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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.


16. Experimental Procedures

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3134   Review this Chapter

Chapter 16: Experimental Procedures

EPOV

As we reached the house, Bella was waiting for us at the edge of the forest. When had she become that fast? I hadn’t been able to catch her, or even stay remotely close, no matter how hard I tried.

Never mind the running - I was still trying to understand all that had taken place in the last hour.

Apparently, after having fed, Bella could hear me, as well as my siblings, and we could hear her as well. Alice and Jasper had shared their other experiences with me during the run home. Jasper had said he could not only feel Bella’s emotions like he usually could, but when she felt the wave of emotion coming from him, it intensified to an extreme level, apparently affecting them both very strongly.

Alice had added that she felt Bella ‘sharing’ her vision - essentially seeing it at the same time. It was unfathomable.

Aside from all of that, there were her eyes. When she had approached us after feeding, I was shocked when she looked up at me. Her eyes had turned pitch black, the same as ours did when we were at our thirstiest, however, she didn’t seem interested in feeding anymore at all - she’d acted as though the whole process had been a chore.

As we approached Bella, I snapped myself out of my reverie. "Fast these days, aren’t you?" I murmured.

"Hmm...I guess so. It didn’t feel like I was that far ahead. Guess you’ll have to start practicing," she laughed quietly. She seemed lighter in spirit somehow; not as upset as she had been for the last few days.

"Bella, I’m not sure what will happen here...since you could hear all of us earlier, it might be the same with the rest of the family. It could be really overwhelming. Also, you should know - your eyes have changed...they’re black now," I said hesitantly.

"Black? Why? That doesn’t make any sense," Bella replied, perplexed.

"I don’t know, love. We’re going to talk to Carlisle and see what he thinks," I said. "Would you like to stay out here with Alice while I try to talk to everyone, that way you won’t be overwhelmed again? Perhaps if I explain to them what’s going on first, they’ll better control their thoughts so it doesn’t sound like they’re all speaking to you at once. I know how that can feel," I smiled ruefully.

"That might be a good idea. It’s so confusing to hear so much at once, and to feel it too..." she trailed off.

"I know - don’t worry, we’ll straighten this out." I glanced at her once more, before Jasper and I went inside, headed towards the living room.

"Could everyone please come down here?" I called out to the house.

Moments later, the rest of my family appeared.

They looked around, then Carlisle spoke first. "Edward, is something wrong? Where are Alice and Bella?"

Jasper and I glanced at each other. "Well, hunting with Bella was...interesting," I began. I proceeded to explain everything that had transpired while we were gone, and all the changes in Bella - how she seemed to be sharing our ‘gifts,’ and how they were amplified, as well as the eye color change.

Carlisle expressed his disbelief, shaking his head.

"Weird. Leave it to Bella," Emmett chuckled, and Rosalie rolled her eyes.

"Carlisle, do you think she’s alright? I’ve never heard of anything like this, and I know you haven’t either," Esme spoke quietly, expressing her concern.

"Well, I am still trying to understand this; I’ve been thinking it over a lot, piecing things together. I’m not ready to explain my thoughts just yet, but I do believe she will be alright," Carlisle reassured Esme. "I would like to ask her a couple of questions, though - Edward, is she up to it?"

"I believe so. Just one thing first," I looked imploringly at my family. "Please - all of you - when you are around Bella, at least for now, keep your thoughts limited; try to think of 'nothing' as much as possible. She feels very overwhelmed when everyone is speaking - or should I say thinking - at once," I explained. They all nodded to show their agreement, even Rosalie, although she was irritated.

I turned back to Carlisle. "Maybe for now, you and I should speak to Bella alone. Why don’t we go outside to see her?" I suggested.

"Certainly, I understand." Carlisle followed me back outside. Alice had heard us and headed into the house, giving us privacy.

"Hello, Bella. How are you feeling?" Carlisle asked as we approached her.

