Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

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*


30. Life Wrecker

Rating 3.9/5   Word Count 12582   Review this Chapter

Jacob's Point of View

Something was wrong with Leah.

I wasn't sure what. I just knew something - or someone - was really bothering her.

She sat next to Seth, who was still in his furry wolf form, near the enclosing fence with her back against his flank as he watched the woods. Her glazed eyes stared at the rest of us, immersed in the smelly reunion of vampires that filled the front of the building as Seth was turned the other way. She absent mindedly yanked out fistfuls of the dried grass and sprinkled them on the ground.

I turned to Edward, who was on the other side of the Cullen family, and his eyes caught mine. I raised my brows and inclined my head towards Leah.

"What's wrong with her?" I asked.

Ever since we had gotten out, she had been...not so happy looking. Maybe even a bit pissed off. She hadn't even given me one hello or welcome back. Some beta wolf, I thought. But that was kind of the classic Leah; constantly pissed off and annoyed. I just kind of figured she would have at least said something to me. Not just blow me off, turn her other cheek, and broodingly stalk off to her brother. As every other one of my brothers came to give me awkward hugs and pats on the back, she stood on the other side of the lawn, hands on her hips and glaring at everything around her.

Edward detached himself from Bella, sending me a meaningful look, and walked around the big circle that was his family. Bella watched with curious eyes as he stopped in front of me and looked up.

"Did something happen?" I rephrased my earlier question, crossing my arms and turning to the side to watch her out of the corner of my eye. Edward did the same, but with a furrowed brow, as he pursed his lips a bit.

"In a way, yes. Everything has happened. She is just struggling to catch up."

I turned to him and glared. Nice vague answer for you. "What the hell is that supposed to mean? What's ‘everything'? Look, Edward, she's one of my Pack. If something's wrong, I deserve to know. If something hurt her in any way..."

Edward sighed and reached up, raking his fingers through his hair. "Just go speak to her. She may talk to you. She is just a bit confused about everything."

I grumbled under my breath. "Thanks a lot for the great help, mind reader," I said, rolling my eyes. Speaking to women about emotional things was not one of my talents. Especially not with Leah. Ask her how she is and she bites your head off, snapping an answer along the lines of ‘Go to hell' or ‘Screw you'. I wasn't exactly going to be enjoying this conversation.

I left Edward standing there, looking quite uncomfortable with his eyes flickering between myself and Leah, as I stalked off to where she sat on the outskirts. Her brown eyes lifted at my approach, as did Seth's as his big head turned and looked at me solemnly.

"You can go, kid, I just want to talk to your sister," I told him and a high pitched whimpering noise echoed my words.

Leah reached up and patted his sandy shoulder. "Don't worry about little old me," she sighed, uncharacteristically. "I'll be fine, Seth." And then, reluctantly, he got up on all fours and slowly walked away, watching us over his shoulder. It was a bit strange when I thought about; Seth was really the only person she ever showed concern about. He was the only one she would actually have a nice conversation with or not insult on a daily basis.

"What do you want, Jacob?" she asked, looking up at me through half closed eyes. She looked exhausted with deep bruises under her eyes and sunken cheeks. I immediately wondered when the last time she slept was as I got down on the grass beside her.

Here goes nothing. Might as well just get this awkwardness out of the way. "Something's wrong," I blurted, and immediately cringed. What a terrific opener. Was that seriously the best I could have done?

She looked over at me with a slightly alarmed expression. "What happened?"

I forced out a small laugh and looked back to the Cullens, whose topaz eyes wavered curiously over to us every second or so. How inconspicuous, I thought and directed it towards Edward. I watched with a small smile on my face as he reached down and picked up Nessie, who didn't even try covering up her staring. Her eyes were glued to Leah and me blatantly. She didn't understand what was so deeply rude about ogling.

"Nothing, yet," I said, "but something's wrong with you." Leah snorted and turned her head the other way. "Come on, Leah, what happened? We both know I'm not good with slowly trying to draw information out of others. Just spill it and let's get this over with."

She turned to face me, her coffee colored eyes narrowed with the slightest anger. Oh crap. I hated when she got angry like that. She was a force of nature, furious and nasty. Sometimes not even Seth could cool her down.

"Why don't you just go back to your little freaky Imprint and new family and leave me the hell alone, Jacob? I don't want your company," she spat, viciously yanking up another fistful of grass and letting it fall from her taut hands. I heaved an exasperated sigh and reached up, cradling my throbbing head in my hands.

"Why do you have to be so difficult? I'm trying to help." And I was. Sort of. I tried to deny the fact that 50% of the reason I was talking to her now was from pure curiosity. That would have made me look like a crappy friend for sure. But on the other hand, I did want to hear what was wrong. I didn't know if she had told Seth what was wrong yet, but maybe all she needed was someone to listen.

"You know what, Jacob Black? You are the complete essence of annoying. I'll tell you what's wrong." I flinched away from her tone and bit my lip. Maybe coming over here was a mistake. A big one. A whopper, even. I should have minded my own damn business. "I Imprinted. That's right, Imprinted. Now wipe that open mouthed, bug eyed look off that face of yours and go away. I don't want to hear you compare my soap opera of a life to your own with corny cliché advice, giving me little pointers on how to deal with it because, Jacob, this is completely different. I'm not suddenly tied to a creepy little hybrid that's smarter than me. So, please, do me a favor and go back to the Loch Ness Monster and leave me here."

I stared. I couldn't help it. I knew she had told me - no, almost screamed at me - to ‘wipe that open mouthed, bug eyed look off my face' but I couldn't. I felt the muscles in my face give out, falling into an incredulous, disbelieving, awed face.

Leah. Imprinted. The words didn't go together in my mind. Not at all. They were like polar opposites. Close to ‘Leah' and ‘love'. They just didn't go hand in hand. It was kind of like somehow sliding in ‘Carlisle' and ‘bloodthirsty' into one sentence. Or ‘Volturi' and ‘pleasant'. It didn't sound right. Not in the least. And that's why I kept flipping the words over in my mind, desperately trying to latch them together. Leah, Imprinted. Leah, Imprinted.

Nope. Nothing.

Finally, I found my voice and I was able to mutter something coherent. "With...who?" The question repeated itself a thousand times over in my mind. It couldn't be a vampire, could it? Or could it be? I didn't know much about Imprinting anyway. Just because I had done it didn't mean I understood.

I looked around the area, my eyes landing on random males here and there. Which one could it be? Or was it a human? Had she caught a glimpse of one of the guards inside and just knew? I hoped not; most of the officers in there were either 50 years old, chewing great globs of tobacco with guns propped up on their shoulders, or arrogant assholes in their mid twenties who thought it was cool to talk slang and order people around with handguns. Neither was the type I could exactly imagining Leah falling for.

Wait...that would kind of make sense, though. She did look upset. Maybe she had Imprinted on a total jerk and gotten angry because she got someone she knew she normally wouldn't ever even look at.

Her head fell and she hissed out a breath through clenched teeth. "I don't know."

She doesn't know? She doesn't know? How the hell do you not know who you've Imprinted on? It's kind of a...big deal, to say the least. And if you didn't know the person's name, you were usually quite impatient to figure out.

"What do you mean? Um, Leah, if you don't know who they are...maybe you didn't Imprint?" Her large eyes rolled dramatically and she shook her head.

