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A New Aquaintance

Summary:
My first attempt at Fan Fiction and fiction writing in general. This was my entry for the Spetember Back-to-School challenge on Twilight Novel Novice. The story centers on Bella and the Cullens first day back at school after Breaking Dawn. Told from Bellas POV, the family is attending college at Dartmouth and face the challenges you would expect, and one you may not have. This story earned third place in the contest!


Notes:


3. Dr. Austen

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1735   Review this Chapter

Professor Austen

We were mostly silent on the way home, Alice searching the future, Edward listening to her, and Jasper attempting to calm us all. We then waited for Carlisle to finish his day at the clinic. When he got home, we were all sitting around the big table in the dining room, similar to the table at our house in Forks, and serving the same purpose now - as a venue for family meetings rather than family meals.

After going over what had happened in class and what Alice had seen, Edward asked the others what they thought.

“I say we get rid of this guy,” Rosalie said. “How many humans are we going to let find out about us? It’s like it’s not even a secret anymore. And the Volturi would just love another excuse to come down on us. Especially since this one would actually be legitimate.” Legitimate, because the only real rule of the vampire world was that no one find out about our existence.

I shuddered at the thought of another encounter with the Volturi, the “royal family” of the vampire world. They enforced our rules, always with brutal efficiency. Well always, barring one exception - the defeat the Cullen coven, with help from friends and family, had handed them the previous year. But who knew how another encounter would turn out?

“Well, that’s always an option Rose, but lets try to find a non-violent solution first,” Carlisle said diplomatically.

Rose slumped in her seat. “I’m just saying it would be the easiest solution. These humans are so fragile. It would be nothing for him to have an accident.”

“Do you see anything, Alice?” I asked, wanting to turn the subject away from Rose’s more violent ideas.

“No. I’m not getting anything. Either there’s no decision to be made, or he hasn’t made one yet. I think I would be getting something if there were an immediate danger though,” she said.

“Jasper and I could just go down and pay the guy a visit,” Emmett grinned. “You know, maybe just scare him into being quiet a little bit?”

“Ugh. You’re getting as bad as Rose. Let’s leave off the physical threats until we know he’s actually a threat to us,” Edward said. “The goal is not to have to leave Dartmouth if at all possible, and that’s not going to happen if you two start thugging your way around campus. I think the best solution would be for just Bella and I, since he’s already seen us, to go down there and see exactly what he knows, how he learned it, and what he intends to do about it. And also to find out who else might know. What’s the point in taking this guy out if he’s got friends who know the secret as well? And there’s also no sense in any of the rest of you being exposed if no one else does know. Anyone see any problems with that?”

“I think that’s a workable plan, son,” Carlisle said. “We can go from there.”

We put our plan in effect the next day. Alice had predicted the cloudy skies would hold until that evening. Neither one of us had class until that afternoon. We knew from a phone call to the history department that Professor Austen was having office hours that morning. When we arrived outside his door, the usual collection of suck-ups and nervous freshmen were waiting to speak to them, but a hard stare from Edward sent them all running off, spouting excuses about having somewhere else to be. Edward chuckled.

“Sometimes, being inhumanly frightening has its uses,” he said.

After a few minutes, the office door opened and a student appeared, giving us a wide berth as he exited down the hall. We stepped inside, closing the door behind us.

Professor Austen’s reaction upon realizing who had entered his small office wasn’t surprising.

He jumped out of his seat, placing his chair and his desk between him and us.

“Easy there,” Edward said, in the soft, easy voice he reserved for not scaring the humans. “We’re not here to hurt you. We just want to talk.”

“S..sss..so. It’s t..t.true. I had half convinced myself I had only imagined you two in my class yesterday. A p..p..product of too much stress, too many late nights… something. But you’re real.” Austen shoved his slipping glasses back up his nose, still holding the desk chair firmly between us and him.

“As real as you are,” Edward continued soothingly. “We only want to know how you know what we are - and what you intend to do with the information.”

I noticed no one had mentioned the word “vampire.” It was the monster in the middle of the room, so to speak. I guess no one wanted to be the first to say it.

“I…I..I’m working on my second master’s thesis, concentrating on the effect of the Civil War in southern Texas, especially on the battles there and to the south in Mexico after the war. It’s really quite fascinating…” he said, warming to the subject.

