Chapter 1: Chapter One
Fire, that's all she can see, that's all she can smell. All she can do is watch as the thick orange flames consume the forest all around her. She can practically taste the thick black smoke in the air. She can almost feel the heat of the flames licking away at her skin. She expects it to burn her and she braces herself for a pain that never comes. Still, she waits but it does not come.
She hears her name being called in the distance and she would recognise that voice coming anywhere. It's the same voice that she dreams about every night and the owner of the voice, someone, she could spend every second of every day with without growing tired of them. She could listen to them talk for a thousand years without ever losing interest.
She searches through the sea of flames trying to find her, trying to find Alice. She see's Alice standing at the edge of the forest, her pale skin glowing against the light of the fire. She opens her mouth to call for her but it feels like her voice is lost in the roaring flames.
She's the first one to move. She wades through the sea of flames and the burns, she expects never come. She can feel the flames, they ripple across her face, crawling up her arms and legs but it doesn't hurt, it never hurts. She feels like she walks for days, she wonders if the forest is endless and if there really is a way out. It's only because she can see herself getting closer to Alice that she knows she's moving. Alice who hasn't moved once but is watching her every move intently.
"Cole," Alice says as she stops in front of her, there's something odd in her tone but Cole can't put her finger on what.
"I'm here, it's okay Alice. I don't know what happened but at least we're ok." Cole says turning away from the fire to look at Alice. She reaches out slowly to put a hand on her shoulder but Alice takes a step away from her, so she's just out of arms to reach.
"Why did you do it, Cole?" Alice asks her expression pained.
"I don't understand," Cole pauses as the meaning of the words sink in. "I couldn't have done this. I would never." She says quietly as she turns to look at the flames.
"Cole. Why did you hurt us? Why did you hurt me? I thought you said you would never hurt me." Alice says sounding far away.
Cole isn't sure what she wants to say as she turns back around to look at Alice but Alice isn't there when she turns around. Sitting in the spot where Alice had stood only mere seconds ago, is a pile of ashes. "Alice." She screams out.
Cole's heart is racing and she's breathing heavy as her eyes fly open. It's just a dream, only a dream, she reassures herself. The dream was so vivid that it takes her a moment to convince herself that's all it was a dream.
She checks her alarm clock, it's a while before she needs to get up but there's no way she's getting back to sleep now. She slips out of bed, glancing back at Bella's present sitting on her desk before she slips through the bathroom to shower.
She stares in the mirror for what feels like a long time when she gets out of the shower. She examines her face almost like she's expecting a drastic change. With her eighteenth birthday coming up in the next few months, she knows that means she coming of age. And for a witch especially that means change. She's a little taller and her hair seems brighter but there's been nothing special about the changes; yet as Carlisle likes to remind her, there's still plenty time for that.
She does feel different, she feels stronger than before. She knows what to expect as the next month's pass, her intuition will likely become stronger as will her senses. She knows she won't suddenly have vampire like senses but they'll be better, sharper than before. She's glad to know her magic can't get any stronger; she has enough problems with control at this rate.
She knows more affinities may alway be around the corner but it's too much stress for her, even if Emmett does like to dream up all the amazing powers she could get. He was disappointed to hear that it wouldn't necessarily be something cool; things like real enhanced senses, speed or strength are always a possibility. Emmett, on the other hand, has said countless times that he hopes it's ice powers Cole gets next.
She shakes her head with a small chuckle before she starts to get dressed. She tries not to think too much about her dream but it stay in the back of her mind. Bella arrives earlier than usual and Cole debates whether she should give Bella her gift now or later, she decides on later.
They drive to school in complete silence. Cole can tell that something is bothering Bella and it's more than just that she doesn't like her birthday. She knows that the party Alice has planned for tonight isn't going to make Bella's mood any better. She's kept her mouth shut but she has a bad feeling about it.
A relieved smile crosses her face as she spots Alice waiting for her brothers immaculate silver Volvo. Alice looks irresistible as always, she's of course dressed stylishly in a dark blue blouse and a pair of well fitting black jeans with a scarf knotted tightly around her throat. It's settling to see Alice in one piece after a dream like that.
Alice is waiting for them impatiently her golden eyes dazzling in their excitement, and a small silver-wrapped present clutched in her small hands. Cole thinks that she looks endearing but from the way Bella frowns, Cole can guess she isn't of the same opinion. Alice skips forward to meet them, almost shining with her excitement.
Cole is already out of the truck as Bella slams the door behind her. Cole walks quickly but she feels like she could run to Alice. If they weren't in a parking lot full of people then she would take more than the gentle hug they exchange. Cole breathes in Alice's sweet scent, like a comforting perfume and she hangs on for a few seconds too long before she pulls away.
It's been one of the best summers of her life but being in closet hasn't been easy. There have been a few close calls on her part. She gets the feeling if Alice weren't a vampire then someone would definitely have caught them. Her brother would most likely have walked in on one of their make out sessions and the thought makes her feel a little sick. She has no clue how her brother will react, and she has nothing to gauge it off.
"Happy birthday, Bella!" Alice gushes.
"Shh!" Bella hisses, glancing around. It's pretty clear that the last thing Bella wants is to celebrate her birthday.
Cole wonders if things will be the same thing when her birthday comes in December. She has a feeling that if she lets Alice have her own way then it'll really be over the top. She likes to think she'll stand her ground but she knows she'll melt and give Alice whatever she wants. She may not have her girlfriends extravagant tastes but she doesn't have a problem with her birthday, the way that Bella does.
Alice ignores her. "Do you want to open your presents now or later?" She asks eagerly as they make their way over to where Edward is still waiting.
"No presents," Bella protests in a mumble.
Alice finally seems to process Bella mood, Cole wonders for a moment if Alice is going to try the guilt card on Bella to make her accept presents. "Okay... later, then. Did you like the scrapbook your mom sent you? And the camera from Charlie?"
Bella just sighs in response. With her gift Alice knows everything or it felt like that sometimes. Except for Cole who was an exception to her girlfriend's gift, Cole's future is just blank for Alice and she can tell Alice doesn't like her. Cole would be lying if she says she wasn't at least a little pleased at that, knowing she can surprise Alice in the future.
"Yeah. They're great."
"I think it's a nice idea. You're only a senior once. Might as well document the experience."
"How many times have you been a senior?"
"She does bring up a good point there." Cole pipes in, Alice shooting her a dark look.
"That's different. And Cole, as my girlfriend aren't you supposed to be unquestionably on my side."
They reach Edward's car, and of course, her reaches out for Bella. Cole looks away from their display of affection. She doesn't even bother to lie to herself about how envious she is of the display. The casual affection they can share so freely is something Cole craves. Closer or no closet, a moment like that for her isn't always something people would accept.
"So, as discussed, I am not allowed to wish you a happy birthday, is that correct?" Edward asks and Cole wonders what he would have done for Bella's birthday if she had given him free rein, something expensive she knows.
"Yes, that is correct." Is, of course, Bella's answer.
"Just checking." He runs his hand through his tousled bronze hair, Cole wonders if he's trying dazzle Bella as she puts it, into letting him have his way. "You might have changed your mind. Most people seem to enjoy things like birthdays and gifts."
Alice laughs, it's a warm and free sound that reminds her of a wind chime. "Of course you'll enjoy it. Everyone is supposed to be nice to you today and give you your own way, Bella. What's the worst that could happen?" She asks rhetorically.
Cole thinks it's sweet that Alice is so excited for Bella' birthday but at the same time, she gets the feeling Alice would use just about any excuse to throw a party. She almost laughs at the thought of whatever grand display Alice must demand for her own birthday. She would bet her soul that Alice loves all the attention she gets and not to mention getting her own way; as if that's not how things go every other day of the year. She may not have much money but she knows she wants to do something special for Alice's birthday next year.
"Getting older," Bella answers anyway, her voice unsteady.
Cole already knows what Bella wants, she's heard Bella say it a thousand times over the past six months. She wants to be immortal, she wants to be a vampire just like the Cullens so she and Edward can be together forever. Despite everything Edward has said to her, even after the warnings he's given her about what it's like, Bella still wants Edward to turn her.
It's obvious to Cole and probably Edward too that to Bella there are no downsides to becoming a vampire. Alice glances at her for a moment and she doesn't need to be a mind reader to know what Alice is thinking, she wants to know if Cole feels the same way as Bella. It's something they've never talked about; their relationship about the now but sometimes Cole wonders. She loves Alice more than anything but she doesn't know if she that's what she wants. She isn't like Bella, blinded by the sweet side of things, she can see the sour too.
"Eighteen isn't very old," Alice says. "Don't women usually wait till they're twenty-nine to get upset over birthdays?"
"It's older than Edward," Bella mumbles.
"Only Technically," Alice says, keeping her tone light. "Just by one little year, though."
Cole doesn't understand this. She can't see why a year would matter so much to Bella in the grand scheme of it all. If she's aiming for forever, then why does one year matter when there are thousands ahead of you. Cole's head spins at the thought of living that long and she doesn't know how Bella can be so sure she wants that.
"What time will you be at the house?" Alice continues, changing the subject.
"I didn't know I had plans to be there."
"Oh, be fair, Bella!" she complains. "You aren't going to ruin all our fun like that, are you?" Alice asks pouting adorably though Cole is sure that's the last thing on Bella's mind, it's probably not even on the other girl's mind at all.
It's Cole turn to sigh. She knows that this conversation is going to go on forever. Bella is going to protest and probably bring up the fact that it is her birthday after all but at the end of the day, Alice will win. The party will go off without a problem and Bella will have a great time; she tries to convince herself that the bad feeling in her gut is wrong. Cole gives her excuses herself, saying that she's going to head to class. Alice kisses her on the cheek and reminds Cole that she'll be riding with her after school.
The first period is one the few classes that Cole and Alice don't have with each other, meaning they get to spend almost all day together. It was just like they had been all summer, they had practically been joined at the hip. Cole spent several nights at the Cullens as did Alice, this sleepover actually having been approved by her brother. The fact that he saw Alice as Cole's new best friend did put a damper on her mood at times but a few kisses from Alice though were always enough to cheer her up.
She doesn't pay much attention to class just day dreaming about her perfect summer by Alice. It had been the rainiest summer in the history of the Olympic Peninsula, so they were hardly forced to stay away from people. Despite shopping being one of Alice's favourite things in the world, they had only gone a handful of times. They did everything else though: day trips to zoo's and art museums; they went to the movies almost every week and there were countless picnics in the Cullens backyard. Then there were the immeasurable hours that Cole spent trying to sketch Alice.
Alice liked to pay for everything over the summer and at first that didn't bother so much, so what if her girlfriend wanted to buy her dinner? But then she saw how everything was adding up, they would go to the movies and Alice would insist on buying her popcorn, and then she would buy Cole food if she hadn't eaten. The first time Cole had pulled out her wallet to pay for something, Alice had looked at her like she was offended. Cole knows the Cullen are obscenely rich but at the same time, she doesn't want to feel like a freeloader.
Alice doesn't seem to understand why Cole won't just let her spend unlimited amounts of money on her. Money just doesn't seem to mean anything to her and from what Bella has said to Cole, she figures this is a Cullen thing. It's just something that you have when you have unlimited time on your hands and a family member with the ability to predict trends in the stock market. They had come to a middle ground on this, even if Alice still refused to let Cole pay for anything. What Cole really had a problem with over the summer was all the gifts.
The few times they did go shopping Cole would pick up a few things and then Alice would insist on buying her more art supplies, then there were the things that Alice would sneak into her bags. Cole knew she couldn't win every argument so as long as she could explain it to her brother, she was fine with whatever Alice wanted to give her. That was until Alice bought her the most expensive thing she owns, it was a necklace with a simple silver chain and a large ruby pendant in the shape of a heart. Then when Alice had brought up the subject of a car like she was offering to buy her a candy bar.
She had put her foot down at this point. She had told Alice that if she still wanted to buy her presents then she couldn't just go and buy her anything. There was some negotiation but in the end, they managed to settle on three rules: 1. It had to be something she can explain to her brother; 2. It had to be something that she actually needed and 3. Alice with the exception of December is only allowed to buy her something once a month.
Alice had been good when it came to following the rules, that had been until last month when she had returned from a hunting trip with a small black kitten. Cole tried to say that was against the rules but Alice disputed this, claiming that all witches need a cat.
Cole wasn't sure if she was going to keep the kitten at first but it had been too cute for her to get rid of. She had told her brother it was stray and the Alice would have taken it in but Esmé is allergic to cats. He bought her lies well enough but she had named it Stoker; something Alice didn't find very funny.
The subject of Bella's birthday doesn't come up again throughout the school, something that Cole doesn't mind one bit. Alice makes sure that Cole eats at lunch but she's been getting a lot better when it comes to eating. With all the extra magic practice, it's either eat or feel like a complete zombie. Alice also made sure that she eat's after work. She still dinner over at Bella's a few times a week, she helps out a little but she's not a very good cook so normally she just does the dishes. Esmé always insists on feeding her when she spends time at the Cullen house. So she's eating regularly enough even if she still skips breakfast most mornings.
Lunch is more entertaining now that it had been before the summer. After the two remaining Cullens had joined Bella and Cole's old table though the table became clearly divided. The four of them - Edward, Alice, Bella and Cole- sitting on the extreme southern end of the table; while everyone else sits behind an invisible line, a line that seems to vanish on a sunny day when the Cullens aren't present. Cole can admit that she never saw something like this ever happening but now that it has, the arrangement doesn't bother her. Even if she stills thinks Mike and Jessica are annoying.
At the end of school, Alice and Cole head over to Edwards Volvo, Cole's never been in his car before so she eyes it with interest before she climbs in.
"I am of course happy to be driving with you, but this is totally so Bella can't make a run for it, right?" Cole jokes as she buckles her seatbelt, "You had a vision of her legging it to Mexico just so she doesn't have to come to the party." She teases with a laugh.
She flashes an innocent smile in response to the mock dirty look that Alice shoots her. She doesn't bother asking as she turns on the radio, Bella's radio is a piece of shit so she figures she might as well listen to a decent one while she can.
"So, is this what I should expect when it's my birthday?" She asks as they pull
out of the car park.
"Well of course not," Alice says in mock offence. "Bella is my friend but I'm in love with you. So imagine this but bigger and better." Alice says excitement clear in her voice; Cole has a feeling that Alice already has everything planned out even if her birthday is still months away.
"Okay and that is very sweet of you but, what if I don't want anything for my birthday either," Cole says with a sly grin, turning to face Alice so she can see her reaction.
"Mila Jeanine Coleman," Alice says sternly and Cole can't help the way she winces at Alice's use of her full name. "I already have the perfect birthday planned for you. You wouldn't want to let me down, would you? I've worked so hard on this." Alice says with a small pout.
Cole stops herself from rolling her eyes at her girlfriend's antics. She should have known Alice would go straight in for the heartstrings. Truthfully, she's looking forward to her birthday even if she doesn't like to think about how much money Alice is probably going to spend. Besides even if she didn't want to celebrate, she doesn't think she could resist such a perfect face.
"You don't have to worry, I would never do that to you. Besides, I for one am actually looking forward to by birthday. " She says only slightly teasing as she smiles at her in the rearview mirror.
Alice is happy enough with that answer, especially after Cole says that she's sure this will be her best birthday yet. Alice's excitement seems to double as she talks about the details for Bella's party. Cole is listening but her interest peaks when Alice mentions that Rosalie and Emmett were back from Africa for Bella's party, talking about how excited they are. That sounds like Emmett but it certainly doesn't sound like Rosalie, she's willing to bet is another story but she doesn't comment, just humming softly in response.
The same house that Cole spent at least half of her summer. A bad concussion, a few broken ribs and broken wrist; that's what she was left with after James. Bella's cast made things very awkward for her so that's where Alice had stepped in to help. Cole liked to joke that Alice was Charlie's guardian angel. Charlie took a shine to Alice but Cole doubts anyone would be able to resist Alice's charms.
Leo had already met Alice before the summer had begun but it was during the summer that Alice had managed to really win him over. With his hectic work schedule, he liked to think that she would have company so Alice officially had an open invitation to come and go as she pleased. Of course, Leo didn't know that meant Alice spending almost every night but Cole figures what he doesn't know can't hurt him.
Cole laughs softly as she sees the outside of the Cullen house. She figures that Alice must have put the others to work. It looks wonderful, bright lights shine through every window of the first two floors. A long line of glowing Japanese lanterns are hung from the porch eaves. Large bowls of flowers - pink roses - line the wide stairs up to the front doors.
"Make sure to get gold for my birthday." Cole teases as Alice opens her door. Cole hadn't even seen her getting out of the car but she's starting to get used to Alice's speed. She takes Alice's hand as she helps her out of the car. She presses a kiss to the back of Alice's head as they approach the house.
The first thing that greets Cole as they head inside is Emmett; looking every bit as excited as Alice had promised. He seems even bigger than he had before, offering her a wide grin as their eyes meet. His excitement is so contagious that Cole finds herself smiling as well.
"Shorty. Red." He greets the two of them, using what Cole liked to point out were pretty unoriginal nicknames. "I thought you were going to leave me waiting forever."
Cole had tried to point out that she didn't need a nickname, considering that Cole itself was a nickname. Reminding him that even if no one called her by it that her first name was still Mila. His counter argument was reminding her that he also had a nickname for Bella, Bells, a nickname that Cole pointed out was almost as bad as red.
"If you say so old man. I mean you're not immortal or anything; so your time must be very precious." She says in mock sympathy, Emmett looking offended in response.
"You know what, I remembered you as being less mean." He counters back, his grin already back in place. Cole just sticks out her tongue childishly in lieu of a real response.
He insists on pulling her into a bear hug next, even if she pretends to hate it; it's nice after he's been gone for so long. She makes the usual joking comments that she can't breathe but she knows just how gentle he's being. If any of the Cullens were to use their full strength, they could crush her. She grins at him when they separate, turning to look at Rosalie, who had, of course, hung back.
"Hello Rosalie," Cole greets the other girl politely.
She only gets a nod of acknowledgement but it's better than a glare so Cole takes what she can get. She doesn't say anything else just smiling at Rosalie softly. She looks as stunning as always and even after all these months, Cole still hasn't attempted to draw her. She feels relieved when Rosalie turns her gaze away from her. Cole already knows how Rosalie feels about Bella and she can only guess that her feelings for her, aren't going to be any different. She had a feeling that Rosalie wasn't just trying to be a bitch; so when she was rude or cold, Cole would pretend like she didn't notice,
"I still have some things to do, so you should find something to keep yourself occupied," Alice says kissing her cheek. "Oh and I have a dress for you to wear tonight, so I'll come and get you when it's time to get ready."
