping them at the feet of Aro, Marcus, and Caius. Then, as they stared down at them, and The Guard gasped, I said, "If I ever do have to return, I’ll bring this whole building down on your heads!"

Aro regained some of his smooth demeanor. "Of course! I would never purposefully bring pain to my good friend Carlisle! As long as they abide by the rules we have established, we are quite content to let them pursue their peculiar diet." He flashed a fatherly smile at me. "What about you? I can see by your demeanor that you don’t care to join us, which is a pity. Your rather impressive talents would be a great asset to us. But your eyes are not golden. I understand that you are a hybrid, but what does your vampiric nature crave?"

I hesitated, and glanced at Edward and Jasper. They were waiting to hear my answer as well. I sighed, and looked back at Aro. "I’m like you—I prefer human blood. But I only take evil humans, not innocents. So in that way, I am NOT like you!" I glanced back quickly at Edward, but the look on his face was unreadable. Besides, they already knew I went after humans.

I noticed the silent one move over and touch Aro’s hand, then move back to his seat. He looked frightfully bored. Aro raised his eyebrows. "Interesting," he murmured, his eyes moving from me to Jasper and back to me. Lost in thought, Aro mumbled, "The little one can certainly generate great devotion."

Aro chuckled. "This has been a very informative morning! Come—let us shake hands as friends, and seal our bargain!" Arm outstretched, he glided toward me, much to his guards’ annoyance. I smiled, and shook my head. "No thank you...I’d rather you didn’t learn every thought I’ve ever had!"

Aro laughed loudly. "You are a very interesting person! What a pity we cold not have met under different circumstances! I envy my friend Carlisle getting to know you! You could learn a lot from him. He is a very intelligent, compassionate man. Well, we mustn’t keep you. I do hope that we can met again, however, and perhaps even be friends."

Somehow I doubt it, I thought. I turned to Edward and Jasper. "Come on, guys, let’s go."

In the doorway, I stopped and turned back to Aro and the others, who were watching me warily. "And please, decorate this place a little! I mean, do some painting! Put some pictures up! A few throw rugs would be nice..." I noticed Jane had moved back across the room, and was hovering near the door again, with a look on her face that said she would love nothing more than to kill me. Unable to resist, I leaned towards her, smiled, and whispered, "Alice is way prettier than you are!" Then I winked, and as I turned, I saw her look of anger turn into one of utter hatred. If I had only known how that hatred would eventually take shape, costing so much and nearly taking the one thing I valued most in life, I never would have said those words to her.

Once we were back outside and had joined up with Emmett and Rose, Edward turned to me and asked, in a somewhat awed voice, "Can you really do that? Knock the building down, I mean?"

I shook my head. "I’m not Superman, you know. I mean, I could do it a few pieces at a time, like you saw in there. But it would take too long, and I’d either get too tired, or the Guard would take me out before I could finish." I glanced at him. "Haven’t you ever played poker, Edward?"

"Actually, no," he replied.

"Well, in Poker, you can either win through having the strongest hand, or by bluffing. Since the Volturi obviously held the stronger hand, I had to bluff. And apparently, it worked...for now, anyway. At least they didn’t try calling my bluff today."

"Well, Aro likes to think things through before reacting," Edward told me. "But I’m afraid. Being that they are the Volturi, after all, I’m pretty sure we haven’t heard the last of them." If I’d known then what I know now, I would have sworn Edward had somehow gotten Alice’s power. Because he sure was right about seeing the Volturi again.