"There was nothing in sight but memories left abandoned; there was nowhere to hide,
the ashes fell like snow. And the ground caved in between where we were standing, and
your voice was all I heard. That I'd get what I deserve. So give me reason to prove me wrong,
to wash this memory clean. Let the floods cross the distance in your eyes, across this new divide.
In every loss, in every lie, in every truth that you'd deny, and each regret, and each goodbye, was a
mistake too great to hide. And your voice was all I heard. That I'd get what I'd deserve."
Linkin Park "New Divide"
Chapter Seventeen, SigmaI was up and running the border before the sun was more then the slightest pink smudge against the horizon. I left Jake asleep at the rock, where he looked so ridiculously happy and peaceful that if he woke I knew I'd have to say something, and I knew above all I shouldn't do that. So I got up and ran, becoming the wolf, which was easier, because they didn't have to worry about jobs and boys and doing something with their lives. They just were, and nothing put the pack mattered to them. No convoluted ties to vampires and humans and werewolves for them. Maybe if I stay a wolf long enough, I'll just turn into one, and never have to worry about any of this again...
I wasn't avoiding him. Avoiding him meant actively going out of your way not to see someone. No, I was just worried Sam's pack would try to kill us again and so was running patrols, and if it just so happened to be Monday and he just so happened to have to go to school at a certain time that happened to coincide with the time in which I was running, that wasn't anything but a coincidence. Those happened all the time. It was no big deal. I was just looking out for the pack, like I'd always done, because that was what I was here for. Certainly not to get an M.R.S. Especially not that. It was to keep Seth safe. It was all about Seth.
And, I mean, why would I avoid him? Sure, it was way awesome sex, but he was my Alpha and I was his Beta and it was all caused by the heat of the moment and, yes, I might have said some things that implied I liked him, but I was obviously sleep deprived. Obviously. Because he was Jake, and could do a lot better then a bitch like me, who would probably live at my rock for the rest of my life, and never do anything but protect vampires. And possibly do my Alpha on occasion – wait, no, not that last bit. It'd never happen again. Never. Because he was my Alpha and I was his Beta and it was all caused by the head of the moment, and-
Oh, God, who was I kidding? I was just waiting for the shoe to drop. A chance at happiness – a chance! - had been dangled in front of me, and I had seized it, knowing full well that nothing in my life had ever worked out before. I just knew that, if I had stayed, he would have woken up and gone on to break my heart. He would say what I knew (or at least suspected) boys always said to one night stands, and it would ruin all the good memories and- Well, I wasn't giving him a chance. Not a chance at all. Because it was inevitable that he would hurt me. That was the way life worked. I mean, look at it: no one comes out of it alive. So I would hurt him first – by just ignoring him, which was less cruel then Sam had been to me, certainly, but would still hurt. And then he'd get over me and find his imprint and move on or even just some nice girl from La Push or Forks or the Makah Rez or some school he'd be lucky enough to get out of this town and go to, forgetting this whole stupid werewolf thing. Maybe go on to become an engineer or city planner or accountant or something and have three fucking perfect kids and a dog. And I'll at least have had a taste of happiness to succour me through my bitter days, as I grew old without ageing at my rock. Life would be so much easier if that was the way the world worked, with the nice girls getting the nice guys and wretches like me being left to dry. At least then I'd know where I stood. And it made Jake a nice guy. Although-
Yes, I really must stop this. All this anxiety is bad for my heart. There is nothing to be worried about. There is Jake and there is me and there is no us. We just had sex once. But that's it. No more. End of story. Full stop. Send to the fucking presses.
I was feeling so wretched that I – before noon even – went to the Cullens. I was surprised to find Charlie there, sitting on one of the couches, talking with his daughter. "God, Charlie, you forget your way home?" It was kinda weird to see him still there, as I'd left him. Made me wonder if the whole last day wasn't just some bad acid trip – which would explain quite a lot, actually. Please, God, let it be a bad acid trip.
"No," he laughed, eyes brighter then they'd been in ages, probably because he didn't know the person he was sitting next to was, primarily, dead, and, more importantly, a vampire. "Just back again to visit Bella. What about you?" Either that or he'd used his new-found knowledge of the supernatural to bang my mother last night, and, if that was the case, I would have to kill him. After I'm done throwing up.
Frankly (and trying not to be sick over the white rug), "I live at a rock; they're the only ones around with cable," then, turning towards the ice bitch, "Where's your husband? I'm anticipating having a bad day and need someone to preemptively mock."
