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Survival of the Soul

Summary:
The trauma suffered by Bella for three years has left lasting mental scars. Surrounded by the support and love of the Cullen family, Bella begins to grow and finds out there is more to life than simply surviving. sots banner


Notes:


13. Chapter 13

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3958   Review this Chapter

Survival of the Soul

Chapter 13

By: Lady Saffir

Story Rating: R/NC-17

Chapter Rating: PG

DISCLAIMER: I own no rights to the Twilight universe. I’m simply playing with Stephenie Meyers wonderful creations. Any brand names mentioned in the chapter likewise don’t belong to me. I just love them. Especially what Edward gives Bella.

On a side note, I have to note a new book series the same friend that got me addicted to Twilight recommended. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, the first being City of Bones. I’m in love with Jace. It’s a toss-up as to whether I want an Edward or a Jace. O.o And I’m sorry it’s taken so long! I’ve been nastily ill this past week and couldn’t focus on the computer screen.

Thanks to Megami for being an awesome beta! Come play with us on the Twilighted forums under the AU tab, and for those on ff.net, look for a teaser of the next chapter with a review- usually sent about four days before the next chapter posts. J Once again Emmett demanded this scene.

“Maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had, and what you've learned from them, and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.”

*****************************

Emmett bided his time, watching Mike every day in gym class as he stared at Bella. Whether he was staring at her for her looks, or for the fact she continuously managed to take down multiple classmates when she fell, he couldn’t quite say. Whatever the reason, the more Newton stared, the more annoyed Emmett found himself. His sister didn’t need to deal with an annoying boy just now. In a few months, perhaps she would be able to put him in his place, but for now he was more than happy to step in.

They were partnered up for sit-ups, Emmett having maneuvered so that Mike was his partner. He watched the boy stare across the room at Bella as she struggled to pull herself up, Alice murmuring encouragement. Pretending to be winded from the repetition of sit-ups, Emmett flopped back, groaning.

“I’m done. Switch?”

Mike pulled himself back with a start, nodding to Emmett and trading places on the mat. Emmett allowed Mike to get through two sit-ups before speaking.

“I noticed you were reading Bella’s shirt,” he mentioned casually, smirking when Mike’s hear rate jumped.

“Um, yeah,” Mike stuttered, stopping for a moment.

“And that means you were staring at her chest,” Emmett continued. He pressed down on Mike’s feet, smiling pleasantly when the boy winced in pain. “And I don’t like it when someone looks at my sister like that. It’s degrading and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it stops. Understand?”

Mike swallowed heavily as Emmett flashed him a smile, his teeth gleaming in the light.

“Yeah, sure, got it.”

“Good. Now, I think you’re supposed to be doing sit-ups.”

************

The rest of the week followed the basic outline of the first day, Bella holding everything in until she was home. There Esme would wrap her up in a welcoming hug, holding her tightly for several minutes before inquiring into her day. Each afternoon was slightly less tense than the previous though, leading Esme to hope that someday Bella would be able to walk into the house normally.

Jasper continued to monitor Bella’s emotions, unsurprised to find that the classes containing one of the family found her slightly more relaxed. According to Alice, Bella was even beginning to open up slightly to one of her classmates, an Angela Weber. The girl apparently shared second period with Bella and would walk with her to class. From what he could tell, and Edward agreed, Angela was a good person and just the type of friend Bella needed.

****************

Bella woke to the sensation of the bed bouncing underneath another’s weight. Startled, she sat up, only to fall back into the pillows when she saw it was only Alice.

“Good morning, Bella!”

“Alice.”

Alice tsked. “Now Bella, you really should be feeling a bit more energetic. You slept for eight hours! Do you need some caffeine? I’m sure we have some coffee somewhere.”

Sighing, Bella sat up, running a hand through her tousled hair. It was never a good sign when Alice woke her. Usually Esme would knock on the door to get her up for school. Alice though…Alice seemed to feel the startle approach was the best way to start the day and she usually only beat Esme to waking Bella up when she was excited about something that was going to happen.

It was strange, Bella reflected, on the fact that finding a vampire on the bed with her only made her annoyed. And leery, but only because Alice was wearing her Cheshire cat smile.

