It has been 17 years since Isabella Swan's death, and young Adora has moved to Forks igniting gossip everywhere she turns. As Adora slowly unravels the clues that lead her down a path riddled with even more questions, she begins to realize that it seems to be more than coincidence, drawing her farther away from the life she knows, and into a world, she does not understand. The closer she gets to the truth, the more her own destiny becomes irrevocably entwined with the girl that haunts the small town. She wonders why everything that's happening revolves around the mysterious Edward Cullen, and why he seems to hold the key to the answers she's spent a lifetime searching for.
I consider this story to be pretty much the unofficial 5th installment of the Twilight Series, it takes place after Breaking Dawn, it is 100% canon, which means that it does NOT deviate from the storyline of the books, although in the first few chapters it doesn't seem like it is anything close to being like the original Twilight series, but trust me, it is.
8. The Theory of Soulmates
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A/N: I know so many of you are like "Hurry up and get to Jacob and Edward already!" I promise that in this chapter you'll at least be partially satisfied but if you stick with it a little bit longer the next few chapters after this one will have lots of both of them in them. I'm sure for now you guys will be happy with finally seeing Nessie and Jake right?
I do have to warn you however, I wrote about 70% of this chapter a few years ago one night after not having slept for four days straight. Running on no sleep, keeping barely conscious by chugging can after can of Coke and munching on Ramen noodles and cereal and in a race against the clock because I had to report for duty in the morning at 6am (Again, with no sleep.) I think my sleep deprived brain is what caused my epiphany to occur that finally in my mind explained the entire relationship between Edward and Bella. This chapter is why I included the monologue in the beginning of the story. I warn you because (Again, no sleep.) I became very spiritual all of a sudden at 4 o'clock in the morning and there is a part of the story where Bella gets a little...preachy, shall I say? It's not supposed to parallel with any religion at all, it's more of a faith based idea. I, myself am by no means a religious person and I don't pretend to have all of the answers to the universe, but when this idea hit me, it made so much sense, no matter how annoyingly 'preachy' it sounded, I had to include it in the story because it ties the whole plot together.
I hope you enjoy and are becoming as frustrated reading it as I have been from writing, waiting for Edward to make his grand entrance, it seems to be taking him a while doesn't it? It will all be worth it, Girl Scout's honor! Hope you all enjoy! : ) - Kat
I could suddenly hear my name being called softly; cold arms were around my shaking body, cooling the sensations of heat, as I came back to myself, back into the present time and day. A white blinding light was everywhere, until tiny shapes formed in my vision, and the room came back into focus.
"It's okay Bella." It was Alice holding me, her voice far away and distant. "You're okay, you're safe." She murmured softly.
I took a deep shuddering breath and blinked. "I think…I think I need a moment." I begged, leaning forward to put my head between my knees as I tried to wrap my thoughts around this new knowledge. Alice complied, releasing me but staying close enough for me to feel her coolness as my back. I shuddered as I remembered the reflection of my red eyes and the feeling of the flames as they consumed my body. I fought to get my erratic breathing under control. How many times would everyone watch me go into hysterics today, I wondered? I could have never imagined such as violent end to my existence but on the other hand, I couldn't find a trace of surprise in my feelings towards it either. My actions weren't in any way a shock to me. I reacted exactly how I expect that I would, given the circumstances. I coughed to hide a laugh at myself; no surprise really, in the end I was the perfect candidate to be the martyr.
I blinked and my eyes caught sight of my sneakers, where the laces were starting to come untied. I was on the floor again and I wondered how many times I would black out and wake up sprawled out on the ground— it almost annoyed me. I stilled when I felt more than heard someone crouching down front of me. A shadow moved closer as warmth became a haze along my arms, like invisible heat, making me look up slowly as a voice sounded out.
I knew that voice. It was low and husky and undeniably warm. There was a face filling my world, warm brown eyes, and tan skin.
"Bella!?" I blinked and everything cleared.
It was Jacob.
I didn't think. I didn't hesitate, as soon as I recognized his furrowed browns, and worried gaze, I threw myself forward and up to meet him, wrapping myself around his neck as tears sprang to my eyes.
"Jake!" I cried, tightening my hold as sobs over took me. He hugged me to his chest. "Jake!" I moaned against his neck and wept profusely, chanting his name over and over again until I couldn't speak anymore. We held each other for a long moment, holding tight as if we were afraid to let go. His lips touched my temple gently.
"Bells…" He let my name linger and it sounded wonderful in his voice. "I never thought…" He coughed suddenly, and I heard the tears in his voice, making me pull back slowly to see him. His face was wet, his eyes pain stricken, but a brave wondrous grin curved his lips. "I don't understand…" He trailed off and I couldn't help letting a joyous laugh break from me.
"I don't even understand!" I wailed happily. My chest was heaving, and I was suddenly out of breath, making me slide away from him to land with an ungraceful thump to the floor, my hands covering my eyes as I rested my elbows on my knees. "It really happened, didn't it?" My words were muffled into my palms. "It doesn't seem real." I murmured, shuddering at the memory.
Jacob's large palms wrapped gently around my fingers pulling them from my face, pressing them flat against his broad chest and through the thin fabric of his shirt I could feel the heat of his skin and the rhythmic pounding of his heart. "This is real." He whispered, his gaze piercing me, as his eyes welled again. "You're alive." His voice was still filled with wonderment as he reached out to cup my face. "You're really alive." He swallowed hard as sudden pain overtook his face. "I watched you disappear into those flames…" He trailed off resting his hand on my shoulder when it began to tremble. "It took months for me to be able to talk about you without losing it, Bells. Years before it really hit me that you were gone— my best friend—gone…and now you're here." He was silent then.
I explored his face, it had become leaner— harder— all traces of youth had vanished, replaced by years of experiences, his eyes were all that still held that special glint to them that made him my Jacob. His hair was shaggier than I remembered, some of it falling over his eyes, and past his ears. Even his frame was different, his shoulder broader, the muscles in his arms straining against the sleeves of his shirt. Jacob was all grown up.
"I can't believe you're here. Seventeen years is a long time to go without you. I missed you, Bells." He confessed softly.
I moved slowly to hug him, resting my chin on his shoulder. "Me too Jake, I didn't know it, but I did. When I realized who I was, when my memories came back, I missed you too, so much." I rubbed his back slowly, trying to comfort him. It crossed my mind to use my newly acquired ability to soothe him but I thought better of it, it just didn't seem right to use that on Jacob. Our relationship had always been so simple— at least as simple as we let it. I always felt like we were just two people when I was with Jake, I never felt like a freak, or out of place, and he was never a werewolf, he was always just Jake.
I pulled away to smile warmly at him and a thought suddenly struck me.
"Nessie," I whispered, my eyes going wide. "She was here…I remember seeing her." I could barely contain the emotions that filled me as a glimpse of her face flashed in my mind. Jacob touched my knee gently to explain but before he could Alice spoke.
"She's outside with Rose—she's trying to calm her down." Her voice was strained making me turn to look at her but she didn't meet my eyes.
I was confused.
"Calm her down?" I looked around—noticing that other than the obviously missing parties, the rest of the entire Cullen family surrounded me, and their expressions were strange.
"Your new abilities…" Carlisle trailed off. I looked at him.
"What about them?" I whispered worriedly.
He looked at me for a long conflicted moment. "I don't even know how to explain it." He sighed obviously frustrated with himself. I looked to the others and they seemed almost reluctant to answer my silent question.
My gaze finally settled back on Jacob.
Jake would always tell me the truth.
He debated silently; I could tell from his expression that he was deciding his words very carefully. He was so grown up, so much more in control than he once was, less impulsive.
"I was outside waiting." He began slowly. "Carlisle, Jasper, and Emmet were explaining to me that you were alive, I was trying to comprehend it all. It was a lot to take in, knowing that Ness had already seen you before—down at LaPush—and had kept it from me."
I furrowed my brows and many things suddenly made sense. "She's the one who saved me from the bear in the woods that day." I acknowledged recalling her voice as she spoke to Luke while I lay on the ground pretending to still be unconscious.
"Yeah." He nodded. "She's been following you for weeks." Another image of a figure appearing in the tree line earlier that day came to me. He actually chuckled for a second. "Now I understand why she's been so secretive lately, and disappearing all the time. We had a god awful fight over it, but I guess I understand why she didn't tell me, she didn't know for sure that you were…well…you, and she knew that if she told me that I'd want to see you for myself and I probably would have scared the crap out of you."
"Probably." I agreed.
"She wanted to tell me—hell, she even wanted to tell you, but Nessie has always had the foresight to know that things happen in their own time and that sometimes they can't be rushed." He sighed brushing his hair out of his eyes and I had a feeling that there was another point to him explaining this to me. "It's good that she didn't, you're human again, and after seeing how Edward handled your death," He cringed, "It's pretty clear that traumatic events can damage even a vampire's mental state," I blanched at that. "So who knows what would have happened to you if we'd confronted you with the truth instead of letting you work everything out on your own. You needed to…to…" He was searching for the right words.
