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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:


22. Chapter 22

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2228   Review this Chapter

Survival of the Soul

By: Lady Saffir

Chapter 21

Rating: PG

DISCLAIMER: I own no rights to the Twilight universe. I’m just playing with the characters for a bit.

Thanks to Megami for being a great beta. J

Sorry this is late AND short, but I had to stop here, otherwise who knows how long this chapter would be. Other than Otakon at the end of July, I shouldn’t have anything else on my schedule that would disrupt my writing time, so hopefully I’m back on my update schedule for good. Thanks for sticking with me through all the craziness.

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” JK Rowling

“The key to change... is to let go of fear.” Rosanne Cash

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

Jasper surreptitiously watched Bella over the edge of the laptop. In the month since the news had been broken that she would have to become a vampire, his newest sister’s emotions had been a rollercoaster. She swung from anger to fear in a second, usually at nothing that Jasper could discern. Her face often betrayed her emotions, yet she hadn’t had another outburst of the magnitude of the first. Instead, she would purse her lips, her brow furrowing the brief time she was angry. When fear took over, she would usually rush to do something she thought would please Esme or Carlisle.

Jasper knew that Esme and Carlisle were fully aware of why Bella was behaving in such a manner. In fact, the entire family had read up on patterns of recovery an abuse victim might follow, and Bella was clearly at the stage that she intellectually knew that Esme or Carlisle wouldn’t Change her or push her away for her behavior, but the little unreasonable voice every person learned to live with and ignore was telling Bella to do something that would please her foster parents and make them want to keep her around.

Bella was currently in the corner chair, curled up with her legs under her, the journal Emmett had purchased for her in her hands. The journal, leather bound with intricate patterns swirling over the cover, had gone a long way towards healing the sudden rift in the sibling relationship the two of them had developed. The family had unabashedly listened in when Emmett had made his offering, Alice already smiling triumphantly while Esme and Carlisle had breathed a sigh of relief when Bella accepted the gift.

“There isn’t really anyone other than us you can talk to about things,” Emmett had explained. “So I thought maybe it would help if you could write stuff down that’s bothering you.”

Jasper smiled to himself. Bella and her journal had been inseparable since that day. The rather large book was already half full. Bella had been careful to either write only when she was in her room, or when she was in a position like now, when no one could read over her shoulder. Not that anyone would violate her privacy, but Jasper was certain there were times that Esme itched to get her hands on that book to unlock the secrets of her daughter’s mind.

The change in Edward’s attitude in the last month was also puzzling. He had avoided Bella for almost a week, until Jasper had pointed out to his brother that his avoidance was hurting Bella. She would watch Edward disappear from the room with a perplexed expression, a frown marring her face as she would turn to whatever distraction Alice had on hand. Jasper didn’t think it was so much of a romantic interest on Bella’s part. He would have been more surprised to find her ready for such feelings. She had grown comfortable with all the males in the family and was even able to talk to Mike Newton at school without flinching, so long as he kept his distance.

Edward had seemed surprised to find that Bella missed his company, his face thoughtful as he processed Jasper’s words, thanking him politely before disappearing upstairs. The next day he had returned to his previous behavior, keeping Bella company during dinner and debating with her the merits of various classic novels.

Life was almost back to where it had been prior to Emmett’s sudden case of foot in mouth disease, and Jasper was more than happy to have it that way.

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

Bella was conscious of the fact that everyone was covertly watching her write in her journal, but there were times she wanted out of her room when she wrote. She had dragged one of the more comfortable chairs into a corner of the living room a few weeks ago, angling it so that she could see the room and no one would be able to read over her shoulder. She didn’t think anyone would, but she wanted fair warning before anyone walked up to her.

The sheer relief of being able to express her thoughts and fears in some fashion was beyond compare. The words seemed to flow of their own volition, covering the pages quickly. Sometimes she would write so much that her hand would begin to cramp, but the momentary pain was nothing. She would suffer a thousand such pains gladly, to be able to let the fear and worries out.

She didn’t always write about the worries of knowing that her change was slipping closer every day. Today she was getting out the worries of Mike Newton’s gradually increasing attention, and the new attention of two other boys. She had no idea what to say or do to convince the blonde teenager she didn’t want to get to know him better. He had stopped her just today as they were entering the gym to ask if she wanted to hang out over the weekend. She had managed a polite ‘no thank you’ before fleeing into the girl’s locker room.

A flash of bronze entering the room caught her eye, and Bella hurriedly scribbled the remainder of her thought before getting up to see if Edward wanted to race on Mario Kart for a bit.

***********

Edward resisted the urge to roll his eyes. As May approached, it appeared that every student’s thoughts turned towards Prom, and who they were taking, and who still didn’t have a date. This was the reason he had taken to escorting Bella to some of her classes, hoping the males of the school would be scared off enough to leave her alone. He had picked up several thoughts regarding Bella being a potential prom date.

He was only glad that Bella no longer attended school on sunny days, so they could avoid a date request fiasco like what happened in the fall.

Emmett had begun teasing him – well out of Bella’s hearing – about his actions, and Jasper had questioned his motives a few times. Rosalie had rolled her eyes at his insistence that it was only to protect Bella, stating that she was more than capable of standing up for herself now.

