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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.


36. Imminent Conclusions

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 4229   Review this Chapter

(Previously):

BPOV

The next two days passed in a blur for all of us. We had gone into an immediate cycle of hunting twice a day, and we were training every second in between. By now we were all fairly sure I had my powers well under control, but Carlisle had wanted to try to prepare me for what I was going to experience. The sessions were extremely unpleasant, as I fought to remain focused while the rest of the Cullens all thought of nothing but utter hatred and anger, in whatever shape or form they could. It was draining for everyone, and incredibly disturbing, but necessary. Hopefully this would at least help to prepare me for the mental part of the ordeal. I would still have to be able to somehow ignore the physical images - that was something that was simply not possible to rehearse.

Chapter 36: Imminent Conclusions

BPOV

Late afternoon of day two, Alice saw that they would be arriving the following afternoon around two o’clock. After hunting one last time, everyone split into pairs and disappeared to their own spaces, to spend time alone with their spouse. We were all horrified, knowing what the next day would bring. The very thought of trying to hurt one another, to kill one another - it was too much to bear. Even though we had a tentative plan, we still had no way of knowing how this would end. No one spoke the words aloud, but I knew what everyone was thinking...we were all trying to find a way to say goodbye, in case the worst happened.

Just before two the following day, we all stepped outside, waiting to catch the first glimpse of our enemy through the forest’s edge. My family distanced themselves from me, trying to ensure that I would be out of their immediate attention span when Alec arrived - the last thing we needed was for them to seek me out as a target, when I’d have to be concentrating so hard. At first, Edward had refused, saying he wouldn’t leave my side no matter what - it pained him to no end to have to distance himself from me, knowing there was a threat coming.

Eventually, after Carlisle, Emmett, and Jasper had argued with him about it, making him see reason, he’d given in. He was entirely sure that no matter what, he’d never even try to hurt me, but Carlisle didn’t want my attention to be distracted, having to use my abilities to protect myself from one of my own family members, just in case. Everyone was also fairly certain that if Edward glued himself to my side, it would only encourage Jane to use her abilities on him again.

Naturally, Jane appeared first, followed closely by Demetri and Felix, who looked positively eager. Further back, still slightly within the confines of the tree line, was Alec. Jane came to a stop, still keeping a fair amount of distance between us.

"Of course you know why we’re here by now," apathy dripped from her voice, as she looked at each of us. Her gaze eventually came to rest on Carlisle.

"Caius sends his regrets, as he once thought well of you. Your family’s disregard for our wishes cannot be ignored, your disrespect cannot be dismissed - you’ve angered him. Clearly, you all will not cooperate, and Caius has no patience for such nonsense," she said scathingly.

Carlisle tried to speak. "Jane, we truly believe this can be resolved peacefully - we mean you no harm, and - "

"Enough. You’ve had your chance - too many of them, in my opinion, and we have our orders." Upon finishing her statement, she stepped back a bit, glancing over her shoulder, as her brother instinctively moved forward, closer to her. "Alec?"

Immediately, it began. Everything happened so quickly, it was hard to keep up. As soon as Jane had summoned him, Alec had started using his gift. I watched in horror as I saw the hatred consume my family. Although I felt no effects from Alec, I could feel everything they felt, and it sickened me. There was no semblance of their true selves, no recognition of one another other than as enemies. It was as if they’d never met. They all started moving in on each other, circling, growling.

I fought to gain control of my emotions. It was near impossible to focus, as the hatred and anger washed through me. Suddenly, only seconds after the horror began, I was being restrained by Felix and Demetri. Jane glided over to me, smiling sardonically.

"I was wondering if you’d be immune to my brother’s power, Bella...I do hope that whatever gift you have, you consider hiding it worthy of having caused - this," she motioned vaguely to the scene unfolding behind her.

Glaring back at her, I tried to ignore her words, so that I could do what I needed to. I was trying to block everything out, and it wasn’t working...their voices were too strong, their thoughts too violent, their emotions to unstable - it was terrifying.

As I watched, completely horrified, Edward and Jasper were matching each another hit for hit, strike for strike. Neither one was getting anywhere - they were too evenly matched. Dancing maliciously around them, Alice struck out every now and then, successfully - neither of them could catch her.