"He, Rose, Emmett, and Jasper have been in the basement all morning. Alice won their bet and they're all down there cleaning."
This could be amusing. And brighten my day. "What was their bet about?"
"Oh, I don't know. They always have three or four going at a time."
I didn't shout, "Bitch, you're a freaking vampire with nothing to do but toddle your devil's-miracle baby. How can you not know what's going on around you that badly, especially as it's been all they've seemed to mention for weeks?" I didn't though. I really, really wanted to, but didn't. But only because her dad was there, and like it or not he was (kinda) dating Mom, and her temper was rather legendary. So instead I asked, "Which door?"
And behind door number three was the stairs to the basement. And the basement itself was something. I thought they just used it to store all the board games, video games, VHS, and DVDS in the world. That's certainly what it seemed like from up above. But no, there were boxes upon boxes for as far as the eye could see, tonnes of old-looking furniture covered with dusty cloths, and little bits of fabric and oddments poking out every which way. "Mirror, mirror on the wall," I muttered, feeling like I was entering a movie studio or a closet in Buckingham Palace, "where's the scariest vampire of them all?"
Rosalie instantly appeared at my side. There was one of those old cloche hats on her head, a bright read poodle skirt around her waist (obviously), and a Vietnam-era fatigue jacket tossed over one shoulder. "I resent the implication," she said sadly, buffing her nails on the jacket. "I prefer the term 'frightening' to 'scary' – it's more dignified."
"I was actually trying to find Mr. Potato-Ed, but you'll work too. What happened to you? Don't tell me the bogeyman is really and you're trying to 'frighten' him out." If she did, I was going to, first, totally rip the bogeyman to pieces. And then I'd wig out and demand to know whatever other damn supernatural creatures existed and where I could go to not meet any of them.
She tisked me, pulling the hat off her head and throwing it so it – miraculously – landed in an open box behind her. "Someone woke up on the wrong side of the cave today."
"It's a rock, not a cave, and I'm having a sucky day." An obscenely loud burst of laughter exploded behind a stack of far-off boxes. "I take offence to that," I shouted towards whoever it was. Being an angst-ridden werewolf is hard work; it makes you hungry and encourages you to do stupid things. Like sleep with your Alpha. Which, no matter how hot he is, is stupid. "I'd say try living a day in my shoes but, hey, I forgot, you don't. Live that is."
"Nor," Rose just had to point out, "do you have any shoes."
"That, my pointy-toothed friend, is your fault."
"We're doing spring cleaning. I'm sure we can find you something that works better then what you have now."
"It's October. Or does 'spring' just mean you're hopping while you do it? - and why are you down here? How does cleaning count as loosing a bet?"
Emmett, who had a three-cornered hat on his head and three boxes in his hands (the top one overflowing with what appeared to be passports and other important papers), peered at me through a gap between his arm and the boxes. "'Cause it means we have to sort through it all. Esme got fed up with us just throwing things in the attic when we were in Ushuaia in the- when was it?"
"'53, right before we went to Island Falls, Maine, the second time" Rose reminded him, taking the top box from him and frowning at all the papers inside. "Can't we just burn these?"
Jasper came up then, looking most amusing, with papers poking out of his shirt collar and pockets, a monocle in one eye, and a bayonet at his side. "No... I'm still looking for the papers from Winnett, Montana... and the death certificate we made up for 'Joseph Cullen'..."
This certainly did interest me. "Who's Joseph Cullen?"
"I am," said Jasper oddly, flipping through the papers in the box at the speed of a small tornado. "Back when Carlisle was still living in Europe, he made up a trust to keep all the possessions and money and things he'd collected over the years. He'd simply write his solicitor, tell him that he'd had a son, and a couple dozen years later have the 'son' write to say the father had died. Worked very well until he made Edward, so he just worked him up as a brother and that was all very fine and well until Rosalie and Emmett came along, because he had to now pretend to have multiple children and have them marry and have others to keep the trust going through... So when Alice and I joined Carlisle, we made it at the bank that – I think it was 'Ruby' and 'Elliot' - had just had another son, 'Joseph' and he married 'Amanda'..."
"It's all great fun," Rose said, now going through the second box which, oddly enough contained Disney movies. "You think Renesmee would like The Little Mermaid? Or should we just put these away and find the 1935 version of Romeo and Juliet for her?"
