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Grim Reaper's Release

Summary:
When the gruesome murder of a pastor is mysteriously caught on tape, what will happen to the vampire race? Suddenly, the world knows about vampires. The Cullens need to get out of Forks. And fast. But what will happen when the Volturi wants to interfere? Or the Southern Armies? And, more importantly, who are these strange vampire twins? Photobucket


Notes:
...I've been away for a seriously long time, haven't I? O.O

Well, I'm back with a new story and I still haven't decided if I should continue my other stories. A lot's been happening in my life and I'm sure my feelings on all of my other stories have changed drastically. Anyway, this is just an idea that's been floating around my head for probably a year now but I've never really developed it into more than just a smidge of an idea.

Just a few warnings before I continue: This story is seriously...morbid. It's not really a good story at all. There's violence, world domination, chaos, and the world kind of goes insane...but it has a happy ending! Promise!

Also, the chapters are gonna be really long on this. Like, seriously long. It's not that I want to get this done in less chapters or whatever, it's just that in each chapter, a few different character's point of view's on different things need to be included to add other factors of the story. I mean, if I had each new point of view a chapter, we'd probably be up to 50 chapters by the time I get to the middle.

That being said, I guess a few things you should know is that I don't know when I'll be getting new chapters up. I hope, with winter break here, I'll have this story done by the middle of February, maybe? I was planning on having this only 7 chapters at the maximum, but the farther I get into this story, the longer it seems. And, I hope, I'll be getting each chapter up each week. I've already written chapter 2 and 3 but I'm gonna post them weekly.

Next, I seriously need to thank my best mate Kira with this story. She gave me a HUGE idea for it and has been such an amazing supporter of all my stories from the start!

*breathes in relief* Alright, I think that's all for now. Now that I've gotten it all out, go read. I'm sure the story is much more interesting than my babbling. *snort*


22. The Road To Redemption Begins

Rating 3.5/5   Word Count 12923   Review this Chapter

Jasper's Point of View

"Dude, whatchya want? You want our blood? That it? Take him!" I watched with slightly widened eyes as the prisoner closest to me jabbed his finger towards a scrawny, trembling man in the back. I frowned; did he think I wanted their blood? Did he think I had come here to kill him, to kill all of them? That was nowhere near the case. I didn't want their lives to end because of me; I was tired of doing that, tired of being the killer.

I stepped closer and they all took a step back. A sigh escaped my lips, why was it so difficult to talk to humans? When in danger, they were all the same: scatter-brained and skitterish like twitching rabbits in the same room as a fox.

"I don't want your blood or lives," I told them. "I want your help."

They all jerked, surprised by my words as I patiently waited for them to catch up. It had been a long time since I had even tried to keep a conversation with humans going. When Bella was human, I hadn't even really tried then. This was starting to remind me why I had never become close to any humans. They were too frustrating to be around.

One stepped closer and my eyes focused on the tightly wound bandage around his upper arm. I narrowed my eyes further as the slight scent of Carlisle rose from his clothes. My lips tightened, that was unanticipated.

He paused, his ebony skin glowing under the barely shining rays of the distant sun. "What do you need us for?"

My head cocked to the side with his question. There was a shining eagerness in his dull brown eyes, as if he had waited for this moment for a long time. His hands fell at his sides and I figured he was frightened by being so close to me because of his shaking fingers. His voice, though, was so high pitched in excitement that it made me wonder if it was enthusiasm that made his hands shake so violently.

I came closer and he was the only one not to take a second step back. "I need your information and quickly. The man who they took first for testing, who was he?" My throat tightened at his close proximity, at the small bead of sweat forming on his brow, at the flush in his cheeks. He was so alive. So full of vitality and a beating heart. His warmth was close to consuming me in a bone-crushing embrace.

His lips turned down at the corners and he stuffed his fists in the pockets of his orange suit. "You mean Christian? He was the first to go and never returned." I know, I immediately thought, because I killed him.

"Yes, him. Tell me as much as you can about him," I demanded, encouraged by this discovery. He swallowed, his eyes flickering over my face. I tried to smooth my features, to make my face welcoming. His emotions were a storm of confusion and to my puzzlement, happiness.

He looked down and sighed, his foot kicking the tile floor in an agitated way. He finally lifted his head up. "Christian? Eh, he was a poor soul, man. Never wanted to hurt nobody but...well, it didn't work out so well." He paused, looking over his shoulders towards the other men. They all looked away, ignoring his eyes and instead pointing their gazes towards the walls.

Their fear and betrayal was strong. I could tell they hated the man before me for simply talking to me, for helping me.

"And?" I prodded, "what else? What happened to him? Does he have a daughter?" The man's head whipped back to me and his eyes widened. My brow furrowed, had I said too much? His emotions were forming into shapeless snippets of fear, perplexity, and deep grief. He shook his head, his neat corn rows jiggling slightly, as he turned and sat down on the plush cushion of one of the nearby chairs. His head tipped upwards and he watched me through tight eyes.

"No man, tell me something first. You know Carlisle?" He asked, quietly, and I took a surprised step back. Carlisle? Carlisle? So I had been right in my observation of Carlisle's scent saturating him. I immediately wondered how on earth this man knew Carlisle. No offense to him but he wasn't exactly the type of person Carlisle would befriend, not that he would even notice any of his differences. I just couldn't conjure up the image of Carlisle knowing drug dealers with tattoos engraved over their whole bodies and stealing diamonds.

"Yes," I all but stuttered. "I know Carlisle." Why was this man so protective over him? It made absolutely no sense to me.

He nodded, as if in deep thought. He stopped again and looked back up at me. "How do I know you're not lying?" If I were human, I would have choked back a coughing laugh. I blinked in shock and shook my head slowly, trying to erase my astonishment at what was happening.

"I'm not," I bit out. "I've known him for almost sixty years. I'm practically his son. Why do you even care? How do you know Carlisle?" He sighed, shuffling his feet on the floor. I groaned, was this really happening? I felt like I was speaking to a child, someone so naïve and so dimwitted that they couldn't focus on two things at a time.

The men behind him watched with anxious eyes as we conversed. Finally, the man in the chair looked up and exhaled. "Why do you have red eyes then?"

I smacked my fist against the wall. This was going nowhere! Why did humans have to be so dense? Why couldn't they just answer your questions willingly and leave you be? Their pestering curiosity always got the better of them, didn't it? I ignored the shattering crack that came from the wall and focused on not strangling the man in sheer infuriation.

"I have red eyes," I hissed, "because I killed Christian." His eyes turned into saucers as he listened to my words. Finally! A logical response!

Fear laced its way through him and I focused on calming him, along with everyone else in the room. I didn't need a massive panic attack to make its way through the room and its occupants. All I wanted was answers and instead I received questioning prisoners with their atrocious grammar.

He opened his mouth and took a second to catch his breath. "You killed Christian? But-but Carlisle didn't kill me! Aren't you all the same? I don't-"

"Carlisle didn't kill you because Carlisle's one of a kind," I snapped, "hardly anyone is like Carlisle. Now tell me about Christian or else I'll prove even further that I'm not as similar to him as everyone thinks I am." This wasn't quite true but I was sure a white lie could be forgiven by my family. I would never kill these men - no matter how trying they could be - but a threat was good enough. I could tell they would be spilling their guts in a few brief seconds.

