Bellie Award Nominee for best one-liner. This was wrong. Her heart belonged to another, to Jacob. It was wrong to want him: want his blood, want his soul, want his kiss. But how could Renesmee refuse, when Mathias was offering himself to her so willingly, in anyway she was willing to accept him? And if Moira really could save the Cullens, Mathias was part of the package. Besides, wouldn't Jacob want her to be happy until they could be together at last? Rated R for language, mature themes (lightly lemon in later chapters)
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Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer is a giving and nuturing soul. However, she gave no permission for me to use her characters, places , or setting or other associated elements of the Twilight Saga. They remain her sole and soul property. Blessed be.
One shot, then another.
Neither of us spoke for what seemed like hours. In reality, only seconds passed. Bella turned her head to the edge of the forest, straining to hear what was transpiring just a few miles away. For a moment, I regretted that I was only half-vampire. Her ears could take in sounds from much further out than mine. We both heard the sirens of an ambulance as it peeled out of the distant hospital, however. As the sound reverberated over the hills, it became obvious that the vehicle was moving in direction of the shots. Bella's face twisted in horror.
We stared at each other for five eternal seconds, both afraid to speak. Speaking would make it real.
The ringing of Bella's cell phone finally broke the silence.
"Alice?" Her voice was broken and raspy. She had forgotten to breathe before speaking. "Please. Please, tell me I'm wrong."
Alice's voice wheezed an answer and my mother surrendered her body to the ground, overwrought. The roar that escaped from her throat was neither a human scream nor a vampire's growl, but a heart-breaking and angry amalgam of the two. For a creature whose eyes could shed no tears, it looked as though they would release floods. I never knew someone could endure such pain and survive.
Slowly, I began to realize what was happening: a gunshot, then two more, a call from Alice, and then a shattered woman heaving dry tears. I could hear Alice's voice calling from the cell phone that was still clutched in Bella's hand, braced around the back of her neck.
I seized the phone and called out in desperation. "Alice! Where is he?" I demanded.
"He's in front of the First National Bank. Renesmee...." Alice trailed off, "...he's going to die. Do you understand the danger in what Bella is going to consider?"
I didn't, but the question made me assume the worst. Bella would think, if she could only get to him before his heart stopped, she could save him. She could save him by killing him.
"How long does he have?" I asked.
"But the ambulance...?"
My voice was desperate.
This couldn't be happening.
Bella's wailing had descended into silent heaving.
"It won't get to him in time," Alice assured me. "Nessie, Edward is coming and he'll keep Bella from trying to... Wait, everything's changing. Nessie, I can't see what you're deciding, but you must not do anything."
I could hear in the distance Edward rushing through the forest. I only had seconds to make up my mind, but so little to go on. What did I really know?
There had been an armed robbery attempt on the bank, it seemed. Shots had been fired. Two miles southeast of the distraught woman buckled on the ground next to me, my grandfather lay on the ground dying. An ambulance was en route, but he wouldn't survive long enough for that to matter.
A half-mile away, Edward's eyes had found us. If I was going to run, it had to be now. I turned away from his gaze and sprinted as fast as I could before he could make any effort to stop me, before Bella could carry out the vision which Alice had seen. But, this was crazy. Making this decision threatened to destroy everything we had. How could I be so selfish? My presence at Charlie's side would not avoid his death.
No, the decision had been made. Alice had already seen it, hadn't she? Rather, she had seen that she could not see anymore. Because it was me who would go to Charlie's side. Alice could only see me in the periphery of the future. In the future, I was already with him.
Run, Nessie, now.
Edward processed my thoughts as he crossed into the shade of the trees where his love now suffered alone.
"Renesmee, no. You can't!"
I was already a quarter-mile away, even though only a few seconds had passed. I had emerged from the forest, standing in the middle of an empty road where shortly an ambulance would pass. I took just a moment to turn back to him. I owed him recognition, if I could not offer him obedience. He had taken up Bella in his arms, her body trembling in a way that a vampire's shouldn't.
"I will not let Charlie die alone," I answered, as I swallowed back my own tears. I must focus now. I must not lose my resolve. There would be time for tears later. Later, I would ask for forgiveness in lieu of asking for permission now. "I know what this may mean for us, but I must go to him."
No more words.