"No. Jacob, I Imprinted. Believe me, I think I'd know. And, for your information, it's actually quite hard resisting the urge to go and talk to him. I...I want to but I can't." A long, sad sigh escaped her lips like a train whistle and she bent over her knees. "I'm not ready."

"Ready? Leah, we should all know Imprinting usually isn't convenient for either Imprinter or Imprintee. I mean, look at Quil and Claire. She's a toddler. I don't think she's exactly ready for a serious relationship, know what I mean? And Emily and Sam, look how much of mess that...one...made." I immediately shut my mouth, cursing to myself over and over in my head. Leah turned to me with a sharply arched brow and glowered.

"Wow, thanks for reminding me of that one."

Whoops.

"I-I didn't mean it. Sorry," I mumbled as a lame apology. Leah shrugged, as if it didn't matter, and kept looking at the horde of vamps. "So...you wanna point him out or something? I may know him," I volunteered helpfully but she shook her head.

"No, forget it."

I coughed to hide my scowl. Forget it? "Leah, you just don't ‘forget' Imprints. Eventually, you'll need to go up to him. It's not voluntary. You can't just say ‘Oh, alright, maybe a few years from now I'll give him a call, see if he's free one Saturday morning for coffee.' It doesn't work like that."

"I don't even like coffee," she murmured softly.

"That's not the point! God, it was a theoretical case, jeez. I'm just trying to tell you, you can't put this off. You have to do something about it or, sooner or later, it'll cause problems."

She lay back on the grass; her eyes more closed now than before, and sprawled out. "You think I don't know that, Jacob? It hurts. I do feel emotions, you know," she scoffed before continuing, "and I will do something about it. Just not now."

"Why not now? In case you haven't noticed, we're stuck here. Yeah, this might be the vampire's battle but we‘re not going anywhere anytime soon. Those freaky twins said so. This is for all supernatural creatures. So why not use your time wisely? As we're sitting here, bored to hell and back, why don't you go speak to him? I mean, honestly, it's not that hard. Unless he's a...well, you know." I gestured to my jugular with two fingers and made a sucking sound, earning an amused glare from her. "Then he may have some problems about the whole thing."

Actually, thinking about that made me chuckle. I would feel bad for Leah if that was the case but, man, how rich would that be? Leah Imprinting on a leech. That would have to go down in Quileute history as the biggest joke God ever played on anyone.

"He's not...that," she mumbled, disgust coloring her tone. I breathed a sigh of mixed relief and disappointment.

"That sucks, no pun intended. I was looking forward to laughing my ass off as you introduced yourself as a future lover to a vampire." Leah grimaced and reached over, smacking my shoulder and hard. I moved away from her, still laughing quietly to myself, as she watched me violently.

"Don't even joke about that," she threatened, "because it is so not funny. Ugh, can you just imagine if I had Imprinted on him?" She waved her hand, pointing at a specific vampire behind my shoulder, and my head swiveled back to find who she was talking about. The second my eyes fell on Brandon, insane and ridiculous and disturbing Brandon, I felt myself give way and began cracking up.

I shook my head and felt tears gather in my eyes. "Brandon?" I wheezed, my voice breaking half way through as I burst into hysterics again. Leah reached over and shoved me.

"Keep it down! He's staring," she hissed, eyes frantically flickering from me to Brandon who was glaring at us from thirty feet away. I struggled to quiet down, though I was still chuckling under my breath.

"Oh, Leah," I eventually got out, "you sure know how to pick ‘em."

The responding icy glare shut me up on the topic and I sucked in a slightly frightened breath of air as I looked away. "So, erm, anyway, why don't you want to meet this Imprint of yours? Tell me he's one of the workers from in there, and I swear, I won't even try to not laugh. Or, no, tell me he's like 75 years old and then I'll really lose it."

She crossed her arms and gave a tiny indignant lift of her head. "Well, he is older," she muttered and I snorted.

"How old is ‘older'?" I asked cautiously as a picture of a hunched over man in a wheel chair popped up in my head, complete with wrinkles and huge glasses. I bit my lip to keep from laughing as I then thought of Leah as his caregiver. Or nurse.

She thought about it for a moment, her eyes staring at nothing in particular. "Seven years, maybe? Eight? I'm not sure. I told you, I don't know him. For all I know he's 35 and just looks young."

"So he's not an escapee from the local nursing home?" I joked mildly but stopped at the deadly look on her face. "Ok, he's not one of those, then. What I just don't get is your hesitation. Leah, Imprints are like...they just fit, ok? Like puzzle pieces. There's no way he won't like you. You're made for each other. So just get off your lazy butt, go up to him, and, hey, if you like, just tell him what the deal is. Maybe he'll be accepting." Most likely not but I didn't feel like telling her that. Anything to get her confidence boosting.

"Jacob, just stop trying," she mumbled, her eyes lazily rolling. "It's just not...it just doesn't feel right."

"What do you mean? Imprints kind of have to feel right. They're, well, Imprints." I didn't get her. Most of us, when we found our Imprints, happily skipped up to them and, in Jared's case, boldly declared our love for them right on the spot. But Leah, no, she had to make things complicated and try to pretend the bond didn't exist.

She bit her lip for a second before frowning. "I don't know him, Jacob. I don't know what type of person he is or what he's like. How can you love someone and not even have a clue who they really are? It feels nauseating with suspense and creepy. And everything's moving so quickly around here. Why can't I just act like it never happened and explain it later?"

Woah. Kind of unexpected. It wasn't every day you got an emotional speech from Leah. I was even frozen for a few moments, stunned at her honesty. "Because, Leah, it did happen," I finally forced out, "Now get over your insecurities and stupid excuses. Come on, you even have Edward concerned, Edward who only cares about his damn piano, Bella, and Nessie. That's a massive feat. You should be proud of yourself." She grunted at my teasing and glanced at Edward, who was watching over Bella's head in silent irritation. "See, he's even listening now. You got his attention."

Leah ignored me and looked the other way, her aggravated expression suddenly turned serious and deep in thought. I waited for her to speak, knowing she had something on her mind.

"I don't think I'm ready," she exhaled, blowing an uncertain breath up and lifting the hairs that dangled over her eyes. I cocked a brow and frowned for a moment.

"What do you mean? Honestly, I don't think any of us were ready when it happened to us. I certainly wasn't. Sam wasn't, Quil wasn't-"

"I know, I know," she hastily snapped, "but, I mean, I'm really not ready. I don't want this, Jacob. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I am. Who I am, even. I'm not like you, Jake. I wish I could be but I'm not. Genetically, we're so different. And no one even seems to know what I am, what I can do and what I can't. You don't know what it's like to be the only one."

I felt myself stiffen. Not another one of those talks. As much I wanted to help her, I didn't know if I was able to sit through another "Can I become pregnant?" speeches. That was more up Carlisle's alley, I thought, or even Sue's. Just, please, pick anyone but me for that.

"Well, we know you can Imprint," I cheekily told her, earning a sharp look. "That has to mean something, right? And if you really want, I'll come with you."

Her head turned so fast, it was just a blur of brown and black. "What?" she barked, "Jacob, if I go and speak to him-"

"-when you go and speak to him-"

"-I am not dragging your pathetic ass behind me! You're not my father, watching out for boys. You're my Alpha, which is completely different. Oh, and," her voice lowered dangerously as she glared at me through brown slits, "tell Seth, and I swear to God, I will kill you."

"Seth doesn't know?" I retorted, acting unfazed by her words. Truthfully, I didn't doubt her anger. If she didn't want Seth to know of his older sister's love affairs, I'd gladly keep it under wraps. God knew that boy could be overprotective of her any way.