“What’s going to happen, Alice?” Bella asked. Aside from Esme and Carlisle, Alice was the one person in the house she was most comfortable speaking with.

“Happen? Nothing’s going to happen, I just thought I’d wake you up,” Alice said innocently.

Doubtful but not wanting to call the other girl on it, Bella slid from the bed, stumbling to the closet.

“Let me.” Alice was there in a flash. “You go brush your teeth. Then we’ll do your make-up and hair.”

“Alice-“Bella’s protest was cut short by Alice tapping one finger to her temple.

“I’ve seen it, Bella.”

Bella sighed, turning and trudging towards the bathroom.

*************

That was the most sisterly exchange yet Esme thought. Bella seems to have made leaps and bounds this past week.

“I believe seeing us in the school setting is responsible for that,” Edward replied. “She sees how we interact with other humans and that allows her to be more comfortable in her interactions with us.”

“That makes sense,” Esme agreed. “But why is Alice so determined to pick Bella’s clothes and do her hair today?”

“School pictures,” Rosalie stated. “Though I don’t think Bella knows what today is.”

“She’s going to freak.”

Esme agreed with Emmett’s assessment. “We should tell her.”

“Nope,” Alice disagreed from upstairs. “She’ll be fine. Just wait and see.”

***********

Bella knew the others kept looking at her because she had make-up on and her hair was fixed. Alice had quickly and expertly applied both make-up and curling iron. Thankfully the eye shadow and mascara were subtle, but there was no denying the long fall of curls cascading down her back. Did they think she was trying to make herself as attractive as they were? It was impossible, she knew. She was human and plain and could never match the beauty of the rest of the family.

The drive to school was quick. For once the weather appeared to be quite decent, with no rain falling. Bella followed the group inside, pausing by the bank of lockers as she read a flier. Dread filled her stomach.

“Alice!”

The outrage in Bella’s voice had the others turning in their tracks. They had never heard Bella sound so angry, nor ever heard her voice raised.

“Yes, Bella?”

“School pictures?!” Bella pointed to the flier, her hand trembling. “That’s why you wanted to fix my hair. You knew!” she accused, swinging her finger around to point at the petite vampire.

“Guilty,” her sister admitted.

“Alice!”

Emmett laughed. “Damn, kid. This is what it takes you get you mad? All you have to do is sit there for less than a minute and look at the camera. Not the hardest thing in the world to do,” he teased, slinging one arm over Rosalie’s shoulder. “See you all at lunch,” he added, before walking off.

“Relax,” Alice turned back to Bella. “You’ll be fine. Now, are we going to go to English or not?”

************

Alice and Edward were called from English towards the end of class to go to the auditorium for their class picture. They had still not returned by the time the bell rang. Bella stood and made to follow Angela from their class to the next when a voice spoke behind her.

“Hey, Bella!”

Turning, Bella saw a boy – Eric, maybe? – approach.

“Hey! I see your guard dog isn’t here. Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” he continued on, moving to sling an arm around her shoulder.

Bella shied away, the boy’s finger tips brushing against her shoulder but falling short of their target. Undaunted, Eric moved closer. Something made him glance over Bella’s shoulder and caused him to pale as he took a quick step back.

“Bella.”

Turning, Bella saw Rosalie striding towards her. The other woman flicked a quick look at Eric, dismissing him with one raised eyebrow even as she angled herself to be between Bella and the offending boy.

“Bella, I think we might have gotten our books mixed up this morning. I don’t have my Spanish book. Can we see if it’s in your locker?” She asked.

“Um, sure,” Bella replied, falling into step. Silence fell as they walked the halls, neither sure as to what to say to the other.

Rosalie took a breath and prayed for the right words.

“Bella, you need to get comfortable telling other people to stop behavior that is bothering you,” Rosalie lectured, her voice soft and almost lost in the crowd around them. “We won’t always be able to stop whatever boy wants to talk to you.”

Rosalie leaned against a locker as Bella fumbled with her combination. She could feel her face on fire, knowing Rosalie’s words to be true. She kept her head bent, rummaging around in her locker like she was actually looking for something.