"Yeah," He shrugged. "I guess that works. I think you've had more time than the rest of us really to let it sink in about who you are. So you've adjusted better. We haven't." He grimaced suddenly. "To us you've been dead for seventeen years, to you it probably feels like it was yesterday doesn't it?" He stared at me.
"Sort of," I sighed, "I mean, I still have seventeen years of memories as somebody else in my head but my sense of time is kind of…compressed I guess. I can't feel like I've been without you all for so long because I didn't know what I was missing before today." I frowned. "It's not really fair is it?" I stared back at him sadly.
"Losing you wasn't fair," He murmured softly touching my chin his eyes tender, "But you're here now, so you won't see me complaining." He grinned. That made me smile wide and I could feel my face brighten but it fell again when his did. Back to harder topics. "So you see Bells," He said carefully. "We never had closure; you were just gone, and we've been grieving ever since, we never got over it, never fully healed, and then bam!" He snapped his fingers. "You're back, human again and you have superpowers…as a human. The way Carlisle explained it, it's not something he's ever seen before and on top of that they 'manifest sporadically without a clear cut pattern of warning'." He explained making air quotes before he looked at Carlisle. "Is that how you said it Doc?"
"Close enough." Carlisle smiled amused.
"Anyway," His gaze swung back to me, "In normal terms, there's no way to tell when you'll suddenly have a new ability pop up out of nowhere, or what it will be, or who it can affect because," He did air quotes again, "'Humans only show a vague inclination of what vampirism will cause to manifest'." It was amusing, how those words sounded very un-Jacob like coming from him. I watched him intently then, sure that he was trying to say something. "So basically, on top of most of us still being in shock that you're alive, we also have your freaky new talent show throwing us for a loop, not just because you can do them, but because of what you can do and there's no way of knowing when you will do them."
I rubbed my forehead becoming frustrated. "This isn't helping me understand why Rose needs to calm Renesmee down." I pointed out.
He looked like he was bracing himself suddenly and I had the distinct feeling that I wasn't going to like this. "Like I said, me and the guys were outside when we heard a loud noise come from inside the house so we rushed in to see what was wrong." He looked reluctant to continue, but he did anyways. "Carlisle assumed that your theory about your powers had been correct, and that once a power is used on you then you can reflect it back—like mimic it, but evidently, you don't have to have it used on you first." He took a deep breath. "You were on the floor shivering, unconscious, your eyes were rolled back in your head. I thought you were having a seizure." His voice was flat, and an expression very unlike Jake appeared. He was masking whatever he was feeling very carefully. "I guess that's what happens when you remember." He said slowly. "Nessie was kneeling beside you, about to touch you but before she could it just happened." He stopped abruptly and I realized that my heart was pounding.
"What…just happened?" I was afraid to know.
He took my hands and gathered them in his much larger ones very carefully. "Bells," He said my name with extreme care, "the hardest part about losing you…was not understanding why." That word held a world of weight to it as he looked earnestly into my eyes, his brown ones were swimming with so much emotion I quit breathing. "Because even though you knew why you had to jump into that fire, we didn't, we—" He cut off trying to swallow. "We didn't have any way of knowing that you didn't have a choice, we never understood what you went through…to save us all—to save her, or that it was even why you threw yourself into that pit."
I pulled back slightly shaking my head as I looked at the others. "But you felt it—the thirst," I reminded them but they stared sorrowfully down at me from their different positions around the room. "I saw it nearly paralyze you all."
Jake was shaking his head. "They did, but they didn't know why or how it was happening." He explained.
"But surely Edward would have told you." I reasoned.
Jake was shaking his head again. "I'm sure they've explained to you what he was like after you…fell." Clearly unable to say 'died' out loud. "Obviously not enough." He threw them a hard look before meeting my gaze again. "Bells, whether or not he knew what had happened we can only guess. If he did, he was too out of his mind with grief to talk about it…ever." His face darkened suddenly. "Though, I'm sure he did. He had to have used his ability during the fight and figured it out." The muscles in his jaw flexed as he spoke. "I'm sure after knowing that you did it to save her," He nodded towards the front yard. "It explains why he wanted nothing to do with her after that…knowing what we know now, what he knew then."
I pulled my hands away instantly as his words sank in. I shook my head and blinked rapidly in confusion. There was something in those last words that clawed at the back of my brain, willing me to put the pieces together.
Knowing what we know now.
It clicked suddenly and I asked my question very carefully. "If you didn't know why I did it then, then how do you know now?"
The reluctance and regret on his face made my stomach tighten. "It wasn't like the way Nessie does it," He tried to explain, "And it sort of was, only we didn't have to be touching you to see it." My eyes widened.
"No!" I gasped and jerked my hands free of his. I shook my head fearfully praying that he didn't mean what I think he meant.
He whispered reaching for me. "It's like we were there again, only this time…we were you."
I choked in horror, shoving myself away from him, hugging my knees to my chest.
"Tell me you didn't see it all! Everything I saw!" I pleaded and his eyes were suddenly grave.
"I never knew Bells…" He trailed of as his hand fell away, his face dropping down. "I had no idea…" He looked up at me with tortured eyes. "None of us ever understood what it cost you to save us all." I dropped my face into my knees.
"I wish you had never seen that." I whispered. "Those were my last moments of life, and I was a monster!" I cursed. His hands were on my upper arms in an instant jerking me to face him.
"No! No!" He growled, shaking me with each word. "You were an Angel." He murmured. I shoved him away.
"I almost killed her Jake!" I screamed covering my eyes again, and again, he pulled my face up to meet his.
"But you didn't Bells…you didn't." His eyes probed mine, flicking back and forth. "I'm so sorry we couldn't save you." He whispered remorsefully. I reached up and gently pried his hands off my arms, before scooting farther away until my back was up against the side of the couch, leaning on it for support. He looked stricken.
"Just…give me a second." I put up a hand to halt him, and for a few moments I took long deep breaths and exhaled slowly. I closed my eyes and let the knowledge wash over me. I was finally whole. I had thought with that, I would feel at peace, but this new realization tainted it. I mulled over the information, putting piece by piece together until they all made better sense to me. I briefly let my mind touch on those moments of insanity. Edward had watched me die. How could Edward ever blame himself? How could he, when I had made the choice myself? Those were the darkest moments I'd ever known, those months without Edward in my life a close second. Those moments in time were what he'd made himself relive everyday for the past seventeen years? I let my eyes flutter up, none of them had moved from where they had been before, they were patiently watching me.
"Edward has been living that nightmare every night since it happened?" I whispered, and my voice was strained from the emotion. The vampires all blinked behind their perfect masks, Jacob was the only one who looked pain stricken. "You need to tell him to come home." I murmured. "Right now." My tone brooked no refusal and they all nodded silently. "We don't have time for anymore plans, I can't let him suffer like that a moment longer, knowing it's all my fault." They tried to stop me but I hushed them. "I was the one who ran right into their trap." I whispered.
"Why did you?" It was Jake's voice full of pleading that made me look at him. "If you had just waited, we would have been there too Bells. We could have stopped it all from happening." He pleaded. "If you had just waited for us."
"I couldn't." I choked. "She sounded so frightened. I couldn't take it anymore."
"How did you not realize that it was a trap?" He asked ridiculously.
"I did." I whispered and I watched the horror unfold across each of their faces. "I knew exactly what it was, but I had to go to her. They didn't just want her like I thought they did Jake." I said hoarsely. "They wanted me." He gasped and I looked away unable to take the pain in his face. "They wanted me most of all, because then who could stand against them?" I croaked tears welling in my eyes. "They would have killed her to get to me—I couldn't let that happen when it was my stupid gift that they were after, and she was running out of time. I knew what I was doing. What happened to me was no one's fault but my own." I whispered as tears streamed hotly down my cheeks. "I was dead the second I broke down that door."
The room was enveloped in silence. No one spoke as my words echoed throughout the room.
A long moment later someone cleared their throat making me look up. Emmet raised his hand slowly. "Can I say something?" I eyed him a moment before nodding. "I know it doesn't mean anything to you," He began. "But I can't even break through a Guardian Door that easy." He grinned. "I was pretty damn impressed." I couldn't help smiling. Leave it to Emmet to lighten a mood.
That made me think of something. "And since you brought it up, why couldn't I just bust through that thing? I mean, I've pulverized boulders easier than that."
This time Carlisle spoke. "Very few objects can withstand our strength, so naturally the Volturi began experimenting with different elements back in the 14th century to create a substance that could—albeit unsuccessfully for the first four hundred years, but eventually it became obvious what the answer was."
"Diamonds." He answered simply. "They found a way to fuse them into certain metals, what you thought was wood was actually black diamonds, which it why the hinges gave way instead of the actual door itself."
I blinked and my cheeks flushed as I made a mental note to see about having a bed for Edward and I fashioned in such a way.
"So like I said," Emmett reiterated. "Impressed."
I shrugged. "Don't mess with mom." I winked at him with a soft smile. "You'll understand." They were all smiling suddenly. I looked at Jacob expectantly.
"You need help up?" He asked with a grin.