Emmett initially attacked Carlisle, shoving him fiercely across the yard, but Carlisle was fast - almost as fast as Edward, and had since been able to allude him. Emmett had yet to catch hold of him again, but he was smashing everything in his way, etching a clear path of destruction through the yard. Carlisle had managed to get a few hits in, while still staying clear of Emmett.

Rosalie was circling Esme, hissing and snapping at her. Esme was growling back, but she lacked the fierceness of Rosalie. I would have to get enough control of myself to do something soon, before it was too late...

Jane spoke again, demanding my attention. "Hmm. Not cooperating again...Alec?" she called softly to her brother. "Release Edward from your efforts, please."

As soon as she voiced her request, Alec lifted his influence on Edward, who, once having control of his own thoughts again, immediately disengaged himself from the fight and flew across the yard, trying to reach me. When he got within a few yards, Jane started smiling angelically at him, and he dropped to the ground, crying out in agony. Watching as my husband writhed around, grasping his head, consumed with horrific pain, I saw the terror within him, the complexity of Jane’s effect...

"Anything to say yet, Bella?" Felix purred into my ear. "She’ll do that for hours, you know...however long it takes. Personally, I hope she grows bored soon. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time..." his lips were so close, they lightly grazed my neck, his fingers trailing along my collarbone, causing me to shiver in disgust.

It was too much - everything was happening too fast. When Edward had been released from Alec’s control, Jasper and Alice had moved in solely on each other. Jasper couldn’t catch her, but I couldn’t suppress the rising panic I felt.

From the other side of the yard, Emmett roared out in anger and frustration as Carlisle struck him again. Eyes flashing with uncontrollable rage, Emmett lifted a boulder from the forest’s edge, hurling it in Carlisle’s direction. Carlisle managed to move in time, and it missed him - it did, however, hit Alice squarely in the chest, sending her flying across the yard, gasping in shock.

Felix’s fingers danced across the back of my neck, taking hold, just waiting for Jane’s orders. "Not long now, Bella..." his throaty voice rumbled in my ear.

My thoughts were everywhere, whirling around me. Completely panicked, I stared down at Edward thrashing on the ground, as Felix’s hold on me tightened. Suddenly, I heard Esme cry out. Snapping my head up, I saw her stumbling away from Rosalie, her arm at a slightly odd angle.

Carlisle had been close to where Alice had fallen, and she now pursued him - although they appeared to be far too fast for one another, too evenly matched. Jasper had moved in on Emmett. Emmett may be strong, but Jasper knew exactly how to avoid the direct approach he took in fighting. After a few misses, Jasper moved in from the side, and had a firm grip on him, his hands reaching up around Emmett’s neck...

There was no more time - I had to get control of myself and stop this. Thinking of Esme’s painful cry, knowing Jasper was desperately close to destroying Emmett, and watching Edward helplessly endure Jane’s talent, it was suddenly enough. Fierce, rising anger inside me snapped my mind into focus, and I began seeing image upon image of my loving family flash through my mind, last of which was Edward standing before me at the alter, declaring his love for me. Closing my eyes, I welcomed it. Almost naturally, my body began to pull from Emmett, and as I listened to all the anger and hatred in my family’s minds, I opened my eyes, releasing the familiar force outwards, directing it.

Selectively, I threw my family members far apart, separating them into the forest, where they could not harm one another anymore. I kept Jasper and Emmett closest, as I would be enlisting their help momentarily.

At the same time, I effortlessly released myself from Felix and Demetri’s hands, forcing them back, away from me. Striding forward, I roughly gripped the front of Jane’s robes, angrily shoving her back, into Alec.

Quickly enough, Emmett and Jasper reappeared from the forest. Hearing my thoughts, they moved in, taking hold of Felix and Demetri. They could hear and think clearly now, as I had neutralized the prior threat - I had taken control of the twins actions, and ceased their influence over my family; across from me, completely under my control, Alec had taken hold of Jane, and had his hands secured around her tiny neck, ready to tear her head off at my command. Both stood staring back at me, utterly horrified, yet unable to move.