Unseen, Rosalie’s gaze softened as she watched her sister. She was making progress but she needed to be careful. The murmurs regarding Bella’s strange behavior were growing.

“They don’t understand,” Rosalie began, keeping her gaze fixed in the distance. “They live such a sheltered life that even though most of them know bad things happen, they can’t comprehend it actually happening to anyone. They look at you and see an attractive teenage girl, Bella,” she stressed, not meeting the other girl’s gaze when she looked up, startled. “They don’t see a victim. All they see is the new girl on campus. Think about that.”

Rosalie shoved off from the locker she had been leaning against, striding down the hall as if she owned it.

Bella watched the crowd part for her, the wake closing as the other students continued on with their ordinary lives. If they couldn’t see the threat that walked their halls, surely she could keep them from finding out about her past. Couldn’t she?

Thoughtful, Bella walked to her next class.

************************

Bella had made it through the day and school pictures, grateful when she was able to return home and bury herself in her room. She had spent several hours curled up in her chair, engrossed in a book. When Emmett had appeared in her doorway, challenging her to a video game contest, she had been able to accept easily.

The various coming and goings of other family members was almost lost in the background as she focused on trying to beat Emmett. They were seated next to each other, Emmett talking trash while Bella bit her lip in concentration. It was once again the racing game, as Bella had no desire to play any game that focused on killing opponents.

“Ha!”

Emmett, distracted by Rosalie leaning over the couch and blowing into his ear, jerking his controller erratically, causing his car to careen off the pavement and fall behind as Bella’s car zoomed across the finish line.

“Rosie,” Emmett complained, cutting himself off when Rosalie crooked a finger.

“I need help in the garage,” she purred, smirking down at her husband.

“Ah, yeah, sure,” Emmett began, haphazardly tossing his remote in Bella’s general direction. “I’ll beat you some other time, Bells.”

Bella blushed, knowing that while Rosalie would need Emmett’s help for something, other things would also be going on. She sighed. She really didn’t feel like reading, and her homework was light and could easily be finished after dinner.

“May I?”

Startled, she looked up to find Edward holding Emmett’s abandoned controller.

“Um…sure. I’m not very good though,” Bella stated.

“For someone that’s never played a video game until a few months ago, you’re fine,” Edward replied easily, choosing to take the chair rather than share the close confines of the love seat with Bella. He didn’t want to tempt himself too much. “And I’ll show you some tricks and short-cuts that Emmett’s been keeping from you,” he added. “It’ll level the playing field next time.”

Bella frowned, then turned her focus back to the screen.

*****************

That had been Monday. It was now Thursday, and Bella was finishing up her homework when a knock sounded on her door. She looked up to see Esme poke her head in the door.

“May we come in?”

At Bella’s nod, Esme and Carlisle entered the room, taking a seat on her bed.

Uneasy, Bella turned in her desk chair, her mind frantically searching for a reason they would want to talk to her. She hadn’t done anything bad, had she? The broken glass in the kitchen earlier in the week had been an accident. Besides, Alice had startled her. It wasn’t her fault. Did they think it was her fault?

“I’m sorry I broke the glass,” she blurted out.

“Glass? What – oh, two days ago,” Esme remembered. “That wasn’t your fault, that was Alice’s for sneaking up on you.”

“That isn’t why we came up here, Bella,” Carlisle interrupted. “We actually wanted to talk to you about tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Bella cast her mind back, trying to remember if something special was going to happen tomorrow. It would be Friday, the thirteenth. Did that hold some significance for vampires?

“Your birthday?” Carlisle prodded her memory.

“Oh! Um…I didn’t think about that,” Bella admitted, looking down at her hands. Who forgot about their birthday, even if they didn’t like celebrating it? Entirely too much attention for her taste. They didn’t think she wanted anything, did she?

“Well,” Esme cast a quick look at her husband. “We were thinking that maybe you’d like to take tomorrow off, perhaps head up to Seattle for a bit of shopping. What do you think?”

Skip school? They wanted her to skip school? But…

“But what about school?” The question slipped out.

“You don’t have any tests tomorrow, or homework to turn in, do you?” Esme asked.