Cole isn't sure what to do, after her dream, she doesn't want to practice fire today and she doesn't even want to think about her spell work. She ends up going through to the kitchen to grab a drink. Even if it's only Bella and Cole that visit, Esmé still likes to keep the cupboards stocked. It's another thing that makes her think extreme generosity is a Cullen thing. They had both assured Esmé that it wasn't necessary but Esmé insisted, claiming that she couldn't send them home hungry. Cole thinks that Esmé enjoys having them in the house, she thinks Esmé likes the excuse to use the kitchen.
She wonders around the house a little before she ends up playing video games with Emmett. She had tried to say it was pointless, after all, Emmett could beat her in a heartbeat if she wanted to. They play several rounds of mortal kombat before Emmett starts to get bored with beating her. He even lets her win a round. Just replying with, "That's what big brother are for." When she had asked him why.
"So any interesting new spells for me to see?" He asks pausing the game. She just groans in response as she lays back on the couch. "Is it that bad?" He asks chucking.
She sighs, the last spell Emmett had seen was her ward spell. It works like an alarm, she only had to do it once but once it was done she could tell if there were any vampires within a few hundred feet of her house. Though she had pointed out if the vampire was trying to kill her then the spell wouldn't be much help. Though the stronger she gets, the farther it seems to expand. It had been a difficult spell to master, just like every new spell the book gave to her and she knows they're only going to keep getting harder.
"It's not that bad but I'm just having such a hard time with this spell." She says staring up at the ceiling. "The idea is that I should be able to create light. To be able to hold it in my hands the same way I can my fire." She expands as she sits back up.
Cole changes the subject, having Emmett unpause the game and they don't talk about magic anymore. Something Cole appreciates as she just sinks into the mindless violence of the game as they get a few more rounds in before she has to go and get ready.
She gets changed in Alice's ridiculously large bathroom. She had questioned before, why Alice needed such a large bathroom but her girlfriend had insisted that it was just necessary. The dress Alice had chosen is lovely like she had expected; it's a dark red velvet dress with long sleeves that comes down to her knees. Alice had then decided on doing her hair as well, saying that it was a party, after all, pinning Cole's hair away from her face.
"You are absolutely, gorgeous." Alice beams, Cole bites her lip softly, flushing with pride.
"I could say that same thing about you but you always look beautiful," Cole says, leaning in to kiss her.
Alice kisses her back and the two share a quick kiss before they join hand and make their way downstairs. Cole hadn't paid much attention to the decorating before so now she gets to admire it. Alice has covered every flat surface with pink candles and dozens of crystal bowls filled with hundreds of pink roses. There's a table with a white clothes draped over it next to Edwards piano, holding a pink birthday cake, more roses, a stack of glass plates, and a small pile of silver-wrapped presents. Cole plans on giving Bella her present when it's just the two of them.
Cole almost laughs as everyone gets into place; she's not surprised that Alice would have every second of the night planned out. Cole takes her place, standing in between Alice and Jasper by the stairs. She holds Alice's hand, stroking her knuckles. She projects a little heat through her hands, just enough to keep them warm.
It's one of the easier things that she practised with her fire over the summer and one of the more practical things too. With a girlfriend like ice, it's nice being able to keep yourself warm. It means she doesn't have to worry about her teeth chattering and ruining the moment.
"Happy birthday, Bella!"They greet Bella in a loud chorus.
Esmé and Carlisle are the first to go up to her, having been stood the closest to the door. Esmé hugging Bella carefully, pressing a kiss to Bella's forehead. Carlisle, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
"Sorry about this, Bella." He stages whispers. "We couldn't rein Alice in."
Cole chuckles softly, trying to imagine if there was ever a time they had been able to rein Alice in. Her girlfriend is just a force of nature and she has a hard time believing that anything could stand in her way. It's one of the best and worst things about Alice.
"You haven't changed at all," Emmett says with mock disappointment. "I expected a perceptible difference, but here you are, red-faced just like always."
"Thanks a lot," Bella said, blushing an even darker red.
He laughs, "I have to step out for a second." He pauses to wink conspicuously at Alice, Cole fights back a playful. "Don't anything I wouldn't do. That means you too, red." He says giving Cole a pointed look.
"Of course, I'll make sure not to burn the house down," Cole responds dryly, with a mock salute.
She let's go of Alice's hand as she heads over to Bella. Giving her friend a quick hug, even if they had just seen each other a few hours ago. "Happy birthday." She whispers in Bella's ear. Smiling innocently as Bella scowls at her, linking their arm together..
"I'm the moral support, Eddie." She replies smoothly when Edward raises an eyebrow at her.
Alice skips toward them, her teeth sparkling in the bright light. Jasper smiles at Bella too, staying back like always. He leans against the post at the foot of the stairs. Cole flashes him a quick smile before her Alice steals her attention.
"Time to open presents," Alice declares. Putting her cool hands under Bella's other elbow, towing her towards the table with cake and gifts. When Cole goes to remove her arm from Bella's, Bella flashes a look of 'you promised moral support so deliver.'
"Alice, I told you I didn't want anything- "
"Pack it in, Alice is going to win no matter what you say." Cole groans playfully. "So give up, please. I for one don't want to be here all night.
"Exactly." Alice grins, kissing Cole's cheek. "Open it." She says pressing a big silver wrapped present into Bella's hand.
Cole reads the tag over Bella's shoulder. This one is from Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper. Cole wonders if Rosalie really had anything to do with the gift or if her name had just been added.Bella rips the paper off, staring at the box it had concealed.
Inside of the box is something electrical, with lots of numbers in the name. Bella looks to Cole for a hint but she only shrugs. Bella opens up the box, hoping for a further explanation but the box is empty.
Cole is sure her jaw has to be hitting the floor, as Rosalie actually cracks a smile for once. Jasper just laughs. "It's a stereo for your truck." He explains. "Emmett's installing it right now so that you can't return it."
"Thanks, Jasper, Rosalie," Bella says grinning, surprising considering her mood. "Thanks, Emmett!" She calls out more loudly.
"Open mine and Edward's next," Alice says, her voice rising in her excitement. Holding out a small flat square in her hand.
Cole is glad to see Emmett come bounding back in before Bella can rip Edwards head off. "Just in time!" he crows. Pushing in behind Jasper, who had also drifted closer to Bella than usual too so he could get a good look.
Bella inhales deeply before speaking. "Give it to me," She sighs.
She takes the little package, rolling her eyes at Edward while she sticks her finger under the edge of the paper and jerked it under the tape.
"Shoot," Bella mutters, pulling her finger out to check it. A single drop of blood oozes out from her tiny cut.
It all happened so fast after that, everything is a blur. In seconds Edward flung himself in front of them. The plates, cake, presents, and everything else flies off the table.
Jasper slams into Edward, and it's like a crash of boulders in a rock slide. Cole falls backwards into the wall, wincing at the thud her head makes. Bella landing in the mess of shattered crystal.
The grizzly that comes from deep within Jasper's chest, sends chills down her spine. Jasper tries to shove past Edward, snapping his teeth inches from Edwards' face. Emmett grabs Jasper from behind in the next second, locking him into his massive steel grip, but Jasper struggles on, his wide, empty eyes focused on Bella.
Cole is in too much shock to feel any pain. Feeling dizzy as she moves away from the wall. She covers Bella's body with her own in a protective stance. One hand wrapped around Bella's waist, Bella hugs herself against Cole.
Cole's eyes dark with her anger. Her other hand is held away from Bella. She's surprised at how easily the ball of fire comes to palms but she's been practising all summer now. Her fire growing more intense with her emotions but for once she is in control.
She watches intensely, not moving a muscle as Emmett and Rosalie drag Jasper outside, on Carlisle's orders. Followed closely behind an ashamed looking Esmé. She still doesn't move even now as she's coated in her friend's blood.
She only drags herself away as Carlisle holds out a hand to help her. She lets her fire die, allowing Carlisle to pull her to her feet. She breathes deeply but follows behind Carlisle as he helps Bella up to his office, insisting that he wants to look at her head after.
She's shaking from both the fear and the adrenaline. She doesn't know what's going to happen now. But she knows it's nothing good.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Cole ignores the throbbing pain in her head as she paces around Carlisle's office. She paces around the familiar room as if trying to calm her nerves, it doesn't work. She had spent many hours in here over the summer, Carlisle and Jasper had still supervised as she had slowly practised her fire. Unlike her spells, the fire felt too dangerous to just practice on her own or with Alice coaxing her with kisses and kind words.
She'd even had to move her practice outside when she had set the drapes of Carlisle's office on fire. Which she might have found funny, had they not then discovered they couldn't put her fire out and only she could. One of her flames could burn as long as she could maintain it, they discovered that day. It made her fire more dangerous that way, they hadn't talked about it but they all knew that it made it possible for her to kill a vampire. The idea made her nervous, before she had known she had to be careful with her magic but knowing she could hurt someone, knowing that she could hurt Alice; it only meant she had to be even more careful.
She can feel Carlisle watching her and she knows her would be less nervous if she would just sit but she almost feels like she can't stop. The look in Jasper's dark eyes still haunts her even as she tries her hardest not to think about it, as she tries to think about anything else. It brings her back cold memories of a dance studio and the dark eyes of another predator, a time that she would rather not think about; a time when she had almost gotten Bella killed. She rubs her wrist, feeling a phantom pain in her wrist just thinking about it.
She stops after a moment, stopping in front of a familiar painting, the most vivid and colourful of Carlisle's collection. She glances over the beautiful trio, the nighttime patrons of the arts or rather the Volturi as Jasper had called them one afternoon. She had been told that they were the closest thing to a royal family that vampires possessed. The people vampires went to if they wanted to die. To break the Volturi's rules, she had been told meant only certain death.
All she can focus on are the little plink sound as Carlisle removes the glass from Bella's arm. She can barely focus on the conversation between the two. She hears Bella asking Carlisle why he is so masochistic but she's not paying enough attention to get any context. She picks up the word hospital but she's still not paying attention even as Carlisle calls her name.
She takes a seat letting him look at her head. It's already stopped bleeding though it didn't bleed much in the first place. It hurts but even she knows it's not that bad, all she's going to need is a couple of painkillers and a shower to wash the blood out of her hair. He gives her painkillers and a glass of water, gently picking out little pieces of glass from her hair.
She's paying enough attention now, to listen to the flow of their conversation but she keeps her mouth firmly shut as they turn to the subject of religion. She's no surprised to hear that Carlisle believes in God especially given his background but she's not sure if she does. Even if God does exist, why should she pray to a god that would condemn her for loving a woman; why would she pray to a god that would forbid her from loving Alice.
She watches as Carlisle meticulously clean the table with a wet gauze, before repeating the action and cleaning everything again. "He had a rather harsh view of the world, which I was already beginning to question before the time that I changed." Carlisle puts all the dirty gauze and the glass slivers into an empty crystal bowl. She watches slightly fascinated as he lights the match before throwing it in.
"Sorry," he apologises. "That ought to do it... So I didn't agree with my father's particular brand of faith. But never, in the nearly four hundred years now since I was born, have I ever saw anything to make me doubt whether God exists in some form or the other. Not even the reflection in the mirror."
Cole doesn't say anything at all, just watching the tiny fire burning. She doesn't even know if she wants to go to exist. The idea of her very maker hating her for who she chooses to love, no, who she loves, she never chose to fall in love but all the same, it just leaves her feeling cold.
"I'm sure all this sounds a little bizarre, coming from a vampire." He grins softly before continuing. "But I'm hoping that there is still a point to this life, even for us. It's a long shot, I'll admit," he continues in an offhand voice. "By all accounts, we're damned regardless. But I hope, maybe foolishly, that we'll get some measure of credit for trying."
"I don't think that you're damned Carlisle. I don't think any of you are." Cole says speaking up for the first time since entering Carlisle's office. She can't think of anyone alive as good as Carlisle, she doesn't know if a person like that exists. She doesn't even know if she believes in an afterlife but if there is an afterlife, if there are a heaven and hell then she's never met anyone who deserves a spot in heaven more than Carlisle Cullen.
"She's right and I don't think anyone else would think that," Bella says in agreement.
"Actually, you're the very first ones to agree with me."
"The rest of them don't feel the same?" Bella asks sounding surprised. Cole has a feeling that Bella is only thinking about one person in particular.
Carlisle seems to catch on just as quickly as Cole had. "Edward is with me up to a point. God and heaven exist and so does hell. But he does not believe in an afterlife for our kind," Carlisle's voice is gentler now. "You see, Edward believes that we have lost our souls."
"That's the real problem, isn't it?" Bella guesses. "That's why he's being so difficult about this."
Cole looks down at her feet, feeling uncomfortable as Bella brings that up again. Of course, Bella would bring that up but she supposes she can't fault Bella for going after what she wants. She just doesn't want to be in the room when it happens, she doesn't know how she feels about what Bella wants but at the same time, she knows she would never stand in the way of that. This just feels like she's sitting in on a private conversation.
Carlisle speaks slowly. "I look at my... son. His strength, his goodness, the brightness that shines out of him - and it only fuels that hope, that faith, more than ever. How could there not be more for one such as Edward?"
Bella nods in fervent agreement and even Cole would be convinced just listening to the way Carlisle talks about his son.
"But if I believed as he does..." He looks down at Bela his eyes unfathomable. "If you believed as he does. Could you take away his soul?"
That question seems to throw a spanner into the works for Bella. Cole can already guess what her answer would be. She knows that if it were her and that was what she believed, she knows that she would never be able to risk Alice's soul like that. She knows that she would never want Alice to risk her soul for her either.
"You see the problem."
Bella shakes her head stubbornly as Carlisle sighs.
"It's my choice," Bella insists.
"It's his, too." He says holding up his hand as if he expects Bella to argue. "Whether he is responsible for doing that to you."
"He's not the only one able to do it." Bella eyes Carlisle speculatively.
Cole shouldn't be surprised that Bella would ask that but at the same time, she is. She would never have thought she would try to have Edward's father change her behind his back. No, this decision belongs to the both of them at least in her mind even if Bella doesn't see it that way.
He laughs, abruptly lightening the mood and Cole let's out a sigh of relief. "Oh, no! You're going to have to work this out with him."He sighs. "That's the one part I can never be sure of. I think, in most other ways, that I've done the best I could with what I had to work with. But was it right to doom the others to this life? I can't decide."
Cole wants to tell him that of course, he was right but he does bring up an interesting dilemma. She knows if she were Carlisle that she would not have had the same strength as him. She doesn't think that she would have been able to survive for so long. Right or not, his need for companionship seems very human to Cole even if he is a vampire.
"It was Edward's mother who made up my mind." Carlisle's voice was almost a whisper.
"His mother?" Bella asks sounding far away.
"Yes. Her name was Elizabeth. Elizabeth Masen. His father, Edward Senior, never regained consciousness in the hospital. He died in the first wave of the influenza. But Elizabeth was alert until almost the very end. Edward looks a great deal like her - she had that same strange bronze shade to her hair, and her eyes were exactly the same colour green."
"His eyes were green?" Bella murmurs.
Cole meets Carlisle's eyes as she gets back on her feet. He opens his mouth as if to say something to her but she shakes her head. Motioning for him to continue the story, it sounds like something Bella needs to hear but she doesn't. And she feels like she listened into enough private conversations tonight so she feels better once she's slipping out of his office.
She slips down the stairs slowly, an uneasy feeling beginning to settle into her chest. It's not like the feeling she had the day she meets James. It's more like a hovering feeling, like when you've had a headache but you feel like it might still come back. She doesn't plan on leaving as she slips outside of the house but she would like some fresh air. She sits down on the Cullens doorstep, looking up at the dark night sky. She's cold but she doesn't feel like she wants to be warm, rubbing her arms in a pathetic attempt to warm herself up.
Alice comes out a few minutes later, not saying anything for a few moments. "I need to get something for Bella to change into but then I can take you home," Alice says sounding distant. Cole only hums in response before Alice is gone again.
She waits several long minutes for Alice but she doesn't mind so much. After everything that just happened, she appreciates having the moment to herself. Or she would if it weren't for the heavy feeling in her chest keeping her from a moment's peace. She shivers a little, she knows she's cold but she can barely feel it.
"How is he?" She asks in a small voice as she hears Alice coming back outside.
"He is extremely unhappy with himself. It just so much more of a challenge for him, and he hates to feel weak." Alice says with a small sigh, leading Cole to her car.
"He knows that none of this is his fault right? I can't speak for Bella but I'm not angry with him. Can you let him know that please?"
"You know, Bella just said the same thing to me but I will, I'll let him know," Alice says as they climb into her car.
Cole doesn't know what to say as they drive along in complete silence. There's a heaviness in the car that she doesn't know how to fix, she doesn't know if she can fix it. What happened tonight is a big deal even if she would forgive Jasper in a heartbeat, even if she's not even angry in the first place. She doesn't get out of the car at first as they pulled up outside her house, she turns to look at Alice still not sure what to say. She doesn't feel like being alone now but her brother isn't going to be home for hours and she has a feeling that Alice isn't going to stay the night. Not tonight.
"I have to go. Jasper needs me, he needs all the support he can get right now." Alice says softly as their eyes meet.
"I understand, he needs you to be there for him. Just let me know how he's doing, okay?" She asks softly.
Alice nods solemnly. Cole leans forward to give Alice a goodnight kiss. There is an edge to the kiss that she can't understand. It feels more permanent that a goodbye kiss but she's sure she's putting too much weight behind a simple kiss. She climbs out of the car, watching with an uneasy feeling in her stomach as she watches Alice drive away.
She stands almost frozen for she doesn't know how long before she can tear herself away. She just feels drained as she makes her way inside. She locks the door behind her, she turns on the light heading through to the kitchen to make sure that Leo remembered to feed Stoker. The first thing she sees is Stoker himself asleep on top of the fridge, his paw hanging down the side.
"Trying to get into the fridge? Did he forget to feed you?" She asks softly as she picks him up from the fridge. He doesn't wake up just settling in her arms; she's sure that it would be okay to leave him up there but that didn't look very comfortable.
She makes sure his bowl is full before taking him upstairs with her. Her exhaustion seems to kick in as she reaches the top of the stairs, not turning any lights on as she sets him on her bed. She leaves her clothes in a heap on the floor as she changes. She barely has the energy to brush her teeth and wash her face.
"I have a bad feeling, Stoker." She says to the sleeping kitten as she pads back through to her room.
She doesn't know when or what, but she has the feeling that something is going to happen and whatever happens it's going to be soon. She slides into bed and just for a second before she drifts off to sleep she has a feeling that she knows what is going to come next.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
Cole wakes up just as her alarm goes off, the uneasy feeling still in her chest as she rolled over to turn it off, the obnoxious beeping only makes her throbbing head hurt even more. Stoker isn't in bed anymore so she figures that he had gotten up to eat or to plot the downfall of civilisation, or whatever it is that cats do when no one's watching. She slides out of bed, checking her phone to see if there's been anything from Alice. "Nothing," She sighs to herself rubbing her temples for a moment.