He spluttered out a few words and leaned back in the chair, looking exhausted and sallow. I hesitantly sat down next to him, ignoring the blazing heat that emanated from him.

"Please," I pled, "I didn't want to kill him. I'm trying to make it up to him but I need your help. I heard there's a locket for his daughter? I know who has it and I want to get it to her-"

The man cut me off, nodding quickly as if it all made sense to him. He turned to me and though the sorrow was etched upon his face, he managed to give me a wide grin. "I understand, man. You don't need to explain to me or any of us. If anyone would understand what it's like to want redemption, it's us. We've all killed, man, we've all stolen and lied and cheated our way through life. You're just the better man. None of us have tried to make up for it or even change our ways. I told myself, though, that I wanted to help Carlisle or someone in his family. You guys aren't the bad ones here."

I stared at him in quiet shock. We weren't the bad ones? The statement was foreign to me. Most of my whole adolescent years of being a vampire were full of being told I was evil, the villain and killer of all living things.

"Maybe I can make up for everything I've done by helping you." He reached up to playfully punch me in the shoulder, like Emmett would often do, but afterwards he tugged his fist back, rubbing his knuckles in slight pain. I frowned; I had hardly even felt his hand connect with my skin. "Damn, man, you're hard as a rock."

I made no comment and stared forwards, twisting and turning what he had said in my mind. I was the better man, he had said. I wanted change. I wanted redemption. Maybe that did matter. Maybe the fact that I was willing to try meant something. Maybe Carlisle had been right all along with telling me there indeed was nothing wrong with me and that I wasn't a monster. Maybe-

"But, Christian, he was a cool dude. It sucks you killed him but, hey man, it happens. Circle of life, right? All that philosophy stuff. Yeah, well, it's cool. Don't worry about it. What you need to know about him?" I blinked away my thoughts and turned back to him, suddenly apprehensive. If he said one more life-changing sentence to me, I wasn't sure my mind could handle the thoughts it evoked.

"Tell me about him," I said in a voice that made me think it was hoarse. Was that even possible for a vampire? I wasn't sure.

The man's lips twitched at my question. "He was pretty unlucky. Grew up well, you know? Smartass, that's what we called him. He grew up in New Jersey; his dad was a CEO of some big shot company. He went to all the right schools, got all the right grades, and did all the right things. Real family man, too. Helped his mama out, was the perfect big brother, perfect role model. He met this girl in his first year of college and got her knocked up." He abruptly paused and turned to me, his eyebrows coming together.

"You know what that means, right?" I looked at him with wide eyes. Did he seriously think I didn't know what it meant...?

I nodded, slowly, still slightly caught off guard by his question. He took a deep breath and kept going.

"Ok, good, I wasn't sure, you know? You seem kind of...old, like Carlisle. I wasn't sure if you were with the times. Anyway, she had the baby, a little girl named Brianna, and his family...wooee! Those rich families, yikes! They didn't want nothin' to do with him. They wanted him to graduate college and take up his father's job but now Christian had a wife and a baby girl. They thought it would get in the way of his work and they didn't like the girl. She was just an average woman to them, you know? Not ‘suitable' for their little Chrissy. So they kicked him out, told him to either pay for Brianna through life support from a distance or leave the family for good." I frowned at the story, I had heard of such things before but the cruelty of it seemed hard to believe.

"So Christian bought an apartment for the three of them in New York City. His wife, Elena, quit college and set to work on raising the baby. Christian commuted to Princeton every day for classes and, well, you can imagine the stress he was under. His father had taken most of his money out of his account so he was now practically broke - all his money went towards the apartment. And a desperate man isn't a good sign. A desperate fallen from the grace of gold is even worst. He got into drugs, dealing and more, to get money. Did some nasty things for money, but who am I to talk? I've done the same things as him. It's just sad ‘cause he had a chance, you know? I didn't just like most of these men in here.

"Anyway, story goes he owed some big head gang leader in Brooklyn some cash but didn't have it. No selling of drugs could get the amount he needed and he needed it quick. As you can probably guess, he never got it. The guy took it out on Elena when she was driving home late at night from a rehab center. She was goin' to find out information for Christian, she had already figured out where the cash was coming from and his new behavior. A semi crashed into the driver's side of the car at an intersection and she died from impact." He paused and sucked in a deep breath, as if the death of this stranger actually pained him. My face crumpled as I realized even I felt sorrow for her homicide.

"No one got arrested but Christian knew damn well who had done it. He still couldn't get the money and the man knew it, so he did something that he knew would destroy Christian. He called Child Services as an anonymous tip saying that Christian was addicted to practically every drug out there. They came and took little Brianna away and sent Christian off to the slammer," he fell into a deep silence and then added, as if an afterthought, "Case closed."

I sat there, momentarily stunned at the history of the criminal I had executed. My eyes lifted and looked around at each of the men in here with me. What were their stories? I felt an inclining curiosity to know what they had done. Were their tales as tragic as Christian's? Did they deserve this fate, to be used in a bloodbath of an experiment?

My gaze fell towards the slumped over guards outside the door. I had only knocked them unconscious, nothing too serious. I wasn't sure how long they would be out. Surely not too much longer, right?

"Where is Brianna now?" I asked suddenly, turning to the prisoner next to me, the one who knew Carlisle. He looked up in almost surprise and narrowed his eyes.

"Why you wanna know?" I could feel his suspicion and tried as hard as I could to douse it and replace it with the seed of trust.

"I told you I needed your help. I didn't just come here to know of Christian's-," I struggled not to choke on his name "-life. He had a tiny golden locket, didn't he? Something for Brianna? I know where it is. I wanted to...I just...I want to make sure she'll get it."

He quirked one dark eyebrow and after a minute of scrutinizing my face, he sighed once again. "Dude, why you even bothering? You don't even know her. I appreciate all this redemption stuff but there's gotta be another way to accomplish it." He shook his head, as if the idea of everything made no sense to him at all.

I grasped onto the chair arm and ignored the splintering sound. "I told you," I grumbled, "I want to make up for killing him. It was wrong and the guilt it's just...it's just unbearable."

"She's in an orphanage in Philadelphia," he said as he finally gave in, his eyes were glued to my face. "Her grandparents wouldn't even take her in. It's called St. Jerome's, I think. Bad part of town, too. Lot of shootings and gang activities ‘round there. Can't say I've ever been to Philly, though, and for that reason. My reign was in the Big Apple and nowhere else."

I nodded, ignoring his other comments. Safety would be no problem in the old city of Philadelphia. One look at my face and I could imagine the dangerous men he spoke of scurrying in the opposite direction. Transportation wouldn't be too difficult, either. Unlike my Alice, grand theft auto wasn't precisely my style. I had a more reasonable, more legal way of doing things.

My legs felt like cement as I stood up, watching the drowsy officers warily over my shoulder. "Thank you," I told him sincerely, my gaze flickering down to the prisoner at my feet. "My gratitude is endless. I am truly sorry that I was the one who took Christian's life but I will do everything I can to make amends for it." I plastered on my most genuine smile and turned, ready to finally make my escape from this place.

"Wait!" He cried out and I spun back to face him, taken off guard by his outburst. "I just-I just wanted to wish you good luck, man. We'll do all we can here to keep them off your case." He suddenly grinned at me and gestured to the other men around him. "Our lips are sealed."