The second Jane’s focus on Edward had broken, Edward had leapt up from the ground, vicious growls emanating from his chest. He strode past me, glaring intently at Felix, who was being restrained by Emmett.

I continued my concentration on Alec as I watched Jane’s gaze follow Edward. "Don’t even think about it, Jane. I have no problem with readjusting your brother’s grip on your neck," I said angrily, as her gaze settled back at me, eyes wide with defiance.

Listening to the scene happening behind me, I purposefully watched the twins’ expressions to see their response.

"You will never touch my wife again," Edward snarled to Felix. There was a sickly snapping sound, and as Felix’s antagonizing growls faded to silence, I knew he was gone. Moments later, the familiar smell of putrid smoke filled the air, as Edward and Emmett disposed of his remains. Demetri watched helplessly, and Jane and Alec both stared disbelieving, completely shocked, as their ally was destroyed.

As the other Cullens started to reappear from the forest, they made their way over to join us. I examined each one as they approached, worried. Esme’s arm appeared to be all right now, and everyone else looked ok - I’d managed to stop things in enough time.

Esme, I thought. Are you all right? Before, your arm... I trailed off, worried.

Yes dear, I am fine now. My arm was dislocated, but Carlisle has already put it back in place, she reassured me.

"Jane, reach into your brother’s pocket and remove his phone," I ordered. She resentfully followed my command. "Now call Caius and explain your current situation."

Doing as she was told, she held the phone to her ear and it connected almost immediately. With our perfect hearing, each of us clearly heard the voice on the other end of the line.

"Ah, Alec... I’ve been waiting for your call. I can only assume this means you’ve taken care of the problem?" Caius spoke confidently.

"Caius, we have a problem here," Jane replied, irritated. She went on to explain what had happened, and what was happening now. A low hiss came through the line from the other side.

He demanded to know how things could end up this way. Frustrated, Jane explained to him that I appeared to have a talent similar to Alec’s, but whereas his didn’t affect me, mine did affect him, giving us the control. Her explanation was met with silence on the other end of the line.

"Jane, tell Caius to go get Aro, or I will have Alec finish you right now," I interrupted. Moments later, I heard Aro’s voice in Jane’s ear.

"Jane, dear? Are you there?" Aro spoke, his voice troubled. She replied malevolently, while staring back at me.

Interrupting her again, I ordered her to toss the phone to Carlisle, who deftly caught it.

Carlisle and Aro tersely greeted one another, and Carlisle caught him up with what was happening, including Felix’s demise. Aro had discovered what Caius had done, and though he made an effort to sound disturbed, there was something lacking in his tone...he didn’t sound all that angry with Caius.

Carlisle sighed irritably. "I have to say, Aro, that at this point, I’m really not all that opposed to having Bella order Alec to dispose of Jane, which is very unlike me, as you well know. I have had enough of this, do you understand? We have never done anything to make you believe we are a threat, except hide Bella’s powers from you... for obvious reasons. My children do not wish to join your empire - not Edward, not Alice, nor Bella either," Carlisle said firmly.

After pausing briefly, Aro spoke quietly, resentment dripping from his voice. "So what is it that you want, old friend? How are we to resolve this?"

"The only thing we’ve wanted this entire time - to be left alone. We are not a threatening coven, nor will we ever be. We do not seek your power. We simply wish to offer the world what we can, given our state of existence," Carlisle said, pausing. "Do not force my hand, Aro... let us be, and we will let your guards leave in peace to return to you, where they can police situations that actually need be. I will need your word, along with both of your brothers, that this will not be a problem again, or next time, you will lose more than Felix," he finished.

Aro hesitated, silent for a moment before responding. "You seem quite confident, my friend," he said, sounding both angry and uncertain. Clearly, he didn’t care for Carlisle’s demands. Perhaps he needed some encouragement - some motivation.

Smiling grimly, my mind changed Alec’s grip on Jane to one hand, freeing his other to dig through his pockets. He pulled a lighter from his robes, and watched in utter horror as Jane unwillingly raised her right hand out in front of her. Alec placed the lighter so that it was just under her fingertips.