"Yeah…my legs kind of feel like spaghetti." I smiled ruefully. He chuckled and stood, stretching out his arms and I reached up to take his hands, letting him pull me upright, but he didn't let me go, instead he stepped closer, enveloping me in a bear hug, rocking me slowly from side to side.
"I missed you, Bells." He murmured against my hair. I nodded and he stepped away.
"Can I actually see my daughter now?" I grinned sheepishly; they smiled but yet again another thought struck me. "Is she…is she afraid of me?" I asked fearfully.
"No." Jacob shook his head. "You're her mother. Always have been, always will be." He murmured and I nodded.
"Was Edward…there for her…after it happened at least?" I asked suddenly and they all frowned.
"No." Carlisle shook his head. "Not really." He hesitated then. "He said only what was necessary to make decisions…about the funerals." That made a question suddenly creep into my mind.
"Angela's daughter Izzy told me…about them." I looked at him carefully from beneath my lashes. "I understand mine was for the sake of my human friends and family-"
"It was for us too." Jake whispered. I saw the sadness fill his face.
"Jake, I didn't mean-"
"I know." He cut me off. "But it wasn't just for show Bells, you were dead, it was the human way to honor your memory, it was the only thing Edward could handle." He watched me carefully. "And he didn't exactly handle it either." He took a breath. "If there had actually been anything left of your body to bury, I don't think he would have let us put it in the ground." I blinked at him.
"What I was trying to ask…" I began after a long moment of silence. "Was why did Edward fake his own death? What was the point? I mean, obviously, he didn't actually die." I whispered.
"He did in a way." Carlisle said softly.
"I told you…" Emmet shrugged. "He did die when he lost you." I furrowed my brows.
"But why the funeral?" I whispered. They all shifted uncomfortably, it wasn't a necessary movement, it was habitual, but they seemed to do it this time to avoid meeting my eyes. "I need to know." I murmured softly.
"Nessie can show you…" Jacob trailed off. "It's not an easy thing to explain." I stared at him for a moment before nodding in acceptance. "He wasn't…really all there" He sighed. I was silent for a beat before looking back at Carlisle.
"So…he wasn't there for her…at all? For seventeen years?" I asked appalled.
"Not at first…other than that…discussion, and the two funerals, he stayed locked up in the bedroom he shared with you, not even coming out to hunt, that is…until he left. From what we know…he spoke to no one, contacted no one for the first fifteen years after your death. We didn't see him again until barely two years ago." Carlisle whispered looking down suddenly. "Nessie lost both of her parents the night you died, and although Edward did return, he was never able to be a father to her again." My eyes widened and I furrowed my brows but Jacob attempted to explain.
"He couldn't be around Nessie." Jacob murmured. "He couldn't look at her for the longest time, every time he did, all he saw was you. She reminded him so much of you. He couldn't bare it. I think it was too painful for him, so he left again." I nodded, my chest constricting painfully. "When we saw him again, it finally seemed to get easier for him, but…he couldn't let himself be happy, every time he started to smile, just before it really turned into a smile, he would stop himself. She just reminded him of how he failed to save you." I lowered my eyes slowly.
"I would have been the same way." I whispered. "But abandoning Nessie-"
"Momma?" The voice startled me, making my head jerked upward and then, there she was. Staring at me with impossibly wide eyes, my eyes. An image of her eyes, wide and terrified, flashed in my head, with the reflection of a monster with glowing reds eyes, staring back. A sudden sense of self disgust rose within me. I turned away slowly.
"How can you even look at me?" Tears were suddenly in my throat. "How can you call me that after what I did to you?" There was a soft warm hand on my shoulder.
"You rescued me." Her whisper was so close. "You came for me, you protected me." She murmured. "I've been waiting seventeen years to tell you I love you." There were tears in her voice suddenly. "I love you mom." I felt her emotions pass into me, flashes of her memories of the love she had for me, and I whirled to face her, reaching out to hold her to me.
"My baby!" I cried. "My little girl!" She was sobbing suddenly too, against me, her heart thrumming against my chest. "I love you Nessie!" I pulled back to meet her eyes, full of tears, just as mine were. "I'm so sorry…I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you." I cried my voice almost nonexistent as I spoke. She blinked and more tears fell. "And you saved me!" I gasped pulling back to look at her as I remembered the bear in the woods.
"Of course I did." She smiled so sweetly at me. "You're my mom."
"I've missed so much of your life." I murmured as I scanned her face committing it to memory, realizing that every moment was precious. I couldn't comprehend her beauty, her flawless pale skin, her gorgeous bronze hair that fell in waves down her back, the clear bright depth of her beautiful brown eyes. She had grown into the most amazing woman. "Will you show me everything?"
Someone cleared their throat and that made us both look at Carlisle.
"Nessie…" He began but paused, his eyes flickering between us.
"What's wrong grandpa?" She whispered. It was odd hearing someone refer to Carlisle that way.
"Your mother…would like to see what happened…" He trailed off and looked at me and I understood what he was going to ask her. "When Edward made the decision about his funeral, his decision to leave us." She blinked and turned slowly to me. "I know that you were both just reunited, but she needs to understand what he has become." She nodded staring at me still. "And I…cannot convey through words the depth of the despair we saw in him that night." She sucked in a shuddering breath.
"You'd think it'd be easy to remember that you weren't there." She sighed. "But I can't imagine a memory that you weren't part of still." She closed her eyes. "It's like you still existed…in spirit." She smiled sadly, looking at me. "Obviously you weren't, it was just Dad's memory of you that haunted us all, and it haunted him the most." She frowned before offering me her palm. "I perfected my ability as I got older, learned how to focus on specific memories and show them exactly as they happened, but they're in my perspective, I can only show you what I saw and heard." She furrowed her brows. "He's not the same person you remember, that night, there was nothing left of him, and we all saw it…I'll show you if you really want to see." She whispered. I nodded and let my fingers touch hers lightly, and then there were suddenly images swimming over my eyes.
I tremble against Jacob, clinging to him as he carries me—touching his cheek as he walks—telling him silently that I'm afraid and confused. I haven't seen Daddy ever since we had returned home and that had been weeks ago. I had wanted to go see him but Aunt Alice and Aunt Rosalie said that he wanted to be alone. I didn't understand. I missed him.
"Everything's going to be okay, Ness." Jacob assures me. "Your dad just wants to talk to everyone."
It was very strange to me that Jacob didn't say his name anymore. I ask him why— silently—but he only shakes his head and presses his lips tightly together.
As we enter the dining room I notice Aunt Alice leaning against the far wall by the window. She looks upset, standing very still with her arms crossed over her chest keeping her eyes on the floor. Grandpa Carlisle and Grandma Esme are closest to her, seated on the side of the dining room table. Esme smiles up at us as we enter but there's something not right about it, it's tight. She peers over to the head of the table to the left of us, and my eyes follow hers.
I saw him then and in the midst of the memory I gasped.
Edward was at the head of the table, separated two chairs on each side from the others, his eyes were cold and hard; pitch black, lifeless, as he stared straight ahead as if seeing nothing. His palms were flat atop the table, his body rigid, unmoving. He looked older, not physically, but his tense posture portrayed a sense of ancient awareness, his gaze filled with some strange knowledge perfected from decades of existence.
If he were human, I knew that there would be darker circles beneath his sleepless eyes, not the usual bluish tinge, but a trait common only in someone haunted and plagued by nightmares instead of peaceful dreams. Instead they looked bruised, almost hollowed out as if he hadn't hunted in weeks. His face would have been gaunt, unshaven, his eyes glassy—If he were human. But physical indications of his emotions weren't possible, the only indication of his mood other than the unfocused and distant look in his eyes, were things that even vampire beauty couldn't control. His blue button down shirt was wrinkled, the collar bent at an odd angle, the crease of the fold no longer crisp and defined, and his normally wild untamed bronze locks, were disheveled in an odd way, giving evidence to the fact that he'd taken no care with his appearance. He didn't care. But he was immortal, locked forever at the unalterable age of 17. He was still perfect and beautiful, his skin, like creamy porcelain, but he looked dead, there was no sense of animation in his features.
I want to go to him—to throw myself into his arms. I try to wriggle free of Jacob's embrace but he won't let me. I turn touching his face making my wishes known but he shakes his head, his eyes very serious making me blink at him. I look back at the table. Uncle Jasper sits opposite of Daddy, Aunt Rosalie and Uncle Emmet beside him, with their backs to us. Everyone is silent as they all finally turned to look at Jacob and I where we stand in the doorway—everyone but Daddy. He never moves.
Jacob slowly walks to take a seat beside Uncle Emmet—I protest as he turns me in his lap. I want to go sit closer to Daddy but Jacob ignores me. I don't understand. Jacob never ignores what I want.
"Edward?" Grandma Esme breaks the silence, her voice soft, tentative, as if she's afraid to capture his attention. He doesn't blink; he merely turns his head in her direction. "You wanted to speak with us all about something?" She whispers. He continues to look at her, before nodding. His movements are robotic, as if they're just reactions to his environment and not conscious choices.