I wasn't quite sure how to respond to this, especially to the other prisoners nodding with small smiles on their faces. What they were doing for me, it was beyond anything I deserved. I had anticipated such struggle to atone for my sins. I had almost wanted the road to redemption to be challenging, to have to use all of my will and strength to accomplish it. Maybe, if I had to fight for it, it would have meant more to me. Instead, they were almost doing it for me.

I would have been a bit insulted at this fact, even a bit agitated. I needed to show my family and myself that I deserved release from my guilt. How would I if the act itself had been simple? Instead, though, I felt a bit of gratitude towards the men before me. I had killed their friend, their comrade, and they were helping the murderer. Though it seemed almost a heinous act when I worded it like that, it meant the world to me.

He seemed to understand my speechlessness for all he did was give a small nod and a wink. I took a labored breath and turned towards the door, pushing my emotions out of the way and readying myself for escape.

But first I needed the locket, I reminded myself. How, oh how, could I ever get it from Fitzgerald?

I paused outside the room flooding of prisoners and quietly shut the door behind me. My head fell and I turned my attention to the slowly waking agents on the ground. I hesitantly nudged the one with the tip of my shoe and frowned distastefully at his opening eyes. They went in and out of focus before he finally glared upright at me.

"You," he croaked, and his limp arm began to move for his dropped gun. I soundlessly kicked the gun further away from him, trying not to admit to myself that it was entertaining for me to watch his anguish. If I did, it would have proved to me even further that I was sinking back into the type of man I used to be.

I turned my back on him, knowing his strength had not yet recovered enough for him to try to stop me. My feet acted on instinct alone as I walked, like a car on autopilot. I reached the end of the hall and halted. An idea struck me: I didn't yet know where Fitzgerald even was. How was I supposed to find him? He had to be somewhere in here.

I looked up and down the long carpeted hall. Up here, above the holding cells, the walls were thinner. My hearing could stretch farther and catch sounds and noises floors below or above me. I strained to hear for the ragged breaths of Fitzgerald or his nasal voice and came up almost empty.

Frustration took its root in my gut as a bitter smile fell into place on my lips. I had asked for challenge, hadn't I? With a sigh, I shook the thought from my head. Focus, I told myself, if not his voice, search for his raging emotions. You can always sense him a mile away.

But it wasn't his emotions that led him to me in the end. After a moment or two of concentrating, a sound caught my attention a floor above me. The sound of the corking of a bottle resounded through my ears and was replaced with his usual low murmuring, coming out as rough whispers and guttural noises.

I swiftly turned and pushed the steel exit door leading to the back stairs. The dizzying flickering of the neon red of the exit sign above me attracted my interest for a brief second but I ignored it and ran into the stairwell. Taking the thick steps two to three at a time, I quickly made my way up the stairs and eventually pushed the door open and stumbled into the hallway.

There was no second of hesitation. I took off as soon as my foot hit the carpeting of the floor, flying past the doors leading to offices faster than I thought imaginable. It felt so good to just run, even if that distance was only down a short, confining corridor. It had been so long since I had put my strength and speed to the maximum.

The door opening up to Fitzgerald's office appeared all too soon to the left of me. I slammed on my heals, trying to stop myself before I could pass it and have to turn around. It was all glass and the annoying blinds were pulled down over it, accenting the gold writing of his name. Inside, voices were filtering through the walls and to my ears. Two heartbeats, two sets of lungs breathing, two men.

My eyes narrowed at the other man inside. The scent that drenched the doorway was familiar. It was light, not floral in any way, but just a spritz of something...different. It wasn't a scent easily put into words. Not sour nor bitter nor strong. It reminded me of home, I suppose. Something warm, pleasant, and comforting. Welcoming, in a way, but not overbearing.

I shrugged off the soothing smell and placed my hand on the doorknob, not realizing how chilled it was because of my flesh. I turned it, feeling the gears in the lock twist and turn under my grasp. Something stuck inside the door and I frowned. He had locked it. With a grimace, I yanked it to the right, crushing the lock within the doorframe.

I pulled the door open, a satisfied smirk growing. Inside the room, it was completely still. I pulled the door open wider, taking a moment to inspect the damage on the door. Splintered wood was sticking out of the edge and a small pile of grease covered shavings littered the ground.

Ignoring the stunned men watching me from the middle of the room, I tried to close the door only to discover it was reluctant to close with the broken frame. I heaved an exasperated sigh and used my strength as a last resort to simply shove it back in and as I turned around to face Fitzgerald and whoever was with him, a loud crack echoed around us as the top of the frame split above the broken door.

I pursed my lips, pretending I hadn't heard anything, and confronted the men. Fitzgerald stood behind a large desk, his meaty hands placed down on the desktop as his face slowly turned from vibrant shades of red to purple. I blinked, I was pretty sure Carlisle had said that complexion wasn't exactly healthy. In the chair opposite of him sat Brody Averton, the scientist I was meant to execute earlier. I grimaced at the look of sheer fear in his eyes as he looked at me, like he expected me to end his life right here and now.

A thick set of handcuffs wrapped around his left wrist and attached him to the chair he sat in and I felt my heart plummet. Why exactly was he being executed? I wasn't sure yet.

Brody glanced between Fitzgerald and me with huge blue eyes, as if he was a mouse caught between two eager cats. His fingertips twitched and then he opened his mouth. "Well, you sure do know how to make an entrance," he said in what I guessed what was an attempt to ease the growing tension.

I glanced down at him in slight amusement and decided not to smile in case it sent Fitzgerald over the edge.

"You-you-you ruined my office!" Fitzgerald seethed, throwing his thick arms in the air in outrage. I stared in astonishment. This man had an angry vampire in his office and all he was worried about was the décor? His attitude reminded me a bit of Alice and caused me to snicker.

I glanced at the door over my shoulder and back to him. "I'm sorry, really. I can pay for the damages." Not that you'll really need a new door once I leave here.

He huffed and groaned. "I don't want your money, Jasper Whitlock!" I flinched at the venom in his voice but otherwise stood my ground. Brody struggled to wiggle his hand out of the handcuff but failed miserably and settled for watching us with agonizing eyes.

"Then what do you want?" I asked quietly and wondered if my words had been spoken too softly for his hearing.

His head whipped up and his nostrils flared. Apparently not. "What do I want?" He spoke calmly, though his emotions betrayed him. "I want to know why you did what you did down there. Was there a specific reason or did you just feel like showing off?"

I paced the length of the room with a deep scowl on my face. "No, not showing off," I mumbled as truthfully as I could. "I just needed something, you see, and you have it."

I watched as his eyes widened a bit and he gulped down a breath of air. Fear worked its way through his veins and I could hear that luscious pulse of his speed up. It seemed fear and I worked hand in hand these past few days, the right and left hand men of the Devil himself.

"I have it...? And what is ‘it'?" He tried to feign innocence but I could smell the adrenaline on him. The guilt was too heavy to not notice it. He either knew just what I was looking for or he thought I meant his life. Who knows, maybe he thought I meant that I wanted poor, innocent Brody Averton's life.

I stopped, crossing my arms over my chest. When he moved, I could hear a soft twinkling come from his front pocket. It was a sound only created by gold or something of the metallic consistency. There was a small object tucked inside the pocket, my eyes could see that, but I couldn't make out the shape. I was sure it was the locket, though.