“No, but-“

“And we were under the impression that not a lot would be accomplished tomorrow anyway, given that it is a spirit day and there’s a pep rally in the afternoon,” Carlisle added.

“The new Barnes and Noble should be open as well,” Esme cajoled, knowing Bella’s weakness for books.

Bella cast a look at her bookcase. One shelf was filled with books, but she had already zipped through all of them. Perhaps a book or two? But to go all the way to Seattle just for that seemed wasteful.

“It’s also time to get some winter clothing,” Esme added, trying to make the trip seem practical.

Bella thought for a moment before agreeing. The trip would mean she wouldn’t have to deal with the others at school. And she really did want to get a few more books. The thought of shopping had her wincing even as she asked, “Is Alice coming too?”

“Only if you want her to.”

It wasn’t really that she minded Alice, but Alice on a shopping trip was kind of scary, Bella thought. She had an almost fanatical need to find the perfect outfit, especially if she’d had a vision.

Alice appeared in the doorway, Jasper behind her. Her hands were clasped in front of her chest as she bounced on her toes in excitement.

“Please, Bella? I promise I won’t make you try on any clothes you don’t want to,” she pleaded.

“And she won’t guilt you into trying anything on either,” Jasper added, smirking down at his wife when she frowned and elbowed him in the side.

Alice sighed. “And I won’t guilt you into trying anything on either,” she recited. “Please, Bella? We could make it a girls’ day out.”

She was going to regret this, Bella knew, even as she opened her mouth.

“Okay.”

************

The day was surprisingly fun, Bella thought. They had left at nine and had made the trip to Seattle in no time. They had first gone to the book store, Alice handing her a card, stating it was from her and Jasper. Inside she had found a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Alice further added that she and Rosalie would catch up with her and Esme around noon, having no desire to spend so much time surrounded only by books.

Bella had then proceeded to wander the two story book store, browsing in any section that caught her eye. More than once she had settled on the floor to read the first chapter (or two) of a book before adding it to her basket. She had been trying to whittle her pile down (ten really was too many books to buy at a time) when Esme had appeared, swooping down and pulling the basket into her arms.

“Ready to meet Alice and Rosalie for lunch, Bella?” She had asked pleasantly, ignoring Bella’s stammers that she needed to put some books back. “Nonsense. Besides, Alice and Jasper did get you a gift card. And knowing Alice, it is just the right amount to cover all of these,” Esme had stated.

Bella hadn’t been able to argue with that logic, though she felt bad for Alice spending so much on her. She knew the family shared a banking account, but wouldn’t it seem greedy to the others for her to spend so much just on books?

In the end, after purchasing a membership card, Bella had only needed to add an additional $2.34 to cover the cost. They had then met Alice and Rosalie at a small bistro, choosing to sit outside and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. It was no longer awkward for Bella to be the only person eating at the table; though at times she worried the smell might be offensive, having caught a few nose wrinkles from Rosalie.

True to her word, Alice had behaved extremely well in regards to clothes. Everything else though…

“Bella, I only promised to not guilt you about clothes. I never mentioned shoes or jewelry,” Alice pleaded, her hands locked around one of Bella’s as she tried to drag her sister toward the door of a prominent jewelry store.

“Alice, it’s too much!” Bella protested, giving in when Rosalie and Esme both chimed in that they wanted to visit the store.

************

They were almost home, the day having slipped away. Darkness had fallen rapidly, making the interior of the car become cozy and intimate. Esme couldn’t stop herself from checking the rear view mirror every minute, catching a quick glimpse of Bella. Her poor daughter was exhausted from the day. Between the amount of walking they had done, as well as the rather large meal Bella had consumed prior to them leaving, she had quickly fallen asleep, her head pillowed against the door frame.

Alice sighed, pulling Esme’s attention away.

“She’s going to sleep through the night,” the petite woman grumbled, frowning over at her sister. “She won’t even wake up when we get home. Well, we could wake her up, but that wouldn’t be the best idea,” she mused, frowning at a vision.

“Next year you aren’t getting out of a party,” she warned the slumbering girl.

“It only counts as a warning if she’s coherent,” Rosalie stated, twisting in her seat to look at her sister. “Why are you so upset, anyway?”