She takes a quick shower to wash the dried blood from her hair, cringing as the water turns a rust coloured red. She winces a little when she dries her hair, taking painkillers with her coffee, deciding to just take the pack with her just in case. She strokes Stoker head gently when he rubs against her legs, the little cat almost vibrating as he purrs.
"Everything is fine or it's going to be, she'll be at school and then you can talk." She says aloud and she's not sure if she's talking to herself or the cat, who only looks up at her with big eyes.
She downs the rest of her coffee before checking her phone again just to make sure. She knows she shouldn't feel disappointed when there's nothing but that doesn't make her feel any better. She makes sure to fill Stoker's bowls before she heads out as Bella pulls up into her driveway.
It doesn't take a genius to see Bella's sour mood, Cole figuring that she probably just feels like shit so she just sits in silence as they drive. Edward is waiting for Bella as they arrive but Alice is nowhere to be seen. Cole can guess that she's probably with Jasper but that doesn't stop her heart from sinking. She had gotten the feeling if she could see Alice then the feeling in her chest would go away.
"How do you feel?" Edward asks as he opens Bella's door.
"Perfect," Bella answers even if that's clearly a lie.
Cole feels almost out of place without Alice by her side as if they really had been attached at the hip and this was Cole's first day without her. Of there are the days when Alice is away to hunt but this just feels different even if she can't put her finger on why. She wants to ask where Alice is but she almost feels off-limits even to her.
"She's with Jasper," Edward says gently as if he could read her mind. If she didn't know any better than she would have thought he had, being one of the few people immune to Edwards gift had always been a relief to Cole.
"How is Jasper?" She asks quietly
"He's going to leave, go away for a little while. Alice was trying to convince him to go to Denali."
The Denali's or the Cullens adopted cousins, Cole knows that they're like the Cullens that they're good too. She'd heard so little about them but if the Cullens saw them as family then she couldn't think of a better place for Jasper to go, even if that meant he needed his best friend Alice to come too. The thought sends a wave of pain through her chest but she knows she could survive a little while without Alice if she had too; they would still be able to call each other and maybe even write letters.
"She wanted me to tell you," Edward says snapping Cole out her thoughts. "That she wants to talk to you so you can expect her sometime tonight." He continues sounding like the bearer of bad news.
I'm right, she thinks before excusing herself to go to class. Alice has to be leaving with Jasper, Cole hates the selfish part of that wants Alice to stay. No, I'll be supportive of Alice, if Jasper needs her then I won't stand in the way. Besides, you are Jaspers friend too after all, if anyone needs to steal Alice away then what's a better reason than a friend in need, a friend that need her more than you do, she scolded herself as she sat in her first-period class. Right, she thinks. That's right and Alice is going to come back, she reminds herself though a small part of her that she doesn't listen to isn't convinced.
School passes Cole by in a strange blur of the day dragging by at some points and zooming past her in others. She stuck in an almost dazed sort of state not actually taking in a single word any teachers say to her even completely blanking when the teacher had called on her for an answer in English. She would have felt embarrassed if she hadn't been feeling so spaced out. Her bad feeling stays and is still firmly planted in her chest as school ends. She can't tell if she's excited to see Alice or if she's nerves to see her; worrying about the news she has come to expect as the day crawled by.
She meets Bella outside in the parking lot but only to tell her that she's going to walk home. She doesn't live too far from the school and a part of her is hoping that the walk will clear her head. The two girls part ways with only a few words, their heads clouded with their thoughts as they both think about the consequences of the night before. Cole walks home slowly but she still arrives before she would have liked, her head is still a mess and she had wanted to kill time, she doesn't know when Alice will appear and she knows the wait isn't going to be nice.
She right of course and every second she waits for Alice feel longer than the last. At first, she had tried to clean the already spotless house but she couldn't find anything to do other than loading up the washer. She tries doing some homework or a sketch but she's too keyed up to focus. She puts some music on next but she ends up using the songs to see how much time has passed and ends up turning it off.
This is why she doesn't understand the feeling of dread in her stomach as she finally hears a knock on the door. Normally she would run to the door but today is different. She walks so slowly that she feels like her shoes have been filled with lead. She takes a moment to force a smile on her face before she opens the door. Alice looks the same as the last time Cole had seen her but something is different, there's a look in her eyes that Cole cannot recognise. She feels like she could choke on her worry.
"Alice." She breathes out not sure what she should say
There's something off about Alice's tone as she speaks, "I need to talk to you." Alice pauses for a moment like she's debating something. "Come for a walk with me?" She asks.
"Uh sure, just let me grab my coat," Cole says nodding before turning away before Alice can say anything.
She pauses as she grabs her coat from the back of a kitchen chair. She has an odd feeling that she doesn't want to hear what Alice has to say. She shakes her head at her own selfishness; if Alice needs to leave for a little while then you can deal with it, she scolds herself throwing her coat on. You can survive it, she tries to convince herself as she makes her way to the door but she has a strange feeling as she walks out of the door.
She doesn't say anything at first and neither does Alice as they walk a little in silence, the tension feeling so thick that you couldn't even cut it with a knife. She just wants it over but at the same time, she doesn't. She follows Alice down a trail into the thick woods of Forks, in the vast green of the forest, she almost feels like she's on another planet.
"I just want to say that I am sorry Cole," Alice says as they come to a stop.
"It wasn't your fault and it's not Jaspers either," Cole says though she has a sinking feeling.
"Cole, that's not what I mean." She pauses like she has something difficult to say, "I'm sorry because we're leaving."
"I understand, Jasper needs you now." From the look on Alice's face, she can tell that's not what's happening. "You are coming back right?"
"No. Cole, my family and I- We can't stay in Forks anymore it's too dangerous for us. Carlisle can barely pass playing at thirty, people will start to notice soon."
Cole feels like all the air has been sucked from her lungs, she had thought Alice would for a little while but the idea of Alice leaving forever; the idea of Alice leaving her had never crossed her mind. Her heart throbs at the thought but Alice can't leave, she couldn't leave me Cole tries to reason.
"But what about me? Alice, what about us?"
"We can't be together anymore Cole. It was never meant to be and I should have been able to see that. I should have done better but it's too late for that. You are too fragile for my word and if I don't end things now then you're going to end up hurt or worse."
She shakes her head, it all feels too real it feels too permanent. It feels real now and she can barely accept that idea. NO. Alice can't leave, this has to be a dream or some sort of cruel practical joke but she knows, she knows this is real.
"What about my magic? I'm getting better, I can protect myself, I'll be able to protect myself. Alice, please. I just need more time."
"No. You're not strong enough Cole, you're too weak for this and it's my fault for ever thinking you could be anything more."
Cole just stares at Alice for a moment. She doesn't know what to say but it feels like Alice had just slapped her in the face. Alice doesn't break eye contact and she doesn't apologise. The words only hurt more as they sink in but Cole doesn't know what to say. She doesn't know what she can say, she wants to believe in this moment that there is something to say; like a cheat code in a video game, if only she can think of the right thing then Alice will stay.
"Please Alice, you can't do this. I thought you said that we were meant to be together?"
Alice takes a step away from Cole. She wracks her brains trying to think of what she needs to say to her. It doesn't matter what she says, it doesn't matter if it's true, it doesn't matter that she's only meet few people as strong as Cole. She needs to cut ties once and for all; this isn't safe for Cole and it never will be. She wants Cole to hate her, to hate her with all of the fire in her veins; she wants Cole to hate her and then she wants her to move on. The thought sends an ache through Alice's chest but it's what has to be done.
"I don't believe that anymore. I don't belong to you Cole and I never have. I don't want to be with you anymore. A part of me will always love you but you should be with someone else, you should be with someone human. We should never have been together, Cole."
Cole recoils as if Alice had hit her and for a moment she wants to take it all back; she wants to declare it for they lie they are but she does not. If she's going to walk away then she can't give in, even if she can feel her own heart breaking.
She shakes her head, "No. You can't mean that Alice. Please just stay with me, I love you." Cole begs as she feels tears welling up in her eyes.
"It's better this way. You're only human and your memories will fade. One day it will be like I never existed as if I was only a dream." She feels Alice's cold lips press against her forehead gently. "Goodbye Cole."
Before Cole can speak, Alice is gone and everything is the same, the pain in her chest the only sign that Alice had ever been there. She watches the spot where Alice had once been almost like she's expecting her to come back.
It's different. If Cole were to have imagined this, she would have imagined it with fire and heat. She would have imagined screaming until she couldn't and losing control of her fire; she would have imagined her dream coming to life, she would have imagined burning the forest to ground. But this is nothing like she would have imagined, it is the exact opposite. There is only cold. As if all the heat and all of her fire and magic have been ripped from her bones; leaving behind only ice in its place. She is left feeling like she has ice running through her veins and all she can do is scream Alice's name, all she can do is scream for a girl who will never answer back.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
The morning after Alice left, Cole had woken up and a part of her believed it had been a dream. A part of her believed that Alice was still within her reach. But the pain in her chest and the ice in veins didn't take long to remind her of the truth, the truth that Alice had left her, the truth that Alice did not want her. She didn't go to school that day, rolling over to sob into her pillow, that day she did not even get out of bed.
Days would trickle by slowly and with every passing day, whatever hope she had held slowly trickled away. By the end of the first week, she knew that the Cullens were not coming back. By the end of the first week she feels like she can't even get out of bed anymore, she wasn't sleeping well anymore. By the third week, she has lost her job but she doesn't even care, just borrowing further into her blankets on those quiet weekend mornings. Her brother had started to wonder if she was getting sick, wincing at how cold she was when he had touched her forehead. So she had spent that weekend in bed with the heat up and curled up as many blankets as her brother could find. It didn't help though but she had a feeling that she wasn't sick and she didn't think a doctor could help her.
It was just the beginning of the fourth week when her brother had sat her down for a long talk. She almost thought he knew about her and Alice when he had started to talk about how he understood how hard having a broken heart could be, that was until she realised that he thought she had feelings for Jasper. She didn't see the point in correcting him and when he finished she pretended that she felt better already, even if his little talk had only left her feeling even worse.
It was during her fourth week that she started to pretend that everything was normal; she got out of bed in the mornings and she did her school work, she started to draw again even if it didn't feel the same. She couldn't find her passion for drawing but she did it because that's what she was meant to do. Her days seemed to drag by as she tried to find ways to keep herself occupied until she could go to bed again.
Her brother was glad when she started to spend more time with Bella. They had become almost inseparable even if Bella was basically a zombie, Cole took it upon herself to look out for Bella. It was towards the end of the second month that she had started to stay over at Bella's. She had practically moved in, rarely staying in her own home, she was there so much that even Stoker would come with her when she came over. Charlie had seemed almost guilty as she had taken the role of being there for Bella when she woke up screaming but she had assured him that if anyone needed their sleep it was the sheriff. Then there was her brother who was glad she wouldn't be alone so much anymore and Bella was so much of a zombie that nothing seemed to matter to her. That left Cole, she liked having something else to focus on, she liked having something else and not just being alone with her thoughts.
If Bella had been herself that she would have confessed that she didn't like being home anymore, it just reminded her of Alice. It felt hollow to her, she had all the gifts that Alice had ever given her but all of her photos of Alice or of any of the Cullens were gone. She was always left with an overwhelming need to get away on the nights as she slept in her own bed. She'd even started to sleep walk, she had woken up all around the house: on her bedroom floor; in the bathroom and even the kitchen once. She never did that when she slept over at Bella's but she didn't know what to think about that, she wasn't even sure if it meant anything.
She was feeling worse than usual that morning; she had the best dream in a long time and that just made it all the worse when she woke up. The details are fuzzy now that she awake but she remembers that she was with Alice and it had felt so real that when she had woken up to reality it took a lot for her not to cry. She had promised herself that she wasn't going to cry in front of Bella if she was going to support Bella; she saved that for the nights she was home or for the nights she remembered to shower.
She grabs her jacket and Bella's keys heading straight outside to wait for Bella in the truck. She knows that Charlie wants to talk to Bella and she wants to give them the privacy that they need. He had pulled her aside last night to ask her what she thought, he wanted to know if she thought going home would help Bella. The selfish part of her wanted to just say no but the rest of her didn't know. She could only tell him that she thought it could help but also that she didn't think Bella would want to leave.
It's a cold morning and Cole is still freezing even in her thick jackets. She shivering as she climbs into Bella's truck, she turns the heat on but it's not for her benefit. She had tried once just after the Cullens had left to use her fire but she couldn't even feel it anymore, there was no spark of fire left. She wondered if it was possible for her fire to leave her. She can feel like she magic but it feels spread thin like it's all that held her together these days; she's too scared that she'll apart if she tries to use any magic.
She doesn't wait long for Bella which surprises her, this was early for Bella to leave; besides she had thought Charlie's talk would have taken longer. Bella doesn't look almost angry or it's the closest to a real emotion that Cole has seen from Bella in months. She had guessed it wouldn't go well but she isn't sure if she's happy about that or not. She wishes she could say that she would just be happy for Bella if she decided to leave but she's not sure.
"Are you alright?" Cole asks as Bella climbed into her truck.
Bella doesn't say anything at first as she pulls the truck out of the driveway. Cole wonders if Bella is going to tell her about the talk she had with Charlie. She supposes it could be none of her business but that doesn't stop her from wanting to know what Bella's thinking about it. She can't help the flash of panic she gets at the idea of Bella leaving; she doesn't want to lose Bella too even if that's the selfish part of her.
"Charlie wants me to leave. He wants me to go and live in Jacksonville with Renée," Bella explains and Cole tries her best to look shocked like this is the first she's heard about this.
"So what do you think? Are you going to go to Jacksonville?" Cole asks careful, she doesn't want to upset Bella anymore than she already is.
"What? Of course not. Why would I go to Jacksonville, my home is here." Bella almost sounds hurt but her voice is too flat for Cole to be sure. It does hurt her to think that Cole would want her to leave, it's a different pain to the pain that's been her constant companion these past months.
"I don't know. Maybe a change of scenery is just what you need; it might help for you to get away from Forks for a little while." Cole says looking out of the window so she doesn't have to meet Bella's eyes.
"Do you want me to leave too? I know I haven't been the best friend these past few months but I never thought you'd try to get rid of me."
"I promise that's not what I want. I just want what's best for you Bella, that's all."
"Well, what's best for me is staying here. I want to convince Charlie that and I need your help to do that. I told Charlie that we were going to go out tonight with Jessica, I would just lie but you know what her mom is like."
Cole wasn't sure what she was expecting when Bella said that she needed her help but it wasn't that. She mulls it over for a few minutes. She doesn't think that it's going to help her but at the same time, she doesn't want to let her down.
"Fine, I'll come but I think she's still huffing so she might not want to come."
Bella doesn't say anything just nodding along in agreement. This feels like the longest conversation that they've had since the Cullens had left. Cole didn't just ignore Bella but sometimes it was like talking to a brick wall. The most Bella had talked was at night; she would talk about Edward and the Cullens, she talked a lot about how she felts and how much she missed then. The first time it had happened Cole wasn't sure if Bella knew that she was awake or if she was just talking to herself. She hadn't said anything even if she felt guilty about it later so the next time she had let Bella know she was awake. Bella hadn't stopped so Cole had just let her talk; she never said much but after the first few times she had reached out to take Bella's hand.
"Let me know what Jessica says at lunch," Cole says as the pull into the parking lot, taking the spot that had once belonged to the Cullens.
Cole can almost imagine Alice and Edward standing there as they waited for them. She shakes her head to clear her thoughts, telling Bella that she'll see her at lunch before slipping away. She's feeling more tired than usual without her morning coffee and her stomach rumbles, she, of course, hadn't eaten breakfast but she had been much as of late. She wasn't trying to starve herself but she just didn't feel hungry, so she didn't eat; though she made an effort or at least she tried when she was eating at Bella's. At home, her brother would just take her word on whether she had eaten.
Classes pass by slow and dull, even art doesn't seem to spark an interest in her like it used to anymore. The day's lesson is not a practical one, Miss Jones puts a documentary on for the class to watch but Cole doesn't pick up on what it's about. She tries to focus as she rested her head in her arms to watch the film but her eyelids are feeling uncomfortably heavy and before she knows it she's falling asleep in class.
She jolts awake when she hears someone calling her name, feeling dazed, it takes her a moment to see that class is over. There's no other students in the room, all on their way to get lunch no doubt. Miss Jones is standing in front of Cole's desk but she doesn't look angry like she would have guessed.
"I'm uh sorry for falling asleep in your class, Miss. I promise that I won't let this happen again." She says and she can't help her yawn.
"I'm not angry with you Cole, I am a little concerned however you are almost an adult so I will treat you as such. I've noticed that you haven't been doing so well these past few months; you seem tired when you come to class and I won't lie, you're art isn't the same." She says gently giving Cole a moment to wake up more.
"I know it's not what I take from what your saying but is my work getting worse? I thought the technical aspects of my art were improving. Are you trying to tell me that my recent work is bad?" She almost feels like she's on autopilot as she says this; she cares about her art still but it feels like she cares because she knows she should.
"No that's not it. The technical aspects of your work are improving, but your work doesn't have the same emotion that is used to. What you make is beautiful but it doesn't make the viewer feel something like all good art should."
"I see, I guess I'll have to work on that," Cole replies but she's not sure how. "I don't mean to be rude Miss but my friend will be waiting for me, is that everything?"
"You don't want to keep your friend waiting that's understandable but I'm going to have to steal just a few minutes of your lunch break. You look like you've been sleeping well and I know I'm just your teacher so I'm probably the last person you want to have a heart to heart with but I think if you can't get this sorted on your own you should consider talking to someone about this." Miss Jones says softly, offering Cole an encouraging smile. "If its nightmares maybe you should find someone to talk to. Like I said I don't expect that person will be me but remember my door is always open and I am here every lunch time if you'd like to have a chat."
Cole swallows, her teacher's concern is flattering but she can hardly accept her as a confidant. Everything is a secret, everything that weighs down on her chest and keeps her awake at night is a secret. Her relationship with Alice was a secret, that the Cullens are vampires is a secret and what happened with Jasper is a secret.
"I'll have to do something about that, I'll talk to my brother tonight." The lie feels strange on her tongue but she doesn't take it back. "I promise to think about it, you may regret offering when you can't get rid of me." It's a poor joke but Miss Jones laughs anyway.