"Neither," offered Emmett, his box full of newspapers. "The kid'll like Dracula better, and you know it. Now these we can burn... But, yeah. Currently I'm pretending to be 'Edmund,' 'Joseph's' now fifty-something son, and 'Everett,' 'Edmund's' son, and Rose is both 'Rachel,' 'Edmund's' wife, and, 'Rochelle,' 'Everett's' wife. And Edward's playing something like my brother, our old uncle, and his own grandson."
I think I was gaping at this point. Couldn't they just, well, not go to all this trouble? Or, like, not own so much junk?
"We have great family feuds going on between old Uncle Edward's side of the family and 'Joseph's', and now that Bella's around we're going to have another one where we all try to have their children written out of old Uncle Edward's will..."
"Please tell me," I said weakly, sitting on one of the trunks, a little tired and more then a little overwhelmed, "you only started this because Carlisle was too cheap to spring for HBO." God, I hoped that's what it was. 'Cause if this is what vampires did with their free time, I was running for the hills come tax season.
"We get bored," said Emmett. "But," he grew five watts brighter just looking at me, "now that you're here, the fun can begin!"
Cautiously, "No pin-the-tail-on-the-werewolf is allowed." Emmett had threatened it before too.
"He means we can now tease you now for sleeping with Jacob."
I jumped off of the box, spilling the papers they'd piled on my lap, and barked, "WHAT!" so loudly I'm amazed Jake didn't hear me at La Push and call to ask what was going on. A blush ten shades of Bella-scarlet was appearing on my face, I just knew it, and all the thoughts I'd successfully managed to forget while trying to figure out the Cullen's falsified family tree, came flooding back to me. Especially the parts about how much I liked sleeping with Jake and the more embarrassing parts about not wanting to be alone all my life and begging him not to leave me. "Don't tell me THAT was you're stupid bet!"
"Don't have to," Jasper said, snorting at my reaction (something, I tell you, Dr. Phil never does to his clients, the stupid nose-raping feeling-stealing vampire), "you already figured it out. If you two had just gone another week... I should've known though: the lust rolling off the two of you was just ridiculous. Almost as bad as Ed-"
The mind-reading vampire in question shouted, "I can hear you," from an unknown distance, "and I know where you keep your old army uniforms." While, quite calmly I felt, I asked, "Do you have a jack-hammer down here?"
"Because it'll probably hurt you a lot more then my fist is about to."
Like a proper sister, Rose gave up her sibling before my fist could speed towards her 'twin.' "It was Alice's idea. Personally, I don't know what you see in the mutt, but..."
I would have to find Alice then too. After I murdered the Cullens. I couldn't believe this – they were freaking betting on when I would get laid. That is just... aren't they supposed to be sexually repressed teenage-
No, the teenage-thing explained it. Stupid teenagers. Stupid teenagers with superpowers. Stupid nosy teenagers with superpowers and too much free time on their hands. Stupid Jake for seducing me in the first place. Stupid-
"I worked as a vet for a year," Emmett told me, folding a hat out of one of the yellowing newspapers and plopping it on top of the tri-corner he was already wearing for no reason that I could tell other then capriciousness. "I thought you were starting to smell like a dog in heat-"
Tell me he did not just say that. I must now steal bayonet from the paper-snatching care-bear and decapitate Mr. Smart Mouth. Must act quickly, to save sanity and, possibly, life as we know it. Then I can go back to worrying about how to avoid Jake. And keep from sleeping with him again. Or having him break my heart. Or-
"You're making her angry," I heard Edward's voice carry across the room again. I'm sure he's the one who realized what we had done. Great, now I must kill mind-raper too. Normally, I'd be pleased with this, but if Bella became my stepsister, then he'd be my stepbrother-in-law, and Mom would be bound to be pissed having to deal with that argument over Christmas dinner. ("You killed my husband!" "So? He invaded my privacy! And what are you even doing here anyway? You don't eat cooked turkey!") Oh well. I could live with the consequences. And could use something very sharp. Need stake... there's a clothes hanger. Would a clothes hanger do?
"I'm just saying. Wolves usually don't mate 'til winter."
I launched myself at Jasper, which no one seemed to be expecting, and managed to get my hands on the sword pummel before they managed to pull me off. "Stupid pack vampire-rats," I spit, trudging back up the stairs. "I'm going to ruin another X-box for that!"
The problem wasn't the Cullens, however much I wanted it to be. It was with the clock, which seemed to be telling me that the car pulling into the drive had to be the Rabbit; with the doors, of which the only one seemed to be the one standing between me and the driveway, and with my heart, which seemed to be beating far too fast in my chest.
I would have to see him.
I couldn't do this. I couldn't be hurt that way again...