Alice paused, knowing her words were going to upset Esme. “She’s only got one more left as a human. After that, I can’t see,” she admitted.

“What? Alice, why didn’t you tell us?” Esme demanded.

“Because I still can’t see very clearly! Sometimes I think I see a nineteenth birthday, others times I can only see her eighteenth. Something hasn’t been decided yet that messing with the future,” Alice lamented.

“But you still see her becoming one of us?”

A secretive smile curled on Alice’s lips. “Oh, yes.”

**************

Bella woke the next morning, looking confusedly about her room. The last thing she remembered was getting in the car. Had she sleep walked upstairs?

No. She could just barely remember cool, strong arms lifting her up, whispering for her to go back to sleep. It had been Carlisle, she thought, though any of them were more than capable of carrying her weight, even the deceptively small Alice.

She rolled over, her gaze landing on a small pile of presents stacked neatly on her desk. Groaning, she remembered yesterday had been her birthday. She contemplated the brightly wrapped packages, wondering if the others’ feelings would be hurt if she returned them.

“Don’t even think about it, Bella,” Alice warned, appearing out of nowhere and perching herself on the end of the bed. “Those are for you.”

“But-“

“No buts. Now, open them,” Alice commanded, snagging the pile and dumping them on the bed around Bella.

Bella complied, sitting up and gingerly picking at the tape job of the smallest package. Lifting the lid of the small box inside, she dumped an even smaller box into her palm, lifting the lid. The sight of the sapphire necklace had her gasping, wanting to drop the box even as she reached out to stroke the trail the gemstones.

“It’s a journey necklace,” Alice explained. “It’s from Rosalie and Emmett.”

“It’s beautiful,” Bella breathed, revelation setting in. “It’s the one I was looking at yesterday!” she exclaimed, looking to Alice for confirmation.

Alice smiled. “You had Rosalie worried she wasn’t going to find anything you wanted for you birthday.”

“But-“

“It’s a gift, Bella. Enjoy it.”

“I was going to ask where Rosalie and Emmett are, so that I can thank them,” Bella replied.

“Everyone’s on a short hunting trip. They’ll be back in about an hour,” Alice waved the rest of the family away with one hand. “It’s just you, me, and Carlisle.”

Nodding, Bella looked down at the second present Alice placed in her lap. The box was rather heavy, Edward’s elegant handwriting on the gift tag. What could he have gotten her?

The paper came off a bit quicker than the first, the large letting on the outside of the box causing some confusion.

“Why?” Bella mispronounced the name.

“Wii,” Alice corrected. “It’s a new game system that reacts to motion instead of simply using buttons. It’s all the rage now. And a lot of the games are more task oriented, or simply physical games, rather than the traditional shoot’em up style that Emmett likes.”

It would be even more of a time waster, Bella knew. She was getting tired of only playing the racing game against Emmett though, so maybe this would be something fun.

The last present was from Esme and Carlisle and contained a small purse. The feel of soft, buttery leather under her fingertips felt wonderful to Bella. She flipped the discreet tag over, dropping the bag as the word ‘Coach’ stared up at her.

“Oh, but I can’t. I’ll spill something on it or ruin it,” Bella tried to push the bag in to Alice’s arms.

“Nope, it’s yours.” Alice jumped off the bed, skipping out of reach.

“Do you not like it?”

Carlisle’s voice from the door startled Bella.

“No, I do like it. I-“

“Esme will be pleased to hear that,” Carlisle cut whatever Bella was about to say off. “I was wondering though…perhaps you’d like to start your driving lessons today? Alice assures me that no one will drive by the elementary school lot, so you won’t have to worry about anyone watching you.”

It was tempting. After the past two weeks of watching other teenagers drive their own cars to school, Bella wanted nothing more than to finally learn to drive. But what if she wrecked the car, or dented it, or ran over something? She was a klutz, so maybe giving her power over such a large machine was a bad idea.

But to finally learn to drive…

Carlisle and Alice waited patiently while Bella mulled her decision, both already knowing the outcome, thanks to Alice’s vision.

“Okay,” Bella agreed, rubbing her suddenly damp palms on her quilt.

**************