She snickered quietly. "Yeah, right, like I'd tell him. He just knows something happened."

"He'll know as soon as you phase," I warned, "as will everyone else. I'd be grateful Edward's keeping it to himself. He wouldn't even tell me what was wrong."

Her eyes narrowed and she gave me a curious look. "If you're suggesting I thank him or something-"

I chuckled, "Nah, definitely not. I'd never encourage that. I'm just saying it was strangely nice of him, that's all. But, hey, if you want to thank him, be my guest."

She pulled a dirty face and shook her head. "No, I'd rather not. Maybe I'll send my thanks to him mentally."

"You do that," I laughed. The corner of her lips pulled up into a tiny responding smile. "I meant it, though, Leah. If you really wanted me to tag along, I'd come, if it made things easier. Introduce myself as the Alpha or whatever and then you. You don't have to do this alone."

She was silent for a moment. I assumed she was just thinking things over in her mind. Personally, I didn't really want to have to go with her. It'd be awkward enough having to hear about him in her mind whenever she phased. I really didn't want to be the one to introduce the two to each other. Talk about...weird.

It took her a few minutes to reply and when she did, she spoke so softly I could barely catch it. "You already know him," she whispered.

I perked up, my eyes wide. Interesting. Very interesting. "I do?" I asked, "Well, who is he? Let's not keep secrets, Leah. You know what they say ‘Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets are for everyone." Leah sent me a withering look and I chuckled under my breath.

"Who the hell says that? Kindergarteners?" I bit my lip at her question.

"Erm...maybe?"

She suddenly laughed, pushing herself into a sitting position as she shook with muffled giggles. I rolled my eyes, one of her habits she was quickly spreading to me, and ignored her as she gasped for air. "Oh, Jacob," she chortled, "what would I do without you?"

"Easy," I snapped, "you'd probably be sitting here with Seth, wondering what the hell to do."

"Don't get too arrogant," she cautioned, "you don't impact my life too greatly."

"You just keep telling yourself that," I said as I looked away from her and towards the numerous vampires. He couldn't be out here, could he? She had assured me it wasn't a leech. And it was only vampires out here, except for-

Oh my God.

Oh my God.

I jumped up, landing on my feet, and waved my arms at her incredulously. "You Imprinted on him?! Oh my God! Leah! What the hell? Why didn't you tell me it was him!"

She stared up at me, wide eyed, and glanced around in panicky motions. "Jacob," she warned through tight lips, "sit your ass down and listen to me before you have every single vampire in this place staring at you." I shook my head, reaching up and rubbing my temples. Holy crap. This was so not possible. How could she Imprint on him?

"No! Come on," I reached down and wrapped my hand around her arm, picking her up, "you're going to go talk to him right now."

An angry huff escaped from her lips, followed by a high pitched squeal, and then she snaked from my grasp. "Excuse me? Jacob Black, you are not taking me anywhere. I'll talk to him in my own time, thank you very much. Now just let me go." She angrily turned and stomped in the other direction, ironically towards an entertained Brandon. I caught up with her easily and spun her around.

"No way, Leah, you're going to go talk to him right now. Believe me, it'll be fine. What happened to you? You're practically shaking. You never had problems talking to boys before. Calm down, he's actually very nice." And he was. I couldn't say I really knew him too well but Nessie did and she liked him. A lot, actually. If Nessie approved, as did Edward, he couldn't be too awful could he?

Over the top of her head I looked around, searching for him. I had lost track of him after we had all gotten out, unfortunately. He wasn't one of the humans who had to be taken down with the rest of them, since he seemed to be on our side. I could only imagine how terrifying this was to him, locked out with vampires and shape shifters. Even I didn't like the idea of being out here with all these bloodsuckers.

She twisted away from me and continued towards Brandon who was still watching. The two had a creepy friendship, I thought. He enjoyed talking to her, asking her random questions, and she didn't mind his presence. Weird. The only vampire Leah ever gives a chance is a nutty pre-Revolutionary savage. I shook my thoughts off and yanked Leah's wrist.

"What?!" She yelled, earning shocked glances from vampires nearby. "What the hell do you want?"

"I want to take you to him!" I excitedly replied, "I mean, better now than never, right? It'll be fun! Nice, even. Really, Leah, it'll be great. How about Nessie comes, too? They already know each other and-"

"Nessie?" She spat, her features turning into outrage, "Nessie is not coming with us. And if you want to drag her along, then hell no, you're not coming with me either. I'd rather march up to him and blurt out everything than have her come with us."

I recoiled from her harsh words, feeling anger rise in response to her repulsed tone. "She's just a little girl," I roughly told her, "you don't have to be so cruel."

Leah's mouth fell open in a huff and she agitatedly rolled her eyes. "See? This is why I don't talk to you about Imprinting. You get all mushy and protective about the little freak. She's not normal, Jacob, don't act like she is." She turned around and strode away, stomping her feet in restrained fury. I sighed and reached up, scratching the back of my head in utter confusion as I watched her go up to Brandon and sit down next to him on the rock he was resting on.

I could hear their conversation from here but chose to ignore them both as I stood there, quietly fuming. Well, fine, if Leah didn't want to take matters into her own hands, maybe I'd do it for her. That'd show her to put off the inevitable.

I turned away and slowly walked back to the Cullen family, head bowed and unclenched hands at my side. Nessie hopped out of Bella's arms as I got there, and Edward watched me with a strange gleam in his eyes.

"Is Leah okay?" Nessie asked sweetly from on the ground. I sighed; was Leah okay? Probably not. I reached down and pulled Nessie into my arms and she nestled there comfortably.

"Yeah," I lied, "Just fine."

"Jacob?" I looked up at the unexpected sound of my name. Edward was standing next to Bella, a peculiar smile on his face. I cringed; I didn't like the look of it. Or the way he said my name. "Did you want to go speak to someone about your...present issue?"

What the...? Was Edward Cullen seriously hoping to play matchmaker with me? I froze and then, reluctantly, set Nessie on the ground softly. "Seriously?" I asked him. That didn't sound like him. He usually stayed clear of any and all Pack matters.

He shrugged slightly, detaching himself from his intrigued family. "Of course, let's go. I saw him just a moment ago." He kissed Bella and together, we walked away, him confident and me unsure of where this was heading. We pushed our way through the other vampires and under my breath, I broke the silence.

"What are you doing, Cullen? Why bother?"

He glanced up at me over his shoulder. "Why not? Does Leah not deserve happiness?" And since when did he care about Leah?

"I-yeah, I guess so. Of course she does. I could have done it on my own," I stuttered as he apologized quietly to small blonde vampire girl who he bumped into. She watched us pass by with large ruby eyes and I turned away, my nose wrinkling up from the smell.

Edward suddenly chuckled. "Yes, you should get used to that," he told me, "I have a hunch you'll be around vampires for awhile yet to come. Anyway, I have already messed something up today. Maybe I'm just trying to help someone out."

Edward, the golden boy, messing up? Sounds like a good story to me. "You mean with Alice?" I hissed almost inaudibly. He momentarily froze before parting through a gathering of soldiers politely, me following anxiously behind.

"How do you know about that?" He muttered back, acting slightly uninterested. I rolled my eyes.

"Who doesn't? Everyone saw - or heard - the beat down she gave you after she got the news from Brandon." I paused, realizing something; why the hell was Brandon in everyone's business?