"I want the gold locket," I calmly responded, sticking my open palm out.

He opened his mouth to give a reply but the words were cut off. Instead, he stood there gaping at me. "How did you...how did you know about that?" He finally strangled out.

I shrugged my shoulders. "Does it matter? Now, please, just give it to me." I pushed towards him emotions of fatigue, hoping it would lessen his judgment and persuade him to hand it over. His eyes began to droop and he shook his head violently, as if trying not to give in.

"No!" He shouted, "How dare you come in here, tear apart my door, and ask me for this? Have you forgotten you escaped from your cell? I should be calling the agents right now to come and drag your ass back down there!"

I instantly laughed. I couldn't quite help it; the thought of him doing so was amusing. No amount of officers with guns would convince me to go with them. I was set on my mission; there was no going back now.

How do I convince him to just give me the locket, though? There had to be a way. I could scare him into doing so, either through his emotions of actions. It would have been harsh, yes, but I knew it would work. I stood still as a statue, trying to decide on what to do next. I wasn't going to give up now, obviously. What is the road to redemption without roadblocks anyway?

I glanced down at the desk which few things lay on top of. It was approximately 6.7 feet away, I estimated with my eyes. It wouldn't take too much to leap onto it and scare him beyond words. He would hand it over then and I could finish him.

I had already decided his death was inevitable. He had to die. There was no other option. When I had first decided to walk the line of salvation, I knew more lives would be lost because of me. This life, though, I knew I would not regret stealing. He deserved it, I thought. Plus, if I didn't end him off, I was sure another vampire eventually would do the job and would do it much crueler than anything I had in mind.

And, in the end, it would be a lot tougher to get out of here if I allowed him to survive.

I snapped into action and leaped through the air, landing on the top of the desk lightly. It didn't even creak as my weight fell on it and I crouched down so I was eyelevel with the leader of this whole operation. I miserably wondered what he saw in my eyes. The eyes of a sinner? Ruby red with specks of black scattered around the irises?

He stumbled backwards and I disregarded Brody's sharp gasp behind me. There was a tumbling over my shoulder as Brody desperately tried to get loose and...what? Run away? Stop me from what I was about to do? Call for help? He was virtually helpless and I doubted he knew he was as useless as he really was.

I reached out and grasped Fitzgerald's arm in my hand, trying not to crush the bone beneath my fingertips. Humans were so fragile. I almost always forgot how easily it would be to just snap the brittle bone. His eyes followed my movements as they bulged, threatening to spill from his sockets, and he broke off into a choking sound, though my hands had yet to strangle him.

"I need it," I half hissed, half whispered in a frantic tone, "and I need it now." Glancing over my shoulder I could spot Brody lying rigidly on the floor, his wrists turning an ugly shade of red. I turned my head back to Fitzgerald as my jaw clenched. Being this near to him was difficult. I by no means had perfect control and probably never would. Any control that I had had for the past few hours was purely because of the art of distraction.

But now I could smell his blood, I could hear his heart, I could see the vivacity flushing his cheeks a plum color. The sight of a human was enchanting to my predatory eyes. I could spend days just gazing at them, at their gawky movements and their human gestures. In a way, they were beautiful. Imperfect and flawed but exquisite all the same.

He reached up for his pocket and gurgled out a few unintelligible words. "Why?" He asked in a shrill tone. "Why should I give it to you? Why do you even want this? It's of no use to you." I was already shaking my head before he had even finished his first sentence.

"You wouldn't understand even if I told you," I mumbled, believing the words myself. And he wouldn't, I was sure of that. There was no way a petty human like Timothy Fitzgerald would be able to comprehend my actions or my desire for deliverance.

Refusing to break our eye contact, I reached up cautiously with my free hand. I dug into the thick fabric of his front pocket and felt him stiffen under the pressure of my hand. Finally, finally, my fingertips connected with a bit of hard metal. I hooked my finger around it and withdrew it from the pocket and opened up my palm.

The little treasure lay, looking insignificant and minuscule in the center of my hand. It was glimmering beautifully under the fluorescent lights of his office and I could tell it was authentic. My eyes couldn't find one flaw in its coating of gold, not one scratch or dent. The engravings on the front were etched in masterfully with precision and skill.

I allowed myself one small smile before dropping the piece of jewelry into my pocket. Once pleased with my success, I shifted my attention back to the frozen Fitzgerald before me. His mouth was parted slightly, his bottom lip trembling from real fear.

"What are you going to do with that?" He questioned as he gulped noisily. His beady eyes flitted down to my pocket and back to my face quickly as if he thought I wouldn't see the subtle action.

"Take it to its rightful owner," I answered honestly, never moving from my position over the desk.

His squinted eyes narrowed even further and he looked like a statue awakening from a lifetime of fear. I could still feel its trace on him and knew that even though his face was perfectly composed, he was nearly going into cardiac arrest because of his fright. "You truly think you'll be able to do that?"

My face fell at his question, shocked by the inescapable truth of the question. Did I? It would be simple to get out, that I was wholly sure of. My entire being yearned for the breakout that was to come. I knew a part of me would forever remain here with my Alice but for the most part, I couldn't deny the exhilaration of being on the move again. I wanted to leave this place, to be doing something useful, to be on my own. And it was that last desire that frightened me the most.

I had always been a solitary creature. Even in my human life, I was not one to associate myself with large groups of people and that quality had followed me into my next life. However, since Alice, I had branched out, if you will. I was used to a huge family now. I enjoyed knowing I had brothers and sisters who had my back and people who cared about me. Knowing that I was desperate to just be alone, to be isolated from everyone else, worried me a bit.

Somewhere deep inside me worried that if I yearned privacy from the world, it would take me right back to the beginning and I would be no better now than I had been when I first opened my eyes to this world.

This awful place was changing me. I could feel it. I had been doing so well before all of this but now...now this building was bringing me back to my old self. I could slowly feel reality fading away and being replaced by the savage part of me.

I blinked repeatedly and was glad that all of these thoughts had only taken up a second or two.

"I hope I will," I said stiffly. "Tell me, Fitzgerald, do you have a family?" I wanted to know who would grieve for this dreadful man once I took his life. He didn't even deserve the release of death in my eyes. He was horrible, maybe just as bad as me.

But I would grant him death because his death was the only thing that would end this. Or so I hoped.

He appeared baffled at my question and took a few seconds to respond. "A wife, not that it's any of your damn business." I leaned my arms on my bent knees and peered up at him thoughtfully.

"No children, then?"

"Of course not!" He stormed, shaking his head and he looked for an escape route. The steady breathing of Brody behind me began to speed up as Fitzgerald's eyes landed on him, practically pleading for his aide. "Why would I have any children? They're just so - so - so bothersome! Why do you even care?"

I looked at him for a few brief moments, memorizing his features and emotions. How they swung so quickly from infuriation to fear and back in the cycle of negative feelings. I wanted him to be the last life I took. I had no clue if it would work out like that and maybe I would even be ok if I killed once again but for the meantime, I tried to trust myself that he would be the final life.

His hard eyes glared back and I could imagine steam escaping from his nostrils like an angry bull. His lips were pressed down in a hard, grim line that looked like it had been etched on his face before he had even been born. I tried to imagine the man before me as a child, innocent and kind, but only drew up blanks. How had he turned into such a heartless, cruel man?

