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Choices

Summary:
Choices Banner This story takes place in Eclipse when Riley goes to Bella’s room to gather her belongings for Victoria. This is what could have happened if Bella had arrived while he was still there, and the events following. Written pre-Breaking Dawn, so that book will be disregarded here. This will include my idea of how the series would have ended.


Notes:
Choices Banner *Written before Breaking Dawn was released, so that book will be ignored with this story.


10. Awakening

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3739   Review this Chapter

(Previously):

Nine minutes had gone by. I was counting in my head, listening to Alice, and focusing on Bella. This had to be the longest nine minutes any one had ever endured.

"Edward, do you want us to leave? If you want to be alone with her when she wakes up, we will understand," Esme said.

I thought for a second. "I don’t mind if you stay, we’ve all gone through this together. However, if you don’t want to stay, you don’t have to."

No one left, but they all backed up a little, giving me more space. Alice crept behind everyone else, mostly hiding herself; she wanted to stay, but was afraid of upsetting Bella.

Eleven minutes. I was watching her face closely for any movement, when I saw it happen. Those beautiful eyelids started fluttering softly; I held my breath.

Chapter 10: Awakening

EPOV

"Bella, can you hear me? Bella, love, open your eyes, I’m right here," I spoke softly to her.

She took an incredibly deep breath, like she was getting ready to stretch the way she used to when she would wake up from her nights sleep. Her forehead crinkled a bit, like she was thinking about something. I was becoming more and more impatient.

Suddenly she sat straight up in the bed, and looked around wildly. Everyone in the room gasped. I couldn’t see her face; I didn’t understand what was going on. Everyone’s thoughts were simply registering shock - nothing specific yet.

"WHERE IS SHE?" Bella roared.

"Bella, Bella calm down! Who? Who are you looking for?" I asked frantically.

Her head shot around, and she met my eyes evenly. I almost fell over in shock. Her eyes were not the vibrant crimson we were expecting - instead they were the most piercing, sharpest shade of gold, just like the rest of ours were when our thirst was completely satisfied. I couldn’t understand this; all newborns have bright red eyes. The only way to turn them gold was to abstain from human blood, as we do, and feed from animals. The process for changing the eye color took at least a month of abstaining - I knew this much from seeing Rosalie’s eyes change, as well as other family members’ stories... I was speechless. The rest of my family felt much the same, and just continued to stare, trying to understand the situation.

"VICTORIA...WHERE IS SHE?!" Bella screamed again, fury ringing in her voice. She began to move, like she was going to get out of bed; I had to get her to calm down.

Grasping her arms gently, I looked directly into her eyes. "Bella, please, calm down. You’ve been unconscious for four days. We will discuss Victoria in a while. Right now, we all just need to make sure you are alright, love," I glanced pointedly over my shoulder at the rest of my family. Her eyes followed my gaze, as she seemed to notice their presence for the first time. The sound of my voice seemed to get her to calm down a little bit. I felt her muscles relax a little, so I let her go. She was still for a moment, then before any of us could react, she flew out of the bed and was down the stairs and out the front door.

We all ran after her, but when we reached the front porch, we stopped. She had collapsed to the ground in the front yard, sobbing - well, without the actual tears. Sheer devastation washed over me as I watched my love fall apart. I motioned for everyone to stay back, and slowly approached her.

--

BPOV

I took in a deep breath. I felt so rested, how long had I been asleep? As my mind began to focus, images, horrible images, started rushing through my head. I knew in an instant the things I was remembering were real; it hadn’t been a dream. Charlie. My sweet, loving father was gone forever. I remembered the entire thing - I would never forget the look on his face as he uttered, "Goodbye, Bella." Another image flew across my mind - being bitten. Twice. Edward had saved me, which meant...I must be a vampire. As soon as I thought this, I knew it was true, which meant one thing - I was now strong enough to kill Victoria. I had newborn strength. I wouldn’t rest until I found her and made her pay for what she did. Fury tore through me in ways I didn’t know possible.

I sat up abruptly, screaming.

"WHERE IS SHE?!’ I demanded to know. Edward seemed confused, and was asking me who I meant. I looked him directly in the eyes before screaming her name in answer.

"VICTORIA...WHERE IS SHE?!" Surely of all people he would understand my urgency. He seemed shocked, and as I looked at the rest of the Cullens, they all wore similar expressions. How could they not think I would want revenge? Didn’t they understand what had happened? I had to get out of here. Edward seemed to be trying to calm me down; I stopped for a moment, not wanting to upset him. It wasn’t working - another surge of rage ripped through me. I had to find her...it was all I could think about.