"He's knowledgeable," Edward answered my thoughts and I grumbled. I thought he was a jerk, personally. "As do I," Edward replied and this time, I didn't object to his mind reading skills. "Anyway, what where you saying?"

"Oh, uh, just that mostly everyone saw that. Hey, where is Alice, anyway?" I hadn't seen her since she ran off, which must have been about twenty minutes before I went to talk to Leah. Where could she possibly be without her family? It was strange to think of one Cullen without the others. They were like a unit of people.

Edward let out a deep sigh, something I noticed he was doing often lately. "She is caught up with someone else at the moment."

"Someone dangerous?" I asked, slightly confused.

Edward thought about it for a moment as we continued walking, his brows furrowed. "I don't think so. If something happens, I won't hesitate to step in, though. As of now, things aren't too unsafe. Don't worry about her, Jacob. The second her rival steps out of line, I'll be there." Rival? That was surely a light way of putting things.

"And Jasper?" I wondered. Edward's lips turned down.

"He'll be back soon, I believe. Before the day is out. Ah, here we are." I looked up, distracted, and to find us on the other side of the lawn, near Paul, who was in wolf form, and Sam who was conversing animatedly with a confused looking Brody.

Now that I knew just who he was, I seemed to look at him in a new light.

He was Leah's Imprint. I couldn't see the two together. Not really. Brody was a mature, responsible, nice person. Leah was cruel, sarcastic, fresh, and refused to follow the directions of others. Polar opposites, if you ask me. Edward's cold elbow immediately dug into my torso and I looked down at him, wide eyed and slightly ticked off.

He gazed up at me, his head turned to the side towards Brody. I rolled my eyes and stepped forwards.

"Hey guys," I greeted them all, receiving a nod from Sam, a wag of his tail from Paul, and a very, very relieved look from Brody. "I see you've already begun the torture of explaining it all to him," I said to Sam as I stepped up next to the two. Sam stared back, unruffled.

"Well, he needs to know," he defends, "he's a part of this now, too, whether you know it or not and-"

"Oh, do I know it," I mumbled, thinking of Leah. Yes, Brody was a part of this no matter what. There was really no way out for him now. He would (somehow) find Leah perfect for him (though I could not in my wildest dreams understand that notion) and once he found out they were actually destined to be together, I doubted he'd leave her alone.

Sam shot me a curious look but I brushed him off. "Mind if we borrow him for a moment?"

Edward came up beside me, murmuring a polite hello to Brody, before adding, "We just have to talk to him. That's all. He'll be back in no time."

Sam shrugged. "Sure, whatever."

Edward and I both turned to Brody, who looked alarmed but, somehow, not frightened. Good to know he was already used to supernatural creatures. It would be easier to find out your soul mate was a shape shifter. Less dramatic.

The two of us led Brody away from Paul and Sam and eventually stopped, hoping we were out of their ear shot. You can go first, I told Edward, giving him a meaningful stare. The vampire sighed and gave a slight roll of his eyes as he pasted on a polite smile.

"So, Brody, how is the memory coming along?" Good one, I praised.

Brody paused for a moment before giving an easy smile. "Really good, actually. Most of it has resurfaced. Thanks for asking but I'm sure that's not honestly why you're here." Smart guy, I thought to myself. Observant, too.

Edward nodded slowly before turning to me. "You're right, Brody, and Jacob plans on explaining everything."

My mouth went dry. What? That wasn't part of the plan. I turned to Edward to give him a shocked and angry glare but all he did was watch me calmly. "Well? Go on," he urged. I ground my teeth and looked back to Brody in complete annoyance.

"Um, well, you see...," I waited for inspiration to strike but nothing came. Brody waited patiently, though staring at me strangely, as I thought it out. What could I say? ‘Hey, you know that girl? You're her soul mate. Just thought I'd let you know.' No, that wasn't going to cut it. I heard Edward muffle his laughter and glowered at him.

But then Brody saw something over my shoulder. His eyes lit up and widened and focused on the object of his attention. "Who's that?" He asked, his tone sounding slightly dreamy.

I turned around, praying to God he hadn't just seen Rosalie in a new light and decided to pursue her or something. That would have not only ruined my day but definitely put a damper on Leah's current mood. But instead I saw...Seth?

I looked back at Brody with wide eyes. "The wolf? Um. Well, it's not that different from the one over there, Paul." I pointed over to Paul who sat watching us curiously next to Sam. "See? They're both shape shifters, as am I."

Edward suddenly began chuckling, his face split into a wide smile exposing his teeth as he threw his head back. "Jacob," he said, "he's not talking about Seth. Look again." And after a roll of his eyes, I did.

And I saw Leah.

Oh.

Seth's massive body must have been blocking her from my sight but Brody had definitely caught a glance. Now Seth was walking in our direction, his tongue out and his eyes serious, as Leah walked beside him, eyes down and thumbs hooked in the waistband of her khaki shorts. I never really found Leah attractive; I'll admit that right now. A lot of the other guys on the reservation did but I thought her bad attitude contributed negatively to her overall appearance. She always had a deep scowl on her face or pursed lips or glaring eyes. But now...she still looked serious, but I guess a good way type of serious.

"That's Leah," I told Brody as I realized how stupid we must have all looked. Me, staring at Leah intently, Brody staring at Leah intently, and Edward cracking up at us on the sidelines. Brody snapped out of it and lifted his head to look up at me.

"Leah?" he repeated. "And is she..."

"Human? Kind of? She's like my sister, in a way. She's my beta wolf." Brody's eyes got huge and for a moment, I thought he would pass out.

"She's a shape shifter?" he asked incredulously, eyes flickering between myself and her. I frowned; did he have something against shape shifters or something? Yikes, I really hope not. That would be bad, to say the least.

"Yes," I truthfully replied. Brody nodded slowly and I looked at Edward curiously who just casually waved me off.

"I'll be right back," Brody suddenly said and left Edward and I standing there as he walked off towards Leah. I watched in confusion but grinned despite my bewilderment as Leah looked up, completely taken off guard, at his approach.

"What exactly was that about?" I asked Edward as I turned away from the sight. He was standing there, his eyes deep and far away. He glanced over at me and cracked a small smile.

"He didn't understand how someone so beautiful could be a...,"

"Monster?" I asked and cringed. Edward frowned a bit.

"Not exactly. More like something so wild, so beastly. He isn't against you or your Pack, Jacob, don't worry. It just surprised him. And he has yet to understand how human beings can transform into such massive animals. He looks at her and is completely confounded by her ability to phase. But, to answer your unsaid worries, he isn't put off by her genes. He is perfectly fine with her being what she is. In fact, I think finds it fascinating." I nodded at his words and looked back to the two as they spoke quietly. Seth had left sometime and was now near Sam, watching Brody with comically narrowed eyes.

I turned back to Edward. And why are you so distracted? I chose to ask mentally instead of vocally. Maybe he didn't want anyone else to know the reason for his dazed expression.

He paused and turned his head, looking over his shoulder to the other side of the front lawn. "Many things. And thank you for your consideration. I don't exactly have a problem sharing this information, actually. No one's really listening. Anyway, someone's about to arrive. The local news station in fact. Maria called them." He sighed and shook his head. "That's going to cause some drama, as to be expected, as will-"

"As will what?"

"Jasper. I can hear his thoughts; he's just about to arrive. And what a mess he has to come back to."