Lunch is already in full swing when Cole gets to the cafeteria but she doesn't actually want anything so it doesn't bother her. She takes her usual seat at the table, forcing a smile when Jessica looks in her direction. She chats along when Jessica asks her about tonight; saying that she's fine with whatever movie she and Bella had chosen. A good thing about Jessica is that she doesn't need much in response to have a conversation.
She doesn't say anything to Bella on the drive back to hers, Jessica driving behind them so Bella could drop her truck off at home. She just waited downstairs as Bella went upstairs to get her purse. Bella seemed particularly out of it so she didn't say anything, she knew she wouldn't be getting a response.
She sits in the back of Jessica's car feeling strange, she's never been Jessica's friend. She barely has to take part in the conversation which centres mostly around Jessica's love life. It doesn't bother Cole better Jessica's than hers. Cole only contributes to the conversation once when the conversation is pulling towards a halt, asking Jessica if she's been out with anyone lately.
Bella leaves in the first few minutes to get popcorn and Cole falls asleep so she doesn't notice when Bella gets back. She's relieved no one had noticed she was asleep, helping herself to a handful of Bella's popcorn. She chews it slowly, feeling hungrier that she had realised; she hasn't eaten since dinner last night and even then she hadn't finished that.
Something seems to freak Bella out and she left claiming to need a drink when there were only a few minutes of the movie left. The movie or at least the parts Cole had seen were pretty scary but she has a feel that it something other than the movie that's bothering her friend. Jessica just seems annoyed as they head out of the theatre to look for Bella.
The two seem to chat a little and Cole doesn't pay too much attention but the silence catches her attention in a way their chatter couldn't. She wonders if Jessica has realised that no one's listening to, she almost feels bad. Cole raises an eyebrow when Jessica starts to walk fast, glancing down to the right.
They stand on a strip of unlit sidewalk; the shops that line the streets are all closed for the night. Half a block ahead, the streetlights are on again, Cole can see, the glowing yellow arches of a McDonald's. Cole couldn't care less where they ate, she just wanted to get home or rather back to Bella's. She had stayed last night and her brother knew that she would be home until at least Monday.
The building across from them is a trashy looking bar, it's open; the windows are covered from the inside and it's plastered in tacky neon signs advertising different types of beer. The biggest signs are bright green and declare the place as One-Eyed Pete's. It's a sleazy looking place and her heart lurches in her chest as the metal door slides open. Four men lounge against the wall by the door.
Cole is walking fast, keeping her pace with Jessica but she stops walking when she notices that Bella isn't beside her anymore. Bella has completely stopped. She stands to look at the men as if she's transfixed. Cole doesn't move at first, watching with a morbid sort of curiosity.
"Bella?" Jess whispers. "What are you doing?"
Bella shakes her head, she's not sure herself. "I think I know them..." she mutters.
Cole looks away in disgust as the dark-haired one calls Bella sugar. It makes her skin crawl and she's ready to drag Bella away if she has too. Friends don't let friends get stabbed by creeps outside of bars. Cole watches in mute horror as Bella seems to be walking towards them, she wants to go after Bella but she feels like she's rooted to the ground.
She feels the overwhelming urge in her chest just to move her spot. She has the strangest feeling that she could only describe as it feels like falling out of focus. It's only for a moment and then she feels dizzy and a little sick but she figures that because she hasn't eaten. She's standing only a few inches from her previous spot but she doesn't remember moving. She doesn't pay it too much attention as she turns to look at Bella again.
Bella stands frozen in the middle of the street. Cole can't see what she's looking at, there's nothing there, she wonders if Bella's spaced out. She frowns as Bella doesn't stop walking heading even closer to the men. She knows they're probably just guys and that nothing is going to happen but that doesn't make her fee anymore comfortable.
She feels like she can move again as the blonde one greets Bella with a hello, before asking her if she's lost. Bella says that she's not as Cole take her first shaky step but the more she walks the less she feels like she's shaking. She holds her breath as she crosses the street, only breathing again once she's standing next to Bella. She doesn't know what Bella is going to do next so she takes hold of the other girl's wrist.
"Can I buy you a drink?" A shorter guy offers to seem nervous.
"She's too young," Cole answers coldly for Bella; normally she'd never even dream that Bella would accept but now she isn't so sure.
"From across the street, you looked like someone I knew. Sorry, my mistake."Bella apologises as if she owes them an explanation.
"Don't worry about it." The blonde says, he flashes Bella a confident smile; Cole pegs that he's the alpha of his little group of friends, it's probably why he makes her the most uncomfortable. "Stay and hang with us; your little friends can join too." He said winking at Cole.
"As lovely as that sounds, we really have to get going," Cole responds sarcastically.
She already walking away, dragging Bella behind her before anyone can say a word. Leading her back to Jessica who stands in the middle of the streets, her eyes are wide with outrage and betrayal. Cole can't blame her for it either, she doesn't even want to; she can't believe that Bella would do something so incredibly dangerous and irresponsible. If Jessica hadn't torn into Bella as they started walking again, Cole is sure that she would have.
"What were you thinking?" Jessica snaps. "You don't know them - they could have been psychopaths!"
Bella just shrugs, like none of that was a big deal and Cole's blood practically boils. For a second she almost feels a spark of her flames again but it disappears just as suddenly as it had come.
"I just thought I knew the one guy."
"You are so odd, Bella Swan. I feel like I don't know who you are."
Cole starts to feel light headed again so when they sit down to eat, she forces down a milkshake and fries. Bella tries to spark conversation a few times but Cole is too angry with her to say anything and Jessica seems so too.
Jessica's bad mood carries with them as they get into the car again. She immediate turns the radio on, cranking the volume up too loud for anyone to try to carry a conversation. The only conversation in the car before they arrive at Bella's is Jessica asking Cole if she needs to be dropped off anywhere. She thanked Jessica but said she was going to Bella's for the night.
It obvious that Jessica is still hurt as they pull up outside Bella's house. Cole says goodnight before climbing out of the car; waiting as Bella offers Jessica a weak apology. Charlie already knew she was staying the night, he only asked that she let him know if she was going to stay; so she gave him a quick goodnight before heading upstairs.
She grabs a pair of pyjamas she had left and locks herself in the bathroom. She brushes her teeth and washes her face but she also takes a moment to just think to herself. She's still angry about what Bella did but the heat of her anger seems to have faded. She still wants to say something to Bella but she decides that whatever she has to say can wait until morning.
She doesn't say anything as she made her way back through to Bella's room. Bella laying curled up on her side of the bed. Cole lays down shutting her eyes, rolling over onto her side so that she's facing away from Bella, something that she never does. Even in her state, Bella can tell that Cole is still upset with her.
"Are you still angry with me?" Bella asks quietly.
Cole sighs, pausing for a moment to think of the right thing to say. "Of course I am Bella. I know that you're hurting and I get that but you really scared me tonight."
"Don't apologise if you don't mean it. Just promise me that you'll warn me the next time you have the urge to do something stupid and dangerous."
She feels a little better but she's not going to forget about what happened tonight. She lays awake, listening as Bella breathing slows. She waits until she's sure that Bella is asleep before rolling over so that she can face her; Bella looks so peaceful in her sleep. She watches Bella like this for a few minutes but before she knows it, she's falling asleep.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
When Cole had woken up early before Bella that morning, she knew one thing for sure and that was that she didn't want to let Bella out of her sight. She's not sure what danger Bella could get into in the middle of Forks but that doesn't mean she wants to take any chances. She didn't have a real excuse to give Bella when she had insisted on accompanying Bella to work that morning but Bella didn't ask for one.
She had been more on edge first thing as they drove to the Newtons store. She was grateful that Mike didn't seem to mind her hanging around and she had the decency to at least pretend that she might buy something. It had been a slow afternoon and she spent most of the afternoon bored out of her mind, though she can guess in hindsight she should have brought a book or something. She almost feels bad for treating Bella like such a child as she searched through the shelves or probably the ninth time today, Bella hadn't done anything out of the ordinary since they had got here.
She listens to the conversation going on between only other costumers in the store as she pretended to look through water bottles. They had spent the last hour with poor Mike going through the pros and cons of two brands of lightweight packs. She had been ready to blow her brains out but even she had to admit to his credit didn't sound exhausted when they had finally decided to move on to something else, a dick measuring contest about bears and shit.
She knows nothing about bears but even she has to agree with the taller guy, a bear taller than a person on all fours? That didn't sound real, she'd only seen bears on tv and even then she knew they couldn't be that tall. She, of course, didn't say anything, there's no way she could stand actually being involved in their next hour-long conversation. She wants to ask Bella when she gets off but she stops herself when she sees Mike is talking to her.
When she checks back to see if they're done, Bella is putting her coat on. Bella catches her looking and motions for Cole to follow her as she heads for the door. It's cold and rainy outside like usual but Cole had felt so cold these past months that she barely notices the difference between inside and out.
"Mike's going to close up for the day once those two are finished, so he said I could leave early," Bella explained her voice flat as they climbed into her truck.
Cole just nods as she buckles her seatbelt before she would have said it was fortunate but she can't imagine Bella wanting to do anything with her free time except go home. Last night had been one of Bella worst, they never talked about the nightmares but Cole can just tell which will be worse.
It's after they've driven for a few minutes that Cole notices they aren't driving back to Bella's. She doesn't recognise where they are going but she guesses it can only be a good thing if Bella wants to do something with her free time. She decides not to ask, figuring she can just wait and see where they're going. She could see Bella wrapping an arm around her chest out the corner of her eye like she's trying to physically hold herself together. She doesn't know what to say, she doesn't know if there's anything she can say to make things better, so she doesn't say anything.
She doesn't think about Alice. If she doesn't think about it then she can bury the pain in her chest, if she keeps herself busy then she can keep her pain at bay. If you keep yourself distracted then you can just ignore your problems had become her new motto. But she was only human and she always caved late at night when she should have been asleep. Thinking about Alice and their summer together only made things harder for her the next day; she sometimes worries that her life will never be as good as her memories with Alice. She misses Alice and no matter how she tries not to admit it, she misses Alice so much that her whole body aches.
She remembers that Alice had promised one day that her memories would fade and that it would all feel like a dream. She was starting to worry when she tried to look back and found that even now her memories were starting to get fuzzy around the edges. She knows one thing, she's sure she'll never not even in fifty or sixty years time think of Alice as a dream. She sure even then she'll know that her mind wouldn't be able to conjure up such a perfect person.
She wonders if one day she'll tell her wife all about Alice and the one perfect summer she had when she was a teenager. She wonders if she'll keep it a secret, she knows she would love her wife but would she tell her about the perfect ex from ten years ago? A part of her wonders if she'll even get married now, she's always wanted to. She's sure it'll be legal in America one day but now she's not sure if she'll ever be able to find someone. She doesn't want to live alone but she can't imagine being with anyone but Alice, she can't imagine marrying someone other than Alice. For one it wouldn't be fair to get into a relationship if she still loved someone else nevermind getting engaged or married.
Cole doesn't move when Bella climbs out of the car, watching as her friend stands there in the rain. She stays silent but she plans on getting Bella back in the truck if she's not back in on her own in five minutes. When she had thought Bella had wanted to use her free time, this hadn't been what she'd had in mind. She doesn't know where they are but she hopes that Bella does.
She's about to ask Bella to come back inside when she sees Bella moving. She doesn't know where she going but she doesn't trust her not to do anything stupid. So she scrambles out of the car, catching up with Bella.
"What are you doing?" She asked as they walked up to the houses front door.
"Something stupid and dangerous," Bella answered simply before she rang the doorbell.
The boy who answers the door is in his early teens and probably hasn't had his growth spurt only as tall as Bella's shoulders. Cole doesn't know who's house this is but she can only guess that Bella does.
"Bella Swan?" The kid asks in surprise.
"How much do you want for the bike?" Bella asks, jerking her thumb over her shoulder toward the sales display.
Cole feels pretty stupid for not having noticed the fairly obvious sign. It doesn't make her feel any better knowing that Bella wants to buy a god damn motorcycle. She can only guess it's Bella's new-found need to do dangerous and stupid stuff that's brought this along. She's sure Bella's never been interested in motorcycles before now. She's always liked them or the aesthetic of a motorcycle at least, she's always wanted to ride one but she feels like they're too dangerous and that Forks is too rainy to really enjoy one.
"Are you serious?" he demands.
"Of course I am."
"They don't work."
Bella lets out an impatient sigh, "How much?"
Cole can give Bella points for at least warning her in advance but then she figures she can take them away for Bella being reckless in the first place. She lets Bella know that she's going to wait in the truck. She watches as Bella talks to the boy for a few more minutes before he helped Bella load both of them into the truck. Cole frowns wondering what Bella has in mind, she knows Bella isn't great with cars and the town mechanic Dowling would probably charge her more to fix the bikes than they're worth. If she thought Bella would listen then she would say that she doesn't think she should waste her money on something like this. She should save the money for college or a rainy day. Cole doesn't want to think about College, she's already sent her application for a scholarship at the art school in New York she wants to go to but, she's still not confident she'll get anything.
"So are you just going to use them for decoration? Cause I know you can't fix em and neither can I." Cole said almost sounding like her old self as Bella climbed into the car.
"I have someone who might be able to help."
Cole wonders what Bella has in mind as she starts to drive quickly or as quickly as the truck will allow her. She can tell that they're going back to Bella's but she's not sure what Bella had planned, she looks like a woman on a mission. Bella immediately heads for the phone, Cole taking a seat at the kitchen table.She wonders what Bella needs from her dad; she wonders who the Black's are as Bella notes down their address.
Cole likes spending time around Charlie for the same reason she had liked to spend time around Esmé, they reminded her of her parents. With Esmé, she could easily see similarities between the two; both kind and well-loved women who love to cook. Her mom had been a grade school teacher and she had liked to bring baked treats in for her students. She can't imagine her dad getting out of bed at six in the morning the way Charlie does to go fishing most weekends, he had liked to sleep in on the weekends and go to the movies. He liked being around people and he liked taking pictures of people, it had been something they liked to do together. She shakes her head coming out of her thoughts as she see's Bella hanging up.
Cole doesn't even remember getting into the truck and she can't remember driving out of Forks. She figures she should have asked where they're going by now, she figures to the Black's but she doesn't know anyone with that last name.
"So are you going to tell me where this new interest in motorcycles has come from?"
"It's kind of long story, but I promise I'll explain later," Bella says as they pull up to a small house.
The little wooden house is a rustic dull shade of red with narrow windows. The engine is so loud that she's sure everyone inside can probably hear them coming. And they do, a teenage boy coming out to meet them. She's never technically meet him but she recognises him as Bella's friend Jacob. He's taller than he was when Cole had seen at the dance, his jaw more square, he looks more grown up but she has a feeling that he's not eighteen yet.
"Hey, Jacob!" Bella says sounding more enthusiastic than she has in months.
Cole feels awkward as she follows behind Bella to meet him. She wonders if coming here has anything to do with the motorcycles.
"This is Cole," Bella says gesturing towards her. "Cole, this is Jacob Black." She introduces the two.
"Well, any friend of Bella's is a friend of mine." He says smiling at her. "You look familiar, have we meet before?"
"I don't think so but I was there when you crashed prom." She says trying not to grimace as she thinks about prom night. It was such a perfect night but she can barely stand thinking about it now.
"Oh yeah, you were wearing black and you were dancing with your boyfriend," Jacob says furrowing his eyebrows a little as if he's trying to remember it better. She tries not to wince knowing that he couldn't possibly know how much it bothers her that people think that.
"Well that's enough introductions, I brought something special with me," Bella says moving to the back of her truck, pulling up the tarpaulin to reveal the two scrap-heaps masquerading as motorcycles.
"Aww Scrap metal. You really shouldn't have." He drones sarcastically.
"Jeez these are in worse condition than I thought, no wonder they were free" Cole comments moving closer to look at them, not that she knows anything about motorcycles.
Bella shoots Cole a look before opening her mouth. "I know they'll probably cost more than they're worth to fix...Unless one had a mechanic-type friend," Bella says grinning hopefully at Jacob.
"So that would be me?" He asks rhetorically with a playful grin.
"Okay, that part makes sense, free child labour and all." Cole jokes, "But why did you let me come along?"
"Well you asked me to warn you when I wanted to do something dangerous, now you get to be the voice of reason."
Cole rolls her eyes playfully, she has a feeling that voice of reason or not, no one's actually going to listen to her. She almost laughs at the wide look in Bella's eyes as she tries to warn Jacob about the bikes before he seems to effortlessly lift the bikes out the back of the truck. She doesn't know why Bella looks so surprised, he looks pretty strong to Cole.
"Jake, You're like buff." Bella says as if that weren't obvious, "How did that happen? You're like 16. I just don't get it."
Cole raises an eyebrow in surprise. Sure, she had guessed that he probably wasn't eighteen yet but she had figured he was about to turn eighteen. He definitely doesn't look sixteen but then again most sixteen years old aren't 6'5 and still growing.
"Mmm-hmm. Age is just a number, baby. What are you, like forty now?"
"Before I would have said yes but I think she's trying to make up for being such a boring teenager by getting herself killed." Cole pipes in sarcastically as she starts helping Jacob roll the bikes down to his makeshift garage.
Jacob opens up the passenger door of the Rabbit so Bella didn't have to sit on the ground. Cole just puts her jacket on the ground before sitting on top of that with her legs crossed. She doesn't say much as Jacob gets to work, the two friends bantering back and forth. It's nice enough just to be there and she can't help but hope that Jacob can't fix the bikes or at the very least it'll take a while. She is glad to see that Bella is in strangely high spirits but she's worried about what things will be when she comes back down. She tries not to put that much thought into but she decides that she's going to be there for Bella when it comes happen.
She looks up as she hears people coming in. Looking the new arrivals up and down, they're two tall and dark-skinned boys about Jacob's age. One has a more slender build, he's almost the same height as Jacob with chin-length black hair. The shorter boy is more burly and Cole is willing to bet her knows it. His white T-shirt strains over his well-developed chest, his hair was so short it was almost a buzz.
Both boys immediately turn to look at Bella, seemingly put off by the presence of a female. The thinner boy spots her first, he glances swiftly back and forth between the two of them. While the other boy hasn't taken his eyes off Bella, slowly grinning at her. She's not going to be interested, Cole thinks almost feeling sorry for the poor kid.
"Hey, Guys." Jacobs greeting is half-hearted at best.
What afraid of a little competition? Cole thinks but she doesn't say it. In other circumstances, she probably would have found it funny. She hasn't become the same emotionless robot as Bella but she feels the same. She doesn't feel numb, she wishes that she were just numb but it's more like the constant feeling that something isn't right. She doesn't feel normal but she is a better actress than Bella.
"Hey, Jake," the short one says without looking away from Bella. When Bella smiles back, he winks. "Hi, there."