“Sir, please, I think I see where this is going, but can we stick to the subject at hand?” Edward asked.

“Yes, well, anyway, in my research, I began coming across a number of what I thought were very fanciful local legends regarding the ‘paseantes de noche,’ or ‘night walkers.’ A pleasant name for creatures that were described as anything but. At first I disregarded these as fairy stories, children’s tales, until I found the book….and the photographs.” He stopped, pushed a hand through his already disheveled hair.

“Go on,” Edward urged.

“The book, it was the diary of a young girl, not dated, but I’m guessing from around 1870 or so, whose sister had been taken by these ‘night walkers.’ She claimed she saw that same sister again, on a night a few weeks after she disappeared, when most of the village was massacred. Her sister was one of those doing the killing and she was drinking the blood of the slain. They all moved unspeakably fast and their eyes all glowed red. Vampires, that’s what these night walkers were. By morning, most everyone in the village was either dead or taken by the paseantes. The girl hid in a cellar, and somehow managed to escape with her diary. The entries stopped soon after. I can only assume the girl suffered the same fate.

“Then there were the photos. I found these in an abandoned mission building in a rural area north of Mexico City. The mission was being razed for new construction and I had arranged to be there to look for any artifacts that may be found as they dismantled the building. What I found was much better. An old box, containing pictures from the Civil War era, were concealed within a wall. I took the box before anyone else had a chance to see it and ran while I could. There were about a dozen photos. Typical of the time, they were posed, formal. But the people in the photos seemed….not quite right. They were very pale, an oddity in that region of central Mexico. And there were many of them, but they all looked so similar, and they were all beautiful.”

He seemed to pause there, and take a deep breathe.

“I’ve never forgotten the faces in those photos, and I’d never seen any to equal them. Until yesterday. Yesterday, when I saw you sitting in my class.”

Edward paused a moment, and then asked, “These photos - do you happen to have them with you?”

“Not the originals, those are in a safe deposit box, but I do have some very good copies,” Austen replied.

“May we see them?”

The professor, apparently deciding were weren’t going to attack him after so much time had already passed, let go of the chair and reached into one of the top desk drawers, pulling out a file folder. He laid it open on the desk, where Edward picked it up. Flipping quickly past the first three, he stopped at the fourth, and let out a sharp bark of laughter.

“It’s a good thing Alice and Jasper decided to take that art class. Professor Austen here may have followed Dr. McIntire into the ER had he seen Jasper sitting in his classroom.” He passed the photo to me and I immediately recognized Jasper, standing with a woman I assumed was Maria, his maker, and a man I knew to be Peter, Jasper’s friend who still lived in the traditional vampire manner, hunting humans. They all wore the clothing of the era and had stiff expressions. Even so, it was obvious they were something more than human.

“So,” Edward said, looking back up from the photos, “You’re doing your thesis on these ‘night walkers?’”

“Oh, no. I’d be laughed right out of most academic circles. Vampires? Don’t be ridiculous. Uh, sorry,” he added quickly. “My thesis is on hold for now while I teach this class this semester anyway.”

“Let’s get to the point, shall we? My wife and I, as well as other members of our family, are calling this town home for the time being. Do we need to worry about being able to lead a normal existence here? If it helps, we can promise that the homicide and disappearance rates will not increase while we are here, at least not on our account.”

“So, you eat regular food then, you don’t drink blood?” the professor blurted, then cringed. “Forgive me, I’m just curious. I meant no offense.”

“Let’s just say we believe strongly in wildlife control and leave it at that,” Edward said. “Unless you have any other questions for us, I believe we don’t have a problem, and we’ll see you in class tomorrow.”

I really couldn’t see that anything was resolved, but I didn’t have Edward’s special talents to understand what was going on beneath the surface with the professor either.

“Do you mind if I keep this?” Edward asked as we turned to leave, holding up the picture of Jasper.

“No, no, I have other copies,” Austen said.

“Oh, and if you see anyone similar to the man in the middle of this photo on campus, please don’t be alarmed.” Edward added. On that statement, we walked away from the somewhat befuddled-looking professor.

As we walked back to the car under the still overcast sky, Edward took my hand.

“I think we’re off to at least an interesting start here, my Bella. Life with you is never boring.”

“But I think Jasper has some explaining to do when we get home.”