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The (Not So) Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Summary:
An alternate take for how things could have ended differently for Bree Tanner and how her unlife might have continued (Inspired by The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner)


Notes:
With fanfics, I always try to be faithful to the author's canon and plausible with the characters they created. That said this is an A/U story so I might make a few changes or take a couple liberties with the original source material but I'll make it as credible as possible.


2. No RSVP

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3846   Review this Chapter

The (Not So) Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

By: Oy! Angelina

- Chapter 2 -

No RSVP

I didn’t know what to expect from life with the Cullens but planning a wedding was about last on the list. Okay, it wasn’t as unlikely as cockfights and tractor pulls but it was still pretty strange. Maybe because it was so…normal.

If it wasn’t for the fact I’ve seen each of the Cullens tackle mountain lions and bucks and bears (oh, my) I would almost think they were human. Pale, ethereally beautiful humans with low body temps but humans all the same. Carlisle had a job, Esme ran errands, the others were sometimes enrolled in school and they actually paid for things rather than just, you know, take stuff they wanted. They were so civilized it made me wonder if I could fit in around them. I was too used to living on the fringes and random whims I didn’t realize how hard it would be to live like a person again in a house with the people it belonged to.

And I didn’t have to stay in the basement.

When I explained my old lifestyle to the Cullens I thought Esme was going to cry or have a heart attack even though I knew both were physically impossible. For the most part the Cullens always lived like upstanding citizens rather than criminals so my background seemed especially wild. Well, except for Jasper. Apparently his life was a lot like mine before he met Alice and strived for better. It gave me hope that I wasn’t too broken for the Cullens to work with and, maybe, I would be just like them. Of course I was less concerned with becoming My Fair Lady as I was on being a vegetarian.

“Are you full?” Jasper asked, watching me as intently as ever.

“Yeah,” I said, setting down the deer I just drained. One nice thing about eating animals is Mother Nature did the clean up for me. “I wish I didn’t have to kill a whole herd just to get the thirst under control.”

“Do whatever you need to do,” said Jasper, sympathetically. “It takes a while to lose those over-indulgent tendencies but the important thing is you’re hunting animals. Just concentrate on that.”

“Right,” I sighed, doing my best not to imagine how great even a chain-smoking junkie with blood parasites would taste right about now.

I won’t lie – I hated animal blood. Eating animals is like the vampire equivalent to living off granola bars and diet shakes. I didn’t starve and some of the burning went away but it wasn’t like I wanted to compliment the chef and ask for seconds. Unfortunately, the Golden Rule of being a Cullen is golden eyes. Every time I drained a mealy doe or ho-hum bear I told myself I was one gulp closer to being a full member of this family and, after a while, I wouldn’t even miss human blood. Well, this wouldn’t be my first experience with denial.

Even if the food sucked, the company made up for it. Esme and Carlisle were like the parents I never had and never thought I deserved. They’re warm, supportive and genuinely interested in knowing what I like and what makes me happy. When I told them I liked to read they basically let me have the library for my personal bedroom, sans the bed. This convinced me that they weren’t going to kick me out once the Volturi were back in Italy and I put all my energy into not making my new parents regret having another mouth to feed.

“We can head home, I think,” I said. I still got a thrill every time I said “home”.

“Good,” said Jasper, motioning for me to go first.

I took off for the house without a word. We were still building trust here. After weeks of proving I didn’t need to be joined to Jasper’s hip he was acting more like a babysitter and less like a warden but I knew he was worried about me sneaking off on my own. Or, maybe, he just didn’t want to risk me attacking him from behind. I hoped it was the former since I was really good about not growling at people or breaking things.

Being around Jasper so much makes me miss Fred. Part of me wishes I actually made it to Vancouver; not to leave the Cullens but just show Fred I survived. The fact he wanted me to go with him and offered to protect me was still one of the greatest kindnesses anyone showed me. I think he would like to know that he didn’t have to worry about me being safe. Next to Diego, Fred was the only member of my old coven I was ever comfortable around and, half the time, Fred made me want to run screaming. It definitely gives me insight into just how awful Raoul, Kristie and the others were.

Once I got settled with the Cullens and my new routine I promised myself I would try and track down Fred even though it was months since I was supposed to meet him in Riley Park. I owed him that much. He was my only friend in the world that wasn’t a Cullen.

