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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...


7. Chapter 7: I Hate Having To Explain Everything!

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2402   Review this Chapter

Mumbling to myself, I took out my cell and dialed the Agency's main number. How in the world could I have been so stupid, I wondered. Gone all this time without getting in touch with Maria? She was gonna kill me...


“Midwest Securities,” the cheerful voice of the main secretary answered.

“Misty? This is Sean. Um, by any chance, would my daughter happen to be around there right now?” I asked.

“Oh, hello, Agent Murphy!” Misty replied. “I'm sorry, but Maria said she was going out shopping with her friend Jennifer this afternoon right after school. She told me that she'd be home late. Would you like me to have her call you? I know she's been worried about you. In fact, we all have! No one has been able to get in touch with you for a couple weeks now. Is everything ok? Is your vacation going well?”


“Uh,” I hesitated, glancing at Alice. Yeah—how do I answer THAT question? “Well, I've certainly been staying busy,” I replied. Well, it wasn't a lie after all. “Yes, if you could please have her call my cell as soon as she can, I'd really appreciate it.”


“When do you think you'll be coming back, agent Murphy? John has asked specifically that I relay his desire to speak with you as soon as possible, once any of us heard from you.'


“Well, he's more than welcome to call me, too.” Great...how was I going to handle this one? They'd probably want me back as soon as they got a hold of me. Well, it couldn't be helped. I felt horribly guilty for not calling Maria, which I was sure she'd use to her advantage...that's about the only way she ever got the credit card. And considering that I'd left one with her when I left on this trip, I could only imagine what my next bill would be like.


“Anyway, if you could pass those messages along, Misty, I'd really appreciate it.”


“I certainly will, Agent Murphy! Oh, I know Maria will be so glad!”

Yeah...glad she'd get another shopping spree after she bit my head off and made me even more guilty. “Alright, well thanks, love,” I said by way of farewell. “Talk to you later.” I disconnected and put the phone away. “Right, well that's taken care of.” I shook my head. “Boy, Maria is going to be really mad when she calls! But I think you'll like her, Alice. For one thing, she loves to shop! And she also--” I stopped abruptly when I saw Alice's face. Have you ever heard that expression “if looks could kill”? Well, it's lucky for me it's only an expression, or I'd be dead right now!


Alice was glaring at me with such a look of anger on her gorgeous, angelic pixie face that I gulped and backed up a step or two. “Oh for the love of— What did I do now, Alice?” I asked frantically. “I didn't do anything! I've been standing right her in front of you, talking on the phone! How could I have done anything? Please! Speak to me! Tell me what I did!” I was beside myself with worry, replaying the last couple of minutes over again in my mind.


“Who is 'Misty'?” Alice asked in an ice cold voice that was practically dripping with venom...no pun intended.

I was confused. “Misty?” I asked, frowning. “She's just the secretary for the Committee members. What's she got to do with anything?”


“You called her 'love'!” Alice whispered, still glaring.


“Yeah? So?” I asked, still confused.


Alice's glare melted into a stricken look, and she sniffed like she was starting to cry. “You—you called her 'love'!” she repeated. “Edward only ever calls Bella 'love'! It's a term of endearment! It means he loves her!” I blinked. Alice was on the verge of sobbing because I had called Misty “love”? Gah...even when he's not around, Edward still manages to mess my life up! I swear, I will NEVER understand females of ANY species! But I knew that I'd better fix this somehow. I couldn't bear to see Alice cry. It felt like my own heart was tearing apart


I knelt down and took her hands, but she yanked them away. I sighed, and put my hands on her shoulders. “Alice, I'm sorry! I'm Irish—we use 'love' like Americans use 'buddy', that's all! It doesn't mean I love Misty! Good grief...she's a nice kid, but she never shuts up! I mean, if I was going to give you a term of endearment, as you call it, I would call you 'Bean mo chroi'...” I clamped my hands over my mouth. Where had that come from? It just slipped out! I had been so upset over her crying that my mind had wandered. Maybe she didn't notice...


Yeah, fat chance...Alice stopped crying, and was looking at me intensely. Her glare had been replaced by a gorgeous smile. “Oooh, that 's beautiful!” she breathed. “What does it mean?”


“Uh, well, it—it means...um, yeah, well it's sort of like—ah, maybe kind of similar to, uh...great friend...” I cringed. I hated lying to Alice. Her face fell a bit, and she said, “Oh.”


“It means, 'Woman of m heart', Alice,” said a voice from the doorway. I ground my teeth at the smug tone in Edward's voice. Damn, stupid, prying mind reader! I turned to glare at him. He smirked slightly, and called to Bella. “Let's go to the meadow, love,” He said, emphasizing the last word, his smirk growing to a smile. I snarled softly at him. Bella jumped on his back and they sped off. I shook my head. There was just something odd and unsettling to me about piggy-back rides like that. I mean, I knew it would be a lot faster than just walking, but still

I turned back to Alice. She was smiling her incredible smile again—the one that made her shimmer like she was actually an angel, and made me feel weak in the knees. “Oh, Sean! That's so sweet!”


I found the porch suddenly too warm. Tugging at my collar, I cleared my throat. “Y'know, a walk in the woods does sound rather nice right now.” Without another word, I turned and strode off. I needed to clear my head. Every time I was around Alice, I was like a kid with his first crush or something.


Before I knew it, Alice was right next to me, walking along towards the woods also. I glanced at her, and she flashed that smile again. “Yes, a walk does sound nice, doesn't it?” She said sweetly. I sighed.