"Quil, Embry - this is Bella."
"Charlie's kid, right?" the brawny boy asks Bella, holding out his hand
"That's right," Bella replies, shaking hands with him.
"I'm Quil Ateara," he announced grandly before releasing her hand.
It's at this point that Quil seems to finally notice Cole, who had been sitting in silence through the exchange. He flashes her a smile too. The idea that he might actual flirt with her is something that she would have found hilarious months ago.
"And you are?"
"The idiot that gets dragged into all Bella's stupidity but you know Cole works too." She jokes like she knows she would but it feels hollows.
He laughs but she can't tell if he actually thinks she's funny or not. She zones out as the boys all talk cars so she's almost glad when Bella says they have to be getting back so she can make dinner for Charlie. Jacob tried to convince Bella to let him pay for parts too so at that point Cole slips out.
She makes her way back up to the truck. She's not sure if she likes being alone with her thoughts as they drift to her own birthday. By then she had her act almost perfected but when she woke up that morning she just couldn't. All she would think about that morning was everything that Alice would have done for her birthday. Before the Cullens had left, she was sure that Alice had been more excited for her birthday than she had been. She didn't get out of bed that day, something she had promised herself that she wouldn't do again but her heart had hurt so much that she thought it would burst.
She wipes away the tears that had spilt from her eyes as she spots Bella. Forcing a default smile on her face. Bella asks if she's okay with coming tomorrow as they climb into the truck and she agrees without even thinking. She hadn't had a bad time, it just felt as mundane to her as most days did. They're back in the house, Bella just finishing off dinner when Charlie gets home from Fishing. For a family that doesn't seem to eat much fish, Charlie does seem to fish an awful lot.
Dinner probably tastes fine but it tastes of nothing as Cole tries to not make it too obvious that she's picking at her food. Answering Charlie's questions about their day with her usual fake smile, she feels bad about lying about the motorcycles but she wants to hear Bella's explanation first. She tries to talk to Bella after dinner but she promises after she's finished cleaning the kitchen so Cole slips through to the living room to watch the game with Charlie.
She isn't paying much attention but he seems fairly pleased as she takes the empty seat beside him on the couch. She wonders what's taking Bella so long when she comes through to the front room. She opens her mouth to suggest they head upstairs but Bella settles down to study and Cole wonders if she's trying to avoid the subject. Cole is relieved when Charlie mentions how late it's getting while Bella seems reluctant to come upstairs.
She changes while Bella uses the bathroom. Taking a seat on the bed as she waits for Bella to come back through. She's determined that Bella's going to give her answers now and not later.
"You promised you would explain later and it's later." Cole says to a nervous looking Bella.
"When we were out last night, I saw him, Cole. I saw Edward." She says taking a seat beside her friend on the bed.
"What do you mean saw him? Like he was actually in Port Angeles?" Cole can't help the hopeful feeling that she gets at the idea that Edward is back in the area. If he's back then maybe the other might be back too.
Bella shakes her head, "it was like a vision. Like when I do anything reckless or dangerous he's right there beside me." Bella explains hoping it doesn't sound a dumb to Cole as does to her now that she's saying it out loud.
"So that's why you want motorcycles? God, Bella what else are you going to do next. I know I'm your friend but if you're going to try to get yourself killed then I have to tell Charlie even if you're going to hate me for it."
"It's just going to be the bikes, I promise. If you think I'm starting to get out of hand then you can pull the plug, I swear I'll listen to you? Deal?"
"Deal." Cole agrees reluctantly as they both lay down on the bed. She falls asleep much quicker than usual and for once there is no screaming to wake her in the middle of the night.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
They hung out with Jacob the next day driving around to get parts for the bikes. Bella seemed to have a good time even as they searched through the dump and Cole tried to watch her too closely. Towards the end of their shopping trip even Cole had begun to enjoy Jacob's company there was just something so bright and happy about him that was almost impossible not to gravitate towards.
On the drive down to Checker Auto Parts down in Hoquiam, Jacob had done most of the talking, talking about school and his friends. Cole hadn't seen Bella that interested in months, she was asking questions and for once it seemed like she was actually kidding. Even Cole had laughed a little as Jacob told a long story about Quil and the trouble he'd caused by asking out a senior's steady girlfriend.Cole had zoned out as the two had started over the correct formula to decide age for the rest of the drive.
By the time they had made it back to La Push, they had everything Jacob would need to fix the bikes. Billy wasn't back yet so they didn't have to sneak around as they unloaded the parts from the truck. The rest of the day had passed them by and before they realised it, Billy was shouting for them to come up; Jacob saying to just leave everything and that he would work on the bikes later. Charlie was standing on the little back porch, Billy sitting close behind him.
Cole had been ready to leave when Charlie told Bella that they had been invited for dinner but Billy had assured her that the more the merrier. The small house was filled with people, another family the Clearwater's had been invited. Cole had of course never meet Harry or Sue, or either of their children. Their oldest a girl named Leah was a senior like Bella and Cole but she was a year older; she was absolutely beautiful with perfectly clear copper skin, glistening black hair and eyelashes like feather dusters. Something had clearly been bothering her though, she was using Billy's phone when they arrived and she didn't let it go through the entire meal.
They looked a lot like his sister, though clearly going through his gangly and awkward phase, she would have guessed her was thirteen or maybe fourteen at the oldest. He seemed like a sweet kid who clearly idolised Jacob and hung on his every word. He would interrupt every so often in a way that Cole thought was to make sure he wasn't forgotten.
There had been too many people to fit inside, so chairs had been brought outside and everyone ate spaghetti out of their laps. Cole didn't speak much just chiming in here and there but the atmosphere was nice and she could Bella was having a good time. She had even seemed reluctant to leave when it had started to rain and it was clear that she didn't want to go home.
Going to bed that night seemed like the last thing that Bella wanted to do, messaging Renée when she would normally have gone to bed. She stayed up even later after that working on an unnecessary amount of homework. Cole had already settled into bed at that point though she couldn't sleep, the night before Bella had slept peacefully but Cole wasn't expecting it to last two nights in a row. She was right of course, she woke up at god knows what time to hear Bella screaming into her pillow. They didn't talk about Bella's nightmare once she had calmed down but Cole had offered her a hand, give her hand a gentle squeeze in the darkness so she knew she wasn't alone.
Cole notices the way Charlie watches Bella, probably awaiting the return of hollow Bella. She wasn't feeling optimistic about it either, even if she hoped Bella wouldn't fall back into those old habits. It makes her more nervous knowing that she was going home tonight, despite her open invitation she still worries that she might overstay her welcome one of these days.
She doesn't like being at home though, her spellbound that had been gathering dust these past months taunted her. She can't even bring her fire to life, she's sure that she can't cast any spells anymore. As more time has passed she almost starts to wonder if it's possible for someone to stop being a witch, like her magic had packed up and left her the same day Alice had. Sometimes she wonders if she's just too tired, surviving on a couple of hours of sleep and meals that she barely has the energy to pick at these days. Life just feels like a chore, she wonders how much energy she could save if she just stopped pretending that she was alright.
The school is the same as always but she does pick up one a conversation at lunch. She never really spoke or listen much but her interest was peaked when she heard Angela talking about a bear, it reminds her of the conversation the hikers had had on Saturday. Even she is surprised when Bella jumps in to defend Angela when Lauren and Jessica had decided to gang up on her. Sure, she was surprised too but the way everyone else stared at Bella it was like she had just announced the mothership was coming to collect her. Things almost feel normal after that, Mike spending the rest of lunch time asking Bella questions like this was the only chance he was ever going to get.
Everything seemed alright until Bella said there was somewhere she wanted to stop by before she dropped Coe off at home. She recognises the route Bella is taking almost immediately, it's the same route she knows from the back of her hand and she feels sick. She wants to say something, to tell Bella to take her home but her voice feels as far her magic. She squeezes her eyes shut; she doesn't want to see this, she doesn't think she can bear to see their house without them.
She keeps her eyes closed as the car comes to a halt but of course, she doesn't last, no one ever lasts. She feels like she might throw up as she looks at the familiar house, the emptiness of the house seems to ring through. It looks as pristine as the last time she had seen it but there's something abandoned about the house now. It looks almost haunted, the sort of place you find sad women in long white nightgowns and the sort of place that screams ring through during the nights.
She wonders if this is another one of Bella's attempts to see Edward again, as she watches her climb out of the truck. For a moment she wonders, if she did these stupid things too then would she get to see Alice again? The idea of seeing her even if for only a few seconds is as tantalising as it is toxic. She's not blind to the half madness that it brings to Bella so even if it takes all of her willpower, she doesn't move from the truck.
She grips her seatbelt tightly just wishing that Bella would hurry up; all she can think about is walking up to the house. All she can think about is trying to get in, she's morbidly curious about whether they had taken their things with them or if they were as disposable to the Cullens as the humans in their lives. The urge to move is overwhelming, she has a strange feeling like she had on Saturday, it feels like she's fading almost, it feels like coming out of focus.
It only lasts for a few seconds but when things clear up she's not sitting in Bella's truck anymore. She feels like she might faint as she looks around the familiar living room with all the furniture covered in dust sheets. She feels a flash of dizziness and in the blink of an eye, she's sitting back in Bella's truck like she's just had the most vivid second long hallucination of her life. She takes in slow and deep breaths feeling like she could throw up; she blinks quickly fighting back tears and winning for now.
Bella is back in the truck a few seconds later, she looks shaken and upset but Cole can't find it in herself to say something consoling. She just asks Bella to take her home, facing the window so Bella can't see how shaken she is. She was going to pick up Stoker before she went up but Bella assured her that she can pick him up tomorrow.
She's never been more relieved to get home when Bella drops her off. Her hand are shaking so badly that it takes her several attempts to open the door. She feels so tired that she almost curls up on the couch to sleep and not face the stairs but she forces herself on shaking legs to make her way upstairs.
She doesn't even bother changing as she curls up in bed, just being in that house again is bringing back so many memories and being home now is only making it worse. She sobs into her pillow as waves of memories swirl around her head and her mind goes back to the night that Alice left. She doesn't have long to think about it, drifting into an exhausted sleep in no time at all.
She doesn't wake up in her bed, she wakes up on the couch and she wonders how she had managed to sleepwalk down the stairs without falling. It was the best sleep she'd had in months. She gets ready quickly and she's even awake in time to enjoy breakfast with her brother, even if she only nibbles on a slice of toast.
Physically she feels better than she has in months but after last night she feels like any memory of Alice would be enough to send her into floods of tears. The drive to school is quiet but she doesn't mind. School passes by much the same as any other day would. Lunch is better than usual though, Bella's little burst from yesterday seems to have carried over so that's a nice change of pace. She goes home with Bella to get Stoker but she walks back home, Bela having to go to work at the Newtons store; another day she might have tagged along but she doesn't feel like it.
Bella and Jacob have a study session on Wednesday and despite the invite, Cole doesn't attend. Instead, she digs her spells book out from underneath her bed, wiping away a thick coat of dust. She trails her finger down the spine, she can remember the hours Alice had spent helping her get spells right or motivation as Alice would put it. Of course, spells would only take up half of their time and make out would occupy the other half. Spell work was never as serious as the supervised practices she had with Carlisle.
She misses the magic, as much as she had resented it at first. She doesn't open the book though, just staring at it mournfully; she knows nothing will happen if she doesn't try but she can't bring herself to open the book yet. Soon, she thinks as she tucks it under her pillow so she can't hide it away and forget about it again. She feels guilty at the thought of abandoning it again, Carlisle had given it to her for a reason and she knows she should use it.
The next few days pass by without incident and before Cole knows it, it's Friday last period. She's glad to see Bella's more human outlook doesn't seem like it was going to leave anytime soon. She's been feeling more like herself these few days as if Bella's happiness is catching or like she's just soaking up the excess like second-hand smoke.
Nights aren't any easier and Cole can't help but feel like all of her progress is washing down the drain when she finds herself sobbing in the shower. She's never been glad that she sees so little of her brother until now, it's easy to keep him in the dark when they hardly see each other when all it takes is a few sarcastic comments while they catch over breakfast and a drained mug of coffee. Being at Bella's is easier, knowing that Charlie is too busy monitoring Bella to notice that most nights she just picks at dinner.
She's staying with Bella for the weekend though and tonight they're going to watch Jacob work on the bikes again. Cole has a bad feeling that he's going to finish them soon and she doubt she can convince Bella not to go for a ride. She taps her fingers against her desk just waiting for class to end; she springs from her seat as soon as the bell rings. She can't go straight out to meet Bella though, Miss Jones had asked her to come and see her after school. She had promised that it wouldn't take long and Cole couldn't think of a good enough excuse to say no.
She walks slower that necessary not exactly looking forward to the upcoming conversation; she still remembers the last one so she's not looking forward to another. She sure she can string together a few lies about talking with her brother or something. She hesitates once she's standing outside of the classroom. She wonders if Miss Jones would believe if she said she had forgotten but then that would only be putting the conversation off until a later date. She braces herself before she knocks on the door.
"Come in." Her teacher calls from the other side of the door.
She heads inside before she can hesitate. Miss Jones who is sitting at her desk smiles as Cole enters the class. Cole tries to smile but it doesn't even feel convincing so she lets it drop from her face. She doesn't say anything at first just motioning for Cole to take a seat, she does but on the table and not a chair. She sits there for a moment just waiting for her teacher to ask her to move but she doesn't.
"Is this about my scholarship? Was there something wrong with my application?" She asks full well knowing that's not what this is about.
"No, as far as I know, it was perfect but you won't hear anything back until February but I digress. I want to catch up with you about that conversation we had last week, I don't want you to feel like I'm trying to nag you but did you manage to have that talk with your brother?"
She already has a lie waiting for her to tell but sitting in the classroom, she can't bring herself to actually lie. So she pauses for a long moment like she's thinking about what to say next before she shakes her head.
"I know it has to be difficult trying to talk to him, I'm sure there are a lot of reasons in fact. But while you are here, I wanted to ask if you've heard anything from the Cullens? I know you were friends with a few of them, especially Alice. So I was wondering if they had kept in touch with you when they left."
As good as she's got at blocking thing out, she can't block the rush of pain through her chest as she's asked that question. She blinks several times just to make sure that she's not going to cry in class.
"Uh no, I haven't heard anything."
"I see, I'm sure that hasn't been easy for you. I don't want to overstep my bounds but if I'm right then I may be able to offer you some advice. So if you don't mind I'd like to ask you something?"
"Go ahead." Cole answers back feeling unsure; she can't think of what she's going to be asked that could 'overstep bounds' as Miss Jones had just put it.
"I had noticed that you and Alice Cullen were very close but the Cullens had left, I saw the two of you together around the school together a lot. Then you used to draw her in class several times a week and I know we all draw people we're familiar with. But I've seen several drawing of your brother and your friend Bella, and there was something different about the way that you used to draw Miss Cullen." She says clearly building up to something, Cole has a feeling she knows what that is; she's practically had kill bill sirens playing in her head but she doesn't want to jump to any conclusions.
"I don't see where you're going. I don't mean to come across as rude miss but I don't see why the way I paint a friend is so significant."
"Well, I think that your relationship with Miss Cullen went beyond just friendship."
"I'm sorry but I don't know what you mean." She says trying to throw her teacher of her trail.
"I think you know what I mean, I think that you were in a romantic relationship with Alice Cullen."
She doesn't know what she's supposed to do as those words come out her teacher's mouth. They don't sound hateful or venom filled like Cole would imagine in her worst nightmares, she just sounds like her teacher. She feels terrified, she's not ready for this conversation and she doesn't know what to do. She had thought they were for good at keeping it hidden but if Miss Jones knows then who else might know?
"I'm sorry but I have to go."
She says bolting out of the door as fast as her legs will carry her. She doesn't run to Bella's truck but she does walk quickly. She doesn't think Miss Jones would come out after her but she's not sure. She still feels shaky and uncertain as she climbs into Bella's car. Bella can see that something is wrong but she figures Cole needs space so she doesn't ask and Cole doesn't tell. She tries to calm her mind, sitting in silence as Bella starts to drive down to La Push but she can't help but think about who else might know?
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
Bella has improved so much lately that Cole doesn't have the heart to come to work with her anymore; her worries haven't disappeared, she knows Bella hasn't forgotten about her plans to put herself in danger but what harm can she get into at the Newton's store. At this point, it would feel too much like she was treating Bella like a child and that's the last thing she wants to do. So that's why on Friday night, she gave her brother a call knowing he had the weekend off to ask if he was busy. Of course, she wanted to see him but she also knew that if she didn't have anything to do then she would be more likely to stop by and check up on Bella. It's a relief knowing that after work Bella will probably want to spend time with Jacob and with the bikes still not finished, she's sure they can't get into too much trouble.
Thankfully he had been free so they had agreed to go out for an early showing at the movies and then for lunch. It was predictable of them going to the movies but they were so boring with their choice to always just go to movies that it had almost become a tradition by this point. She worried about it a little though before she had gone to sleep since Alice had left she hadn't had to keep up the act for more than an hour but now she was signing up to keeping it up for half the day at least.
She just skips breakfast altogether, in favour of having a quick shower before her brother comes to pick her up. She's not sure what they're going to see but she doesn't care either so she had told Leo that he could pick. She vaguely remembers him saying a few weeks ago that he was waiting for something to come out but she can't remember what. Normally when they go out, she would at least buy popcorn but she hasn't really had money since her job at the end of last year. She has some money saved but it's for college and as much as she wants to give, she doesn't want to tap into that money unless it's an emergency and wanting to buy popcorn does not an emergency make.
She's been standing in front of the mirror in a daze for the past few minutes, staring at herself with her toothbrush still in hand. She's paler even she can see that and the dark circles under her eyes don't exactly help. She wishes she had concealer or anything to cover them with but she can't remember the last time she bothered with makeup, she can barely remember to brush her hair half the time. She had for the occasion, it had felt never-ending as she had harshly combed the many notes out of her tangled and wet hair. Her scalp still hurts a little but at least if she keeps her hair up then it won't hurt so much next time.
The honk comes from outside letting her know that her brother is waiting for her outside but it still takes her a moment to drag herself away from the mirror. She grabs her jacket from Bella's room, giving a sleeping Stoker a quick stroke before dashing downstairs. She gives a quick bye to Bella, Charlie already went for the day to go fishing.
"I see you're just as ugly as I remember." She jokes climbing into her brother's car, it felt forced and she wasn't sure how it sounded though her brother seems to think so as he rolls his eyes at her playfully.
"Sure but have you looked in a mirror recently, I mean have you slept at all this year?" He exaggerates but she can tell from the way he studies her face that there's some truth to the question.