"I've made a decision." He says it blankly and there is something very wrong with his voice. There's a long space of silence, no one moves to speak. "I realize that it is absolutely pointless to try to end my own existence." I can feel Jacob release a breath—I know that if they could breathe then the others would have too. Mommy once told me that Daddy had gone to The Volturi before I had been born, asking them to end his existence because he had thought that Mommy had died. I blink fighting back tears thinking of her. Mommy. After she had disappeared into the fire, Daddy had tried to follow her. Grandpa Carlisle, Aunt Alice and the others has been keeping a careful eye out for any sign that he would still attempt his version of suicide. When I heard them try to explain, I had understood. Daddy loved Mommy, more than anything—more than me—and he didn't want to live without her. I had understood but I had still wanted to go to see him. I still love him.
"There is no one left who will agree to assist me anyway." He slowly turns to look at Jacob, very careful to not let his eyes drop to mine. "And yes, I am well aware that even you will not resurrect our agreement from when Bella was still human." I am confused. Jacob had agreed to kill Daddy? "You all would impede upon any attempt I make on my own anyhow." He murmurs quietly.
"Edward…" It's Grandpa Carlisle speaking his name. He slowly turns to face him with the same expression, void of emotion. "We do not wish for you to be unhappy…" Daddy raises a dubious brow. "But your daughter…" Grandpa Carlisle motions to me but Daddy does not look—he flinches.
"Jacob is perfectly capable of protecting and caring for her." Daddy says curtly. Hurt washes through me. Jacob growls low in his throat, I can feel it rumbling in his chest at my back but Daddy doesn't look at him.
I don't understand. What is he saying? I touch Jacob's arm but it only tenses as he hears my question.
"Daddy?" My voice is very small and pained. Even being the size of an eight-year-old after two years of life, my voice doesn't match my size. Daddy doesn't even acknowledge that I've spoken and I can feel Jacob tighten his arms around me. "Daddy?!" I'm trying to lean forward but Jacob is holding me back.
Let go, Jacob! I tell him pressing against him trying to get free. I want Daddy!
Finally his eyes slide to meet mine and I freeze—it's as if an explosion of grief goes off behind his eyes, before he quickly looks away.
"I am in no condition to take care of her anymore." He whispers and his voice is tight a muscle flexing in his jaw.
"You can't take away both of her parents in one blow…that's cruel." Jacob growls suddenly, hugging me to his chest. When Daddy meets his eyes this time there is black hate burning in the onyx depths, so black…it scares me.
"No." His voice is a mask of ice again. "Cruelty…is finding the soul mate you've spent a century searching for, a love that surpasses all that you have ever known, only to have that love ripped away from you, to watch your love burn alive right before your eyes, knowing that there is no afterlife waiting for either of you, that you will never…ever…see their face again. That , Jacob Black, is what cruelty really is. You know nothing of true cruelty until you have witnessed that." There is nothing but blinding pain in his voice. No one says anything for a long time, as Daddy continues to stare at Jacob. Slowly, his face falls into blank lines again as he faces directly forward once more.
"Is that what you brought us here for…to tell us that?" I hear Grandma Esme ask but I don't look at her.
"No." But it's not Daddy that answers, it's Aunt Alice. "He wants' to have another funeral," She whispers. The others don't look as if they have the ability to speak.
"Another funeral?" Esme whispers whirling to face him. "Honestly Edward, even humans do not perform more than one funeral per-"
"Not for Bella!" He says sharply, as if Mommy's name is the most painful word he has ever spoken. "For me." There are several audible gasps.
"For you?" Several people speak at once.
"Yes." He nods stiffly. "From this day on, Edward Cullen is dead, he no longer exists. I may not be able to die, but to the rest of the world I shall be dead." There is no sound after that, except for the pounding of mine and Jacob's hearts and their fast breathes. "So that Bella's human family and friends will allow themselves to feel as if I have received the punishment I rightfully deserve but cannot be given." His eyes are hard.
"Edward-" Carlisle tries to speak but Daddy cuts him off.
"You all will help me do this!" He says harshly, a fist slamming in the table and I hear a slight crack. "And afterwards I will leave here, and I am never coming back." No one argues. I know there is nothing that will change his mind, they know it too. The only person who could, no longer exists.
I still can't give up at tears spring into my eyes and I'm fighting Jacob.
"Daddy—" I cry out suddenly, but my words are stopped when his face snaps around to meet mine, igniting the same burning pain in his eyes as before, but this time he holds it.
"Everything that was once mine is now yours." His words are cold and emotionless. "That is all I can give you anymore." With that, he looks away, pushing from the table suddenly, standing to leave.
I can't take it anymore—I jerk quickly before Jacob can stop me, rushing to wrap my arms around his legs, burying my face in his stomach. I'm sobbing against his shirt. "Daddy, no!" I sob. "Please don't go Daddy! Please!" I'm shaking. "Daddy please don't leave!" I'm screaming into the fabric. "I'm sorry, I'll be really good, I promise!" I plead but he doesn't move. "Daddy, I don't want you to go, please don't go, please!"
"Take her." Daddy's voice is cold.
Warm arms are suddenly pulling me away making me kick and scream, sobbing. "No! I want Daddy!" He's still standing, staring straight ahead as Jacob pulls me up against his chest—his jaw stiff, his fists clenched at his side.
"You will make the announcement tomorrow; give whatever explanation that you feel is necessary." He mutters darkly over my cries. "My only other demand is that at my viewing…the mourners be allowed to see my corpse." Several gasps are heard but no one speaks.
No one tries to stop him as he turns away to leave. He pauses in the door tilting his face slightly over one shoulder. "Let them look upon the face of the monster who truly took Bella's life and soul." And then he's gone.
The present world came back into view and I felt myself trembling, realizing that several cold fingers were brushing my arm. I blinked and the fingers disappeared making me realize that they had been seeing what Renesmee was showing me as well. I went over everything I had seen in my head, blinking at the questions.
"But he did come back." I commented still shaking. "Izzy said she saw him a few weeks ago, and that he'd signed up for school here again." I admitted, perplexed.
"He didn't stay long, only a few hours, he couldn't handle it." Jacob murmured. I blinked, my head was spinning.
"You said you finally saw him again two years ago. Where did he go before then?" I whispered looking at the others.
"We don't know." Jasper said softly. "Like we said we didn't see him for fifteen years." I gasped.
"After he'd been gone a year, we finally tried to find him." Emmet shook his head. "But we knew that if he didn't want to be found, then he wouldn't." I jerked my head slightly.
"At first he changed his mind so many times; I couldn't follow where he was headed." Alice shook her head sadly. "When he finally stopped, I couldn't tell where he was, it was dark, and he never once moved except to hunt, to keep the thirst from consuming him. For fifteen years he committed to staying in the dark where he would never have to see himself." I furrowed my brows. "He finally made a mistake." She admitted. "Something he remembered about his life with you pushed him to the brink; he was almost to the point of exposing himself to humans, letting them know what he was in hopes that they would try to destroy him, mimicking his plan from the last time when he went to the Volturi." She sighed and I shivered my mind touching on my second most painful memory of all time, those six months without Edward. "He took too long between the time that he made the decision, and when he actually tried to commit to it." She whispered. "I think he wanted us to stop him, to keep him from easing his own suffering as he saw it." She frowned. "I think…deep in his heart…he didn't want to hurt us." My chest was aching again.
"When we found him, he was curled up into a ball in one corner of a basement, of an abandoned house in northern Canada." Jasper sighed. "We had to carry him out of there, he wouldn't move on his own, but he didn't fight us either."
"He refused to return to Forks though." Emmet frowned. "So we took him to Denali. He didn't say a word the whole way there; he just stared blankly out the window."
"Even after we arrived." Carlisle added. "He still spoke to no one; instead he staggered out into one of the snow banks and collapsed to his knees, and didn't move for days. We weren't going to force him to do anything he didn't want to do, we'd just gotten him back, and he needed time." I nodded numbly.
"But he did come back." I pressed.
"Not until recently." Carlisle whispered. I was so confused. Hadn't he implied that Edward at some point had been the father to Renesmee that she deserved? So hadn't he returned to Forks sooner to see her?
"But you said that he…at first…with Renesmee-"
"Grandpa Carlisle and Jacob are right." Renesmee halted my words this time. "I went to see him in Denali, after they found him, because he wasn't going to come to Fork's to see me." She looked away. "Even though he was finally able to be around me…physically, he was never my father, in the sense that he was when you were alive." She took a deep breath. "I think…through what I've learned about his character, that in his own way of justifying everything…he blamed himself for my existence, and in turn it made it his fault that you had died to keep from killing me, to save something that he had inflicted upon you." I felt my legs quake suddenly, and I slid slowly to the ground. They all watched me with sympathetic eyes knowing better than to touch me.
"But you're his daughter." I blinked back the tears that were in my eyes. "He loves you." I looked up at her tear-filled eyes and she kneeled to level her gaze with mine. She was shaking her head sadly.