I ran faster than I ever had. A constant plea ran through my head: Charlie, don't die. Not yet. I'm coming.
I was trying as hard as I could to avoid being seen, but I was so focused on reaching the bank that I couldn't be certain if I was being successful. If Edward would have been running full speed, his profile may not have even registered with human eyes. What about me? I could outrun a deer or lion, but this was hardly faster than a car on the freeway. I had never had the need to test my limits, so I did not know if my hybrid body was capable of that unfathomable performance of speed.
A half mile away, I could see the flashing red and blue lights of police cruisers. Ten seconds, and I would reach him. How long had passed since Alice gave me three minutes? Maybe sixty seconds? Only two minutes remained in the life of a man I loved. Fighting against my impulses, fighting against my desires, I slowed to a human pace.
A small crowd was gathered around him, all police. The department had only ten members- plus a chief. They were all here. Outside their tight enclosure, I paused.
The scent of Charlie's blood reached me on a shifting wind. My body stiffened and I unexpectedly found myself debating my instincts. I wanted to lean down next to him, to hold his hands in his final moments. At the same time, the heat of thirst was burning in my throat, tempting me with an easy release.
Renesmee , I thought, you will control yourself.
With a deep breath, I pushed myself forward through the observers. One junior officer leaned on Charlie's left side, putting pressure down on the wound. Delicious apple-red liquid was pulsing through the improvised bandaging. I forced myself to look quickly away, and caught Charlie's eyes.
His voice was weak and airy. One of the bullets must have punctured his lung. I could hear blood pooling in the back of his throat. He gave a fragile but beaming smile. All eyes turned on me.
"Charlie," I cried.
I dropped to my knees on his right and took his hand.
The rest of the force was all wondering who I was, no doubt. Though I frequently visited the Swan house, we made certain that I was never seen in public with them. Though well-liked, Charlie was a man of few friends, and none of them was among the officers. Still, Forks was a small town. Strange faces were rare. The minds of the surrounding crowd were occupied with the severity of the moment, but this would surely stir up questions later. Who was I? How did reserved Charlie Swan know me? Why had I looked at him so tenderly? How had I even known he was here?
But I didn't think about all the consequences now. In the back of my mind, a quiet tick-tock that had started 80 seconds before was quickly building to a crescendo. I knew I was running out of time.
"I am so sorry, Nessie," he whispered, trying to raise his hand to my check. I weaved his fingers through mine and raised the back of his hand lovingly to my face, brushing the trembling extremity against my cheek.
"Shhh, Charlie, there's nothing to be sorry for."
"I'm sorry that I won't be with you anymore," he continued as though I hadn't spoken. He was dying, and he understood that he was dying. I turned his palm over and kissed it lightly. He tried to continue. "You tell everyone... how... much I.... love...."
Speech was growing beyond him.
"Charlie, I love you, so much," I cried. "I wish I could show you..."
I hesitated. Was it too much of a risk? Surely no one would have any idea what was going on. They didn't even know who I was. I could already hear the whispers of the officers behind me.
"Who is she?"
"Isn't that Bella?"
"Bella is older, she's married."
"Looks like Bella, though..."
I could hear the ambulance on the edge of town, sirens wailing. Alice said he would not survive long enough for it to arrive. Already I could hear his heart beat fading, see his eyes drying and his muscles surrendering.
"Bobby," the man pressing down on the wound shouted to an officer behind him. "Bobby, clear a path for that ambulance to get in here. He's slipping away. Don't you die, Chief."
I leaned closer to him and pressed my lips to his check. I took a quickened, deep breath and let the warmness of my inner visions flow out my fingertips and into his hand. His eyes rolled sideways in an attempt to see me, or perhaps to see where all the images that were floating through his brain were coming from. I could not tell him in front of everyone, nor had I the time, how much he had meant to me, but I could show him. I sorted past our most precious memories in the space of a few seconds.
The first time we met, when he called me the prettiest baby ever born...
The late summer evening we ran around his backyard catching fireflies, and Sue trailing us with a mason jar...
The birthday party Alice had thrown for me and Bella a few years ago, and Charlie's bewildered face looking at our nearly uneaten cakes, both with a huge “3” candle burning on top...
His and Sue's wedding party down on the reservation two years ago...