She was embarrassed. "I feel fine, thank you. Edward says that my eyes have turned black though, and I don’t understand why," she said uncertainly.

"I’m not sure either, Bella, but as long as you feel alright, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for concern. You don’t feel thirsty at all?" he questioned.

"No," she replied.

Carlisle paused, trying to focus on one question at a time. "Bella, how was the hunting experience for you?"

She was becoming more embarrassed. She could hear Carlisle’s thoughts, as could I; he was trying to sort through everything, often using medical terminology - she was beginning to feel like a science experiment.

"Carlisle," I spoke softly, discreetly motioning to my forehead, and glancing at Bella. Discretion was pointless, of course, since she could hear my thoughts as well. This would definitely take some getting used to.

"It’s ok Edward, I’m fine," Bella reassured me.

"I’m sorry, Bella. This is a little new - and unusual," Carlisle apologized, pausing slightly before continuing. "The hunt? Could you tell me how you felt?"

"Well...it wasn’t very appealing. I didn’t really want to attack the deer, but I didn’t want everyone to continue to worry. When I got closer, there were some instincts that took over, but my rational side was still struggling with the idea of it. Finally, I shut everything else down and focused, like Edward had said to do. It was actually pretty easy after that. After I had killed the deer, I remember hesitating before biting into the animal - it was the thought of the blood - it was still strange to me. I went through with it though, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be," she finished.

The look on my father’s face mirrored my own; thankfully, both of us had prepared ourselves and were limiting our thoughts. I didn’t want Bella to feel even more insecure.

"Did the blood taste appealing to you? Did your thirst feel satisfied?" Carlisle continued.

"Like I said, it wasn’t bad...it tasted a lot like sirloin, or maybe something similar. I never had venison when I was human, so I couldn’t compare it to that," she explained. "As far as the thirst, I wasn’t thirsty to begin with, so it really didn’t affect me in that way."

"Wait - it tasted like human food to you? And that taste was still appealing?" Carlisle was having a difficult time hiding his surprise. I couldn’t blame him...human food was repulsive to us.

"Well, yeah, I guess. It was pretty good, but I certainly don’t feel like running out and having anymore right now," she answered, wrinkling her nose at the thought.

"And what about after feeding? How did you feel?" Carlisle asked.

"I felt good - less troubled...at least until all the voices and everything else started," she said.

"Yes, Edward has explained everything that happened then. That would certainly be disconcerting," he said, trying to reassure her.

I heard Bella’s voice in my head; she was talking to me. "Carlisle thinks I’m crazy, and so do you, don’t you? I can hear you remember," she warned.

I replied silently. "No, love...not at all. We are just trying to understand this - it’s very different, is all. Please don’t think that. We all love you, alright?"

She felt a little better, but she still felt insecure.

Carlisle spoke again. "I’m curious, Bella. Would you mind if we tried something? It will involve you being around all of us at the same time, so if you’re not ready for that, I’ll understand," he said.

"I think I’ll be alright. I just want to understand what’s happening to me, so whatever you think is best, I’ll be fine with it," she answered bravely.

Carlisle smiled encouragingly, and called out to the rest of the family to join us outside.

BPOV

As they began to come out the backdoor, I waited, preparing for the onslaught of voices again. Thankfully, I only caught bits and pieces of things - mostly I just heard humming type sounds. They must be taking Edward’s advice; I relaxed a bit, even though most of them were still looking at me with curious expressions.

Carlisle addressed all of us. "From what Edward explained, we know that Bella is somehow being affected by some of our ‘abilities.’ I would like to see how she reacts to all of us individually," he explained, motioning for us to follow him out to the lawn.

Edward was staying close to me, trying to fill my mind with his voice, trying to distract me from being overwhelmed by anything else.

"If any of this becomes too much for you, Bella, please just say so, and we’ll stop," he spoke aloud, wanting everyone to hear and understand this.

"Of course, Bella. If it becomes too stressful, just say so, alright?" Carlisle asked gently.