"He loves part of me, the part of you that is in me, but he hates seeing part of himself when he looks at me, he hates that part of me. I don't need to read minds to know that." Her words were so reasonable, so calm, compared to the meaning behind what she was saying. "Because he loathes himself so much." I closed my eyes.
"How could he?" I whispered, opening my eyes slowly to look upon her angelic face. "How could he hate something so beautiful?" I murmured reaching out touch her cheek. "How can someone be capable of so much love and so much hate all at once?" I whimpered.
"He's not." She whispered. "That's why he's turned into what he is now. No one was created to be able to feel those two emotions…to handle them both burning so strongly inside of them. That weight broke him, mentally, emotionally, spiritually; it broke him right down the middle, inside." She touched her chest. "You were the only thing holding him together, and when you were gone…he died…in every way that a being can, while still existing." I closed my eyes, silently shaking before I finally found the strength to open them again and look at the others.
"How is there any hope in salvaging his sanity?" I moaned weakly. "How can you honestly believe that I can fix that kind of damage?" They were all staring at me with horrified eyes. Rosalie was the only one who spoke.
"Because we have to." She said it firmly. "Because losing you is what did this to him, and the only way to reverse it, is obviously having you back in his life." She whispered. I felt myself pull an accusation that wasn't really intended from her words. Covering my face with my hands I leaned back, shaking.
"This is all my fault." I whispered. "I should have found another way; I should have thought it through." Renesmee grabbed my hands roughly, it was the first time I had ever seen her angry.
"No!" She sounded like Jacob had earlier. "We all saw through your own memories that there was no other way!" She railed. "You couldn't have thought through the thirst that had been brought out in you, no one should be able to, the fact that you were able to resist at all, is a miracle!" She wouldn't let me go. "I'm grateful that your love for Dad is what saved my life, I wish that I could be as self sacrificing as the two of you…but I'm not!" Her hold was starting to hurt and I must have accidentally shown her through my thoughts as memories from where she touched me because she suddenly released me. "I wish that I alone had been enough, but I wasn't." She continued softer. "I understand that, I understand the bond you two had, I understand that it alone was the only thing that could have broken Zachary's hold on you, if only for those few moments. I was just something that happened unexpectedly to complicate your lives- let me finish!" She saw that I was about to interrupt her. "I'm sorry, I truly am. I understand that you do love me, that Dad does too, but I also understand that it's nothing compared to the way you love each other. I'm not bitter about it. I have two years of memories of having the most loving parents a person could dream of, and those are the memories I have clung to for seventeen years." She was suddenly quiet. "I don't regret my life, no matter how much I wish I could." She whispered.
"There has never been a moment that I have regretted having you." I whispered, leaning forward to touch her cheek again. "And there never will be." I sighed. "Edward is lying to himself, fooling himself into thinking and feeling that he does, but it's not real." I whispered. "I know his guilt, I know his unwavering loyalty to that guilt, but it's not real." I shook my head. "It's all based on a belief that he has convinced himself to believe in all of his life, a false, stupid, idiotic belief." I rolled my eyes. "The sooner he realizes that, the sooner we can be a family again." She blinked at me. "But it doesn't change the fact that all of this is my fault darling, and I have to fix it." I murmured.
"Mom?" She asked softly, her voice trembling. "You don't have anything to be sorry for." She whispered. "But if you really feel like you have to do something, to take the unnecessary guilt off your shoulders…" She looked at me from beneath her long lashes. "Make dad come home, please…" I nodded and pulled her to me to hug her once more.
"I will, I promise." I murmured. "I'll make everything right." We finally pulled apart, and I smiled reverently, noticing how much she'd blossomed into a young woman. I studied her curiously.
"What?" She smiled finally.
"Nothing." I shook my head. "It's just that…" I trailed off. The question seemed absurd for some reason.
"What is it?" She pressed softly.
"How old are you now?" I asked peculiarly. She grinned.
"Technically…" She laughed. "I'm 19. But Grandpa Charlie thinks I could pass for 16." I smiled and then her words hit me, making my eyes fly wide open.
"Oh God!" I gasped, feeling all the blood drain from my face.
"What!?" Everyone said it at once jumping close to me to see what was wrong.
"Charlie and Renee." I whispered. "And Phil." They looked like they understood what I was getting at, but I was sure they didn't.
"I'll explain it to them." Renesmee assured me worriedly. I blinked.
"They're still alive?" I whispered my voice tight.
"Of course they are!" Renesmee was suddenly laughing. "You haven't been dead for 50 years Mom." She was laughing at me. Great, now I'd become Renee. Silly old Mommy.
"I know that!" I muttered irritable. "I'm just saying…they're really old now, aren't they?" I eyed her warily.
"They're in their late 50's." She shrugged. "They don't look that old." That suddenly caught me.
"You met Renee and Phil?" My eyes were wide.
"Of course." She said it like it was obvious.
"How'd that go?" I raised a brow.
"Charlie just explained to them that you and Dad adopted me before you had died, and that you'd been unsure about telling them." She smiled. "Renee didn't buy it though." My brows shot up in surprise. "So we figured with the Volturi gone, there wasn't any harm in finally telling Renee and Charlie the truth." I shrugged. "They took surprisingly better than we thought they would…considering."
I furrowed my brows not understanding. "Considering?"
"That you had died." She said gently.
"You didn't tell them how I— " I began, panicked.
"No, we just told them that you had died trying to protect us." She assured me.
I chewed on that for a moment. "What about Phil?"
"We kept our original cover story for his benefit." She explained.
"But you were growing so quickly." I whispered.
"Yeah…well…we kind of had to space out the visits. I was four." She grinned. "I looked like I was 11 when I first met them, so we just told them I was 8 when you adopted me, and then I didn't see them again until I was 6 because by then I'd started to age much slower and I could pass for a big, mature looking 13 year old." I raised a brow. "Renee came to visit on her own though."
"So when did you stop growing?" I whispered.
"When I was about 9." I furrowed my brows. "Evidently not all half vampire, half human being, age at the same rate." She grinned. "I kept maturing as a woman until I was 15, but I stopped aging when I was 9. Nahuel was a bit surprised." She grinned wider, and Jacob grunted, I fought a smile. "He obviously didn't pay attention to the way his sisters developed themselves, females have more things physically to accomplish before they're full grown, so we age slower." I smiled, because she was certainly a fully developed young woman. "We figured we'd wait until around this time before inviting Renee and Phil for another visit." I frowned suddenly. "What?"
"This is going to be difficult." I sighed.
"Like I said…I'll explain it to them." Renesmee assured me once more.
"That's not what I mean." I sighed, finally standing to lean my hip against the couch. "I have a whole other family. My mom, her name is Andrea, and I have a brother named Jared, and my dad…" I moaned trailing off. "What am I going to do? How am I going to juggle two families."
"You can tell them if you want Bella." Esme replied.
"They won't understand." I shook my head. "How can Charlie Renee and Phil accept that one, I'm suddenly alive, and two, that they now have to share me equally with another set of parents, that they are both my biological families." I sighed.
"I think explaining all of this to Dad is going to be the most difficult thing to accomplish by far." Renesmee frowned. "You can figure out the rest as it comes." I thought about that, as images of Edward began to surface again making my heart race. I took a deep breath preparing my next words.
"All we're missing now is one masochistic lion." I grinned, they all looked at me funny and I laughed. "Private joke between Edward and I." They laughed too, but it was that nervous laughter. "So…is someone going to call him? Or Alice…" I looked at her. "Do you know when he'll be back?" She concentrated for a moment, furrowing her brows.
"Not till the weekend." She frowned when she finally focused. "It'd hard to tell, he's so fuzzy." The others looked confused.
"Call him." I shrugged helplessly.
"I'll do it." Carlisle said softly.
I was suddenly imagining in my head, how that would go.
It played out in my head like an alternate reality making me cringe
Oh yes…that would have totallyworked. I rolled my eyes at myself.
I made a mental note to remind myself not to let my imagination run away with itself.I thought ruefully about calling Edward 'emo' in my imagination? The dual personalities really were going to my head. I giggled and everyone looked at me funny.
"I'm amusing myself." I waved them off. "Ignore me." Carlisle hesitated for a moment and then in an instant he was gone. I frowned. "I miss being able to do that." I sighed.
"Two more years…" Emmet patted my back suddenly.
"Thanks Em…how did I survive seventeen miserable years without your sparkling optimism?" I glared playfully at him and the others looked at me funny.
"The sarcasm is new." Jasper murmured, staring at me in awe.
"Perks of humanity." I sighed. "Must be from my other life." I grinned.
"Definitely your other life." Jacob teased.
"Watch it Wolf Boy." I glared playfully and then my eyes brightened. "That's kind of funny. Wolf Boy…" I trailed off with a smile. They were all watching me, looking slightly worried.
"Are you sure you're ok?" Alice asked and I sighed, my bubbly mood dissipated.
"No." I shook my head reaching up to rub my temples. "I think my head's having a hard time adjusting to everything." I frowned. "And I'm worried about Edward." I looked up at them all. "It's like I know he's in pain, like I feel empty and incomplete without him. I don't think I'll be ok until he is." They were silent, waiting patiently for me to explain. "Edward and I…are soul mates." They looked slightly uncomfortable, maybe overcome by my declaration.