***

Maria's Point of View

"Maria, come on, let's go. I'm sure the other soldiers are waiting for us," Chester mumbled forcefully as I felt him tug on me.

But I blocked him out.

This was her.

After studying her closely, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing special about her. It gave me a superior feeling, knowing she wasn't very pretty or extraordinary. She was too small, too tiny and bony. She looked like the wind could pick her up and take her off into the clouds. Anyone who was shorter than me, at the small height of barely 5' 1'', was just too small. And she wasn't even the attractive petite; she was the type of short that, from the back, people thought you were just a little girl. Her eyes were a bit too large and glassy for her head; they looked like enormous golden globes that held too much knowledge and maturity. They were out of place on her gaunt body.

I allowed myself to admit she did have a slightly attractive face. Her features were small, matching everything else about her except her eyes, with a turned up button nose. High cheekbones accented her angled face along with her thin, sharp black brows, which were currently furrowed deeply. Her full red lips were turned down into the slightest frown and the red color, along with her ocher eyes, were the only brightness on her washed out face. She was like a drawing in black and white except for those two colors. Her hair was slightly hectic, like she had been running her bony fingers through the short locks repeatedly, tugging the tresses into different directions. It was spiky, though not gelled, just perfectly disarrayed and prickly.

"You're her?" she whispered in a soprano voice, her eyes wide with wonder. I raised a brow and Chester, who had stepped down a step after I hadn't replied, climbed back up that one step cautiously, sending her a dark look.

I sniffed haughtily and flicked my hair over my shoulder. I watched as her eyes strangely drifted to my hair and slowly back to my face. "Depends," I told her, "Who are you looking for?"

She frowned for a moment and crossed her slender arms around her torso as she shrugged her pointy shoulders. "Maria," she said it like a question and bit the bottom of her lip nervously.

"Then, yes, I am her. And you are Alice Cullen." I phrased it as a statement instead of asking it. Who else would she be? Obviously, she was Alice, the little psychic I had heard so much about. Not many other vampires practiced the disgusting vegetarian lifestyle and I hadn't seen her before this day so, clearly, the facts added up and made it so that she was Jasper's mate. She couldn't have been Rosalie, the snotty blonde, or Esme, the mother figure, or even Bella, the timid brunette. She had to be Alice.

Now, do not get me wrong, I do not like tiny little Alice. I never had before and this didn't change my feelings towards her at all. I was not neutral about her or aloof or even ‘dislike' her. I hate her. Loathe her with all of my being. Being with Chester didn't change that at all and it never would. I would never let him know that, of course, but I had a feeling that when Alice's huge eyes met mine, she did.

Because, even though I loved Chester, Jasper was...he was mine. My venom flowed through his very dried up veins. I gave him life when all he had and all he would ever have would be grim death in that Civil War of theirs. I broke through the thick clouds of war and gave him sunlight. And if he hated me for it, so be it. Some day, I knew he would appreciate my actions. Maybe he already did. But at the same time, he was Alice's, but in a completely different way. He was her mate, her ‘husband'. He was my offspring, my progeny. And though they were dissimilar reasons for ownership over him, I hated the idea of sharing. Especially with her.

"Alice?" Chester blurted, his voice brusque with an undertone of shock. She looked between the two of us, her eyes confused and a bit frenzied. My self esteem skyrocketed; she was intimidated by us. And she should be. Why wouldn't she be? I was virtually Queen of the South. I had created three hundred vampires, ruled them, and had been successful in appearing frightening and important. I was even in the inner circle of Adam and Eve's close knit group. In short, I had connections that would scare anyone.

She looked up at him and a fake smile covered her face. "Yes, I am her," she said and the words sounded empty. She turned her attention to me, then.

And I was taken so strongly off guard.

After seeing the emotion locked in her eyes, I was sure I was not the only one feeling such rage and detestation. She hated me just as much as I did her. Knowing that the abhorrence was mutual surprised me. What reason did she have to hate me? I had never done anything to her, never even met her.

She suddenly turned to me, "Can I speak to you for a moment?" Her eyes flickered to Chester, hinting he should leave.

I glanced at Chester in utter bewilderment but found his eyes staring at her in complete astonishment. I ground my teeth in frustration and lifted one shoulder in response. "Fine, but make it quick, little Cullen. I have places to be."

And with one final peculiar stare, Chester scowled and left us, shaking his head in the process as he walked down the steps. I watched him go, my eyes floating above Alice's thorny hair with a matching scowl on my face. Finally, I turned to her and looked down, my eyes narrowed.

"What do you want?" I snapped, placing my hands on my hips. She kept her arms crossed, reminding me of someone who was desperately trying to keep it together.

"I'm going to try and make this sound as polite as possible, since we just met and all. And I won't delay. I want you stay away from Jasper," she said, darting right to the point, "I'm not saying this out of jealousy or whatever you may be thinking about the threat you pose to me as his mate. You don't scare me, Maria. Not in the slightest. I just...I worry what your...habits will do to him, if you will."

Her words hurt me. And pain induced from others - from others' words, of all things - rarely does that. Stay away from him? How was I supposed to do that? He was one of my best soldiers, one of my best and fiercest warriors, and he himself knew it. Whenever he got from whatever power trip he was on, how could I avoid him? Naturally, we would have to see each other - something I was quite excited for - and it would be inevitable.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she waited for some sort of reply. Either an agreement or argument. I'll take the latter. "I don't think I can do that," I told her quietly.

Her tight jaw twitched and her lips tightened into a thin red angry line. "Why not?" she asked, her voice barely covering up the hint of a growl.

Did she know nothing? Or was she just a naïve idiot? Maybe she didn't know the full story of what Jasper meant to me. Maybe he had wisely left her in the dark. "Because you know just as well as I do that maybe Jasper won't want to stay away."

I watched in complete satisfaction as Alice's face went blank. Looks like I had found the right button to push with her. Her jaw flopped open, snapping shut immediately afterwards as if she had realized how much of an idiot she must look. With wide eyes and a flustered look on her face she took a shaky breath.

"I can't believe you have the nerve to say that. Do you have any clue of what you've done to him? No, you're going to leave him alone. I won't stand to see him slip back into his old ways, the lifestyle you created for him," she retorted, her voice shaking in silent fury.

I felt my carefully put up walls crumble. What was she talking about? I had never done anything to Jasper but bite him and teach him the ways of the South. That was all. If either of us had been hurt by the other, it was me from him. He had left me scarred and bruised as he walked away without a second glance, leaving my army helpless and almost a lost cause.

I shook my head, doubtful of her words. "No," I said, reassuring myself, "I didn't do anything to Jasper."

Her face stretched, pulled and twisted into a livid expression until she was unrecognizable from the slightly endearing looking young girl she appeared to be earlier. A hoarse growl gurgled out of her mouth as she stepped closer.

"You don't know anything do you?" She asked, her tone disgusted as her eyes flicked over me in a degrading manner.

Funny thing is, I was starting to wonder the same thing.

***

Alice's Point of View

"You don't know anything do you?" I asked her, my mouth hanging open. How could she not have any ounce of comprehension of what she had done? She had turned him into a monster, something we all knew he had never been until her. She had ruined him, exposed him to the elements of cold anger, bloodlust, and murder. And she didn't even know.

For a moment, she was utterly silent. Her eyes were cloudy, like she was thinking of something much different, and then it began to dawn on her. "What did I do?" she mumbled softly.