I nodded in agreement.

They all formed a loose circle in the yard, and Carlisle requested that I move to the center of it. Here it was - that ‘vision’ I had shared with Alice earlier. How eerie. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get used to this...

Edward kissed my forehead before I left his side to proceed to the middle of their circle. His thoughts called to me again. "Please, Bella, don’t push yourself too far." I smiled slightly at him.

"Now, Bella, everyone is trying their hardest to control their thoughts right now, and to keep their ‘gifts’ fairly contained, which should enable you to focus on us individually. We know what happened with Alice, Jasper and Edward, so now I would like to see what develops with the rest of us. If you would begin with Esme, just focus all of your attention and thoughts on her, and see what happens. You can begin whenever you would like," he said comfortingly.

I took a deep breath. It felt weird with all of them staring at me, but I wanted to figure this out just as badly as they did. At least he was having me start with Esme; it was hard to feel fear when looking at her. As I exhaled, I began focusing on her, concentrating to block everything else out. Within seconds, something hit me - not physically, but mentally and emotionally. The intensity made me sway on my feet, and Edward’s panic echoed in my mind. I shook my head, reassuring him I was alright. Looking back at Esme, I concentrated on the waves that were sweeping through my system. Overwhelming love and affection for each and every family member surrounded me, along with a fierce desire to protect every single one of them. I was feeling the intensity for the family that Esme feels. As we focused on each other, the intensity increased, and the fierceness blazed in our eyes; I understood the unconditional love of a mother, and saw that she felt just as strongly about me as she did for the others. I ran towards her, and she caught me in an unbreakable embrace, both of us with tearless sobs. Eventually, she pulled back, her hands on either side of my face, and looked into my eyes.

"That was an amazing connection, Bella, thank you. I’m glad you understand now just how important you are to me," Esme smiled warmly, her eyes shining.

"Thank you, Esme. Thank you for loving me as much as my own mother did. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your family, and for showing me the depths of your soul," I replied softly. She continued to smile lovingly at me, as I turned to situate myself to my prior location in the center of the circle.

"Bella, from what I am understanding, you just experienced the complexity of Esme’s unconditional love, is that correct?" Carlisle questioned.

"Yes...kind of. It was more than that though. I don’t know how to explain it..." I left off.

Esme cleared her throat. "When Bella began to feel what I do, her mind accepted it as her own feelings; she not only understood how I feel, she felt the same way...it was like this ball of energy was bouncing between us, holding unlimited amounts of love and acceptance. It was very powerful," Esme spoke softly.

"Thank you, both of you," Carlisle said slowly, digesting Esme’s description. "Bella, are you ready to continue?" he asked me.

"Yes, I feel fine," I said.

"Alright...why don’t you focus on me next?" Carlisle suggested.

"Ok," I agreed.

I took another deep breath, and cleared my mind. Opening my eyes, I focused on Carlisle. This was much the same as it was with Esme; I felt the same intensity, only different waves of emotions rocked through my system. This time it was Carlisle’s compassion that overtook me. He was shocked, and stepped back slightly - apparently he hadn’t realized how strongly it would affect both of us. Immediately I understood him - his struggle to do what is right, to give back to the world from which he was taken from. If I’d even had a problem sticking to their vegetarian diet before, (which clearly, I didn’t), I wouldn’t have that problem anymore, not after this. This was a man of pure humanity.

Carlisle shook his head, trying to clear it. "I think I now better understand what you have all been talking about as far as the intensity goes...I felt like myself, but my usual thoughts, and feelings were...amplified, as if doubled in strength. Amazing," he continued to shake his head.

I looked at the ground, still awed by his magnitude of compassion.

Edward spoke aloud."Bella, are you still alright? Are you sure you want to continue?" he asked.

"Yes," I murmured softly. I glanced up at Carlisle; I felt embarrassed speaking aloud, so I spoke to him silently. "Thank you Carlisle. It’s nice to understand you better. I admire you even more now."