She mumbles something along the lines about sleeping like a baby before turning to look out the window so he can't study her anymore. They sit in silence for a few minutes before she lies about not sleeping well the night before to cover her tracks. It seems to work, her brother asking what had kept her up and from their honesty actually works in her favour, telling Leo that Bella had been having nightmares. Of course, she doesn't tell him that Bella has nightmares like these every night but what he doesn't know can't hurt him.
She doesn't give him the chance to bring it up again. She keeps him busy with questions for the ride to the movie theatre: she asks about school and how that going; asking as many mundane questions as she can think of without sounding out-of-place. She pays more attention to this conversation than she has any other in months, she feels hyper aware of every word that comes out of Leo's mouth and she uses them to string together new question. He doesn't pick up that anything wrong but then he gets so into a few of rants about teachers or fellow students that she's sure she could fall asleep and he wouldn't notice.
She's not sure what they're going to see even after they've bought the tickets, normally she would have asked by now but she's not sure if she even cares. She just wants to pay enough attention so she can pretend to care when they talk about the movie over lunch. She says yes when her brother asks if she wants popcorn because she knows that's what she would have said before. She knows all she has to do is take a handful here and there and then her brother will finish the rest; if her handfuls just happen to end up on the floor or stuffed into her empty soda cup well her brother doesn't need to know that.
When the title card pop up before the movie starts there's something vaguely familiar about it, Underworld Evolution. She vaguely remembers her brother talking about the first one and she remembers now that she'd agreed to come and see it with him; despite the fact that she's never seen the first one but he had promised her that she'd probably be able to follow along with any way. She's sure that he must have told her but she's not even sure what it's about but she settles down in her seat anyway ready to pay attention to whatever comes next.
She's sure the text that appears as the film begins has to be important but she can barely focus after she reads the word vampire. It's a word that she hasn't spoken in months and it's the same word she's been careful to avoid, not that it's been difficult. She squirms uncomfortably in her seat the word already bringing up uncomfortable memories as she tries to watch the movie.
The vampires are nothing like the Cullens with fangs like vampires from movies and not the Cullens perfect but ordinary looking teeth. She tries to turn her attention to the movie instead though she doesn't remember her brother saying anything about it having been set in the past, wondering if it's a flashback rather than the setting of a story. There's nothing in the first few minutes to tie these characters to the Cullens other than their species.
Story wise she isn't finding it hard to follow and she starts to pay attention properly as a narrator starts to speak. She guesses that the narrator is just giving the exposition for anyone, who like her hadn't bothered to watch the first film before coming to see the sequel. It's just a gory as she had expected but the inherent differences between these vampires and the Cullens only make her think of them more. She spends most of her time comparing and not actually paying attention: these vampires can't go out in sunlight; they seem about as strong as the Cullens but not so invulnerable. She's not surprised that they drink human blood, however, in that sense, the Cullens had always been the odd ones out.
It's not long before she's imagining what Alice would have to say about the movie. There's a lot to say but she can just hear Alice going off a rant about the fashion in this movie; the main characters skin-tight catsuit is the first thing she's sure Alice would rip apart. It doesn't seem anymore practical for fighting than Catwomans. She's paying more attention to what she imagines Alice would say or think about the movie than she is in the movie. Her thought doesn't stay on that for long and soon she's just thinking about Alice.
It's not a floodgate like any other time she's allowed herself to think about Alice; it's slower this time, she doesn't notice she's starting to cry until she feels the tears pouring down her cheeks. She wipes them before anyone can see, the movie is hardly emotional enough to cause tears. The numbness, no that's the wrong word she thinks as she stares down at the floor and not look up at the screen. Apathy, that is the word she thinks of to describe herself these last few months; she knows she's never going to the zombie-like levels of Bella but she's been apathetic.
But whatever it was isn't there anymore like it's slipped away while her guard was down. She feels the familiar pain from long sleepless nights and crying in the shower until her eyes hurt, it settles in her chest. It's just there at first like the niggling pain of a cut or scrape but it keeps building and building until it feels like her heart is actually cracking in two. She wraps her arms around her chest almost like she's afraid that it will just crumble into pieces. She doesn't want to be in this theatre here anymore but she doesn't know where she would rather be. She does want to start crying in public bu at the same time she doesn't want to ruin this for her brother. She knows all it would take is a quick lie about not feeling well and then she would be back home but she can't decide if she being alone is what she wants.
She slips away to the theatres restrooms as soon the movie is over. She doesn't feel any better and her hands shake as he turns on the tap. She washes her face hoping to hide the fact she has cried. She washes her face twice before she stops to look at her reflection, she looks the same as she did this morning but she's not sure if Leo will be able to see that she was crying. She sighs knowing she can't hide in here forever so she washes her hands, drying them on her jeans as she heads back out to meet her brother.
They had agreed to meet outside so as she goes, she listens into the conversation a couple are having about the movie. She probably shouldn't listen into to someone's conversation but when she can remember is the first twenty minutes of the movie, it's hardly going to be enough for her to contribute to any sort of conversation. Surprisingly the girl seemed to have really enjoyed and who she assumes is her boyfriend from the way she calls him baby, doesn't seem to impress even calling the movie stupid. She listens into the girl's defence and not the boyfriend's complaints, assuming that her brother enjoyed the movie, she won't have to talk as much if they both have the same opinion.
She forces a smile on her face as she meets Leo outside. Once they're in the car he asks what she wants to eat, saying she can pick since he had chosen the movie. She pretends to think it over like she's glad to have the choice when she can't even bring herself to care. She just says McDonald; she asks her brother about his favourite parts of the movie to distract him and it seems to work because that's all they talk about on the drive there. The conversation carries on once they have their food but after a few minutes, her brother frowns, examining her as he takes a bite of his burger.
"Is this just my imagination but have you lost weight?" He asks unsure.
She takes a long drink of her milkshake so she doesn't have to answer right away. She could just say she's not sure, she hasn't been anywhere near a set of scales in months but she thinks the answer is probably a yes. She knows she's not been eating right since Alice left but at the same time, she hasn't bothered doing anything about it. She's noticed her clothes feel bigger than before but she doesn't want her brother to worry or even think that she has an eating disorder.
"A few pounds but I think it's just the stress of the scholarship and of senior year, you know?" She says taking a large bite of her burger as if to prove nothing's wrong.
"Well then I guess you're the opposite of me, I put on like twelve pounds in senior year. I think I just used how busy I was as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted." He says with a laugh and she laughs along fakely.
Her brother seems to buy her excuses for now but to throw him off her trail she eats her entire meal even going as far as accepting his offer of ice cream. She feels sick by the time she's finished, she knows this is the most that she ate in months and she already regrets it. She excuses herself and once she's alone in a restroom cubicle, she can't stop herself from throwing up. She glad that the restroom is empty as she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand before flushing the toilet.
She washes her hand and face before rinsing her mouth out with water. She takes a quick look in the mirror finding she only looks a little paler before she slips out to meet her brother. They head back out to the car and so far it seems like Leo is none the wiser to any of her oddities. She turns the radio on and the two just drive in silence as they take the long way back to Forks. She can't say she enjoyed herself but it was nice to spend the day with him so she's almost sad to say goodbye when they arrive back at the Swans. But life is easier at the Swans so she just smiles and kisses his cheek goodbye before she slips inside.
Bella and Jacob are doing homework, she remembers now Bella has insisted that they get some done so their parents wouldn't assume she was leading Jacob astray. She had found it almost as funny as Jacob had at the time but she could still see that it was a good idea. She further behind on homework than she would like to be so she joins the pair without a word. She catches up on enough homework that she even watches monster garage with them. It feels strange to act so mundanely, to do homework and to watch tv when it feels like there's a whirlwind ripping through her chest. When Bella drives Jacob home, she excuses herself to get ready for bed.
When Bella told her that Jacob was going to call to tell them when they could come round it gave her a bad feeling. He had finished the first bike so quickly so she's sure this must mean that he's finished the other one. She can think of a million different reasons why she thinks Bella shouldn't go anywhere near those bikes and the fact none of them has thought to buy helmets isn't one of them. She can tell Bella is eager to leave the house, she's been cleaning the house for the past hour. Cole feels like a spare part with nothing to do while Bella cleans and Charlie washes his cruiser.
She tries to look casual when Bella answers the phone, she's dreading what Jacob has to say. She grimaces when it turns out she's right, Bella's excitement leaking through her voice as she asks if the bikes are done. She tries to think of an excuse as the two drive down to La Push, she can't think of anything that would work short of pretending her appendix is about to burst and have Bella drive her to a hospital. She doesn't say a word to Jacob as they arrive to pick him up but it their excitement, she feels like they wouldn't notice if she sprouted a new limb or turned purple.
She barely focuses as they drive out south to test the bikes but she jumps out of her stupor as she watches someone jump off a cliff. She's sure her eyes are the size of saucers and Bella seems just as surprised, Cole can't make out what Bella's ramblings are but then again she isn't paying attention. She whips her head to look at Jacob as he laughs, feeling both confused and as if he knows something that she doesn't.
"They're just cliff diving, Bella. Recreation. La Push doesn't have a mall, you know." He's clearly teasing but Cole doesn't understand the note of irritation in his voice that she can't place.
"Cliff diving?" Bella repeats sounding dazed.
"Wow. It's so high." She comments sliding back into her seat, still staring wide-eyed at the two remaining divers. "It has got to be a hundred feet."
"Well, yeah, most of us jump from lower down, that rock that juts out from the cliff about halfway." He pointed out his window. The place he indicated did seem much more reasonable. "Those guys are insane. Probably showing off how tough they are. I mean, really, it's freezing today. That water can't feel good." He makes a disgruntled face as if the stunt personally offended him and Cole wonders if it's the stunt himself or the people who are doing it that's bothering him so much.
"You jump off the cliff?"
"Sure, sure." He shrugs and grins. "It's fun. A little scary, kind of rush."
Cole has a bad feeling as Bella's eyes widened, and the smile the crosses her face doesn't help. "Jake, you have to take me cliff diving."
She glad that Jacob at least has the sense to frown at her, his face disapproving. "Bella, you just wanted to call an ambulance for Sam," he reminds her.
"I want to try," Bella insists, starting to get out of the car again, thankfully Jacob stops her but a part of Cole can't believe Bella would do but these days she believes about anything coming from Bella.
When they arrive Cole doesn't move from the car just sitting frozen in place. She had thought motorcycles were going to be the most of her worries, but no, Bella just has to take it that bit extra and know she wants to jump off a fucking cliff. She gets the idea of it and it's not that she disproves exactly, it's the same with the motorcycles; Bella's doing this for the wrong reason and Cole worries she'll hurt herself in her attempt to see Edward. A part of her has wanted to ask Bella what do you think Edward would say? But the question feels more than a little cruel, it feels needlessly cruel so she's biting her tongue when she's been tempted to ask.
She drags herself out of the truck still not sure what to do about Bella's new-found goal. Instead, she listens as Jacob explains to Bella and now herself who those guys were. She can quickly see why Jacob doesn't like them, she already dislikes them and she's never meet them.
"They sound like assholes but do you have a beef with them personally? Cause this sounds like more than just you hate them because of their assholes." Cole says taking a seat on the hood of the truck as Jacob unloads the bikes.
She not sure he going to answer at first as he sighs. "It's the way Sam, I don't know he watches me as if he's expecting something ... like I'm going to join his stupid gang someday. He pays more attention to me than any of the other guys. I hate it."
"You don't have to join anything," Bella says practically seething.
"She's right you know, don't let them pressure you into anything and seriously you should just avoid them as much as you can."
She zones out again but offers up sympathy when he talks about his friend Embry, agreeing with Bella when she mentions the amount of time the three of them had spent together. She has an uneasy feeling when he tells them that he seems to have to join Sam's "gang." She just has a bad feeling that Sam isn't just going to go away, she pushes it aside though, being Jacob's friend does not make Sam her problem.
She doesn't move from her spot on truck as Jacob starts to teach Bella how to work the Bike. Bella listens eagerly, probably trying to commit Jacob's every word to memory, Cole is sure she probably wants to prove her wrong. Cole doesn't pay much attention, she, after all, has not intention on ever touching one of those bikes unless it's to help load them back up into the truck and Jacob's so strong that she probably won't ever need to do even that.
"You look scared," Jacob teases as Bella settles down on the seat of the bike, his hands gripping the handlebars.
It doesn't seem to take long for Bella to understand the controls, it's certainly quicker than Cole would have liked. But a part of her would say that at least in this state she never wants Bella to ride one of these bikes. She winces as the engine roars to life.
"Ready?" Jacob questions as he moves away from the front of the bike, "Now, slowly realise the clutch."
The bike jolts forward and Cole is ready to call the thing off. Not that she thinks either of them would listen to her, some voice of reason she's turned out to be; like a jiminy cricket without the guts to speak.
"Are you sure you don't want to leave this for today and come back another time?" Cole asks at the same time that Jacob asks if Bella is okay.
"I want to go again," Bella says firmly.
Jacob and Cole share an unsure look, by now he's at least a little unsure but before they can say anything Bella is zooming down the empty road. Cole slides off the truck and comes to stand beside Jacob. She watches with an anxious feeling in her chest, she's just waiting for something bad to happen and it's not like Luck has ever been in Bella's favour. Even standing back here she can tell that something's distracting Bella and it takes her a moment to realise that Bella probably got her wish and she's probably having visions of Edward now.
If that isn't worrying enough, it's not long before Bella starts to lose control of the bike. Cole feels her blood run cold as Bella flies off her bike, landing with a scream as she smacks her head off a rock. She watches in mute horror, she wants to run to Bella's side but she can't seem to move. She had that same flickering feeling like what happened at the Cullen but it's cut short when she hears Jacob call her name. He's on his own bike patting the back as if to tell her to get on, there's a strange expression on his face.
He watches as she climbs on the bike, sure that whatever he just saw was a result of his panic or whatever. It had looked liked she had disappeared like for a second she was gone but when he looked back she was exactly where she was standing before. It had been a split second so he doesn't give it much thought as he starts the bike and quickly arrives at the spot where Bella had landed.
"I'm fine," is the first thing out of Bella's mouth as the two reach her.
"Are you trying to get yourself killed?"Jacob asks as he kneels down to Bella's level, examining the massive cut on the side of her forehead.
"I want to go again," Bella says sounding dazed.
"No," Cole responds instantly, she figures it's high time that she stepped in at the voice of reason. "No more bikes." She says firmly.
"Um, Bella? You've got a huge cut on your forehead, and it's gushing blood," says to Bella sounding worried.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Jacob." She says reaching up to cover the cut with her hand; of course Jacob wouldn't understand but Cole realises in a second why Bella apologises.
"Why are you apologising for bleeding?" he wonders as he wraps around Bella's waist, pulling her back on feet. "Take this," he says pulling off his T-shirt and handing it to Bella, who wads it up and holds it tightly against her forehead.
"Do you need help with the Bikes?" Cole asks turning to look at Jacob who shakes his head. "Good, I'm driving and the first place we're going is the hospital." She demands holding out her hands for the keys.
"I don't think that's a good idea, if I go to the Er like this then Charlie will hear about it." She protests though she gives Cole the keys over.
On the way back to the truck they manage to come to a compromise, they head back to Bella's house so she can change before they go to the hospital. Cole makes sure she's quick and they're in the hospital as quickly as they can be. She wonders if it's just because of the head injury that Bella calls Jacob beautiful or if it's something else but either way she doesn't think about it much.
She waits drinking the hospitals cheap shitty coffee as Bella has to get seven stitches to close the cut on her forehead. Jacob is the one to hold her hand while Dr Snow sews her. She instead sits and thinks, she knows that she's not done a very good job at taking care of Bella but now she can. Bella has Jacob to keep her happy now, so all Cole has to do is keep Bella alive, because if there's no Bella than what does Cole have to live for?
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
Of course that night Charlie had just taken Bella's injury at face value and as much as Cole found that she couldn't blame him, she wished he would ask more questions. She didn't just want to rat on Bella about the bikes but she was still worried. She may have tried to put her foot down but she doesn't know how long that would last if it last or if it would even last at all. She worried about Bella that night as she went to bed as she had been in weeks, her worry of the bikes and Bella's new-found want to go cliff diving were all she could think about.
She had almost managed to forget her chat with Miss Jones as she arrived at school on Monday but alas she had so such luck. So she felt nervous as she had gone to art class that morning as if she expected her teacher to try to continue their conversation but she doesn't. She goes into class with the same nervous feeling every day but nothing ever happens so by the time Friday rolls around she's starting to relax a little. At the end of class, Miss Jones is handing out last week's homework so everyone can look over the notes she had left before the Bella rings.
Cole can barely be bothered to look over her own but she makes the conscious effort to at least pretend like she cares when notices something scribbled on the bottom of the page.
~I know last week our talk didn't go so well but I would appreciate if you would by my class after school again. I'm only asking so please do not feel obliged because I am your teacher but I think we could resolve things if we were to speak again.~
She reads over it again just to make sure she's reading it right but she doesn't react so it's not obvious that she's read it. Her automatic response is a no but as she goes to lunch she can't help but consider it. She finds herself telling Bella that she has to speak with a teacher after school so she should just go without her. Bella asks if she's sure, giving her a way to change her mind but she doesn't say that she'll walk. She scolds herself for it afterwards before reminding herself that this doesn't mean she has to go, all it means if that she's going to have to walk home. She has herself convinced by the end of lunch that she's just going to go straight home.
She changes her mind again several times through the last of her classes but even with that, she still can't make up her mind. She knows she could meet Bella in the parking lot and the other girl wouldn't even question her. She feels like she's being a coward and makes it halfway to the parking lot before she turns back. She doesn't give herself another chance to change her mind walking as quickly as she can without looking odd. She doesn't even stop to knock as she arrives at the familiar art classroom, not giving herself another opportunity to chicken out.
Although she's worried the logical part of her knows Miss Jones can't actually do anything just because she disagrees with as students orientation. This thought leaves her feeling more confident as she enters the classroom. Miss Jones is sitting at her desk marking a stack of papers and Cole has to clear her throat before the older woman looks up at her. She looks surprised that Cole had decided to come but she offers her a smile indicating for her to take a seat. She settles down on a desk just like she did last time; she watches as Miss Jones stands up, there's a piece of paper in her hand but she can't see what's on it.
"When I look back on our talk last week, I know exactly how it went wrong but I won't make the same mistake twice. I know now that I should have started with this." She says as she hands to Cole what she know realises is a photo.
She looks at it not sure what the significance is as she searches through the photo like the answer is going to pop out for her. It's doesn't of course, it's just a picture of a beautiful blonde woman with dark brown eyes; she's smiling at the camera like the person behind it just made her day. She's sure there's a reason she's being shown this but she can't make out what it is just by looking at it.