I watched him closely before answering, "Because, honestly, I was curious as to who would come to your funeral." His breathing stuttered for a moment and he backed up, trying to push his frame into the wall behind him.

"My...my funeral? What on earth do you mean?" His voice rose in octaves until he was finally screaming, his thick hands thrashing about. "Guards! Guards! Help! For the love of God, save me from this monster!"

The corner of my lips fell down at his hoarse yells. There were no guards present on this level. There was no was one to hear his cries or come to his side for protection. He was utterly alone and I felt pity for him because he hadn't yet realized that.

I ignored the choking gasps of Brody over my shoulder. He wanted to help, I could feel it radiating off of him, but he couldn't. His wrists were tightly bound to the chair from the handcuffs and because of this, he couldn't pick himself up and off the floor. He was stuck there.

I moved too quickly for either of them to see and grabbed Fitzgerald by the neck. His soft, warm flesh touched my hands and the skin seemed to shudder, like it was a creature all of its own. I could feel the fingertips of my opposite hands as they connected behind his beefy neck. His trachea pulsed beneath my palms. It was like his flesh was just a thin veil, so useless from most sharp objects or force. I could smash him so easily, almost too easily.

With just one swift flick of the wrist, my thumb pressed into his windpipe and I heard the crumble as it shattered beneath the pressure. His breathing broke off and he huffed, his now blue face going slack in front of my eyes. His hands, which I hadn't noticed had been clawing at my own, went limp and fell at his sides, relaxed and floppy.

I looked into his wide eyes, at the bursting blood vessels and the dilating of his bottomless black pupils. They widened so far I wondered if they would swallow every pigment of color in his irises. I released my clenched hands from around his neck and his dead weight dropped down to the floor as gravity took hold. He fell, slumping on the floor, and I watched in a daze with a sickened look on my face.

Death. How many times had I seen it? How many times had I been the purpose of it?

I turned away from him, pushing all thoughts of him to the back of my mind. Now was not the time to second guess my actions. Everything I had done had been done. I couldn't turn back the clocks and fix it. And maybe I didn't even want to.

My gaze fell on Brody who was aiming at the door, struggling to get to the door. His eyes widened horrifically as he saw me coming closer and he sped up his efforts. "Please!" He cried, "I didn't do anything, I'm not even on his side. Let me go, just let me go." I shook my head, continuing my silence, and crouched down beside his writhing form.

I reached out to the handcuff around his wrist and latched my fingers onto the cool metal. He shuddered as I accidentally touched him. I ignored his attempts to back up further.

"Relax," I told him softly. "Stay still, I don't want to mistakenly take off your hand." It was a joke but apparently he didn't get it. His jaw dropped and for a moment I thought he may faint. I looked away from his face and down to the metal cuff. With one finger looped around the rim, I pulled back swiftly and it snapped loudly in my hand.

I pulled the cuff off his wrist, careful not to have the sharp edges scratch his thin flesh. With my luck, it would sever his main artery and all of this would fly out the window. When it was completely off, I pulled the chair up and straightened it, avoiding his shocked gaze.

"You're not going to kill me are you?" His voice was awed and I looked back at him, myself awed at the look on his face. He was tensed all over, his lips pursed tightly and his eyelids squeezed shut. Like he was waiting for something. Something like death, I guessed.

I stood up and reached out my arm before realizing he couldn't see it. I coughed slightly to get his attention and watched as his eyes opened slowly. He blinked multiple times and arched his head back, watching me as I watched him.

His attention flickered down to my outstretched hand and back to my face. He was wondering if he could trust me, I was sure of it. Finally, as I was considering just leaving him there, he cautiously reached out and grabbed onto my hand. His feverish palm shivered but I pretended like his involuntary repulsion had gone unnoticed. I lifted him up easily and gave him a second to get his bearings back.

"No," I answered honestly, "I won't kill you."

"Then why did you kill him?" He gulped uneasily, his eyes dancing over to the lifeless form of Fitzgerald just barely visible behind his desk.

I moved towards the door, becoming uncomfortable around a human. They were so unsettling with their ungainly movements and their insecurities. I knew Edward thought they were predictable beings but I didn't think so at all. You never knew what a human would do. They were all so different; some were observant, some were shallow, and some were cruel.

"I had to," I mumbled, my hand leaning on the door. His brow furrowed as he realized I was going to leave him here all alone with a dead man in his office. "You should probably get out of here," I told him. "Or else they may think you did it."

I pushed the door open and slipped out into the fresh air of the hallway. A breath of relief left my lips. No humans to deal with, no stench of death following me wherever I went, no family to worry about.

I travelled down the hall, back to the hidden stairwell. My hearing told me there was no one, absolutely no one, near any of the exits. I took a second or two to wonder where everyone was. Looking for me? It made no sense that they wouldn't be surrounding the exits. Possibly they were asking my family where I was. I supposed that was a reasonable thing to do.

I took my time down the stairs, listening around me and through the walls. Was this truly going to be as simple as it seemed? Was there going to be no chase? No challenge to get away? Would I really just be allowed to stroll out? Push the glass doors open and smell the breath of freedom upon me? To just walk away, relaxed and comfortable, until I was out of sight?

The main floor was absolute silent. There wasn't even anyone on the level. I once again felt a bit disappointed at the ease of this. I stepped out into the main, glassy lobby and looked around. For such a building, its lobby was impressive. The style was modern and simple pieces of furniture lined the walls, presently accommodating no one. Even the receptionist desk was empty. I took a moment to wonder if there even was a receptionist. I hadn't remembered one on my way in.

I walked through the large lobby and as my feet slapped the black linoleum floors; the sound echoed loudly around me. It was probably a good thing there was no one here anyway. If there had been, I was sure someone would have heard the ruckus I made as I walked. It was probably purposely set up that way, I thought. The lobby was big enough to cause an echo and the floors scraped easily. No one would be able to leave this building without alerting someone else.

As I loped towards the door, my eyes narrowed on a small device in the far crevice of the lobby. It was black and hardly noticeable with a blinking red light on the top. A camera.

It seemed to me that it was weird that no one had arrived yet to try to take me back. It was impossible to think that they didn't care anymore. It could have been that someone had discovered Fitzgerald's body and they were trying to revive him or gather the facts. But wouldn't the whole place be on lockdown then?

I moved towards the doors and pushed these observations to the back of my mind. If no one was going to come after me, I should just take advantage of the situation and run. I shouldn't wander around, looking for trouble or wondering why someone wasn't coming after me with a loaded gun.

My hand reached out for the door, ready to push it open and make my final escape. I looked back over my shoulder and sighed, wondering when and if I would ever come back. When I finally finished this mission, would they still be here, locked up and separated? Or would the murder of their dear Fitzgerald cause the humans to let them all go?

I felt a sense of disdain towards my family. It had been simple to break free, almost too simple, but they just stayed, content with torture, in their cells while waiting for a savior. I didn't understand them. They didn't have to stay here and they knew it. They just didn't want to leave Carlisle, who felt the need to stay and wade it out. I knew Carlisle figured it was safer here than in the free world where anyone would try to hunt us down, and maybe at some point I agreed, but when being this close to freedom, it was impossible to share his views.