Carlisle smiled softly back at me, answering the same way. "Thank you, Bella. You are truly special to this family."

Then aloud, he said, "Are you ready? I think you should focus on Emmett next, but be careful. Emmett is known for his strength, so I’m not sure what will happen here...Emmett, try to tone it down at first, just to be careful," Carlisle said.

I nodded, as did Emmett. For some reason, I began to feel extremely nervous; I looked over at Jasper.

"Sorry," he whispered to me, the anxiety lessening. Apparently Carlisle wasn’t the only one feeling apprehensive about this.

"I don’t like this," Edward interrupted, before I could begin.

"Relax, Edward - I wouldn’t ever hurt my little sis," Emmett replied, rolling his eyes at Edward.

I focused back on Emmett. This time, it wasn’t an emotional connection; it was pure physical strength that coarsed through me at incredible speeds. It was too powerful - I was struggling to maintain composure - it was almost like I was high on something. Emmett looked as though he couldn’t be happier...or more intimidating. It was an odd combination; he had a huge smile on his face, but his nostrils were flaring, almost snorting...he reminded me of a bull, getting ready to charge. Uh oh.

He crashed into me before I could do anything else. What was strange was that instead of flying backwards from the impact, I seemed to be pushing him backwards. Several people gasped in surprise, then I realized we were still. I looked around.

I had pushed Emmett all the way across the backyard, to the perimeter of the forest, where I had him pinned up against a tree, my forearm pressed securely across his throat, effortlessly holding him in place. He was completely shocked...and a little scared.

Suddenly, a calming sensation washed over me, and I stepped back, stunned at my behavior. Thank goodness for Jasper.

"I’m so sorry, Emmett. I had no idea..." I didn’t even know what to say to him.

Emmett stared at me for a moment, before he burst into deep, echoing laughs. "Don’t apologize, Bella - that was incredible! I think I’ve finally found an admirable opponent...how about a rematch?"

Edward answered for me. "No, Emmett. That was more than enough," he murmured, looking at me with a new expression on his face - a combination of admiration and fear.

Everyone else was frozen in place. Slowly, as Jasper’s calming waves started to settle in, they all seemed to start moving again.

Carlisle finally spoke. "Hmm...that was interesting as well. I would ask how that made either of you feel, but I think we get the gist from the demonstration there. One question though, Bella. How did you know to do that? He came at you very fast, and you’ve never actually fought with one of our kind; the speed is usually hard to adapt to," he explained.

"I don’t know. The last thing I remember was Emmett charging at me, and all I could think of was that I needed to defend myself. Then I realized what I had done." I didn’t know what else to say.

"Huh," he replied, his thoughts just as vague as his verbal response. That certainly wasn’t typical for Carlisle; rarely was he at such a loss for words.

Edward, realizing who would be next, spoke before Carlisle could encourage me to continue. "Maybe we should stop here for today. We could all probably use a break."

Carlisle looked at me. "Well, we’re probably almost done, so we should just finish, unless Bella...?" Carlisle looked at me questioningly.

"I’m fine," I reassured him.

"Alright, then, let’s continue. Rosalie is next," Carlisle stated.

This is what I had been dreading. I hadn’t even really spoken to Rosalie since my change. She had kept mainly to herself, keeping her distance from me. She didn’t seem as hostile towards me as she used to, but there were definitely moments when I would catch a glimpse of the old Rosalie, the one that adamantly disliked me. There were also moments when I had caught her looking at me out of the corner of her eye, with an expression much like pity. It was very conflicting, but I hadn’t had much time to worry about it with everything else going on. I was incredibly nervous about this...all Edward had ever said about Rosalie’s ‘gift’ was that she had a lot of tenacity. How would that affect either of us when doubled? If she firmly believes that I don’t belong with them, and I firmly believe that I do, what would happen? I guess we were about to find out.