Jane’s eyes bulged. Earlier, I had seen in her mind what she thinks of when she’s using her talent on someone - she recalls the terror and pain she’d felt when she’d been burned at the stake while still human, right before Aro had saved her. Her fear of the fire - of the pain, was unfathomable.

As I controlled him, Alec flicked the lighter on. The flame danced within centimeters just under her fingertips, and Jane began to cry out in terror, in sheer desperation. She was panicking, memories overwhelming her. Alec was truly appalled, unable to control his actions.

"What is happening there?" Aro demanded quickly, disturbed by Jane’s alarming outburst.

"Bella is simply reminding Jane how bad things could get,"Carlisle replied grimly, as Jane’s memories brought forth another round of terror. Her screams were deafening, as she pled for Aro to make it stop.

"All right, enough!" Aro bellowed. Letting Alec’s hand drop the lighter, I readjusted his grip on Jane’s neck. I had been right - Jane and Alec were far too important for Aro to not take this seriously.

"It is agreed... We will let you be, for now, as long as you do not violate any of our laws in the future. However, do know that if any member of your family acts beyond our rules, you will all be held responsible," he said threateningly. "You have my word, as well as my brothers. Give Jane the phone back, and I will order them to leave peacefully, ensuring no further problems," Aro said quietly, tones of bitterness ringing in his voice.

Carlisle agreed, and said he would hold them to be true to their word. It was taking a chance, but we all felt certain they would leave us alone, now that they knew what we were capable of. He tossed the phone back to Jane, who listened to Aro as he explained that neither she, nor Alec, were to use their gifts on any of us again. Her expression forlorn, she snapped the phone shut.

It took a great deal of effort on my part to release the hold I had on Alec, to let them go. I desperately wanted to destroy Jane for all that she’d done to Edward, for being so evil. Edward came to my side, and wrapped his arms around me, trying to comfort me. He knew what I was thinking.

We all watched, as Alec and Jane clung to one another, free of my hold, horrified by the realization of what could have happened. They ran off into the forest, hand in hand, as fast as they could. Demetri followed, glancing back only once, his expression one of complete astonishment, mingled with a bit of disgust.

Silently, we all looked around at one another, as each couple embraced. Most of my family’s thoughts were clouded with guilt - they knew they hadn’t had any control of themselves, but it didn’t make what had occurred any less disturbing. Rosalie left Emmett’s side momentarily, only to seek Esme’s forgiveness for hurting her - of course Esme had already forgiven her.

Jasper didn’t say a word aloud. Instead, I heard his thoughts. Thank you Bella, for stopping that in time. It must have taken an amazing amount of control to be able to focus with everything that was happening. I cannot imagine if... he trailed off, glancing over at Emmett remorsefully.

You have no need to thank me, Jasper - I only wish I could have stopped it sooner, I replied silently.

"Carlisle...do you really believe they’ll keep their word?" Edward asked, uncertain.

Carlisle sighed heavily. "I do. If they don’t, we’ll be prepared, either way," he said, glancing over at me. "They know we could have destroyed them if we’d chosen to. They seem to believe that we mean no threat to their empire - that we just want to exist peacefully. Thank you, Bella. Your gift is truly a blessing, in more ways than we thought possible. I don’t think that any of us will ever be able to thank you enough," he smiled supportively.

Pulling me close, Edward buried his lips in my hair. "Are you all right, love?"

Leaning into him, I nodded my head. He was listening to my thoughts - how it had felt to see them all fighting, the panic of it. I just wanted to forget it.

Everyone settled back into the house. We spent the rest of the night together, as a family, in the living room. For the most part, everyone was quiet. It was more about all of us feeling connected, thankful for what we didn’t lose, and grateful for what we still had.

The following morning, after the initial shock had passed, everyone’s guilt had changed to relief and happiness. We were all feeling slightly victorious, and the mood of the house was considerably lighter. Mostly, we were just all glad it was over, and we could start anew.

Just after I’d showered and dressed, I entered our bedroom to find Edward waiting for me. There was a very large suitcase sitting by the door, and he had a mischievous look in his eyes.

"What’s that look for?" I asked, slightly perplexed - he was blocking his thoughts from me.

Chuckling, Edward swept me up into his arms, softly kissing my forehead. "Well...how about that honeymoon we didn’t get to take yet?"