I turned my attention back to the glass door, the only thing separating me from the rest of the world. I couldn't help but feel like the second I walked out, I was deserting my family. And why shouldn't I feel that way? I was escaping, leaving them here to rot in their cells, while I was on some adrenaline-kick mission to save my soul. I was being completely selfish but for some reason, I couldn't find it in me to really care too much. It wasn't my fault if they didn't find the strength within themselves to break free, was it?

Oh, but how I flinched at the thought of leaving Alice in here. I could imagine her sadness when she would find out that I had left her here. She would feel betrayed but she would have to understand when I returned. It comforted me a bit to know that her grief would only be short-lived.

I'm sorry, Edward, I thought as I shoved the door open with a light touch, but you know I have to do this. Please, don't tell anyone where I am. I don't want Alice following me. And tell her I love her. I don't want to leave her here but I have to.

I wasn't sure if he would hear. I knew since Renesmee had been returned to him, he hardly tuned into anyone else's thoughts. He was totally consumed by her presence and spent all of his time worrying about her. I knew if one of them would break out next, it would be him. He hadn't liked Carlisle's idea since the beginning and Renesmee's fear and panic only built onto his contempt for the white walls surrounding him.

The door swung open and I stood there for a moment, processing the scenery outside. It wasn't anything too spectacular, a paved road led up to the entrance and the great Hummers we had arrived in still lined the streets. Surrounding the road was a thick forest and sprouting from the driveway was a sidewalk leading to the main entrance. The sky was tinged with blue overhead but there was no sun in sight. Its presence was shielded from my eyes by thick, white clouds.

I walked out onto the yellow sidewalk and looked about. Which direction should I go? I thought for a moment and decided to run towards the right, knowing that the Hummers had come from that direction. It would take me towards the city and though that was probably a bad idea since my eyes were still ruby red, I continued in that direction. I would have to find contacts somewhere soon.

I took off in my chosen direction and relished in the feeling of running again. The woods were different here than back home but the smells were all the same. Not as damp but still musky and still the bitter scent of dirt. It was something familiar to me in this uncharted experience and I immediately welcomed its presence.

I kept running until I had reached the banks of the city. It hadn't taken me too long, less than five minutes even, and I could hear the buzz of the governmental city around me. The day was peaking into night and I was grateful for the advantage of darkness. Surely no one would look at me too closely or be able to pick out the ruby eyes. They would blend under the shadows of night.

It was a lively city, to say the least. I hadn't been in the capitol for many years but some things still seemed familiar to me. The museums and downtown stores all brought back older memories of being with my family, which I immediately tried to forget. I wasn't here to reminisce about past vacations and it annoyed me that my sea of memoirs kept distracting me.

I chose the roads I travelled down carefully. I knew the city well enough to know that if I reached the south western outskirts, no one would bother me there. The ghetto there was barren of most life and all sorts of people walked through there a day.

Though it was early, only about 8:30pm, the groups of people walking were becoming smaller. I passed a couple or mass of three to five people every five minutes. I had imagined this city as a crowded tourist attraction before but as I progressed to my location, the groups thinned out.

I kept my head down and my hands in my pockets as I walked on. I knew my clothes were torn in places and that was probably gathering people's attention but I pressed on. If I walked fast enough, no one would get a look at my face before I had disappeared down the next dark alley or slipped into another thick shadow.

"Hey, boy, you ok?" I looked up, surprised, and realized one of the few cars driving by had stopped next to me. The engine was purring like a cat locked up in a cage, grouchy and rough. The vehicle was white and the paint glossy. I blinked my eyes away from the blinking red and blue lights atop the car. It was a cop.

I struggled to keep my face in the shadows as I responded to the concerned officer. "Yes, sir, I'm fine. Thank you." His gray eyes narrowed and he shook his head.

"You should get yourself inside. Don't want to be out at this hour, you know?" I felt his fear as his eyes raked down the empty street, taking his time as his faded eyes look for something he thought to be invisible.

"Why not?" I asked him, curious at both his growing fear and his suspicious question.

His head turned back to me and his fear transformed into shock. "Why do you think? Government's telling us to get in our houses by 8pm and not to leave until at least 10 in the morning. Vampires are out, son, and we know there are more of them besides the ones in lockdown. Thing is, we don't know where they are. It's like they're hiding, like they're scared of us. I doubt they're scared of us but it's what it seems like. Maybe they're just waiting, waiting until we expect it the least and lash out." His eyes slid back to me and he gave me a nod. "Know what I mean?"

I blanched at his question, shocked by the revelation. What was happening to the world? Or, what struck me more important, what was happening to the vampire world? Why had the Volturi yet to step in? I had figured during my time spent in the Williams Building, the Volturi would step forth. And what about the group in Loreto? Tanya and the others? Had they deserted us?

But what struck me the oddest were the Southern armies. What had happened to Maria and her power hungry personality? Why hadn't the soldiers unleashed living hell on the Southern states like I had predicted?

With a clenched jaw I nodded in return. "Yeah, maybe they are scared," I whispered, glancing down the bare street. Only the sparse headlights gave out light and everything else was doused in a mysterious darkness.

The cop sat still in a moment of silence and then spoke again. "What happened to your clothes? You look like you need a hot bath and some food." I glanced down at my own clothes and was reminded of the holes once again.

I shrugged, my hand grasping the golden locket deep within my pocket. "Nothing too serious. Someone tried to mug me a few blocks back. He didn't get far, though, before I caught him." It wasn't true but I figured with this present state of the world, maybe my lie was believable.

His lips turned down and he shook his head. "Good thing you caught him. Crime is too high nowadays. The cops can't catch ‘em all, you know? The world's going down the drains. Robberies, murders, suicides. Everything's increasing by the hundreds globally. I heard in some European city, a madman killed fifteen people yesterday because he thought they were vampires. Crazy."

I exhaled into the stale winter air at his story and shook my head slightly. What were we doing to this world? Could this really be the end? I didn't know how anything could get any better.

"Well, son, if there's nowhere for you to go, I would get down to Pennsylvania Avenue. They've got a huge shelter for the homeless or anyone else who doesn't want to stay in their homes. Every city has ‘em now. Shelters, I mean. Some even more than one. I heard New York City has at least five spread throughout the city for anyone who needs to get out off the streets. Promise me, though, that you'll get inside soon. It's not safe out here at this hour." I could hear him shift his foot to place it on the pedal and I nodded.

"Of course, officer, I'm going in right down there." I gestured towards a building down the road and he nodded, the corners of his lips tugging upwards. I returned his smile, wondering if he could even see it in the darkness, and then he sped off down the road. His taillights were the brightest light down the whole street.

I kept going, shuffling my feet down the sidewalk. The only thing I could think about was what he had just told me. As a vampire, I had seen things in the world change so slowly, taking decades and decades to get better or to decline. But very few times had something shifted the whole world so suddenly.

His words seemed to make sense the more I thought about it. It seemed obvious now that something must be wrong as I walked past dark houses with planks of wood nailed across doors and windows. How had I not noticed it before? The way people hurried down sidewalks, their heads bowed and hands in their pockets. No one had pointed out my disarrayed appearance because hardly anyone dared to peel their eyes from the ground.

I reached the south western areas and paused, looking about. The rundown buildings were placed awkwardly along the sidewalks, like they had been picked up from former residences and dropped there. Few people lined the streets and most were either smoking unknown substances or drinking. Some were doing both.

At the corner of a dim street I could see a telephone booth. I made my way towards it but stopped suddenly.