I glowered at her in hatred. Everything about her, every little she said ticked me off completely. And it didn't make things better to know she was so disgustingly pretty. She was every single thing I would have wanted to be. She was taller, for one, and her hair was something I knew I would never have. My envy mixed with pouring fury didn't help me calm down whatsoever.

"Everything," I told her, "you wrecked his life."

Her head snapped up, her bloody red eyes wide and horrified. "No, I couldn't have done that. I gave him life. He would be dead if not for me!" Her voice was awfully shrill, I noticed, and hysterical. I flinched away from the sound; it was like scraping nails down a chalkboard or a screaming cat.

The words she said might be true. She did save him, in an odd way. But at the same time, she cancelled that out by shaping him into something he wasn't made out to be. He wasn't a killer, couldn't be a killer. It wasn't who he was deep inside, wasn't his true self. In his heart, he knew that, as did I. But Maria had pushed him and shoved him until he was no longer himself, until he was something unfamiliar and foreign.

"He would be happy if not for you," I muttered almost silently as my eyes fell downcast. Her lips trembled as she listened and then she fell to her knees, catching me very off guard as her head fell into her hands.

She looked up through bleary eyes, her lips tugged down. "What did I even do?" She cried painfully. I looked down at her pitifully before kneeling down beside her, not exactly knowing what I should do. How do you comfort a woman you hate, who loves your husband? I frowned and waited for her to calm down.

She sniffled, "Tell me, what did I do? How do I fix what I've done?"

I thought for a moment. What could she do? It was easy; stay away. If he wasn't tempted to jump on her bandwagon of wild hooligans, he would be fine. If she just kept her distance, watching from afar, he wouldn't lapse back to his old ways. Killing that prisoner was bad enough. I didn't even know what type of state of mind he was in now. I wouldn't be able to predict how he was dealing with it.

"You need to stay away from him, Maria," I told her softly, "Or else everything will just...fall apart." And I couldn't handle that. Not with everything going on now. With all of this, all of this bizarre news about these ‘twins' and things happening every few minutes, I wouldn't be able to put all of my attention and energy on him without leaving. And I couldn't do that, either. I couldn't leave my family here, during this, for Jasper. This was too catastrophic. My place was here; I was needed.

She nodded numbly and shifted, falling back on the rock and sitting there, slightly dazed looking. "Of course. Fine, I won't-I won't go near him. I'll try my hardest not to."

Relief. It was a heavenly feeling. I sighed and closed my eyes for a moment before nodding. "Thank you, Maria. Really, I owe you."

She grimaced slightly. "You don't owe me anything," she sniffed snootily and I turned my head so I could roll my eyes without her noticing. When I did, though, something caught my eye in the crowd. Something - someone, my mind corrected - blonde.

Jasper.

***

Jasper's Point of View

I didn't know where to go.

I drove my Cadillac down the empty roads of Washington D.C. which were so, so unlike the city of Philadelphia. Gathering clouds overhead blocked the sun, gratefully, even though no sunlight could penetrate the tinted windows of my car. Even if it was sunny out, there was almost no amount of my flesh that would be exposed to its light. I wore a long sleeved striped sweater with bold light gray and white bands and a brown corduroy sweater over the top, leaving nothing bare.

The entire city was a ghost town, which wasn't very different from the night before. I pushed the pedal down, gaining speed, as it became evident there was no one out on the streets. I could see faces peeking through the windows of the buildings that lined the streets but paid no mind to them as I drove by.

On the edge of the city, where the woods came in, I turned down an unused street, shadowy from all of the tall trees along the curbside. When I had escaped, I never thought about roads or routes of passage. I had just run, never looking back. Now I found myself regretting that choice, wishing I had paid more attention. I could picture the forest and where the building lay; I even knew which direction I had run in, it was just difficult finding a road I could use to get back. There had to be a road somewhere that the Hummers we had arrived in had taken to get there, I just had yet to come across it.

Eventually, I did. It was a dirt road, hidden from overgrown shrubbery and trees. Almost invisible to human eyes. I even came close to passing it. As I turned down the road, jerking the steering wheel violently, I thought at least the government knew how to do one thing: keep civilians out. I was sure they had gotten some nosy news reporters or curious risk takers trying to find them and the experiment site. I now knew why they never succeeded.

Further down the road, about a mile away from where I had first turned onto it, I parked the car and got out, shutting the door behind me. For a moment, I stood there, just taking in the sounds around me. Strangely, there weren't any natural sounds. No birds chirping or animals scurrying around. How strange. The only noise I could make it, besides the rustling of a nearby stream, was the low hum of voices. I could only assume those were the other vampires.

I sighed and took my sunglasses off, tucking them into the collar of my sweater. My hand founds it way to my head, raking through my hair as an old nervous habit. I began walking, the dirt crunching underfoot, and towards the stream I had heard. As I walked, I lifted the low branches out of my way, weaving through bushes and over roots.

The stream began to get closer and I realized the further in the woods, the more sunshine there was. The clouds became fewer and more scattered and soon I felt the familiar tingle of the sun's rays hit my face, reacting by throwing off sparkles like rainbows.

I came across the stream and bent over it, getting on one knee, and letting my hand fall into the cool water. It beat against my hand, dividing over it and flowing past like it was rock. I put the other hand in and cupped a large amount of the flowing clean water before splashing it on my face, washing the foul makeup off. I scrubbed vigorously and then washed the remaining beige liquid off my fingers in the stream until it was all off.

And then I gasped. I caught a glimpse of myself on the water's surface and my reflection was almost unrecognizable and not in the same way it had been when I was working to disguise myself. There was something so altered about my appearance and it wasn't because of my tousled hair or different clothes. There was something lighter there, hidden in my expressions. I had been twenty when I had been bitten; directly in the middle of youth and maturity. However, I had started getting the slightest creases near my eyes and laugh lines by my mouth. Nothing a human could spot; they were hardly noticeable. Vampires didn't physically change, but their emotions do. And I had noticed vampire's feelings were the only thing that could ever change their appearance. During the past, I had always appeared much older than twenty with sunken eyes and stretched lips. The slight wrinkles had become clearer with time as I drifted further and further into depression but now they were almost gone.

For the first time, I thought I actually looked my age. It was strange as I looked down at myself and realized how much I had changed. My eyes looked lighter, happier. I shook my head and closed them briefly as I turned away from the water, my fingertips dripping. I wiped them on my jeans as I stood up.

I would have liked to hunt before I returned and try to make some improvement towards my current eye color but it seemed like there weren't any animals around. Most likely from the alarming presence of vampires, I figured. In the past two nights of being on my own, I hadn't been able to find the time to hunt. I had been so distracted by either the minor shoplifting I had been doing or planning to hunt much. I had found smaller animals, like squirrels and rodents, and fed off of them but they weren't doing too much when it came to fixing my deep burgundy irises.

I strolled back towards the car and got in, starting the ignition and continued driving. I drove with one hand on the wheel as I looked out the window at the forest. It was beginning to look familiar to me; the trees and rough pathways. I felt myself grow strangely nervous. I didn't know what to expect now...

Had my family gotten out yet? Or was everyone still planning? Was Alice waiting for me? What about the twins, whose secret I had yet to figure out? I could only imagine the stern talking Carlisle would give me, most likely asking why I would ever leave. I was too jittery to dread it, though. My excitement was increasing by the moment.