Oh. That’s right, we’d had to postpone. Hmm...

"Definitely - I think I’m ready for a vacation," I grinned back at him. "So are you going to tell me where it is we’re going? I think I’ve earned at least that," I murmured, gazing into his eyes.

He smiled brightly. True, very true, he thought, as he let down the walls in his mind, letting me see our destination. I gasped, shocked.

"You bought us an island?! Edward, what were you thinking - an entire island?!" I exclaimed.

"Please, Bella. It really wasn’t that much, and I know how much you love the beach. This way, you can run freely, enjoy the sunlight, and not worry about anything. I’ve already had a small vacation home built, so it’s really too late for you to argue with me about it," he paused, still smiling brilliantly. "Besides, hunting will be interesting there - great white sharks, for example - entirely different than hunting on land..." he trailed off.

"Sharks? Great, that sounds like the Discovery channel gone wrong," I muttered, still shocked.

Edward stopped, staring steadily into my eyes. "Bella, I know you’re not really mad at me...you’re actually quite happy, so you can drop the facade. You’ve hunted recently, remember?" he laughed, grinning uncontrollably.

Gazing back at him, I began to smile. How could I be mad at him? Aside from that, the idea of having an entire island all to ourselves was quickly starting to grow on me. "Of course I’m not mad," I said, smiling shyly. "I can’t wait to get you all to myself."

"Well, the rest of the family will be relieved. Ever since I decided on our destination, they’ve all had to block it from you whenever you fed...they’ve been rather annoyed at having to selectively keep a particular thought hidden. It’s not exactly easy, you know," he smirked.

Suddenly, as something occurred to me, I carefully blocked my own thoughts from him. Now it was my turn to grin mischievously. From somewhere in the house, Alice cheered excitedly, having seen my decision. "Well...it will be nice for us to have some time to ourselves before we move," I said casually.

Edward looked at me questioningly. Alice was playing along, blocking my decision from him, too.

"Well, we’ll want to get to Dartmouth before the next semester starts, right?" I said, trying not to laugh. I knew he’d be ecstatic. Actually, I was looking forward to college myself - the thought of something normal sounded pretty good right now.

Another brilliant grin slowly spread across his face as he took in my words. "Perfect, Bella. You’ll absolutely love it there," he said, thrilled.

"How long do you think we’ll live there? What about Charlie’s grave - I’ll miss being able to visit it..." I was eager for us to move on, to start our lives together, but I was still sure I’d miss being able to spend time there.

"Bella, we may be moving for a while, but we can come back at any time, to visit. We’ll just have to use discretion," he explained quietly, tracing his finger lightly along my cheekbone.

"Oh - well that’s good then," I replied softly, thankful.

Suddenly, he began wickedly grinning again, and tossed me over his shoulder. He picked up the suitcase, and flew down the stairs, out to the car. As he was closing the trunk, we met the entire family on the front porch so they could bid us farewell.

Everyone wished us well, and expressed their happiness for us. Jasper said he’d be in touch with his contact, and gather the necessary "paperwork" - in other words forgeries - for school admission. Carlisle and Esme hugged us both, and said they would see us soon. Esme made us promise to call and check in every couple of days.

Jokingly, Emmett made a comment about the sharks probably tasting like tuna to me, and Rosalie smacked him, before telling us to relax and have fun. Alice was bouncing on the top porch step, waiting for her turn to say goodbye. When it was time, she threw her arms around us, saying how we’d better hurry back, because she would miss us. She started listing things that needed to be done for the move. As she was becoming her usual exuberant self, Edward and I began slowly backing away from her, making our way to the car.

As the car door shut, Alice peeked her head in the window. "We’ll pack your things and move everything, don’t worry - Esme and I will organize it all - and when you get to New Hampshire, we’ll decorate your new room! I’ll get all the magazines ready, Bella, it’ll be so great - I’ll start ordering upholstery samples..." her voice trailed off as Edward turned the car around.

We drove off, Alice chasing the car, yelling out design ideas for the new house. Edward and I looked over at one another, laughing simultaneously. Shaking his head, he reached over and twined his fingers through mine, as we sped off toward our future. Finally, we had our happy ending.