I had no money.

The second I walked into the Williams Building, I had been ordered to empty my pockets. That meant my cell phone, my wallet, and the keys to our luggage bags. I felt into my pockets, wondering if maybe, maybe, something had escaped my attention and I had somehow left a few quarters there but the only thing I could find was the locket. I sighed, wondering how in the world I could do anything now.

I thought for a bit. I was a vampire, not some clueless, naïve human. Surely, I could do something. There had to be some way to obtain loose change.

Down the street I spotted a man huddling by a streetlight. I decided to try my luck and meandered in the direction of the dark form of the figure. I reached him in a short period of time and as he looked up at my approaching steps, I wondered if I had made a mistake.

I obviously wasn't the type of vampire to be intimidated by humans. I did all of the frightening, I committed all of the crimes. I could kill any human in the blink of the eye. Simply put, no one could frighten me. During my years with Maria, I had learned to become virtually fearless. The only thing in my life that could cause me to be afraid was the idea of Alice in harm.

But this man was different. It wasn't that he was scary, no, not in the least. There was nothing different about his strength. Nothing that made me want to cower in fear. He was just...untouchable to me. Something different from most humans. With a thick scar that ran from somewhere past his hairline, down the side of his nose, and to the corner of his lip, he looked menacing in a human way. His eyes glittered like black diamonds set into his skull and his throbbing pulse was dangerously low.

His cold eyes widened a bit as I came into the light and I internally cursed myself for being so distracted by his appearance that I had allowed myself to be seen. His thick, dark brow furrowed and he opened his mouth.

"Are you going to kill me?" He spoke the words slowly, with a slight tropical accent. His voice was deep, deeper than probably Emmett's, and sharply defined.

I shook my head, wondering what on earth he was thinking. Zero fear came from him. Only increasing curiosity. I could smell not only his marveling but the acidic smell of illegal drugs. I could tell he wasn't taking them but the scent lifted from his pockets. He was a dealer.

"No," I told him, "Quite the opposite, actually. How much money do you have on you?" He quirked an eyebrow and breathed out a deep sigh. His left hand, deeply scarred, reached into his pocket and he fished out a wad of multiple hundred dollar bills.

"I'm not giving this to you without a reason why you need it and...well, I want something in return." He looked up from counting his bills and then back, licking his chapped lips. I swallowed uneasily. I had practically nothing on me except the torn clothes on my backs, which was obvious he didn't need from the various layers he wore.

I reached up to pull my fingers through my hair, a human habit that somehow hadn't been lost through the years of being a vampire. The light from the bulb caught something on my wrist as I did so and it glittered gold. I looked down at my hand and suddenly smiled.

The Rolex watch shined brightly and I felt like laughing out loud. I had forgotten the officers had not taken any of my attire. I flipped my wrist over and easily unlatched the hook. The sleek metal slithered into my other palm and I held it out to him.

"Will this do?" His eyes studied the piece of jewelry closely and he glanced back up at me.

"Is it real?" He had the cash rolled into numerous reels in one hand and with the other he reached out tentatively to lift the heavy watch. He lifted it to the light, his eyes taking in every detail.

"Of course," I replied truthfully, "one of the newest styles." I couldn't say I was distressed to lose it. As a vampire, time didn't really matter to me. It passed too quickly to take notice of. Plus, most vampires had a keen sense of the hour anyway. I would always be able to estimate the time by looking at the sun or the place of the stars.

Just because I wasn't sad to see it go didn't mean Alice wouldn't be personally offended the moment she found out I had traded it for money, something I already had an endless amount of.

The man nodded and pocketed the watch, slipping it into a deep opening in his pockets. "So, why do you need this?" He waved the cash in front of me and observed me carefully, as if he was waiting for me to snap.

"I'm sure you've heard of the vampires who were caught." He nodded slowly, his mouth turning down at the corners. "I was one of them. My family is still there but I choose to leave. I need to call an agent of mine in New York City so he can send me a car and money. I need to get to Philadelphia." I wasn't too happy with myself for actually telling him the truth but if I didn't, I had the feeling he'd sense it.

He kept nodding; his eyes downcast, before giving a slow shrug. He handed the money over to me and I reached out, grabbing the bills eagerly. I had never been someone who was practically moneyless and money had never mattered to me or anyone in my family. Now that I knew what it was like to be virtually broke, I didn't want the experience again. In this day and age, everything mattered on money. And if you didn't have any, you were just about hopeless.

"That's good enough of a reason, I suppose," He rumbled before stuffing his hands back in his pockets. I looked down at the wad of bills and smiled to myself. There had to be at least $2,500 here and I knew it would help me greatly on getting to Philadelphia. It was a good trade, anyway. My watch had been about the same price.

I glanced back at the telephone booth and back to the man who was watching me with narrowed eyes. "What now?" He asked in a monotone and I frowned. Dollar bills wouldn't get me anywhere with the telephone, unless I wanted to just buy a whole new cell phone.

"Is there any chance you have any change?" His eyes widened as he showed the first bit of emotion I had ever seen him express. He sighed and shook his head in a sort of exasperated way before digging into his pockets.

He took his hand out, something clinking in his palms, before dropping eight quarters into my open palm. I thanked him generously and told him I greatly appreciated his money before turning to depart and leave him there on the gloomy street corner.

I came to a stop at the telephone booth, opening it carefully while trying to avoid the multiple pieces of chewing gum lining the walls and buttons of the telephone. I stopped breathing, disliking the scent of perspiration, drugs, and the inescapable scent of unsanitary dirt.

I slid four of the quarters into the slot, grateful that it would give me one minute. I had two calls to make and I needed them to be quick as possible. I then proceeded to quickly punch the numbers in of my New York agent's phone number. Unlike most of those in my family, I had my own individual handlers of money and property. I had three agents in the States and about ten others scattered here and there in other countries. Carlisle had many located all around the world with different banking accounts and different credit cards for not only himself but all of the family. The only one beside myself that had their own accountant was Edward, who inherited practically a fortune from his parents' death and the whole family.

I had a share in Carlisle's accounts but it wasn't as large as everyone else's. I preferred to deal with my own money and my own land and such. Alice often wavered back and forth. Most of her money was with Carlisle's savings but a small portion was located under my name and almost all of her valuable property was also under my name. I knew Carlisle had been a bit offended at first at our decision to keep our own money separate from his but I think he understood after a while. Alice and I were more distant from the Cullen family. We could leave at any time and know that we had no blood bond to any of them. In all ways that mattered, we truly had been adopted by the Cullen family.

My agent in New York finally answered, sounding tired and wary of who could be calling him from an unknown number. "Hello, Scott Jefferson speaking. How can I help you?"

"Scott, it's Jasper Whitlock. Now listen closely-"

"Mr. Whitlock!" He sounded a bit in awe and I could only guess that he now knew what I was. "I-I don't mean to pry, of course, but have you seen the news?"

"Yes," I snapped harshly, counting the seconds I had left in my mind. 47, 46, 45. "It's not important. I escaped and I'll need your help."

"Escaped!" He exclaimed, his aged voice rising in octaves. "Oh, Mr. Whitlock, don't tell me yours was the family captured!" He sounded winded and for the first time, I found myself wondering how old Scott Jefferson could possibly be. I had entrusted some of my money with him in the early 60's when he had just started. That would place him to be in his late sixties now.