I jumped from the bed and ran down the stairs, out of the house with such speed it shocked me. I reached the yard, looked around frantically, and that’s when it hit me. I had no idea how to find her. Was she even still alive, or had the Cullens already taken care of her? A restlessness deep inside of me told me otherwise, but I still had no idea what to do about it. How...pathetic. Here I was, a strong newborn vampire, and the only thing I desired was to avenge my father’s death, and I didn’t even know how. My father. Gone. My mother, who I would never get to say goodbye to - after all, I couldn’t go visit her now that I was a vampire - she’d know to easily that something was very different. It was as if I had run into a brick wall, and I collapsed to the ground. Despair crippled me; I tried to cry but it was different - my whole body shook with tearless sobs. There were soft, slow footsteps approaching me, and I automatically tensed.

"Bella..." Edward softly spoke my name. He sounded scared. His hand touched me lightly as he reached for my shoulder. I felt so stupid - he must think I’m some kind of deranged psycho-path. It didn’t matter, I needed him. As I turned abruptly and threw my arms around him, the tearless sobs still forced their way through. His tension eased slightly as I embraced him; I felt his breath in my hair, and for a second I felt like everything would be ok. For a second. Then I remembered Charlie, and I lost control again.

"Charlie..." I whimpered to him. Edward gathered me in his arms, and carried me back into the house, whispering softly, "Ssshhh, Bella, it will be alright."

He took me into the living room and sat on the couch, holding me in his lap, and rocked me back and forth, whispering to me. I sobbed for what seemed like forever. My fists clung onto the front of his shirt as I tried to erase the images flying through my mind. He pulled me closer, holding my head tight to his chest, instinctively wanting to protect me. He ran his fingers through my hair, murmuring to me, trying to soothe me. Eventually, after a while, I managed to calm down a bit.

When I pulled back from him, I looked around and saw that the rest of the family had disappeared.

"Where d-did everyone g-go?" I asked through broken sobs.

He reached out, gently tracing his fingers along my cheekbone. "They are giving you some privacy. They know how hard this is for you," he answered quietly, his expression unfathomable.

I sat there, not knowing what to say. It was like I was being continually smacked in the face, so many different emotions were running through me. Anger, grief, fear, anxiety, horror...My mind was working much faster than I was used to. One of my previous thoughts helped to calm the ‘crying’.

"What happened to Victoria? Is she dead?" I asked desperately.

A pained look crossed Edward’s face. "No, Bella...Emmett and Jasper couldn’t catch her. They did catch Riley though - the one that bit you. He’s been...taken care of." A look of fury flashed across Edward’s face that sent chills down my spine.

"Did you...?" I whispered.

Edward paused, not seeming to want to answer. He finally looked at me, nodded his head once, and said, "Yes."

I didn’t question him further. Wait, though..."Where are Jasper and Emmett? I haven’t seen them here," I asked.

Edward hesitated again; I felt as though he were editing his thoughts. "They went out for a bit, they’ll be back soon. They’ve been just as worried about you as the rest of us."

Oh. They must be hunting. Edward was looking at me strangely again. I waited, trying to keep control of my emotions. After a couple of minutes of him just staring at me, I couldn’t help myself.

"What? Why are you staring at me like that?" I asked him.

--

EPOV

I jumped as she accused me of staring at her. I felt guilty, but this was all so hard to understand; I didn’t want to push her. Her expressions were very confusing. One moment she looked furious, the next moment it looked as though she’d had the wind knocked out of her.

"Bella," I began, "do you remember anything of the past four days? Were you in pain?" This is what I was most fearful of, but I had to know.

She looked at me, then, with sudden clarity, she said, "I remember the fire burning through me. It started to lessen - I believe I was almost dead - it was like I was floating. Then you bit me. There was pain, but only for a second. Right after you bit me, a cooling sensation rushed through my body, putting the fire out. It was such a relief from the pain. I don’t remember much after that, except that I felt mostly like I was swimming in a body of cool water. It was very comforting."