When I reached the lawn of the Cullen home I found Rosalie and Emmett outside, debating something in low whispers with Emmett snickering in-between. Sometimes I had to remind myself not to be afraid of Emmett since he was big and loud like Kevin and Raoul were. That was where the similarities ended, though. Emmett was really good-natured and just liked to have fun, which made him easy to get along with now that I knew he wasn’t going to rip off my arms. Rosalie, on the other hand, didn’t extend the same hospitality the rest of her family had. Half the time she acted like Kristie, just without the whole “watch your back and all appendages” vibe. I wouldn’t say Rosalie’s mean but I’m pretty much a non-entity to her. Maybe if I can convince her I’m not going to ruin the family just by joining it Rosalie will warm up to me. If not, well, she’s still way better than Raoul and Kristie.

“Hey, Bree, come here,” Emmett said, beaconing me over.

Jasper gave us a sideways glance as he continued into the house, likely looking for Alice. I could hear her upstairs, scribbling out more plans for Bella and Edward’s wedding next week with Esme murmuring suggestions. Downstairs Edward tinkled the lullaby he composed for Bella on the piano. I didn’t have much to do at the moment so I drifted Emmett’s way.

“What’s going on?” I asked, glancing between Rosalie and Emmett.

“Help settle a bet for me and Rosalie,” Emmett said with a wide grin.

“I never bet you anything,” said Rosalie flatly.

“Great! Then I should win easy,” said Emmett breezily.

Edward stopped playing. “Emmett…”

Now, I was suspicious. “What’s the bet?”

“I bet Rosalie you didn’t know how to play ‘catapult’,” said Emmett with an expectant look.

“What’s cata-”

That was all I got out just before Emmett picked me up and launched me into orbit. I didn’t know if he was aiming for the mountains or the moon but I was flying like some shimmering, snarling bird. I righted myself in the air with a flip but that was about all I could do until I finally lost some altitude.

Emmett!” I heard Esme shriek behind me. “What have I told you about tossing your little sister around like that?”

I smiled at being called Emmett’s “little sister” and how mom-like Esme sounded right now. The Cullens really were a family and I was part of it.

“Uh, try not to hit any airplanes or low-orbiting satellites?” Emmett guessed.

“You know that is not what I said!”

I was laughing so hard I completely forgot about the collision course I was on and buckled and undeserving juniper clean in half. I was already on my feet and running back home when I heard Esme call out to me.

“Bree? Are you okay?”

She actually sounded worried that there was a thing on earth that could hurt me. “I’m fine, Esme!”

When I reached the house a few seconds later Jasper and Alice were on the lawn with Esme. Well, Jasper was on the lawn with Esme, Alice was on Emmett’s shoulders and swatting his head while snarling about the clothes he just ruined.

“I finally have someone willing to let me dress her and you’re tossing her around like a ragdoll in a sandbox!” Alice said, cuffing Emmett again. “At least let her change into something that’s as thick as your head first!”

Emmett seemed all but oblivious to the assault of Alice’s tiny fist. “How about I pitch you both and see who hits the ground first?”

Emmett barely got the sentence out before Jasper was in his face. I may be new to the Cullens but I knew joking about hurting Alice wasn’t something Jasper would laugh over. Jasper threw Emmett one last dirty look before pulling Alice off his back and setting her on the ground.

“We should be concerned with more than ruined clothes and a little rough housing. Bree needs us to take responsibility for her until she’s able to take responsibility for herself,” Jasper addressed all of us before turning to Emmett with a grave expression. “What would have happened if you threw her into the middle of a campsite?”

Emmett shrugged. “The people camping there would have assumed an angel fell from heaven?”

“Up until they were in hellish agony, maybe,” I grumbled at my shoes. Well, shoe. I must have lost one between here and where Emmett chucked me. Alice noticed too and her expression kinda scared me.

“Ah, I have more faith in you than that!” said Emmett cheerfully. He clapped me so hard on the back I would have toppled over if Jasper hadn’t caught my arm. I drew myself up to full height, which happened to be a few inches taller than Alice.

“I’m glad you’re an eternal optimist, Emmett, but I know my limits and humans do not want me at their picnic,” I said firmly. It was great Emmett liked me enough to pal around with but he was seriously the least helpful of the Cullens when it came to my sobriety.

Esme put her hands on my shoulders and squeezed them encouragingly. “It won’t always be that way, Bree. I know you’ll be able to do it.”

“So do I, for what that’s worth,” Alice swayed merrily.

“It’s worth a lot,” I chuckled, feeling more confident in myself. “From both of you. I’ll make you proud.”

Emmett made a retching sound from the back of his throat. “Ugh! We finally get a fun vampire around here and you want her to be all broody and tortured like Edward and Jasper. I won’t be able to do anything with her if she’s so serious.”