"Yes," I hurriedly told him, "but save the questions. I only have about thirty five seconds to speak to you and I have a lot to say. As you can understand, I have to be careful where I go. People are looking everywhere for vampires and if I'm not cautious, some agent will pick me out to be the one who escaped from captivity. Do you understand?"

There was a shaky breath on the other line and the scratching sound that could only be described as him writing quickly down on paper. "Yes, yes," he replied, "the element of surprise and secrecy is quite important."

I nodded, glad he had caught on. "Good. Now, I'm in the District of Columbia in a downtown ghetto. I can move up into the more civilized areas by tomorrow. This is where it gets tricky, Jefferson, so make sure you get it all." 24, 23, 22. "I need you to go into my accounts under the alias of Gregory Tomlinson. Send me five grand along with the car designated to go with that alias. It should be a black Cadillac CTS with tinted windows and a full tank of gas. If the car is not with the account, buy another with my money. Leave the money in a black leather bag in the trunk and send it to the Four Seasons in Washington D.C.. Also, I'll need you to buy me a laptop, doesn't matter which type just use one of my credit cards for Gregory, along with as many light blue contacts as you can possibly acquire and a new cell phone and place them all in the trunk. I need you to make a reservation for one night under the name of Gregory Tomlinson at the hotel and make a reservation at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia for the next night. Don't set a precise amount of nights I'll be spending at that one, I'm not sure yet."

I paused, wondering if I had gotten it all. He was still scribbling away on the other line and then stopped. "What about passports, driver licenses, second credit cards? I can have a buddy of mine make documents for you if you wish-"

"No," I cut him off, knowing my second call could handle that. "But on second thought, send me a key to the apartment in Annapolis. I may have to go there after my time in Philadelphia. You got that, Jefferson?" My gaze flickered around me at the dark alleys. The only person still visible was the man who had given me his money a half a block away.

Jefferson huffed on the other line. 7 seconds, 6 seconds, 5 seconds. "Of course I have it. I've never let you down, Mr. Whitlock. I'll have all of this to D.C. by noon tomorrow. By the way, I don't know whether it matters or not, but it'll be cloudy and drizzly tomorrow in D.C. so you shouldn't have a problem-" and then he was cut off, his familiar gruff voice replaced by the dial tone.

I sighed, placing the other quarters inside the slit. I was entirely confident that Jefferson would get everything here without any hitches or confusion. And his news on the weather was valuable to me. Without Alice's foretelling of when the sun would make an appearance, I would not know whether or not I could go out unless I watched the ever changing weather report on the local news stations.

I typed in the number to J. Jenks' direct line in Seattle. He was another one of my personal resources. I only shared his talents with the Cullen family because I knew he was one of the best out there and his specialties were often needed with my family.

He answered after the third ring, sounding frightened of who could possibly be calling him on this line. Only his more demanding customers had this number and I was sure a call from this line was rarely a good one.

"Hello?" His voice was higher than usual, as if under great stress.

"It's Jasper Whitlock, Jenks, and I need your help for something." There was a deep, tired sigh from the other line that made me wonder if he was possibly debating on quitting right then and there on the phone with me. I was too mentally drained to put on the frightening façade and scare him into doing my work. The time restraint on this phone call was too demanding.

"Mr. Whitlock, I thought-I thought that maybe you wouldn't be calling for awhile. I saw everything on the news and...well...oh my goodness, you escaped didn't you?" I clenched my jaw at the time he was taking up and growled back.

"Yes, Jenks, now listen. I'm not going to spend too much time on the details. You need to pay attention. I'm in the capitol and I'll need your resources. I know you have a file of documents for all of the family's aliases. I need you to go into the alias of Gregory Tomlinson and send me everything in there. Passport, driver's license, credit cards, checks, everything. If something isn't updated, update it as soon as possible. I need everything to be so legitimate that not even you could tell it was a fake."

"Of course, of course," he replied quickly. I could hear the fear in his voice and was glad that I still seemed to have power over him. "When do you need this by?"

"Tomorrow," I said simply.

"Tomorrow! Impossible, Mr. Whitlock! Simply impossible, I can't-"

"You can and you will. I need it, Jenks," I stressed, all but snarling my words. "Send it to the Four Seasons in the city for a guest under the name Gregory Tomlinson. Send it in a catalog envelope and I'll receive it as soon as I get there. I don't care how much it is, just do it. I'll wire you the money for it when I obtain the documents. Alright?" I listened to his quick typing on a computer and his exhaled breath.

"I understand, Mr. Whitlock. It'll be there by tomorrow at 1pm at the best. Will that be ok?" I would have wanted it to be there at about the same time as I arrived at the hotel but I knew it would have to do. There was no other way and I was sure there would be no problem with my driving. No cop would have any reason to pull me over and ask for my license.

"Of course. Thank you, Jenks, for doing this. I appreciate it." There was a mumbled response as I assumed he replied with a slightly grouchy response.

"It's no problem, Mr. Whitlock, but, please, if you have time, tell me, are Mrs. Cullen and her daughter alright?" I immediately assumed he was speaking of Bella and Renesmee and pursed my lips. I still had nearly 25 seconds to go and though this was by no means a social talk. I figured I could tell him anyway.

"They're still in captivity, unfortunately. I was the only one to get out," I told him, glancing outside at the increasing darkness of the unfamiliar streets. I could see the dim candlelight glowing in windows of a few buildings but many were pitch dark, though I could hear the heartbeats pumping inside and the quick, scared breaths of the inhabitants.

"I see, I see," Jenks replied. "I hope everything works out for you and your family, Mr. Whitlock, truly I do. Don't think for a moment that just because of what you are I won't still work for you." A ghost of a smile came over my lips and I felt grateful towards his loyalty.

"Thank you, Jenks, once again. I'll try to keep in touch. Goodbye." I hung up, hooking the sticky phone back on the clip. I exited the booth, hands once again in my empty pockets. I wasn't one for stealing but I knew I needed new clothes. If what the cop had said, robberies were becoming more popular. I was sure my theft of just one outfit would go unnoticed compared to the larger crimes.

If I could get to one of the downtown stores, I would just sneak into the building. All I needed was a pair of pants and shirt. My shoes were fine and I felt no need to commit more crimes than necessary. Judging by the cold breeze, I assumed I would also need a jacket of some sorts to fit in and a wallet to place all of my incoming possessions.

I had never been on the run and being chased by others but I knew how these things worked. I knew that the officers from Williams Building would send out my profile to every town, every city, every state and every country worldwide. They had no clue where I could be and so everyone would be alarmed of my presence. I assumed by the morning news my picture would be on the television and on the front page of the newspaper. They would summarize every detail of my personality and appearance.

This in mind, I knew I had to be different with what I chose as clothes and accessories. Nothing too attention getting but nothing of what I usually wore. Something...more modern. Something a man of my age actually would wear but something more exclusive, something more stereotypical, I suppose. I immediately made up my mind to pick something out that would undeniably say something about my personality. I didn't want something athletic, like the muscle shirts Emmett always wore or the basketball shorts.

I set off, strolling down the middle of the lonesome road, deep in thought of what I could possibly pick out that was very opposite of my normal type of wardrobe. As I walked, my thoughts went from clothes and apparel to something else that I figured I would need. Something that would definitely let everyone know I was certainly not a vampire.

I needed a tan.