We walked in silence for a while. After a bit, she tentatively slipped her hand into mine. I stiffened a bit at the contact, and she nearly pulled her hand away. But I closed my fingers around hers, trying to let her know it was ok. “Sorry,” I mumbled. “Just startled me.” As confused as I was, I found the contact...very pleasant. She sighed in contentment, and we continued walking in silence.


“Sean?” Alice said, breaking the quiet a few minutes later. The tentative, hesitant tone was back in her voice. “Did you really mean what you called me back on the porch?”


I sighed again...and nodded. I couldn't lie to her. “Yeah, I did. As much as my reason might fight against it, I can't how I feel about you. I really don't get it at all, though. I mean, I've barely known you, what—three weeks, if that? How can two people meet and fall so fast for each other?”


Alice sighed. “You saw my visions! We're soul mates, Sean! I can feel it. I know it! Why can't you just accept it?”


“Because I don't believe in that mystical mumbo-jumbo!” I said, a bit more harshly than I'd intended. “I refuse to believe that I have no control over my own destiny!” I paused and we continued deeper into the forest. “Still,” I grudgingly admitted. “I can't help but love you, and--” i broke off suddenly. Alice had stopped, and her body had stiffened. She was shaking ever so slightly, and her eyes were glazed over.


“Perfect,” I muttered. “Here I am, pouring my heart out to her, and she has to go and have a vision!” Well, after all, it's not her fault. I waited while the vision played out. When she came out of it, she muttered something about stupid Newton, and then said louder, “Come one! We've got to hurry!” Still clutching my hand, she turned and ran off at “vampire” speed. I had to run that fast to keep up with her, but the human part of me hated it.


Finally she slowed to a normal pace. But then she gasped. I looked where she was looking, trying to find out what the deal was. Then I understood. The woods ended a little way ahead, opening into a sort of meadow. Edward was standing about four hundred yards away in the middle of this meadow, and Bella was standing a few feet away from him. And of course, since it was a rare partly cloudy day and the clouds were not overhead at the moment, he was “sparkling”. The two love birds were grinning sappily at each other.


At first I was wondering what the big deal was, until I noticed that a few yards to our left, at the edge of the trees, a teenage boy was standing, peeking out from a thicket of trees, staring open-mouthed at Edward. His mind was actually a blank at the moment, as if it shut down, not able to understand what he was seeing. Which might also explain why Edward couldn't “hear” it. That, and Edward was completely intent on Bella and Bella alone. I shook my head. Really, he should be more careful...


“Sean—DO something!” Alice hissed. I glanced at her. “What do you want me to do—bash him over the head or something?” I whispered back.


The boy must have heard us, because he looked in our direction. “A-Alice!” he whisper-yelled. “Your brother is—is sparkling!”


Alice and I walked over to the kid, who had turned back to watch Edward some more. Alice nudged me discreetly. I sighed and rolled my eyes. I didn't even like Edward that much! But for Alice...anything for Alice!

“No, he's not,” I lied casually, staring at Edward as he still stood there, sparkling for the world to see.


The kid looked at me incredulously. “Are you kidding? Are you blind? Look at him! He's all shimmery and stuff! What do you call that?”


Alice was sending me a pleading look. “Swamp gas,” I blurted. The kid turned to me, frowning. “What?” he asked.


“What you're seeing is just the infrared rays of the sun reflecting in the prismatic spectrum off a pocket of swamp gas surrounding the spot where Edward is standing.” I said in a rush. “It's actually a rather common occurrence.”


“Yeah, Mike,” Alice said brightly. “That happens all the time!” I glanced at her...what happens, the swamp gas lie, or the sparkling. She just smiled at me. I rolled my eyes again.


Mike was still frowning. “But—but there're no swamps around her,” he said, slightly confused. Good. Confusion was the liar's best friend. And having the job that I did, I was good at lying. Well, to humans anyway...certainly not to Alice. Or most of her family. Or most of my non-human co-workers...


“That's true. But with all the rain in this dense forest, there's lots of rot and decay from fallen tree branches and under growth, which produces basically the same chemical as swamp gas. It occurs wherever stagnant water coincides with the decay of organic matter.”


Mike was staring at me silently. Then he blushed. “Well, why wasn't Bella sparkling then?” he tried one last attempt at saving face. I grinned. “That's easy—she wasn't in the pocket of gas that Edward was standing in—she was a few feet away from him.”


Mike gulped. He looked down at Alice, who was smiling at him, too. Then he noticed our joined hands, and his eyes shot back to our faces. I could hear him thinking that I was a little old for Alice. Well, yeah, I was considerably older than she. Then I heard him wondering what happened to Jasper. Then Alice asked him how his month long trip to California had gone. He turned to her, smiled, and proceeded to give her a detailed description of his vacation. By this time, Bella and Edward had joined us. Edward gave me a “look”, and thought, Thanks, Sean. I owe you one!


I nodded ever so slightly. Just quit bugging me so much, and we'll call it even, I thought back. He smiled slightly, and nodded. Mike, albeit somewhat intimidated by Edward, was nonetheless enthralled to have such a rapt audience with Bella and Alice both seeming to hang on his every word. Finally, after another ten minutes, he shut up and left, after telling Bella that he'd talked to Angela that morning, and that she was planning on stopping by the Cullens. Bella, anxious to get back and meet her friend, ran off with Edward, leaving Alice and I to walk back at a leisurely pace.


Arriving back at the Cullens finally, there was a strange car in front of the house, which I assumed belonged to Angela, whoever she was. Alice let out a little squeal, and bounded up the front steps, calling back over her shoulder, “Rose and Emmett are back!” I followed her at a slower pace, and entered the house to find her hugging Emmett. Bella was there with a tallish girl, which I again assumed must be Angela. And that's when it happened...right when I got a whiff of Angela...