Her explanation disturbed me; I stared back at her, speechless. This was absurd - I’d never heard of such a thing. It was like her transformation had been a positive experience...impossible. Not that I didn’t believe in the impossible anymore; no, that had changed the moment I saw her eyes. How was it possible for them to be so gold? I looked over at my Bella again, fully taking in her ‘change’. Aside from the eyes, she looked pretty much the same as she used to, just as beautiful. Yes, her skin was paler, but she had been so light to begin with that it was not as noticeable as you would think. Her hair was a bit shinier, a bit more lustrous. Of course her teeth were perfectly straight and white. Her facial features were a bit more defined, maybe a bit sharper. From what I could see of her arms, they looked just as small and delicate, but there were clearly defined muscles in them now. She was just as perfect to me as she was before, only now she was mine for eternity.

"Edward, why do you keep looking at me like that?" Bella asked, seeming very self-conscious. I realized I had been staring at her again, and had been too quiet - it had worried her.

"No, everything is fine, Bella," I said, pulling her hand up to my lips and softly kissing it. "I’m just relieved to have you with me. Do you want to talk about what has happened?" Unsure of where her mind was at this point, I thought it best to let her take the lead.

The vast display of emotions continued to cross her features. I wanted to just pull her into me and hold her, but I knew we had to start to deal with this. Her first question was not a surprise to me.

"Well, I do want to know what I can do to find Victoria." She looked into my eyes, and I could feel her rage as she said, "Edward, I won’t rest until I know that she no longer walks on this earth."

"Bella, we will find her. Trust me. There is not a member of this family that doesn’t want to take her life. Please don’t worry - we will come up with a plan."

She looked confused. "Isn’t Carlisle or Esme upset by that idea?"

I understood. Bella knew how compassionate Carlisle and Esme were, and how against any form of violence they were. She was worried that they would think less of her for wanting revenge. It was difficult not to chuckle as I responded.

"Bella...Carlisle and Esme, along with every member of our family, has thought of countless ways they would like to see Victoria meet her end. I would know," I said as I lightly tapped my forehead. "They really do think of you as one of their children. Humanity...seems to be absent in this case."

Her forehead creased slightly as she processed this information, and I waited for her to continue.

"Well...I would like to know what story has been told to explain my disappearance and Charlie’s death? Does my mom know yet? Is she ok? She is pregnant, and this kind of stress could cause problems...What about Jake and Billy? Billy and my dad were so close..." Bella trailed off. I could tell she wasn’t done yet, so I waited. Finally, she whispered, "I also want to know what happened to my father’s body," her forehead crinkled with pain as she said this, and the sobbing starting again. I pulled her into me and held her until she quieted.

I took an unnecessary deep breath. Earlier, I had decided to try to wait a while before telling her about Renee and Phil. It would be too much. I felt awful keeping it from her, but I had to keep her sanity in mind. Starting with her first question, I fully explained what we had done to cover up the situation, and what we had done with Charlie’s body. She leaned forward, clinging to me as I spoke. My heart broke over and over for her, but she insisted I continue, so I did. It seemed very important to her to know that Charlie had at least had a decent burial. I even explained that Carlisle had taken care to clean Charlie up, and changed him into his favorite flannel shirt and jeans that he always wore around the house before burying him.

"Bella, Carlisle wasn’t sure what the right thing to do was, so if you disagree with what we’ve done, we can...move him," I said.

Bella sat back; she seemed to be fighting with her emotions again. She took a deep breath and replied, "No, I like that he’s close by. This is my home now. I can’t deal with it yet, but I will eventually want to go see his grave." She took another deep breath, her body shaking. This was immensely difficult for her, and it was devastating that I couldn’t ease her burden.

"Are you alright?" I asked her, unsure of whether to continue or not. She sighed heavily, and met my gaze. "Yes, please continue," she answered solemnly.

I went on to explain my conversation with Jacob, and also her how Jacob had been here to see her.

"He came here?" Bella asked uncertainly.

"Yes," I answered.

She seemed confused by that, but moved on.

"What happened when he left? Am I to never see him again either, now that I’m a vampire?" Bella asked.

"He asked that I call when you wake up, to let him know you’re alright, which I will do later. As far as never seeing him again...I don’t know. I suppose that’s mostly up to him...and you. He said that Billy is having a very difficult time with this - he and your father were the best of friends, as you well know," I answered truthfully.

She sadly nodded her head, thinking. "And my mom? Has she heard?"

I sighed. Lying about it was deplorable, and I wanted her to know she could trust me, which left only one real option - I had to tell her. I truly wished I could read her mind right now more than ever before; I hated not being able to tell how fragile she was, if she could deal with this yet. This had to be hell. How was I supposed to do this? I couldn’t bear to see how this would affect Bella, but I couldn’t stand to keep it from her anymore...it wasn’t fair to her.