“Oh, we can still do plenty of stuff,” I promised with an impish smile. “For instance, we can see how aerodynamic you are.”

I grabbed Emmett by the leg before he had time to react and flung him out towards the horizon. As a family we watched Emmett sail through the early morning sky as he made his decent to earth.

“I would say not very,” said Jasper as Alice giggled.

Esme couldn’t resist laughing either and I heard Edward chuckling from inside the house. Even Emmett thought it was funny, so much so that his own laughter actually muffled the sound of his impact. I hope they enjoyed little moments like these because in six months I wouldn’t have my nifty newborn strength to assist with my slapstick. The only family member present who didn’t think my antics were amusing was Rosalie. She narrowed her eyes and gave me a silent snarl. I cringed away. Once Rosalie was satisfied with my cowering she took offer after her mate.

“I was just playing,” I said apologetically.

“Rosalie knows that,” Esme soothed. “Don’t take it to heart.”

Alice waved off my concern. “She’ll get over it. Emmett’s sure not complaining.”

“Why would he? Someone around here is finally willing to egg him on,” said Jasper, nodding to me. “Feel free to throw him around all you like but stick close to the rest of us, okay?”

“Got it,” I said, glancing down at my wrecked clothes. “In fact, I think I’ll go inside and change.”

“Wise beyond her years, that one,” Alice nodded approvingly.

“For the record, you’re egging on Alice too,” said Jasper.

Alice scowled at him but immediately softened as soon as Jasper’s arm was around her. Now that I was safe at home I decided to let Alice and Jasper spend some quality time and dashed up to my room. Within five seconds, I was changed and bounding back down the steps. I spotted Edward at the piano, strumming the keys with some serene melody he likely composed on the spot. I drifted his way, taken in by the music like a siren’s song.

I still feel like I owed Edward for not only taking care of Riley and Victoria but helping to convince the Volturi I wasn’t worth the effort of destroying. I don’t really have anything to repay his kindness with besides undying loyalty and, since I won’t be dying anytime soon, I planned to make that go a long way. As much as I liked Edward I was still getting used to the whole mind-reader thing. Usually I only recalled Edward’s extra talent after I already thought of something stupid.

“Are you working on anything special?” I asked, hoping for some conversation.

“No, just killing a little time,” said Edward casually.

Edward was rarely around due to his compulsive need to spend time with Bella. The only reason he was home now was because it was time for Bella to get up and doing her morning routine, which included spending time with her father. I’m sure Edward didn’t have to be a mind-reader to know Charlie Swan wouldn’t be thrilled to find him in bed with his only daughter or crawling out of her bedroom window.

“Indeed he would not,” Edward commented on me thoughts, smiling. “At least I intend to make her an honest woman.”

If I could blush I would have. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply –”

“Don’t worry, Bree; I’m not offended,” Edward assured with a dazzling smile. “You’re welcome to your own thoughts. If anyone should apologize it’s me for constantly prying into them.”

“Share and share alike,” I said, shrugging. “So, since you hear what everyone thinks, how much does Rosalie hate me?”

“Rosalie doesn’t hate you,” Edward assured. Esme said some variation of the same thing to me about a hundred times but I was inclined to believe Edward was being honest rather than nice. He smiled at my logic. “What you have to understand is Rosalie isn’t used to competing for Emmett’s attention. You’re still fitting in so she just needs time to adjust to your presence then she’ll become more tolerable.”

“Tolerable. Yay,” I said blandly.

“That’s the best I get from her,” Edward said, his smile slanting slightly.

Since Edward had mentioned the wedding and what might offend him I figured this was as good a time as any to bring up the only thing in the world truly troubling me.

“I know you’re getting married next week but I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to come,” I said tentatively. “It’s not that I don’t want to, I just don’t want to ruin your and Bella’s big day.”

Edward stopped playing and frowned at me. “Bree, I don’t want you to feel like we don’t want you there.”

“I don’t. I wish I could be there but it just doesn’t seem…” What word did I want? Smart? Safe? Sane?

Edward nodded to all those options thoughtfully. “Still, you are part of this family. If you changed your mind I’m sure there are precautions we could take.”

I considered the possibility of that. I did want to go and be supportive of my new brother and soon-to-be sister. Plus, it would be the first time I ever got to go to a nice party like the one Alice was planning. Could I keep it together in a room full of warm-blooded, soft skinned humans with their hair pinned up and necks exposed…

Suddenly, Edward was staring at me with a horrified expression. I shrank back. What stupid thing did I think this time? I was just trying to imagine being at the wedding.