Charlie dancing with me last summer at my parent's impromptu fifth wedding anniversary party...
Charlie and me walking on La Push beach with Sue, Jacob and Seth six months ago...
The connection broke.
His last breath slipped past his placid smile. Behind us I heard the ambulance's tires slow to a stop, and the doors fly open as two paramedics leapt out with equipment in tow. One of the officers tried to move me out of the way, and for a moment my attention was too scattered to realize that his pulling was unable to move me.
"Please, miss, let the paramedics by," he pulled on my shoulders as hard as he could. When at last my brain registered the meek tug, I let go of Charlie's hand. It fell to the ground limply. I stood and backed away as a breathing bag was placed over Charlie's mouth. On his other side, another paramedic began chest compressions. My mind flickered back to a memory of Bella, covered in blood, nearly ripped in two, with Jacob and Edward trying to restore her heart beat, before Rosalie's face emerged before me.
My head turned to the officer who had been holding the makeshift bandage over Charlie's gunshot wound. He was standing right next me. My mind was being overrun by grief. I had been too distracted to hear his approach.
His face was set in a most curious glance of wonderment. I looked at him emotionlessly. I was lost in the painful realization that the paramedics' efforts would be in vain; my grandfather was dead. The tear drops pooling in the bottom of my eyes were getting hard to hold back.
"Miss... Nessie?" he was almost half smirking. What an inappropriate expression to be wearing just feet away from a man whose life had just ended. I could see the struggle in his eyes, trying to figure out what question to ask first. Finally, he muttered, "Did you know Chief Swan?"
Did I know him? He was already speaking of him in the past tense?
I nodded curtly before realizing the mistake. No, I shouldn't make this public connection. I quickly forced myself to shake my head in denial, hoping to cancel out the first indication.
"Then... why are you... who are... how did you know..."
"Officer Newton!" another officer beckoned. Thank goodness he had been distracted away from me. The second officer was directing Newton to the sound of the dispatcher coming over the radio of a police motorcycle. Newton walked towards the bike so he could hear better. I listened, too, quite capable of being able to hear at this relatively minor distance.
"Suspect getaway car has been located abandoned two miles east south east of incident, on NFD 29 near Three Bends. Suspect is believed on foot and trying to escape into the forest. Believed to be armed and heading towards the river."
My body whipped around. Jacob was running towards me, his arms outstretched, his car still idling behind him. Had Alice called him? He would have been coming through town about this time, I recalled, on his way up to Cullenswood. It didn't take me anytime to reach him twenty feet away and throw myself into his arms. He squeezed me as hard as his arms would allow him, almost painfully, though I knew he would not hurt me. The hot tears blazed down my cheeks unrepressed. My life's comfort held me close.
"How did you know?" I asked sobbingly.
"Edward called me and told me to find you here," he answered, kissing my hair and stroking my cheek. It seemed oddly intimate an action from my best friend, but it was so soothing I didn't stop to wonder. "Nessie, dear, I'm so sorry."
But something else was bubbling inside me now to confuse the hurt - my two halves, in conflict, unable to decide between loss and anger. Rage was overtaking me.
Jacob looked startled as I erratically broken free of his embrace and headed towards his car. I sat down in the driver's seat without even asking his permission. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jacob slide into the passenger's seat, a look of total bewilderment on his face. I realized how insane I must look, going from a flood of tears to an unyielding determination to hunt in the space of half a minute.
"Miss? Miss!" I could hear Officer Newton shouting as I put the car into gear. "Miss, we need you to stay here."
His demands did not cause me hesitation. My foot pounded down on the gas pedal. Jacob's tires squealed as we took off through Forks, back towards Three Bends.
"What's going on?" Jacob asked desperately.
I swallowed hard before verbalizing the stark truth.
"Charlie's dead." The sound of my voice was different. Was I growling? Jacob's eyes turned to me, horrified and accusatory. "The son of a bitch who did it got away, but I overheard where the bastard is from the police scanner."
I couldn't tell who was more shocked by my newfound ability to express the profane: Jacob or myself. Jacob ripped his phone quickly from his pocket. From the dial tones, I could tell he was punching in Edward's number. I took my hand off the steering wheel and closed the flip phone in his hand.