"Bella," I began. "I have to tell you something," I said, pausing. "I was waiting to make sure you were alright...I don’t know how to say this, but I honor you far too much to keep it from you," I broke off.

"What is it?" Bella whispered. It was obvious something was wrong.

"Something has happened to your mother..." I paused. She was looking at me, when she suddenly gasped and collapsed back into the couch.

"Bella, are you alright? Bella?" I panicked, not knowing what to do.

Bella looked at me, her eyes filled with fear. "Please, no. Please, please, please, NO," she whispered.

"Bella, tell me. What are you trying to say?" It was beyond frustrating, seeing this vast display of despair and not knowing how to stop it.

Her eyes met mine as she whispered, "She said she would go after my mom..." Bella broke off, looking to me to prove her fears wrong.

Taking a deep breath, I reached out to take her hand, looked her in the eyes, and spoke softly. "I’m sorry, love. We tried, but we were too late."

The confirmation hit her hard; her body slumped. She looked at me, as if from a distant world. "My mother?"

I nodded slowly.

"Phil?"

I nodded again.

She leaned forward, and collapsed into me. I continued to hold her until she began to move again. Eventually, after quite some time, she looked up at me, her eyes full of fear.

"That means the baby..." she whispered.

"I know, I know, Bella. I’m so sorry," I murmured, despair for my love filling every square inch of me.

The look on her face could have stopped my heart if it were possible - sheer horror. Then she curled up in a ball, closed her eyes, and silently shook with tearless sobs. I tried to hold her more, but she wouldn’t move. I decided to carry her up to my room, and to just try to comfort her until she could work through this new grief. It was all that I could do.

Esme joined me at one point, although I’m not sure Bella realized any of us were there with her.

When she finally began to move, it was just the two of us again. She slowly began to uncurl herself, and looked up at me with a deeply troubled expression. I spoke before she could.

"Believe me, I know Bella. All of us know. You don’t need to waste one more second of your time worrying about Victoria - it will be taken care of. There will be retribution." I paused. "Are you going to be alright, love? What can I do?" I was desperate to ease her pain.

"Eventually...I’ll be ok. It’s just so strange - I feel so upset, and so much grief, but it feels like all of this happened years ago...it’s hard to understand it. I knew that someday when I would join you in immortality, I would have to say goodbye to my parents, but at least they would have lived on. I’m horrified that my mom and Phil had to die the way they did, like Charlie, all because of me. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for that. They were good people, Edward. It’s not right," she said quietly.

"I know Bella, but it’s not your fault, and you need to realize that," I replied, trying to get through to her.

"Either way, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to accept it..." she trailed off, pain overcoming her features again.

I reached out to pull her in to me, to hold her, to comfort her.

Eventually, at one point, she pulled slightly away. She glanced at me, then began studying the floor before she spoke.

"Edward?" Bella began. "Why did you do it? Why did you save me? I thought you were still struggling with me becoming like you."

I hadn’t been expecting this question. There had been no question in my mind that I would act to keep her when faced with her impending death, so it seemed simple to me. Obviously it was not as clear to her. Did she wish that I hadn’t saved her? Did she wish that I had let her die? Despair washed over me.

"Bella, I’m so sorry. I acted very selfishly - I thought I was going to be too late. By the time I reached you, you were almost gone. The entire time I was driving to your house I knew that if anything could be done to save you, I would do it without a doubt or question in my mind. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you, not after having lost you once before. We were eventually planning to marry and change you afterwards, so I felt it would be alright. I thought this is was what you would want. It wasn’t the way I wanted it to happen, but when faced with the alternative, I had to do it. I’m sorry if I was mistaken...will you ever forgive me?" I was afraid to look her in the eyes.

Silence. This was worse than hell. My eyes darted up at hers, and she was staring at me with the oddest expression on her face...was it...disbelief?

"Edward...do you think I’m upset with you for saving my life?" she asked incredulously.

"Well...yes," I answered truthfully. "Aren’t you?"

"Of course I’m not upset. I would do anything to always be with you. You were right - it is what I wanted. Yes, we would have eventually married and you would have changed me anyway. I agree, the circumstances were...undesirable," her face contorted with pain again, "but I have always wanted to be able to be with you for eternity, and now I will be. Thank you for saving me."