And Alice…Alice had been strangely silent on the subject, her thoughts turning to translating ancient texts, or such an inane subject matter that he winced and hoped she would leave his range of hearing as quickly as possible.

Something was rotten in the house of Cullen, Edward just knew it. And somehow everyone was keeping whatever it was from him.

Aggravated, he ran a hand through his hair, sending the already tousled bronze strands into even more of a frenzy. The action proved to also send a few freshman girls’ thoughts into a frenzy, and Edward had to bite back a growl. He knew his looks, meant to lure his potential prey in, were attractive to humans, but he wished, not for the first time, that there was something he could say or do that would convince the human girls around him to stop thinking of him like that.

Bella stumbled at his side, her foot catching on the lip of the Biology room doorway. Edward automatically caught the book that fell from her arms, confused as to why Bella had Wuthering Heights with her. She had already read this book, he knew. She had read it several times, in fact, the paperback spine beginning to form numerous creases.

“Thanks,” she mumbled, blushing when Edward looked at her.

“You’ve already read this,” Edward stated, pulling out Bella’s chair for her before moving to his own.

“Yes.”

What he wouldn’t give to be able to read her thoughts! Her mental silence made it that much harder to predict her actions, though he felt he was perhaps beginning to be able to correctly guess her response more often than not.

“I’m sorry, I’m just trying to understand,” he confessed. “Why would you choose to read something so depressing?”

“It isn’t depressing,” Bella refuted. They were, as always, some of the first students to class, and were well used to spending the few free minutes debating books or movies.

“Yes, it is,” Edward insisted. “Cathy and Heathcliffe are monsters that ruin not only their lives but others lives as well.”

“Their love is the only good thing they have. Plus-”

“Ha!” Edward muttered darkly. “If that’s love, then I want nothing to do with it. They’re both monsters.”

Bella bit her lip. He could tell she wanted to add more but at that moment Mr. Banner entered the room, calling the class to order.

“What?” he whispered, barely loud enough for her to hear.

She shook her head, swinging her hair forward to hide her face from him.

“Bella? Please tell me?” he scooted his chair closer to the table, leaning into her space, automatically swallowing the flood of venom that pooled in his mouth.

He was rewarded when she turned to look at him, once more chewing on her lip as she considered answering.

“Please?”

His smile must have overcome whatever hesitation she had, the words slipping out even as she turned to face the front of the room, appearing as if she was paying close attention to the lab directions.

“It reminds me that being a mythical creature doesn’t make someone a monster, their actions do.”

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

Bella’s words haunted Edward all throughout the period. He had no idea what to say to something like that. Should he refute her claim that being a vampire didn’t make him a monster? He rather thought that might be more damaging than helpful. Esme would have his head if he did anything to send Bella off on another episode. He was sorrier than he could ever say that she had been condemned to this life. She was full of life, rather like a butterfly waiting to break free from its chrysalis. He was sure once she knew she could fly, there would be no holding her back.

He walked her to gym as usual, meeting up with Jasper as he escorted Alice, the two of them turning to head for their Spanish class.

“What’s wrong?” Jasper murmured. Your emotions are everywhere.

“It’s Bella,” Edward admitted.

What’s wrong? Did Newton say something? Do we-

“Calm down,” Edward ordered. “You’re getting as bad as Emmett.” He smiled to take the sting off his words.

The two of them settled into their seats in the back of the room, continuing their conversation at a level humans couldn’t hear. They knew that Mrs. Goff would ignore them, for the most part. What was the point of calling on students who spoke the language better than the teacher?

“Yes, we’re a bunch of mother hens,” Jasper rolled his eyes. “Now tell me what you meant.”

Edward quickly recounted their discussion, not having to add his feelings regarding their vampire state. Jasper was well aware that Edward considered them damned. For his part, Jasper had made peace with his state long ago, and preferred not to argue with his brother, or even the family, regarding their standing with any possible religious deity.

Definitely keep your mouth shut. The decision of whether or not we are damned creatures should be one Bella makes on her own. “She does have a point though,” Jasper mused.

“What do you mean?”

“A person’s actions do define them. I’m glad she realizes this.”

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

Angela was waiting for Bella outside of the gym doors. Alice had already informed Bella that her friend would be there and needed to speak with her, so it came as no surprise when the other girl hailed her friend.

“Bella! Bella, can I talk to you a minute?” she asked, jogging over to where Bella and Alice were standing.

“Um, sure. What’s up, Angela?” Bella cast a quick look at Alice, knowing her sister knew what Angela wanted but refused to say. Instead, Alice indicated she would be waiting in the the car, smiling an angelic smile at her sister’s scowl.

“Ben asked me to the prom,” her friend rushed out, pulling the other teenager’s attention back.

“That’s great!”

“Thanks,” Angela smiled. “I was wondering if you would like to go to Port Angeles with me to do some dress shopping.”

“Um, sure. What day?”

“Would Friday after school work? Mom doesn’t work that day, so I could have the car,” Angela offered.

“That should work. I just need to check with Esme,” Bella replied. Two girls spoke for another minute before Bella said goodbye, stepping out from under the shelter of the building. It had been raining all day, the ground soaked, and the parking lot was full of puddles. Bella was hopping around and over the miniature lakes when Alice’s voice cut through the air, fear making her normally melodic voice turn shrill.

“Bella! Look out!”