And it had been like this ever since I left the orphanage in Philadelphia. I was constantly on edge, but not in a bad way. In a happy, cheery, careless way. I couldn't remember the last time I felt like this; so buoyant and optimistic. Usually I had at least something on my mind, whether it was the tempting humans nearby or worrying about my family. Now, I found it was easy to be confident in my ability to resist. Maybe I was a bit too certain of my control but I didn't care. I couldn't find it in me to be concerned by that.

I kept driving until the Cadillac rolled up next to a barbed wire fence. An electrical fence. I turned the window down and hesitantly looked out, my eyes landing on the gigantic amount of vampires past the gates.

They were everywhere, swarming the land and chatting enthusiastically. I couldn't spot anyone too familiar except a member of the Irish coven here or a member of the Amazon coven there. And one of the shape shifters was near the gates, also. Several vampires turned and watched, intrigued by someone's arrival. I took a deep breath, preparing myself, and killed the engine.

I snatched the keys from the ignition and slid them into my pocket, along with my wallet and cell phone. I opened the car door and slid out, closing it quietly behind me. The wolf's head, one I didn't know by name, watched me warily.

"Hello," I greeted him politely as I hesitantly walked away from the car. His brown eyes narrowed. "It's me, Jasper. You're," I mentally grasped for a name, "Embry? Yes?"

"Actually, that one's Jared." I looked to the side and saw Christian, leaning against a tree on the inside lazily. I grinned and he smiled, standing up straight and loping over. "And it's good to see you. I take it all matters are finished in Philadelphia?"

Before I replied, I turned back to the wolf, Jared, and apologized for getting his name wrong. "You must forgive me; I never got to know many of the Pack members." His large eyes widened, most likely from my newly found kindness, and he stared at me strangely. I turned back to Christian who was watching in enjoyment. "And, yes, all is done there. Can I come in?"

The wolf and he shared a quick glance. "Well, actually, we're not supposed to let anyone in-"

"Christian?" I asked in slight disbelief, "I don't think a measly fence will keep me out for too long." If he wouldn't let me in, thanks to some ridiculous rules, I could easily jump it. It didn't look that high at all and even if it was electrical the damage done wouldn't be permanent.

Christian's face cleared and he gave a small smile. "Of course. Plus, you're family is waiting for you." He gestured towards a cut out hole in the wiring and I ducked through, careful not to catch any of my clothes on the sharp edges. More and more vampires were staring now, eyes curious and puzzled. I ignored them and turned back to Christian.

"Are they? They're not still in there, are they?" I gestured towards the lifeless building and cringed. Being back in its presence was not nearly as frightening as I thought it would be. My positive mood must have been indestructible, I figured. But it still was a bit intimidating and more so if Alice was still locked up in there.

Christian shook his head. "Oh, no. You missed the ambush, though. I hear it was quite a bit of fun in there. Your family's safe and sound now. It's just the twins, the President, Aro of the Volturi, and the remaining humans in there now."

He began walking away from the fence, hands in his pockets, and I came up next to him, following him. "What do they plan on doing with the humans?" I wondered.

He shrugged. "Not sure, yet. I heard rumors of a local news station coming back here, too."

"News station? Why on earth would they be coming? Did they get a tip off or something?" I couldn't imagine why they would be coming here. What, to broadcast the image of three hundred vampires standing about, catching up with each other and predicting what would be happening now? Sounded slightly boring to me.

"I don't know," Christian muttered, "I don't even understand the idea. Hell, I don't even know who called. We got here after they had stormed it. Reminded me of the storming of the Bastille, actually," he sighed in a sort of wistful tone. I raised a curious brow. "I was there, you know," he said proudly.

I snorted, "Were you now?"

"Oh, yes. I was at the ripe age of fifteen then, though. Anyway, that's beside the point. Did you see any large camera crews when you drove here?"

"Actually, no. The forest is entirely empty. No animals or anything. I just stopped by a stream." I couldn't imagine anyone even being able to find this place anyway. It was so secluded and isolated and hidden. If I had come close to blowing right past it, I doubted humans would find it.

"Yes, I noticed that awful ladies' makeup was off your face," Christian laughed, shaking his head as he chuckled. "The wardrobe is an improvement, though. But, I must ask you, you do realize you left those contacts in, yes?" I rolled my eyes. Of course I had noticed. It altered my vision considerably.

"I know, thank you. I thought I'd leave them in. Takes me back to my human days where they were almost this exact color," I said sarcastically. Christian gave a final chuckle.

"Fine by me. They'll deteriorate soon, anyway." And I was kind of dreading when that happened. It was a relief not to have those dreadful red eyes, to blend in with the other carnivores here. I didn't want to be the only ruby eyed Cullen or the one single killer among my family. Though now, of course, I was the only vampire in here to have blue eyes. That clearly set me aside.

"Is Brandon around?" I asked out of polite interest. I wasn't expecting it when he threw his head back and guffawed.

"Yes, he's definitely around. His natural curiosity is getting in the way. You know the female shape shifter? Leah, I believe her name is. Ah, he's acquired a certain relationship with her. Maybe not mutual but he finds her quite amusing." Somehow, his words didn't add up.

"Leah? You're sure you got the right name?" I asked. In no world could I imagine Leah Clearwater willingly speak to vampires. Carnivorous vampires no less.

He paused in thought for a moment. "I thought there was only one female shape shifter?"

"Well, yes, but-"

"Then it's her. The one who Imprinted, right?" I spluttered at his question. Imprinted? No.

"Leah has certainly not Imprinted. She's the tall Native American, short black hair that goes down to her chin, brown eyes-"

"I know," Christian argued back, "She's Leah. She Imprinted - oh. You wouldn't know about that. You weren't here. Sorry. Anyway, she Imprinted this morning. On, hmm, Brody, I believe? The young scientist?" I stared at him.

And then I laughed.

"Leah Imprinted? Oh, that's quite rich," I chuckled as I shook my head. Leah, who hated love and everything related to it finds her Imprint? I found that hilarious. And on Brody! Brody, the human scientist who I had saved from the clutches of Timothy Fitzgerald, was really Leah's soul mate? What a coincidence.

"It sounds like things have changed a lot," I said and smiled. It seemed like all of the changes were for the better, too. Including my own personal metamorphosis.

Christian parted a path through the tangle of vampires, dragging me through it after him. Vampires eagerly moved out of our way, shooting me glances out of the corner of their eyes. Several times I heard my name murmured through the crowd, like a noise carried by the wind. "Yes," Christian called back as he turned to the side, slithering through a narrow space between vampires, "things are quite different now. I suppose they're good changes, though. Like you, my friend. You look much more peaceful than you did last night."

Could it really be just last night I saw him? Incredible. How quickly time passed was beyond me. I couldn't get over how drastically things had changed and how quickly. I shook my head and followed Christian, silent for a few more moments until he abruptly stopped.

"Ah, here we are! The Cullen family!" Christian smiled, waving me in and I stopped next to him, suddenly...

...swallowed up by a tight embrace as someone lunged into my arms. For a moment I stiffened, not used to the feeling, and then I hugged my adoptive mother back. She squeezed me closer and I heard the distinct sound of crying as she sobbed onto my shoulder, reaching up and moving her hand over my head. I looked over her shoulder to find everyone staring at me, eyes wide and jaws open in slight shock. Better get used to it, I thought. I was the ‘escapee', the rebel. It was clear I would be given this type of treatment for a while.

I pulled away from Esme who placed her hands on each side of my face. "Don't you ever do that to me again," she strictly said, though her lips were shaking, "Do you hear me, Jasper? Do not ever leave us again without telling us. You nearly sent me into cardiac arrest."