"Don't," I pleaded, not taking my eyes off the road as I took a sharp left turn through a red light, barely missing a bicyclist. "Edward is with Bella, and Bella needs him now. Besides, you know he won't be able to control his temper."
Jacob was dumbfounded. Wolf though he was, his brain still moved at a human pace. His eyes became a clear indicator of the thoughts scurrying past: Then what are you planning on doing?
A half mile ahead, the lights of several state police cruisers reflected against an empty Passat. I pulled over to the side of the street before they could see Jacob's car clearly, parking far up into brush as I could. I took the keys from the ignition and tossed them into his lap. As I turned to open the door, Jacob threw all his strength to hold me to my seat. It was easy for him. His strength was so much greater than my own. He turned my chin towards him and looked deep into my eyes, trying to steady my emotions. Lightning broke across my brain, as I remembered what Bella had said to me not a dozen minutes ago, "between you and his pack."
How could have so much transpired in such a short time?
My Jacob beseeched me, "Renesmee." I couldn't recall having heard him address me by my full name before, and the formality forced my concentration back to him. "Please, sweet, take a second and think about what you're trying to do here."
His burning hands were cupping both of my tear-drenched cheeks. His brown eyes were melting my own. The tears were pooling again, but so was the burning in my throat, for the first time getting the scent of a trophy climbing a heavily forested hill a mile in front of us. My soul was tearing into pieces. I had to make a decision: avenge one man I loved or turn my back on another? What was Jacob seeing now as he looked at me? Was he seeing innocent Nessie, the girl whom he had watched over all his life? Or was he seeing a vampire determined to seek out satiation for her bloodlust and revenge?
I took several deep breaths, and the tension in Jacob's hands relaxed a little. He began stroking my cheek. His mouth broke a little smile, a prideful smile. He was proud of me?
"Let it go," he said calmingly. "The police will get him. There's no way he can outrace them over this terrain. Right now, your mother and father need you to be strong. Let's get you back to Cullenwood immediately."
A flash of Bella, broken and screaming on the ground, trembling in Edward's arms, fighting for tears that would not come ran through my mind and quickly flowed into Jacob's through our touch. I didn't mean to share it, but my psyche was out of whack and I could not establish control. I saw Jacob wince at the pain of my memory. Another image followed: Charlie's final words.
You tell...everyone... how much... I... love...
Jacob's breath caught in the back of his throat, seeing through my eyes Charlie's last breath leave his lips, at hearing my internal self-conflict - Charlie's blood so sensuously flowing and tempting me. You will control yourself. Surely, Jacob could sense my unease. He could understand how much I had to restrain myself not to taste...
And remembering the taste of the sanguine air doubled back on me without warning. The scent was not too unlike that drifting down the hillside and burning my throat. Jacob was calling to me as I flew from the car and into the forest. Behind me I heard a loud crack, and then beside me the wolf running, keeping up to my pace with ease. Jacob could outrun me, I quickly understood. He could turn on me, stop me, pin me down. Why didn't he? Did he seek vengeance as much as I did?
The wind was cooperating with us, blowing a distinct scent of gunpowder, sweat and adrenaline down the hillside. A mile west, I could hear the jingle of dog collars and human footsteps. Canine units, I concluded. But their German Shepherds could not outrun my wolf and me. I could taste the murderer's aftershave, sense his trembling as he struggled to climb through the thick undergrowth into a clear opening ahead. I quickened my pace instinctively. I had hunted many times, but never a human. It was easier, more natural, than any other animal I had ever tracked. It required no thought, no strategy, no effort.
I scaled the hillside in mere moments. I saw him forty feet ahead, his eyes searching out for the being gaining so quickly on him. I climbed a tree to gain perspective; Jacob circled around behind the clearing and dashed off into the forest. I had felt for a moment we were a united team, both intent on the same goal. Kill the human. Avenge Charlie. Now, Jacob was running off. But I would not be diverted. I growled at the robber across the meadow before throwing my body against the ground. I landed in striking position.
Ten feet away from him, I paused. He was leaning against an outcropping, trembling, holding his pistol in my direction. I must have succeeding in surprising him. I felt his resolve weaken a little. He had been expecting a police officer, and instead he was facing a pale-skinned, brown-haired, beautiful teenage girl dressed in a hoodie and jeans.