"You believe that?" Emmet looked surprised more than doubtful.
"I believe in soul mates." I nodded affirmatively.
"And you think that's what you and Edward are?" Rosalie queried.
"I know we are, otherwise this…" I motioned to myself. "Wouldn't be possible." Jacob hugged Renesmee to his side, sliding an arm around her waist and I was surprised how much it didn't bother me. I smiled warmly at the two of them as they watched me with sympathetic gazes.
"It would make sense…" Esme mused. "But the theory of soul mates has never been proven to be an actual possibility." I frowned. Carlisle's scientific nature was rubbing off on her.
"Soul mates are a theory based on faith." I acknowledged her skepticism. "I believe in that theory. I choose to, I have to, that blind faith in the improvable is the only thing that makes sense of all of this." I explained.
"How so?" She mused.
"Edward once told me…He said 'For almost ninety years I've walked among my kind, and yours…all the time thinking I was complete in myself, not realizing what I was seeking. And not finding anything, because you weren't alive yet.'." Their mouths were all slightly ajar, I suppose they felt the weight of the meaning those words carried. "It's the same for me. In this new life, and in the one before, no one was ever able to capture my attention, or my heart, no one but Edward. Everything happens for a reason…" I let my gaze slide back to Jacob and he seemed…dismayed, by my statement. I paused.
"We were close Bells…" He let that statement linger in the air like something being hung out to dry.
"Yes, we were." I nodded. "But I chose Edward because he was really the only choice." I sighed. "As if I ever really had a choice to begin with…" He still looked slightly wounded. "Jake, if you hadn't been there…" My plummet into raging waters flashed in my eyes. "I would be dead right now." I whispered. "When Edward left me, you were the only thing holding me together, the only thing that saved me from despair." I smiled sadly. "I'll never be able to tell you how much you really saved me." I whispered.
"You returned the favor." He grinned, and his eyes flashed with meaning.
"Not in quite the same way." I made a face.
"Still…I'd call us pretty much even." He smiled softly. I shook my head.
"Not even close." I sighed. "Edward later told me how you fought for my life the night I was changed. He told me, that if it hadn't been for you, pumping away at my chest to keep my heart beating, I may never have made it." He looked slightly detached and oddly pale as he seemed to be remembering that night. "You saved my life more than once Jake." I reminded him.
"I had too, we were connected." He whispered.
"Yes and that connection seems to have brought you a lot of happiness." I eyed Renesmee pointedly and he flashed me a proud grin, pulling her tighter to him.
"Yes it did." He looked at her suddenly, eyes alight with emotion, and her gaze mirrored his. "I understand now, why I never held a candle to your connection with Edward." He smiled softly looking at me. "When I look at Nessie, she's all I can see." I smiled.
"Like I said, there's a reason for everything." I murmured. "There's a reason why Edward is a vampire." Everyone looked at me carefully. "If he'd only experienced a human existence, we would have never found each other." That thought made me feel cold. "In his immortality, there's a reason why he never found anyone before. Like he said, I wasn't alive yet." I shrugged. "But when I did exist, the circumstances that brought me to Forks almost seemed fated. They still do. There's a reason why I'm standing here right now." I motioned around me. "When I met Edward for the first time, it was like we were supposed to notice each other." I smiled warmly remembering the first day I'd seen him enter the school cafeteria. "He's told me on several occasions how frustrating it was, especially that first day that he couldn't read my mind. If he had been able to, then I wouldn't have been anything spectacularly interesting to him, he would have just brushed my presences aside, the way he did everyone else. I wouldn't have been anything to him." I frowned, at the thought of that plane of reality. "He captured my interest too. His reaction, the frustration over me being a mental mute, the way he stared at me during those brief moments." I snickered. "I'm sure for the only time in his existence since he met me…that was when he actually pondered if there was something wrong with him." I grinned. "I empathize completely now, knowing what it's like to feel like your suddenly a slightly cracked egg, because you don't feel normal, like something's odd about yourself." I grinned. "I get to be all the slightly cracked eggs now." I eyed Alice and Jasper, wiggling my fingers in their direction teasingly, letting my amusement bleed into them.
"You're enjoying this aren't you?" Jasper narrowed his eyes playfully.
"Immensely." I smiled. "Although, I don't think my version of it has the same potency." I thought on that. "Since it's only a mirror image, and not the real thing." I realized still the implication of its vast usefulness. "I don't think I can make it last as long as you can, or control it as well." His brows shot up. "Still…your ability's kind of nifty." I chirped. He grinned then looked serious.
"Don't abuse it." He warned me softly. My smile fell.
"I understand the superpower code." I sighed and they all looked miffed at my meaning. "With great power, comes great responsibility." I quoted the superhero mantra. They understood suddenly.
"Exactly." Jasper nodded in agreement.
"Anyway…" I picked up where I left off. "There were too many things about the two of us that drew us together. We were made to capture each other's attention. The mystery surrounding him…" I chewed on that. "If he hadn't been a vampire, I may not have noticed him. He was too beautiful for words; he made me curious, always curious. His reaction to me intrigued me." I grinned ruefully remembering his reaction to me in Biology. "I couldn't understand why he hated me so much, he didn't even know me!" I exclaimed with a wild bewildered smile. The others looked confused; the idea that Edward had ever hated me must have boggled them. "He did hate me though." They looked slightly appalled. "He thought I was the devil's dark humorous way of trying to torture him." I laughed. "Because I'm so scary looking, right? Rawr!" I made a mock sound of a growl. The others looked slightly amused. "It was because of my scent, because to him, the smell of my blood was stronger than anything he'd ever experienced. It hit him like nothing ever had before, and after almost a century of existence as an immortal, that's saying a lot." A thought struck me and I frowned angrily. "I missed his hundredth vampire birthday didn't I?" I muttered begrudgingly looking at the five Cullen's.
"You didn't miss much." Alice said drolly. "We don't really celebrate anymore. He doesn't like to be reminded that he survived another year when you didn't." I frowned.
"I'm not surprised. He's so stubborn." I sighed. "When he puts his mind to something, even being miserable, he doesn't do it halfway, he commits to it, and he never deviates from its pattern." I had to smile. No one could ever accuse him of inconstancy or inconsistency. I thought. They all suddenly went rigid, and my eyes widened as I realized why. "Did you all hear that?" I asked.
"Did you think the words inconstancy and inconsistency?" Jacob asked his voice tight. I nodded. "Then yeah, definitely heard that." I blinked. Uh-oh.
"But you didn't hear me rambling off in my head earlier?" I asked remembering their confused expressions. They all shook their head. "Hmmm, I'm going to have to be careful, this may start to get annoying if I can't turn it off and on."
"Yeah, but how did you do that?" Jacob looked a little freaked out.
"The same way I can do this." Renesmee finally spoke, poking Jacob's cheek gingerly, and he suddenly blushed. She let her hand drop after a moment and looked at me. "Maybe you can just do it from far away." She shrugged.
"But they were words not images Nessie." Jacob reminded her.
"Or maybe you already have dad's ability, but you can flip it." She shrugged again. I thought about that.
"But I haven't been anywhere near him since my abilities surfaced." I shook my head.
"If we're running with the soul mate theory…maybe you don't have to be near him." Esme mused out loud. "If soul mates are matching pieces, if you reflect each other, maybe you can already do the opposite of what he can." She explained. The dozens of times I had thought things, and people had turned to me, asking if I had spoken, hit me.
"Why can't I turn it off and on?" I asked softly. "I don't even know when I'm doing it." I whispered.
"We'll work out all the mechanics of it later." Rosalie waved off impatiently. "My old irritation with someone being more…special than I am, is starting to resurface, so let's move on." She glowered. I furrowed my brows confused.
"More special?" I asked.
"I can't do anything special, and you can do everything." She explained. My eyes widened in shock, and laughter broke from me.
"You can't do anything special?" I laughed, she looked insulted. "Rose, you're absolutely gorgeous…" Her eyes suddenly softened. "If goddess like beauty isn't special, I don't know what is." I continued to laugh softly. Emmet grinned proudly and put his arm around her.
"I couldn't have said it better myself." He smiled. "How lucky am I that she wants to be with me?" He looked love struck suddenly, not a very Emmet-like expression. Rosalie's eyes turned to him slowly, and a wide look of adoration filled her face.
"I love you." She whispered kissing his cheek tenderly.
"And I love you." He smiled pressing his lips to her forehead. The warmth radiating out of them was suddenly suffocating. I choked and everyone turned worried eyes to me as I put a hand to my throat and swallowed as the heat dissipated.
"I felt that." I smiled nervously. "It was a little overwhelming." I murmured.
"See…" Jasper eyed me pointedly. I frowned.
"Don't you mean, feel?" I grinned, this time he narrowed his eyes.
"Ha ha." He said mockingly. I only smiled.
"Where was I?" I brought us back to my story.
"Your scent." Esme reminded me.