Somewhere behind Esme, Emmett laughed. "Yeah, like we can have heart attacks. Talk about being overdramatic, Mom."

I ignored him, as did Esme. "I won't," I vowed to her, looking down at her and into her cheerless ocher eyes, "I won't ever do that again."

She hugged me again with a large sigh of relief before pulling back. I smiled down at her, earning a brokenhearted grin in return. But then Emmett pulled me from her and looked down at me, grinning ear to ear with a stupid smirk on his face.

"You do realize you have contacts in, right?"

I rolled my eyes. "No, Emmett, I didn't. Thank you for letting me know."

He began laughing before patting my back, shaking his head and still chuckling under his breath. "Thanks for not deserting us. And welcome back, things are a bit-"

"Different? Yes, I can see that." I looked around at my family eagerly. Rosalie was smiling a bit, her lips rounded up at the corners, Esme was in Carlisle's arms as she continued sniffling, and a shy Bella held Nessie, who was clawing out of her mother's arms and grinning at me.

I walked away from Emmett and silently asked permission to take Renesmee with my eyes. Bella grinned and handed her over to me.

"You're back!" Renesmee giggled, throwing her arms around my neck. I laughed and wrapped my arms around her tiny body.

"Yes, I'm back," I said, smiling down at her widely. I looked up at my family and quickly realized something. Where were Edward and Alice? "Where's everyone else?" I asked cautiously as Nessie laid her cheek against my shoulder.

Everyone shared glances before Carlisle stepped up, causing me to swallow nervously. Instead, he smiled gently. "We'll talk later about everything," he said quietly to my relief, "Edward is off with Jacob-" I blinked, the two were together willingly? Things really had changed "-and Alice, who I am sure you are looking for, left a few minutes ago. I think she went towards the front of the building, if that helps."

I nodded absent mindedly before handing Nessie back to Bella, who took her eagerly. I didn't want to be rude and to just leave them after my returning but...

"Why don't you go find her?" Esme chirped, "We can wait." I threw her a grateful smile before taking off, weaving through the many vampires. It was a large relief to be back and not be treated like an outcast. And it was nice to be with my family, I thought. Like I was back in my place, where I belonged. Being on my own was something I did enjoy but being surrounded by people I know cared for me made me like being here much better.

Several vampires stopped me along my way, asking if I was the lost Cullen or something to which I hastily replied and dodged any more questions by running off again. It was like a circus out here. You never knew what you'd see one vampire say or do. Everything was so beautifully free. I had never seen such a large collection of vampires, allowed to do whatever they wanted without the constraints of society.

As I got closer and closer to the building, the vampires began parting like the Red Sea. I ran through, avoiding bumping into anyone I personally knew in case they stopped me for a conversation, as my eyes ran over the building hungrily. She was there. I could feel it. Something in me snapped at her presence and went into overdrive.

The front steps to the building came into view and there she was.

***

Alice's Point of View

The first thing I thought when I saw him was that something had changed.

Obviously, he hadn't physically changed too drastically. Vampires were unable to do that. But there was certainly something altered about him. His hair was definitely something that had changed. Instead of its neat, clean cut he usually wore, it was disarrayed and wildly windblown. And his clothes! My eyes scanned them in a mass rush of confusion. They were so very unlike him. Nothing I could imagine him wearing or me buying.

But it wasn't those things that made me think he was different. It was his face. And, partly, his eyes. Jasper had never been a light hearted person. He took things very seriously and logically, which made him out to be almost the very opposite of Emmett. He always wore a grave face, eyes somber and rarely smiling. And now...now he was smiling. There was something almost airy about him, something blissful and jovial. I couldn't remember the last time I had seen him so open and actually approachable. His eyes were unfamiliar to me. From here, I could tell they were contacts but I couldn't imagine why he'd have them in. They made his eyes an exotic azure; very bright and very unlike him. I didn't know whether to miss his old golden eyes or enjoy the brilliant blue while it lasted.

I jumped from the steps, leaving Maria there, and sprinted down towards him. If my heart could beat, I knew it would be flying out of my chest from excitement. He met more than halfway, due to his longer legs, and swooped me up into his arms, overwhelming me with the familiar scent of sugarcane tangy citrus.

It felt so good, so comforting, to know he was here. He wasn't off in the unknown, doing God knows what with God knows who. He was right here, holding me, and he wasn't letting go. Not that I would let him, anyway. He had given me enough fright for a lifetime, I wasn't bound to let him get off the hook too easily. But for now, I was absolutely content to just stay here with him. I didn't need answers or explanations. I just needed him.

I pulled back for a moment, realizing just how far up I was. My feet dangled as my arms encircled his neck. He smiled at me, his unnatural blue eyes glowing and radiating in happiness. His smile could light up even the darkest of days, I thought, and felt a pang in my heart. It had been too long since I had seen him smile like that. I had missed how beautiful he was when he smiled, when he was happy.

It was so easy to get lost in his eyes, even if they were artificial. Things just disappeared around us, voices turning into soft hums and people turning into blurs. I could still see the familiar eyes underneath, shining of the ghost of the man I knew existed before Maria and all of her sadistic ways. Fringes of red were just visible, a deep burgundy, that I ignored. It didn't matter to me. He was here, back with me, and suddenly changed. And I could tell it was a good change. The blithe look to him was contagious and uplifting.

I could see so many emotions there, locked in his eyes. There was utter happiness, peace, and adoration along with other feelings, like nervousness and anxiety. I could always read him, even if I didn't have Edward's mindreading abilities or his own emotion manipulation skills. He was always open to me, never difficult to understand.

I reached out, almost hesitantly, like I was afraid he would disappear, and brushed my hand across his face. No, it was certainly still him. Just...not the same as before. "You don't even know how much you scared me," I finally said and his luminous smile faltered.

"Did I? I didn't mean to," he murmured and I was stunned to even find his voice was different. It was richer, not so flat and emotionless. "You knew I would be back, didn't you?"

I shook my head quickly, gulping down a breath. "No, the visions were gone. I didn't have a clue to where you were," I paused, glancing away from his mesmerizing eyes, "What was in Philadelphia anyway? And what are these for?" I touched his eyelids lightly, frowning to myself.

He gave a long sigh and shook his head. "Philadelphia was...it was spectacular. Oh, Alice, I don't even know how to understand it properly." His voice was breathy and far off, like he was in a complete daze.

I felt my curiosity peak. Whatever had happened there had done something to him, I could tell. "Tell me about it," I quietly begged as my fingers hooked into the collar of his sweater, "I want to understand." How desperately I did. What had been so earth shattering there? What could change him, a constantly unchanging person, so much?

He looked around for a moment, as did I, and we both noticed several vampires nearby watching us closely. He grimaced for a moment, the first negative look I had seen on his face yet, and began walking. I laughed quietly under my breath as he walked, refusing to let me go, and holding me against him tightly.

He finally stopped, though he didn't set me down, which was something I wouldn't complain about. A helicopter flew overhead and I craned my neck back, staring up at the cloud speckled sky as a news chopper went by. The news station, I thought, and my brow furrowed.

"Is that what Christian was talking about? The camera crew?" Jasper muttered softly and I looked back to him.

"Who's Christian?" I wondered, intrigued. He looked back to me and took a deep breath before smiling.

"Alright, just let me begin with a few days ago. When they began the testing..."