"Who is she? And why are you showing this to me?" She asks looking back up at her teacher who smiles as she asks the questions.
"I was waiting for you to ask, I'm sure this must seem strange that I would steal time from your weekend just to show you a picture of a woman you've never meet." She says with a small laugh, "her name is Laura and I'm showing this to you because she is my civil partner."
Cole was sure she had heard wrong at first even going as far as to ask Miss Jones to repeat what she had just said. She hears the same thing of course and it's a surprise; she, of course, knows you can't tell someone's orientation just by looking at them but it still comes as a surprise. She doesn't know what to say, she's meet a few lesbians her age but she's never met any that are more than a few years older than her. It strange to see one (or so she assumes) looking so happy and well adjusted; when she pictures her own future, she can't imagine looking as happy as Miss Jones does.
"She's very pretty," she says unsure of what she should say but she does mean it.
Miss Jones laughs softly, "she is happy to hear you say that." She says taking a seat on the desk beside Cole.
Cole isn't sure what she's supposed to say next. She can think of plenty of questions that she has but she still doesn't understand how Miss Jones knows or suspects. They had both thoughts they were subtle enough that no one would pick up on anything. Alice even kept her eye out for confrontations on her side if anyone became suspicious enough to ask but she had never seen anything like that. She guesses it makes since after all Alice could never see her future so she wouldn't see anyone deciding to have the same chat with her.
"How did you know that you? uh-" she trails off not sure how she should word this.
"How did I know I was gay?" Her teacher finishes for her, "I didn't know until I was in my late teens but I can't think of one defining moment. It slowly and I didn't notice at first, it was my senior year so I thought my lack of interest in boys was because I was so focused on my work. It didn't occur to me that the reason I was paying more attention to the girls in my year was that I wanted to kiss them and not just draw them. I didn't figure that out until college when I had my first girlfriend."
Cole hasn't so interested in listening to some talk in months as she is now. She finds herself smiling along with her teacher. She stills has plenty of questions, she wonders how the other woman had met her partner but there's another question she finds more pressing.
"You asked about Alice, I was just wondering how did you know?"
"Well, for one thing, I didn't know but I still could have handled things better. I just a feeling though, when I looked at your art, it wasn't hard to notice that you would draw Alice often; I'm sure you notice that you would draw her more often even than your brother or Bella. It wasn't just that but it was the way that you drew her; it almost reminds me of the way that I draw my partner, I find that artists have a tenderness in the way they draw their significant other that they don't have when they draw other people."
She's surprised she's not as red as Bella by now, it's far from concrete proof but she had never thought or rather realised how much she would draw Alice. At first, it had just been for practice but after a while, it got to the point where she could have drawn Alice's face in her sleep. Of course, that doesn't mean she thought she could do her girlfriend justice even now she's not sure she could really draw any of the Cullens.
"Well, you're right, before they left we were together." She says looking down at her feet, biting down harshly on her lip so she doesn't start crying. She's embarrassed enough already without crying in front of her favourite teacher.
"Breaking up with your first love can be very difficult. I know I was completely distraught when my first girlfriend broke up with me. I thought she was the only girl that I would ever love and that I would never be able to find someone I loved as much as I loved her. I was wrong of course but I can see what you've been going through and I thought it might help if you had someone to talk to."
A part of her laughs thinking about all the differences, I bet your girlfriend wasn't a vampire and I bet her brother didn't try to murder both you and your best friend. She feels a slightly hysterical laugh bubbled to the surface as she thinks about how bizarre her life is but she swallows it down. At the centre of things their situations are the same, their first loves broke their hearts and left them deviated not to mention that both loves were women. She wonders if it weren't for that if she and Bella would find more solace in each other or if it's the raw pain that keeps them talking to each other.
"It was just so sudden, you know? We were perfectly happy or at least I thought so. I know she had to move but I would have thought we could have made it long distance." The last part is purely for Miss Jones' benefit, she knows full well the Cullens didn't have to leave. "I just never expected her to never call me."
It hurts talking about Alice like pulling a splinter out but she feels better at the same time. She has talked about this to anyone unless Stoker counts and as much as she appreciates his company she doesn't. They go on like this for a little while, Cole talks about anything and everything to do with Alice. They compare first date as well as heartbreaks and as painful as it is, Cole finds that she's actually enjoying herself. She barely even notices as the time ticks by and soon they've sat there for over and hour.
"She's a drama queen and a mirror hog, she probably likes compliments more than she should," Miss Jones says affectionately as she talks about her partner. "She swears like a sailor but she's very protective and I can talk to her for hours about just about anything."
It feels odd to have such a personal conversation with a teacher but she likes it. It makes Miss Jones seem more human knowing that she has someone to go home to at night. Cole really isn't sure if there's anyone else for her but if she ever meets someone else then she wants one like this.
She doesn't want another vampire or any of the other supernatural creäture that may be hiding in the woodworks, she wants a human and she wants to have a normal life. She wants someone to eat breakfast with and someone to bicker with over who gets the last ice pop; she wants all the little human things. She doesn't think she could fall like she did for Alice again; she's sure if she falls so hard again then she couldn't survive losing something like that again. Loving a human now seems like the safest option for her heart.
They talk for a little while longer and after a while, Miss Jones insists that Cole can call her Evelyn as long as the school is not longer in session and so that's what she does. She asks more about her relationship with Laura, she learns they meet in a gay bar one night; she described spotting this gorgeous woman hustling the pool table. She talked about how she had watched for a little while until she seemed to get bored and let someone beat her. Evelyn had laughed at the next part as she explains she had left assuming one of Laura's friends was her significant other.
The teacher seemed embarrassed as she explained she had stopped outside for a cigarette only to realise she didn't have any. Cole finds herself smiling as Evelyn talks about how Laura had come out after her. The two had smoked a cigarette together before exchanging numbers and the rest was history, her teacher included; though as the story ends she mentions at least three times that she and her partner no longer smoke. Cole had laughed at this, sure she thinks smoking is disgusting but she's hardly going to care if that's something a teacher of hers does in their free time; she's sure at least one of them must smoke.
As much as she doesn't relish the idea of going back to an empty house she lets Evelyn know that she really has to have to be getting home. The other woman doesn't hesitate as she insists on giving Cole a ride home something she has no problems accepting and the two sit in a comfortable silence.
It's after Cole is alone in her bedroom that she falls apart. With nothing to distract her all of her thoughts find themselves wandering back to Alice and thinking about Alice just leaves pain. It's like all of the emotions she's been trying to keep down all these months are springing back all once. She upset but she finds that's angry at Alice for leaving in the first place. She doesn't even notice the spark of warmth, she's so angry only noticing as she sets her t-shirt on fire.
She's too shocked to know what to do but the fire just disappears like she doesn't have the energy to keep it going; as if her magic is spread so thinly trying to keep her together that she doesn't have any left for anything else. She feels her magic now but it's not like before, it feels like it's flowing through her skin barely keeping her together. She knows she should feel pleased, if her magic is still there then she can fix it but all she feels is exhausted. Her eyelids are already dropping and she barely has the energy to crawl into bed without bothering to change.
So much for the movies, Cole think sarcastically as she vomits into her toilet for what feels like the millionth time. Some 24-hour bug and she had to catch it on a night she has plans. Plans she wasn't looking forward to in all honestly but Plans all the same. Bella had arranged a trip to the movies and she had, of course, agreed to come but now she doesn't even want to move as she curls up on the cool floor tiles.
Her brother had offered to take the night off work but she had insisted she would be fine, she had spent half of the day dozing under the thickest blanket her brother could find anyway. She hadn't been looking forward to her plans for tonight but she'd had her entire weekend planned out, Friday was going to the movies; Saturday she was going to get back to magic practice and Sunday she was at Bella's. She has been trying ever since her talk with Evelyn to use her fire again but she feels like her magic won't stretch so far so she decided she needs to try spells again.
She feels better by Saturday morning only to find out from Charlie when she calls Bella's house early in the morning that both Bella and Mike are sick too. She reassures him that Bella should be feeling better by tomorrow morning. She doesn't end up getting any magic practice done, feeling too worried about Bella even though she knows exactly when she'll be better. She promises herself she'll get back to magic feeling guilty as she stares at her pillow; she almost feels like Stoker is judging her even if she knows he's cat so of course, he isn't.
She right of course and Bella is better by the next morning, Bella calls once she's sure to let her know. She also lets Cole know that she's welcome to come over as planned. Once she arrives Bella gives her a play-by-play of the disaster of a movie trip; she's tempted to mention her talk with Miss Jones but for a reason, she can't explain she doesn't. They hadn't done anything wrong but it feels like something she should keep a secret even if she can't put into words why.
She has a strange feeling when Bella mentions that Jacob is sick too, she can't explain it so she keeps her mouth shut. It's not like one of her bad feelings, she just has a feeling that change is coming. She doesn't want to worry Bella sure that she's wrong so she doesn't open her mouth. The feeling only grows as she listens to Bella on the phone to Jacob; she reassures Bella that Jacob will be better in no time as she comes off the phone but she doesn't believe it. She doesn't know what but she knows something about Jacob is about to change and it's not going to be something small.
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
Over the next few days, Bella had called Jacob more times than Cole cared to count and yet she hadn't been able to speak to the boy himself. Cole didn't want to fuel and already suspicious Bella but her strange feeling from Sunday niggles away in the back of mind when Jacob was brought up in conversation. She couldn't figure out what it was but at the same times, she was sure the penny would drop eventually.
She had started to practice magic again wanting something to distract her from the lingering feeling but with the limited number of spells at her disposal, she hadn't felt too hopeful. One Monday she had tried her candle lighting spell but it had brought back too many memories of Alice, it felt too much like her fire, there but completely unreachable all the same. She had never actually mastered her light spell and although she practised trying to expand her ward spell on Tuesday without a vampire to test it, it felt useless. She was stuck practising the second spell she had learned, it was simple enough a spell to find lost items.
She had a range when she first learned it she could only find the item if it was located in the room she was in. Her ranged grew until she could find it anywhere within a house. So on Wednesday she had stuck to searching for odd and ends she had lost her room. This spell took the least effort, it felt like all she had to do was concentrate like she was trying to remember where she had put the item and it would come back to her. It didn't just have to be things she had lost effectively proving itself worthy as a spell. She had spent Tuesday evening looking for missing socks and the little-stuffed bear Leo had bought for her birthday. She managed to find all of them but she had been exhausted afterwards before only extensive use of her fire would have left her this tired.
She got a little more done on Wednesday expanding her reach through the house again but at the end of the day she had been even more tired than she had been the previous night. She had wanted to practice on Thursday but she had been so tired when she woke up in the morning that she just didn't have the energy and on Friday she was back at Bella's. She had found a couple of little things for Bella just to show her that her magic was coming back but she could tell Bella was distracted and she couldn't blame her.
On Saturday Bella had lost all patience and drives down to the little red house with Cole in tow even after Cole insist that it's a terrible idea. She didn't want to encourage her but she found herself agreeing with Bella's suspicions when a friend of Charlie's told him that Jacob had mono. She knew as little about mono as Bella did but it sets the strange feeling in her off again like little alarm bells. She so wanted to avoid fuelling Bella but when her friend had asked what she thought, she couldn't lie. She did know that Mono isn't infectious, remembering a high friend of Leo's had caught and he had still gone to visit them all the time.
Cole wasn't sure what they should do, she wasn't sure if there was anything they should do. She knew there was a chance that mono was just a misdiagnosis but a part of her felt like Billy was deliberately lying not that she gave those thoughts much worth. Bella had decided she would wait a week and she could see how much Bella was struggling.
It stung to see Bella getting worse again without Jacob and she didn't know what to do. She was there for her friend as much as she could be but she felt completely useless. So she did what she could and she was there for Bella when could be. On Monday when she had gone home to grab extra clothes, her brother had commented about how close she and Bella were these days. She had thought about it of course but she could see what her brother meant, they hadn't been this close. Two people in pain gravitating towards each other and relying on the other for support, she could see how they fit that bill.
On Wednesday Leo had called to ask her to make sure she's home by eight on Thursday, a repairman would be coming by to fix the shower but of course, he would have to work. She agreed, of course, she wasn't doing much good for Bella so she was sure that Bella would survive a night without her; so she decides she would just stay the night. Of course, Bella doesn't seem to care but Cole's feelings are hardly hurt, she knew if Bella were to give her nothing but radio silence then she wouldn't know what to do with herself either.
By now the repairman has come and went, he had been fairly quick and he's been gone for a few hours now. Cole finds herself regretting saying that she would stay home for the night. She didn't call Bella to ask if it's okay to come back instead she's just been pacing through the empty house feeling bored. She finished all of her homework earlier and Stoker is out for the count. She knows a normal person would probably just call another friend; she thinks about it, she realises Bella is her only friend and then she feels pathetic. She's not sure if Jacob likes her, the silent girl who sits in on his time with Bella.
She decides to take a shower and not sit and think about her own patheticness. She takes as long as she can, washing her hair twice and making sure it's bone dry when she dries it before taking the time to put it back in a French braid. She knows her brother will have his keys so she locks the doors and windows before she heads upstairs to go to bed. She's not that tired but it's better than wandering around an empty house feeling sorry for herself.
She tries to think of where she would rather be as she climbs into bed better thinking of that than letting thought of Alice slip through her defences. Her first thought is that she'd rather be with Alice but that thought is too painful, she tries to think of other places like Bella's or even New York but with thoughts of New York come thoughts of her future and she can't imagine a future without Alice even now. So instead she thinks about the bear sightings but it's not long before she starts drifting off to sleep, thinking about the dark woods that surround Forks and wishing that she were anywhere else.
When she wakes up she knows she's not in bed anymore before she even opens her eyes. She can feel the wet dirt beneath her but she doesn't open her eyes yet, first, she takes in a long deep breath trying to calm herself down. When she opens her eyes all she can see is trees that seem to stretch out forever. At least I know where I am, she thinks trying not to panic as she pulls herself to her feet. She shivers wrapping her arms around herself for warmth to no avail, dressed only in her pyjamas she's freezing.
Confusion makes it's self-welcome among her panic, how am I here? She thought not moving yet, I mean I know I sleep walk but I highly doubt I slept walked all the way here. She swallows her mouth feeling dry as she tries not to let her panic consume her. Move, she thinks to stare at her legs barely visible in the darkness; I have to start moving but she doesn't want to do that. It's so dark that it feels like there could be anything out there and she has no idea where to go, she can pick any direction but that could end up leading her even farther away from home.
She takes her first step and her legs shake at first, she only takes small steps at first until she feels more balanced. She tries to keep her thoughts on getting home but her panic flares up when she can barely see a foot in front of her face. She tries to keep going but in the darkness she trips and falls several times, leaving several scrapes up her arms and legs. She feels like she's ready to have a breakdown in tears when she felts heat in her palms. It's nothing like the heat that comes with her fire, that heat feels like it comes from inside her; this heat feels like it's coming from somewhere else like holding her hands up towards the sun on a warm day.
She looks down to see two glowing white balls of white settled into her palms. They flicker for a moment and she panics but she tries to remember what the light feels like against her palms and they flicker back to life. She imagines as she puts her hands together the two balls of light becoming one large enough to light her way. Supposedly she could have the light float in the air on its own but she can already feel the light itself draining away at her energy.
It's enough light that she can see where she's going so she takes the chance to walk faster hoping that she'll find her way out soon. The light flickers as she panics at the thought of having to spend the night in the words, at the thought of wandering in here for days. She can imagine it just walking hopelessly through the endless sea of green not even noticing that she's been walking in circles for hours. Oh god, her brother won't even notice that she's not there in the morning so no one will even know anything wrong until she's not there for Bella to drive to school tomorrow morning.
She tries not to think about anything except moving forward and it works for a little while. She doesn't know how long she's been waking or even if she's making any progress as she spots the giant horse-sized wolf with black fur. That's definitely not a bear she thinks as she stares at it in shock, she's pretty sure wolves aren't supposed to be that big. It turns to look at her though it doesn't move yet and she's sure she has to be crazy because it looks almost confused.
I'm going to die, this is it isn't it? She thinks to herself panic start to build in her chest. I'm going to be eaten by a giant fucking wolf and then no one's ever going to find my body. Leo's going to devastated and Bella will think I just abandoned her. Her heart is racing so loud in chest that she can hear it thumping in her ears if the hair on the back of neck where alright raised then they would be now. It doesn't look threatening but just because it doesn't have its teeth bared at her doesn't mean she's in the safe.
She remembers a book she read about wolves once, she remembers that it says not to run if you encounter a wolf. She maintains eye contact like she's supposed to as she slowly back away. She feels only slightly relieved when it doesn't make a move towards her. She's so tempted to turn and run but she knows that'll only make it more likely to chase after her, besides she knows there's no way she could outrun a wolf anywhere, nevermind in its own turf. She keeps her pace slow and by the time she's made it about ten feet, the wolf takes its first step towards her. Her light has dimmed to nothing so in the darkness all she can really see is its eyes as it makes its way closer.
She backs up a little faster and it takes another step, one of its step matching three of hers. She keeps this up for a little while hoping that it'll just get bored or give up but before she knows it, it's slowly getting closer to her. All the while she keeps chanting the mantra of don't run, don't run but it starts to pick up it's and she can think of nothing else but to turn and run. She doesn't look over her shoulder as tempted as she is, pushing herself to run as fast as her legs will carry her.
She only makes it in the dark for so long before she's tripping over something again. She looks up to see not one wolf but instead two; she wonders morbidly if he's brought along a friend to share his meal. Standing by the black wolf is an equally large reddish-brown one. If she didn't know any better she would have thought they were communicating, this works as a momentary distraction before the other wolf seems to retreat back to where it came from. She shuts her eyes tightly not wanting to watch what comes next. I've changed my mind she thinks frantically, I want to be home, I wish I was home, I wish I was home and back in bed.
She has that strange feeling she's been having on and off for a little while that feelings like she's fading but even that doesn't fully describe what it feels like. She would describe it as coming out of focus and when she comes back into focus, she lays in her bed again. She's exhausted and she can barely keep her eyes open and she curls up under the covers. It must have been a dream she sleepily convinces herself as she drifts off to sleep.
It wasn't a dream is what she discover when she woke up the next morning. Her feet are caked in dirt as her sheets now, her legs and are coated in both dried mud and blood. Even her pyjamas are muddy. She barely has time to think about it, having to shower quickly and throw her sheets into the washing machine before her brother could see that something was up. She didn't know what to do even as Bella had picked her up that morning. The scrapes running up her arms and legs were proof enough but even then, she didn't want to believe it had happened.