"Oh yeah!" I nodded. "There were so many things about Edward that made me take notice of him. I always had the strange ability to attract abnormal things, and I was always unusually aware of them, and curious about them. Since the first day I saw him, he's been all I've ever thought of ever since." I looked down. "Except in this life before I remembered everything." I whispered. "But his reactions, the way he made me feel when he was around me…it's like he acted the perfect way he needed to, to capture me so completely, that I couldn't let the need to unravel the mystery of him go. I was almost obsessed with the addiction to pry his secrets from him." I made a face. "He was drawn to me too; he tried to explain how he'd rationalized it all to himself once." I tried to remember his words. "Something about a mischievous sprite, hell bent on forcing me into his path, to make noticing me inescapable." They all looked strangely shocked or confused. "He has an odd way of thinking things through; his mind really is slightly abnormal. At least his thought process is." I laughed. "He told me how he thought I'd been created just for him, how my blood was made, too strong for him to keep away from me, to make him want me more than anything he'd ever wanted before." I felt blood rush to my face. "My mind was closed to him, driving him absolutely insane, the only person he couldn't read, and it made him want to figure me out, to make him want to know me." I laughed remembering his million questions. "He grilled me for days, trying to get me to tell him all the things he couldn't just pluck from my mind. It almost felt like he was interrogating my existence." My eyes flickered to Rosalie. "I was insecure, unaware of how others viewed me, and to him it made me beautiful." I sighed feeling warmth flood me, my stomach quivering slightly. "I never could understand why someone as breathtaking as Edward, wanted someone as plain as me." I smiled ruefully. "We were both a challenge to each other, both of us trying to overcome our own doubts; we had to literally fight rational instincts to be together." I shook my head. "He tried to fight with himself; he tried to convince me to stay away from him, but I couldn't. He tried to tell me that it was for my own good, better for me if I didn't know him the way we both wanted me to." Esme smiled wistfully. "Typical Edward?" I asked with a smile.
"Always so noble." She nodded.
"Like I said… nauseatingly self-sacrificing." Rosalie smirked crossing her arms, Emmet nudged her gently. She smiled slyly.
"No, she's right; he is, although I'd say irritatingly self-sacrificing." I ground out rolling my eyes. "He always doubted his restraint, he was so afraid that he'd hurt me. Then he was always fighting the inevitable fact that one day I was going to be just like him. He refused to accept it. He tried to keep it from happening, as if he thought he could will the truth away. He thought he could will away our desire for each other, but neither of us could stay away from the other. Oh, but he tried, he tried really hard to stay away from me." I looked up and Alice smirked.
"Oh believe me…I know." She laughed. "He tried, but he couldn't." She grinned. "I tried to tell him…that for once something I saw was actually set in stone." She smiled ruefully. "He didn't like that very much."
"I know." I muttered with a dark scowl, crossing my arms childishly in a pout. "He was so against it, because of some ridiculous notion that I would be damned for eternity." I rolled my eyes. "He thought if he turned me, then like him, I would lose my so-" My eyes flew wide as I gasped, and realization hit me harder than Zachary's pull on my thirst ever could. I was suddenly suspended in the light of some strange unsettling, overwhelming consciousness; it felt too real to be anything other than the absolute infinite truth. Memories flew though me, every specific detail heightened as my entire existence flashed across my mind, the pieces of it all, flying together, like broken glass, unshattering itself. They were all suddenly stiff because of my reaction.
"Mom?" Renesmee asked worriedly. "What's wrong?" I slid to the floor in one smooth motion, sinking to my knees as my hands covered my face. How had I missed the little clues? All the intricate details that explained it all before, but I'd been too blind to notice. It was all some masterful conspiracy, since the beginning of Edward's existence, everything had been destined to happen the way it had.
"Bella!" My name was shouted from a million directions. I shook my head.
"I should have seen…" I mumbled against my palms. "I should have realized…"
"Realized what darling?" It was Esme, she was right beside me. I pulled my hands away and my eyes met seven pairs of anxious gazes.
"All this time, I thought it was just our love, our souls that made our bond so strong. But it's so much more." I whispered, my eyes found Esme, sliding then to Alice and Jasper, then to Rosalie and Emmet. "There's a reason why I died." I whispered, Esme leaned away at my words and the others looked horrified. "Edward thinks he's damned, that he's lost his soul because of what he is." I blinked at my own wisdom, and their faces changed to shock. I looked down at my fingers. "He doesn't believe there is anything waiting for him, on the other side of his life, he's convinced that he's banished from Heaven for all eternity." Their faces looked more than horrified, as if they were just now considering that fact for themselves. "That's always been his greatest suffering, far beyond the idea of losing me." I looked at my hands, where they rested on my thighs, noticing suddenly that they were wet with my tears. "Losing me only made that torture greater, because he believes that the day his life ends, that we won't be together again." I looked up at them with more tears in my eyes. "I vowed long ago, after he admitted this revelation of his, to me, that I refused to even contemplate how a belief that idiotic was possible." I shook my head.
"Bella…" Esme said softly but I stopped her.
"I know, it's rude, to refer to him as anything other than intelligent, but it was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard. He lost several intelligent points in my book every time he brought it up." I frowned as more tears fell. "I realized when he looked at me, after telling me his theory, with eyes so tortured and pained, that I wouldn't want to exist in any plane of reality, mythology, or spirituality where fate would be so infinitely cruel as to take Edward's soul because he was saved from not being physically animated by the beating of his heart." They all slowly sank into random seats around me. "I didn't want to have ever existed if it were true." I didn't know if they could feel weak in the knees, if that was why they suddenly slid bonelessly into their various sitting positions, because I had never felt that sensation as an immortal myself, except when Edward had been touching me, kissing me, or looking at me. "I vowed to myself." I continued. "That if there was a God, and he truly knew Edwards heart, knew what guilt and remorse, and unyielding affection he was capable of, and was still able to damn him for all eternity, if he knew how much I loved Edward, and was able to see him through my eyes, and was still able to turn his back on Edward's soul, then I was turning my back on God, and in my mind he didn't deserve to exist either." I fisted my hands in my lap. "If Edward truly had lost his soul because of that, then God didn't really exist for that matter and therefore Edward's soul had never really existed to begin with and neither had mine." I was suddenly angry remembering how I'd felt before my current revelation. "If Edward was damned, then so was I. That's just the way it was. I would be whatever he was. Alive, dead, undead, soulful, soulless, good, evil, vampire, human, they were all the same thing as what I was, whatever Edward was. We were a package deal, a combo, as far as I was concerned. You didn't get one without the other. End of story." I stared at them all intently. "None of that, matters now, none of it is true." The all still looked stricken.
"I don't understand…" Jasper whispered.
"None of it matters…?" Alice trailed off. "What do you mean none of its true?" Their voices were soft, almost choked whispers.
"I don't have to worry about turning my back on the idea of Heaven anymore, it's all real. It has to be…" I let it trail off.
"What are you saying?" Esme gasped more in anticipated shock than horrified realization.
"You don't see the proof?" I asked wildly.
"Proof?" She sounded distant, her eyes unfocused.
"That soul mates are real." I whispered shaking my head as I smiled softly to myself. "I even told Edward…on our honeymoon. I said 'Don't be afraid. We belong together.' And it's true, we were meant for each other." I murmured looking across their faces slowly. "We can't exist without each other." I realized the truth of my own words all over again. "We're supposed to be together." I whispered. "I died…so that Edward would understand that, so that he would see, that even death can't keep us apart." A heavy weight of awareness descended upon me suddenly. "I was a vampire and I died." Some of their eyes twitched slightly at the reminded. "If I had lost my soul the night Renesmee was born, then I wouldn't be here, with all my memories of both lives intact, if I weren't indeed the same person in both lives. I died, and yet here I am. How would this be possible, if I really had no soul when I died, as Edward believed?" I whispered and their eyes slowly rose in some ghastly form of fearful hope. "I died so that I could restore Edward's faith in the existence of his own soul." I looked at them all again. "He thinks we lose our souls when we become immortal. In God's great mercy, I think he brought me to him, to show him that that's simply not true." I slid my gaze back up to meet theirs. "Because my soul couldn't bear to be parted from Edwards."
"Carlisle was right…" Rosalie let her blank statement vanish in the air.