"If you know what's smart for you, kid, you'll turn around, run right back into those woods, and pretend you never saw me," he shouted at me.
In half a second, I had crossed the distance between us. I placed my hands out to his shoulders, and pushed his whole body three inches off the ground against the cold stone of the outcropping. In his surprise, the gun dropped on the ground. He was an average sized man, larger than me by at least four inches and fifty pounds, but he seemed like a ragdoll in my grasp. The scent of the gunpowder lingered heavily on his body. Tangible fear was racing through his veins. I felt my lips part into a wicked smile. I could taste his fear. It was sweet, like peaches. It made the air taste... delicious.
No, I must not. The authorities were on their way. All I had to do to ensure justice was to keep him from escaping, and take my leave before they made the clearing.
I lowered his body and allowed him a chance to stand. His knees buckled and he stumbled to the ground. A smirk came across his face as he laughed up at me.
"See, kid, you don't have it in you. Just walk away."
I grabbed his hair and jerked his head back up.
"Why did you do it? Was it for the money?" I hissed. I had never heard my voice like this before, inhuman and serpentine. My body instinctively lowered to allow my teeth to dance along his jugular. "Is that why you killed an innocent man? Is that why you shot my grandfather?"
His arrogance melted as he met my feral stare. His instincts had finally kicked in, telling him somehow I was a bigger danger to him than he could possibly be to me.
"What are you?" he cried, his whole body shaking. "You didn't see me shoot anyone, kid."
Moving too fast for him to see, I threw him back against the rocks and placed my hand over his neck. I stretched out my consciousness over him and showed him Charlie's dead face, showed him paramedics working fruitlessly on his corpse.
"What the hell..."
Jacob emerged from the forest into the clearing at last. Behind him, another graceful body ran full speed, almost a blur in the corner of my eye. It came to a rest on the edge of the clearing thirty feet away. Edward looked at me pleadingly.
But it was too late. Holding his shoulders back with both hands, I slid him up the rock face as my teeth dug into his flesh.
The sensation of his blood filling my mouth felt almost nostalgic. I pulled forth his life effortlessly, drinking it down like a starving man. And I felt justified. A life for a life.
Jacob pounced across the meadow, knocking me off of my dying victim. I growled, hissed, threw fists at him. He phased back, using his massive human body to hold me down. I resisted him, but he was too strong. I looked up in his face, his countenance determined but conflicted.
We were both acting on instinct. My vampire instinct led me to hunt and attack a human. His led him to take down the vampire. He had reigned in his wolf instinct and was trying to let his human instinct dominate. He was trying to restrain the vampire and find his Nessie in the howling, hissing mass of teeth and nails beneath him. I at last reigned in my blood lust and calmed. My breath was racing out of control, and I felt the guilt begin to crash over me as my father's face came into focus over Jacob's shoulder.
Without warning, another gun shot. Jacob fell to my side, as the shot pierced his right shoulder blade. He howled in pain. In the distance, we heard the police dogs shift direction, taking a new bearing directly towards us. Edward's movements were too swift for even my eyes to follow. One moment he was beside us, then he was ripping the gun from the murderer's hand, twisting his neck in a smooth snap, delivering on the promise of death I had started. He returned to Jacob.
"Get Nessie out of here," Jacob cried. "Don't worry about me, stupid leech."
"But you've been shot," Edward argued, trying to assess the extent of Jacob's wound.
"I'll be fine," Jacob returned, though the blood flowing from his wound seemed to belie this. "Edward, please go. They're coming quickly. Renesmee is going to need you more than she needs me right now."
What? How could he say that? He wants us to just run away and leave him wounded and bleeding with a dead bank robber's body?
"GO! GO NOW!" he barked.
Edward picked me up from the ground and set me on my feet. He pulled me by the hand across the meadow in the direction of Cullenwood, running full sprint. I turned back as we reentered the forest to see at the far end police dogs charging on Jacob, still on the floor of the meadow.
I gasped at the stark truth. I let go of my father's hand. The velocity of the abruptly stunted run made me tumble forward to my knees. I cupped my hands over my face. I could still smell the blood's scent stained on my hands. Edward looked back at me, panic stricken.
"Oh, lord," I cried. "What have I done?”