Edward swallowed hard, then explained. “Alice just saw what might happen if you decided to attend…”

My face fell as comprehension sunk in. “…and she saw me eating everyone on the bride’s side.”

Edward gave an awkward laugh but it wasn’t hard enough to make me thing my guess was far off. I sighed, causing Edward to switch to a more sympathetic expression.

“I’m sorry, Bree.”

“Why? I’m the one who would be picking wedding guests out of my teeth,” I said miserably.

“It won’t be that way forever,” Edward assured me.

That was good to know since I happened to have forever. “It’s a shame you and Bella aren’t getting married a year from now. I would probably be okay by then.”

“Yes, a shame,” Edward agreed wistfully.

I raised my eyebrows at how sincerely Edward wished his wedding could be postponed. I thought he was head-over-heels, pathetically-codependent, possibly-in-need-of-a-restraining-order in love with Bella. Why would he want to put off marrying her?

Edward gave my evaluation of his affection for Bella a slanted smile but there was some sadness hidden in its folds. “It’s because I love Bella that much that I want to delay our wedding. Bella is so eager to become like us she doesn’t appreciate what she will be leaving behind. I just want some more time with her.”

What an odd thing to say considering Bella and Edward got to spend eternity together. I felt a pang of jealousy. Would I ever know a love like that or did it go up in smoke with Diego? The prospect of facing the end of time without anyone gave me an ache worst than my thirst could torment me with. Edward was watching me carefully so I gave him a smile to show I was happy for him even if I might never know such happiness myself.

“Will Bella be disappointed that I can’t RSVP?” I asked sheepishly.

“She will understand,” said Edward.

That wasn’t exactly what I asked but I took it as my answer.

“Where will you go during the wedding?” Edward asked.

I hadn’t really thought of that because I never considered leaving the Cullens since I joined them. “I’m not sure. Jasper won’t have to miss the wedding just to watch me, will he?”

“You’re not a prisoner, Bree; you can leave if you want to,” said Edward. “Jasper is trying to help you build your self-control but don’t take that to mean we’re forcing you to be with him all the time.”

“No, I don’t take it like that,” I said thoughtfully. “Still, do you think I’m safe to be on my own for a few days?”

“I don’t think you’re too irresponsible to be on your own,” said Edward.

Again, that wasn’t exactly answering the question I asked. “You mean you know I’ll clean up after myself if I…slip.”

Edward sighed with a reluctant nod. “Our lifestyle is unique, Bree; even strange to most other vampires. If the worst happened you would just be living as most of our kind does. The Volturi only have quarrels with vampires who cannot clean up after themselves.”

The mention of the Volturi strengthened my resolve.

“I’m not going back to the way I used to be. I want to be like all of you. See? My eyes are more orange than red now so I’m getting there. I’ll be fine on my own – for a little bit, anyway. You just enjoy your wedding, Edward, and don’t worry about me. Maybe I’ll go see if I can find my friend, Fred…” I paused, cringing a little. “…unless Alice thinks that’s a bad decision…”

Edward listened to thoughts other than my own and smiled. “Alice doesn’t foresee any problems with that.”

“Good,” I sighed.

“Esme’s already planning to make you promise you won’t leave forever,” said Edward, rolling his eyes.

I rolled my eyes too. “Like there’s any chance of that! I know a good thing once I’ve got it.”

“You don’t have to leave right away, either,” Edward went on. “It’ll be a day or so before we start having a steady stream of humans coming in and out.”

Just the thought made me thirsty. “Maybe I should get a head start.”

Edward didn’t argue. “At least wait for Carlisle to come home from the hospital. Everyone will want to say their goodbyes, however brief they may be.”

“I will,” I said sincerely. “I guess I’ll start with you. Congratulations, Edward. Tell Bella I’m happy for you both.”

“I will, thank you, Bree,” said Edward, getting up to hug me. “Take care of yourself. I’ll see you when Bella and I return from our honeymoon.”

“Can’t wait,” I grinned, waving as I backed out of the room. “I better go swear my loyalty oath to Esme now.”

Edward chuckled and resumed playing the piano. By the time I turned around Esme was already in the doorway, clutching her hands to her chest. She looked so anxious I had to hug her too.

“Esme, what on earth could keep me away?” I said, soothing her for a change.

She held me like she would never get the chance again. “You make sure you eat regularly, don’t talk to strange vampires and keep out of the sun.”

“I promise,” I said, smiling. It sounded like everything a real mother would tell her real daughter who was leaving home unsupervised for the first time. Well, everything except the “vampires” part but it warmed my heart so much I almost felt it beat again.