"Yes!" Understanding hit me so suddenly; it was like a battering ram inside of me. "Our love still needed to prove to Edward, his humanity, and that he wasn't damned!" I jumped up suddenly and they all actually looked surprised by my actions. "That's how I'm going to save him. I've got to show him that this is true, that's why I'm here." I said excitedly. "With Renesmee's ability I can show him that it's true!" My eyes flew to her suddenly before I whirled to face the others. "It's all meant to be. Edward and I were supposed to meet; Jacob was supposed to reveal his secret, we were supposed to fall in love despite the odds against us!" I looked a Jacob where he was holding Renesmee unusually tight against him, his eyes wide. "Jake and I were supposed to become close, so that he would keep me safe when Edward couldn't, so that he could keep me alive." His eyes softened at the reminder. "I mean, what takes the place of a vampire better than a werewolf when it comes to brute strength?" I grinned and he let a smile touch his lips. "Edward was supposed to get me pregnant, despite the impossibility of it all. We were supposed to have a daughter with her particular talent." I motioned to Renesmee before turning to settle my eyes onto Esme and Rosalie. "And Rosalie and Esme were supposed to have the compassion to keep them from taking her away before she had a chance to exist." Their faces melted into the softest expressions of love suddenly. "Jake was supposed to save my life the night she was born, to make sure she survived too. He was supposed to imprint on her, to keep her safe when Edward and I couldn't." I blinked suddenly. "I was supposed to become a vampire too." They all looked slightly worried. "Don't you see? As a vampire, according to Edward, I no longer had a soul, so when I died…" I trailed of looking down chewing on my bottom lips slowly before my serious eyes rose to slam into theirs intently. "I was supposed to die." I said with conviction. "To die, and be reborn. It proves that I had a soul even as a vampire doesn't it?" I asked looking at them all pointedly and they nodded numbly. "And I was born with my new ability to absorb abilities, so that I could absorb hers…" I motioned to Renesmee. "Jacob kept her safe so that she would survive to see me again, and Edward's capacity for guilt kept him from destroying himself, from following into death after me. So that this would all be possible." I was breathing harshly. "So that I could show him…that this was all supposed to happen the way it did, it was all predestined…fated…it was destiny…it was all meant to be!" They looked slightly startled. "It all makes sense now, it feels so right, so perfect, that there can be no other explanation." I whispered. They were all silent for a good ten minutes, absorbing all of my words fully. Finally, and I should have expected, a warm voice broke the silence.
"You think God, did all of this on purpose?" Jacob sounded skeptical and slightly hesitant.
"You have a better explanation?" I retorted mockingly.
"No." He smirked amused. "I'm just saying it's all a little farfetched isn't it?" He smiled and I frowned. "They could just be random coincidences." He shrugged. I blinked at him.
"You're okay with that?" I asked skeptically. "You're fine with believing that this all, is just the way life is, nothing special?" I asked wildly.
"Sure." He shrugged.
"After all you've seen Jake, after all we've been through, how can you believe that? You're just resigned to the fact, that one day, you and my daughter will die, and that that will be it?" His face changed suddenly. "You don't wish for more, than just one life time with her?" I whispered and he looked suddenly tormented at that thought. "How can you be content believing this is all there is?" I asked softly. He shook his head slowly.
"I'm not." He was laughing nervously now. "But even if all you're saying is true, as least the way I'd put it, wouldn't sound like a sermon from a religious nut job." He grinned teasingly. I narrowed my eyes.
"Jake," I sighed. "Just because I'm passionate about what I believe, and it includes a theory about God, doesn't make me religiously obsessive." His face went blank. "Have a little faith, why don't you?" I winked teasingly.
"In what?" He barked with laughter. "Your theory, or your sanity?" I glared dangerously at him.
"I hope he hits you with a lightning bolt for making fun of me, and your fur is permanently fluffed out three feet for a whole month." I threatened. He laughed harder. Renesmee looked appalled. My own words made me giggle. "Actually, that'd be pretty funny." I smirked.
"Yeah it would." Emmet laughed and I grinned.
"Who'll be afraid of the big bad wolf, then?" I snickered, eyeing Jacob again. "I'll start referring to you as poodle boy." The rest of the room suddenly howled with laughter as my words broke the sober mood. I was laughing so hard that I doubled over, as tears sprang forth, blurring my vision, laughter shaking my frame. I wiped beneath my eyes with the back of my hand as I straightened, giggling, but Carlisle's rigid frame from across the room froze me in place. The others noticed the direction of my gaze and turned to see what I was looking at.
"Did you hear it all?" Esme was suddenly at his side, and he hugged her close, nodding stiffly.
"Yes." His voice was tight. "Explanations crossed my mind, when she first showed up, ideas of this possibility, but I never imagined…" He trailed off, his voice was almost reverent. "I heard most of it while I was on the phone, he couldn't make out the words or the voices though. He thought it was just the rest of the family. I actually rushed my conversation with Edward so that I could return." He whispered and my heart constricted painfully. Was Edward on his way? I didn't have time to ask.
"It's a lot of information to process." Jacob said suddenly. "It's seems so complicated, almost too elaborate…" He trailed off and I looked at him sharply, but not angrily.
"Tell me that one thing I said doesn't make sense." I asked seriously. "Tell me what more proof you need to convince you that it's true." I whispered. He was silent. The others looked contemplative, their faces formed into expressions of careful study.
"I think you may be right." Jasper whispered suddenly looking up.
"Not may be," Alice interjected. "She is right."
"We have souls?" Rosalie asked with a high breathless whisper. "We aren't…damned?" She finished and the others looked at her slowly. I nodded, a sudden grin blooming, anticipated excitement coursing my veins.
"Maybe, Edward wasn't the only one, who needed to be convinced." I looked at them all, and they looked at me, nodding slowly. "I mean, it's a rational human concept to struggle with the idea of your own mortality, your fear of not existing, to struggle with doubt in faith. Is it not?" I whispered with wide eyes and they all seemed so focused on me suddenly. "Look at the comparisons you can make though…I mean, think about it, and think about the basic assumptions about creationism, about the creator himself." They looked perplexed by my turn in direction, Carlisle looked intrigued. "God doesn't have a heartbeat, he doesn't breathe, and he doesn't sleep…like vampires, he is an entity that simply exists. You're senses are all heightened, speed, reflexes, vision, hearing, sense of smell, and you're nearly indestructible aren't you?" They all blinked at me, even Carlisle seemed stunned. "I'm not saying vampires are Gods." I waved off what I thought they had assumed I meant. "Maybe vampirism is like the step above humanity, a step closer to being more godlike, more perfectly formed in his image than before, but still human in every other way." Their brows furrowed. "You can still love; you're still capable of compassion and rage, vanity and greed, every human emotion, you still have free will, the choice to make this life what you wish to." I explained. "You all chose to retain your humanity, you made the choice, that even though you could have given in to your darker nature, just like humans can, that you didn't want to. You didn't want to be monsters." I whispered. "He gave you all the thirst, to test you, to let you decide to give in to temptation or learn to resist it. He gave you that choice." I said firmly. "He had faith in you all, to make the right choice, in your fear to distance yourselves from him, even if you doubted him." They were all nodding wordlessly. "And after showing such faith in him, how could he not reward that faith?" I asked sympathetically when I noticed that they all looked like they wanted to cry. "I'm not a messenger from God, because he's giving me the message too. Even if you aren't religious, you can't dispute the truth of it all." I looked back to Jacob, he was trembling. "And those others…the ones who chose to detach themselves from their faith in him, the ones who abused God's gift, and mocked his faith in them…they're just lost." I noticed suddenly that each couple hugged themselves together tightly, and they looked, like they were all actually trembling. "I was once told that God loves his creations too much to banish them from him forever, he simply lets them pull away, waiting for the day when they will come back to him." I was almost sure that they were all crying now, wordless sobs as they turned to hug each other. "You're some of the most compassionate people I know, how could he turn any of you away, how could you not have souls?" I asked. Carlisle looked up slowly from Esme's shaking frame to stare at me with a determined, grateful expression.
"Thank you Bella." He whispered. "Thank you so much, for everything…" He choked suddenly and returned his attention to Esme. I took in the four pairs around me. From where Carlisle stood holding Esme in his tight embrace, to Jacob where he was holding Renesmee on his lap, cradled against his chest, rocking her slowly. Jasper leaned his forehead against Alice's, cradling her face in his hands, his honey colored hair framing her cheeks, and beside them Emmet rested a comforting arm across Rosalie's shoulder as she snuggled deeper into the curve of his body, her face hidden in the dip of his neck and shoulder. I chewed on my bottom lip carefully.
"I missed not being able to cry when I was a vampire, it's so inconvenient, don't you think?" I mused out loud and muffled laughter whispered from around me.
"I'm glad I seemed to have gotten the best of both worlds." Renesmee looked at me, smiling softly, resting her head against Jacob's chin. Her eyes suddenly went wide with excitement. "Mom!" She cried happily and the others finally pulled apart to look at her. "Jacob and I are getting married! Now you'll get to see it!" She squealed excitedly. Jacob cringed as if waiting for my reaction, I think he expected me to still disapprove of their relationship, but my expression said otherwise. I was shocked.
"I'm surprised you waited so long." I whispered softly. A grin suddenly broke both of their faces.
"Nessie wanted to wait until she was around the same age as you were when you married Edward." He explained smiling.
"I wanted to wear your dress." She said sheepishly, that made a fearful thought strike me.
"My ring!" I shouted and they all jumped. "The ring Edward gave me when he proposed; I was wearing it when I dove into the flames!" My voice was tight in terror. Renesmee slowly slid from Jacob's arms to come to stand before me.
"I retrieved it, after they put the flames out." She whispered offering me an upward palm. "I don't know if you want to see…" She trailed off. I nodded wordlessly meeting her eyes and slowly my palm rose until it touched hers, and visions swam behind my eyes.
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