She wondered if it was a new power on the way to school but she was so tired that she didn't feel like testing it out. It did make her wonder if that's what had happened that day at the Cullens. She considered testing it out later but as she spends the night at Bella's she doesn't and she can't bring herself to do it the next night. She keeps promising herself that she'll tell Bella but before she knows it, it's Saturday and she hasn't breathed a word about it.
She wakes up to Bella screaming on Saturday morning but by now that's nothing unusual. She can see the excitement in Bella's eyes as she remembers that her week is up and that she can call Jacob again. Cole has a bad feeling about it though. And that feeling is confirmed as she sits picking at a bowl of cereal as she pretends that she's not listening to Bella's conversation with Billy. She sits in silence staring intently at her cereal bowl as Bella and Charlie talk, she's not surprised to hear that Charlie has plans to go fishing. He must be worried because he even offers to stay with her.
"Don't worry about it Charlie, I'll be with her all day and besides, we were thinking about calling Jessica for some help with Calculus."
It seems to be enough for him but Cole can't help but stiffen up at the mention of the bear or as she knows it the wolf or rather wolves. She tries not to gulp audibly as Charlie mentions a missing hiker. She knows she should say something but she's not sure what to say, I decide to take a stroll through the woods in my pyjamas and I ran into two giant wolves? Either no one would believe her or they would think she was crazy for doing it in the first place.
She thought Bella was taking it a bit far as she went through the motions of gathering all of her school books to put on the kitchen table. Something she's sure that one any other day would have made Charlie at least a little suspicious. They sit in silence for several long minutes after Charlie leaves but when Bella finds something she wants to do, Cole finds herself agreeing without a second thought.
And that's how she found herself hiking through the woods for some meadow Edward had taken Bella to. Her heart strings, thoughts of Edward only leading her back to thoughts of Alice. She almost wishes they had had something like this but then she can only imagine how painful it's going to be for Bella once she actually finds the place. As they walked a bad feeling had started to worm its way into Cole's chest and the farther into the woods they got, the worse the feeling was. She's only had a feeling like this a few times leading up until now, in the moments before she had found James in her room and the night before the Cullens had left.
She loses track of how far they walk, she doesn't know what to look out for so she keeps an eye on Bella's reactions to give her hints. She knows they've found the place as they come to at stop at a perfectly symmetrical clearing. It's beautiful with long tall grass and in the distance, Cole can hear the bubbling of a stream. She's almost smiling as she turns to Bella expecting to find the other girl happy but she finds the opposite.
She looks devastated as she looks around the clearing, and Cole finds herself linking hands with her to offer at least a small measure of comfort. She doesn't know what Bella had been looking for here but she knows that she obviously didn't find it. She turns blinking in surprise as a figure steps out from the tree to the north. Cole has never seen this mad before but she can tell from his pallid complexion and vivid red eyes exactly what he is, she doesn't move but she finds herself gripping Bella's hand tighter.
"Laurent!" Bella's cries in surprise and that's when the penny drops for Cole, she remembers being told about Laurent. He had been a member of James' coven who had chosen not to stay for the hunt but instead left for Alaska.
"Bella? And who is your friend?" He asks, looking astonished.
"I can't believe you remembered." Bella smiles sounding elated, "this is Cole, she's a witch and another friend of." It's strange for Bella to say the word so easily out loud and if it weren't for the fact her mere scent would give her away she would have kept it a secret.
"Another friend of the Cullens, I know them as well as Bella does." Cole ads when Bella can't seem to spit the name Cullen out. "Alice and I are very close in particular." She says ignoring the searing pain in her chest as she mentions Alice aloud for the first time in months
She knows Bella must trust Laurent but she isn't convinced. The feeling in her chest has only intensified since he walked into the clearing. Though she cannot tell if it's just because he's an unfamiliar vampire of if it's because he's going to hurt them. Her answers seem to satisfy him or so she thinks because his attention quickly returns to Bella.
He grins. "I didn't expect to see you here." He strolls toward then, his expression bemused.
"Isn't it the other way around? I do live here. I thought you'd gone to Alaska."
He stops about ten paces away, cocking his head to the side. Cole finds herself watching him closely for any signs of ill will. She's not sure there's much she can do to protect herself or Bella but that doesn't mean she would just let him kill them. She stays silent for now letting the two catch up.
You're right," he agrees. "I did go to Alaska. Still, I didn't expect... When I found the Cullen place empty, I thought they'd moved on."
"Oh," Bella says biting her lip. Cole can see the pain that flashes in Bella's eyes and most likely her own, she knows this won't have gone undetected by Laurent.
"Yes, they have moved on," Cole says speaking up when Bella can't seem to find her voice.
"Hmm," he murmurs. "I'm surprised they left you behind. Weren't you sort of a pet of theirs?" His eyes are innocent of any intended offence.
"Something like that."
"Hmm," he said, thoughtful again.
Cole tries not to let her internal panic show as something inside her clicks as she looks at the vampire's eyes. She's not sure how long it takes but if he had lived with the Denali's for so long then would his eyes still be such a vivid colour? As she turns to look at Bella she can see the same worry mirrored in her best friends eyes.
"Do they visit often?" he asked, still casual, but his weight shifted towards them.
Bella looks off like somethings caught her attention and Cole wonders if in the danger she's seeing Edward. She hates the feeling in her chest that's almost jealously as she wishes she could see Alice even if only in adrenaline-fueled visions.
"All the time," Cole lies without a thought.
"The time seems longer to me, I imagine. You know how they get distracted..." Bella adds on to the end probably only out of nerves but if she didn't know that Laurent would hear for sure then she would tell Bella to shut up.
"The house smelled like it had been vacant for a while..."
"I'll have to let Carlisle that you stopped by. He'll be sorry they missed your visit."
"But I probably shouldn't mention it to... Edward, I suppose - " Bella barely manages to choke out his name, " - he has such a temper... well, I'm sure you remember. He's still touchy about the James thing." Bella rolls her eyes and waves a hand dismissively like it was all ancient history, but there was an edge of hysteria to her voice.
"Is he really?" Laurent asks pleasantly... sceptically.
Cole stops herself from cursing under her breath. She's hardly the best liar in the world but Bella is giving them away so easily. She wonders how long it'll take for him to let them in on his real agenda for coming.
Laurent takes a casual step to the side, gazing around at the little meadow. Cole doesn't miss that the step brought him closer to them, closer to Bella.
"So how are things working out in Denali? Carlisle said you were staying with Tanya?" Her voice is too high.
Cole doesn't know if she should be relieved or not as the question makes him pause. "I like Tanya very much," he muses. "And her sister Irina even more... I've never stayed in one place for so long before, and I enjoy the advantages, the novelty of it. But, the restrictions are difficult... I'm surprised that any of them can keep it up for long." He smiles at me conspiratorially. "Sometimes I cheat."
Wow, you don't say, I would never have guessed, Cole thinks in her head surprising herself with sarcasm in her fear. She takes a careful step back tugging Bella alongside her only stopping as his red eyes flicker down to catch the movement.
"Oh yeah, the adjustment has to be very difficult for you. You know Jasper actually has a big problem with that, too." Cole says her voice strained.
Suddenly Bella seems to still completely and against her better judgement Cole does as well. She wonders if the voice in Bella's head gives advice too.
"Really?" Laurent seems interested. "Is that why they left?"
"No," Bella answers honestly. "Jasper is more careful at home."
"Yes," Laurent agrees. "I am, too."
The step forward he takes now was quite deliberate. Cole surprises her with the step she takes, not going backwards but rather forwards as if to put herself between the two as if that could do anything.
"Did Victoria ever find you?" Bella asks, breathless, in a clear attempt to distract him.
The questions stop him but at the same time that only adds to Cole's bad feeling. If he hadn't of seen her would he just have said no right away?
"Yes," he says, hesitating on that step. "I actually came here as a favour to her." He makes a face. "She won't be happy about this."
"About what?" Bella asks eagerly, inviting him to continue. He glares into the trees, away from them. Something Cole takes full advantage of pushing Bella back a step or two.
He looks back at Bella and smiles - the expression makes him look almost angelic but Cole feels there's something off about it.
"About me killing you," he answers in a seductive purr.
Cole pushes Bella back even further, now so that she's standing in front of the other girl deliberately trying to act as a protective barrier. She waits for fire to spring to her hands for protection but it doesn't come. She's never felt more useless, a witch whose powers don't work right when she's afraid.
"She wanted to save that part for herself," he goes on blithely. "She's sort of... put out with you, Bella."
"Why?" Cole asks surprised by how strong her voice sounds.
He shakes his head and chuckles. "I know, it seems a little backwards to me, too. But James was her mate, and your Edward killed him."
"She thought it more appropriate to kill you than Edward - fair turnabout, mate for mate. She asked me to get the lay of the land for her, so to speak. I didn't imagine you would be so easy to get to. So maybe her plan was flawed - apparently, it wouldn't be the revenge she imagined since you must not mean very much to him if he left you here unprotected."
Laurent's weight shifted slightly, and Cole pushes Bella back another step, she doesn't think it'll do any good but at this point, she can't help herself.
He frowns. "I suppose she'll be angry, all the same."
"Then why not wait for her?" She chokes out.
A mischievous grin appears on his face. "Well, you've caught me at a bad time, Bella. I didn't come to this place on Victoria's mission - I was hunting. I'm quite thirsty, and you do smell... simply mouth-watering. And this little friend of yours, I've never tasted the blood of a witch but I've been told it is quite the treat."
He looks them over with approval as if his words were supposed to be taken as a compliment.
"He'll know it was you," Bella whispers much to Coles surprise. "You won't get away with this."
"And why not?" Laurent's smile widens. He gazes around the small opening in the trees. "The scent will wash away with the next rain. No one will find your body - you'll simply go missing, like so many, many other humans. There's no reason for Edward to think of me if he cares enough to investigate. This is nothing personal, let me assure you. Just thirst."
"Stay away from her." Cole almost snarls, anger rising in her chest.
Laurent shakes his head at her, his face kind. "Look at it this way. You friend very luckily I was the one to find you."
"Am I?" Bella mouths, Cole pushing her back another step.
Laurent follows, lithe and graceful. Cole raises a hand as if to stop him when he gets close enough. She keeps the look of shock on her face when her flames come to life but that doesn't seem to stop him, only amuse him.
"Yes," he assures her. "I'll be very quick. You won't feel a thing, I promise. Oh, I'll lie to Victoria about that later, naturally, just to placate her. But if you knew what she had planned for you, Bella..." He shook his head with a slow movement, almost as if in disgust. "I swear you'd be thanking me for this. Your friend's parlour tricks cannot protect you forever, you should see this as a mercy."
Cole hates to admit that he's right, she can't help the fear and doubt that course through her and they douse her flames like they'd never been there in the first place. He smiles at her as if to say, I told you so.
He sniffs at the breeze that blew threads of their hair in his direction. "Mouthwatering," he repeats, inhaling deeply.
Cole watches as Laurent pauses in the act of inhaling and whips his head abruptly to the left. Cole scowls wondering if this is some kind of games, she wonders if he'll wait until they turn to look and attack. It's no necessary of course but it feels like a cruel enough game for a vampire. Cole watches confused as he starts to back away from them.
"I don't believe it," he says, his voice so low that Cole can barely hear it.
Cole is sure that it's not a game now so she can't stop herself from looking. She doesn't see anything at first, her eyes flicker back to Laurent wondering if this really is just a sick game after all. He's retreating more quickly now as his eyes bore into the forest if Cole didn't know any better than she would have thought he was afraid.
Then Cole sees it, and she recognises the black wolf but just a few nights ago almost instantly. She tenses up seeing it's razor like teeth revealed, letting out a grisly snarl that rings through the clearing like a prolonged crack of thunder. Cole doesn't move a muscle waiting to see what the wolf does. Bella doesn't move a muscle either the create only ten or so feet away from them.
Another growl rumbles in its throat and Cole can feel Bella shuddering from behind her, she's sure she would have too if she weren't watching Laurent so closely.
Laurent backs away toward the edge of the trees. Why would he retreat? Cole wonders, this wolf is gigantic like a lab experiment gone wrong but he is still a vampire. And Cole cannot think of one animal that can stand a fighting chance against a vampire.
Cole knows she shouldn't be surprised when more appear knowing that Wolves rarely travel along but it's shocking to see so many of these monstrously large wolves al at once. Flanking it on either side, another two gigantic beasts prowl silently into the meadow. One is a deep grey, the other brown, neither one quite as tall as the first. The grey wolf comes through the trees only a few feet from the two, its eyes locked on Laurent.
Cole has barely registered the wolves before, two more follow. Her eyes immediately go to the rusty-brown one, that was so close as it entered that she could have leant over and touched it. She recognises it as easily as she recognises the black one from a few nights ago. So this is your pack, she manages to think through her fear.
Bella gives an involuntary gasp and jumps back - which was the stupidest thing she could have done. Cole waits for the little outburst to draw attention to them, being the weaker of the prey it would only make sense for the Wolves to turn on them first.
The wolf closest to the reddish-brown one turns its head slightly at the sound of Bella's gasp. When Cole meets its eyes for a split second, she doesn't know why but there's something familiar about them but it's more than just the fact she's seen this wolf before.
There's another low growl from the leader causing the russet wolf to whip his head around, back towards Laurent. Laurent is staring at the pack of monster wolves with unconcealed shock and fear. Cole can't understand why he would be afraid that she's even more stunned when he spins and disappears into the trees.
He just ran away she thinks in barely concealed shock. Why on earth would he do that? She thinks in confusion but she's not going to complain.
The wolves are after him in a second, sprinting across the open grass with a few powerful bounds, snarling and snapping so loudly that their hands flew up instinctively to cover their ears. The sound faded with surprising swiftness once they disappeared into the woods.
Cole stands in amazement, barely able to support Bella before her knees buckle. She's surprised that Bella isn't crying the look on her face.
Bella's truck, she thinks as she takes hold of her friend's hand again this time to keep her steady. We need to get out here, she thinks to wonder how long those wolves would chase Laurent before giving up. Wondering how long it would be before Laurent killed them.
In her mind, Cole can't justify Laurent's fear of the wolves. As big as they are would they really be able to hurt a vampire? The more she thinks about all of this the more confused she is, she's sure animals are supposed to be afraid of vampire so why would these wolves be any exception? That still leaves the question of why would they attack him in the first place?
She thinks about the truck and how much she would rather be there, trying to imitate how she can felt that night at the Cullens. She grips Bella's hand tighter now sure if it would even work, to begin with. She's almost ready to give up when she gets that feeling of fading away and as she comes back into focus, she and Bella are both by the truck.
Bella looks confused, looking around in a panic before Cole has the chance to say anything.
A cold breeze whipped through the meadow, swaying the grass like something was moving through it.
"That was me." She says before Bella can panic anymore, her friend raising an eyebrow.
"Since when can you do that? Is that a spell you've been practising?" Bella asks confused, clearly still frightened from their encounter.
"It's a new affinity, I think but I'll explain everything," Cole says as she climbs into Bella truck feeling dizzy and exhausted.
She hesitates at first but she follows through. She tells Bela everything from the sleepwalking, to what happened that night at the Cullen to her encounter with the wolves that night. It takes longer than she had expected and it's dark by the time they start driving back. Cole doesn't know what to do but she's filed with unease knowing Victoria could appear at any moment.
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
The days that passed after their encounter with Laurent were some of the worst of Cole's life. She knew that very night that the wolves must have been dead and that Laurent must have made it to Victoria. She could sleep that night, sitting guard beside Bella as if she could do anything when she finally came face to face with Victoria. She had shuddered at the thought, after having met her mate, she wasn't eager.
She could see the panic in Bella's eyes when she woke up each morning to realise she had made it through another night. Cole barely catches more than an hour of sleep before Monday and found herself falling asleep in class. She had dozed off sitting at the kitchen table as Bella had tried to phone Jacob on Monday. She had not intentions of going home anytime soon and much to her thanks, Charlie didn't seem eager to get rid of her either.
Her strange feeling about Jacob only grew as the days went on but she still couldn't put her finger on it. She was too tired to give it much thought, the only thing that was keeping her going was a dangerous mixture of magic and far too much coffee. She hadn't had much appetite before but the frantic worry has stolen away the little appetite she did have, barely picking at her meals.
By Wednesday she had completely given up on trying to keep Bella from practically harassing the Black's in her attempts to get a hold of Jacob. She didn't even say a word when Bella called them every half an hour. Even going with Bella on Thursday night as she sat outside the Blacks for a solid hour, though Cole slept through most of it. She remembers having strange dreams of people turning into wolves, that night as she lay in bed, she remembered the bits and pieces of Quileute legend Bella had told her, what felt like a lifetime ago. She had gone to sleep almost laughing as remembered the legend of Quileute's descending from wolves.
She wondered as she sat between Bella and Quil on Friday afternoon if her bad feeling had only come from those things Jacob had told them about Sam. If all this time, she was just worried he'd been dragged into the cult of Sam Uley. Quil confirmed it but things still didn't add up in Cole's head. If Sam Uley was so bad them why would the council all fall for it? A few people on the council would make sense but the unyielding support is just strange to her. She had felt sorry for Quil though, losing both of his best friends so quickly plus that added fear that he could be next.
She hadn't said much though, not wanting to say the wrong thing. She had watched him go as they dropped him off at his house, all she was thinking about is why the woods? Why would Sam's gang have to meet up in the woods? They clearly weren't keeping anything a secret so why the secretive meeting place? especially with the council's approval, what could they be hiding?
It had poured with rain as they had pulled up to the Black household and she could see Jacob walking out the corner of her eye. She wasn't sure what Bella had planned and she almost didn't notice as Bella launched out the car right away. She had a feeling that this wasn't going to go well, scrambling out of the truck to catch up with Bella. She had tried calling the other girls name but it seemed to go in one ear and out the other.
"Hey!" Bella called as she followed behind Jake, Cole trailing a few paces behind her.
"You cut your hair off? And got a tattoo?" Bella questioned shocked.
"I thought you were too sick to come outside, or answer the phone when I call." She sounded hurt and angry.
"Go away Bella, both of you, just leave."
Cole probably should have seen this coming. After all, Jacob could have made contact with Bella at any point but she just didn't think of it. And from the look that crossed Bella's face, it was clear neither had she. Especially in the way she had made him repeat it like she didn't trust her own ears.
"What happened to you? What's-" Jacob turned before Bella could finish her sentence. "Hey! What happened?"
He seemed reluctant but he turned around to look at Bella. Cole had wondered how he wasn't freezing in only a pair of denim shorts, she was wearing twice as much as him and she was freezing. She had a very bad feeling about the way this conversation was going to go, she didn't say anything but she had taken hold of Bella's arm.
"Did Sam get to you? Is that what's happening?" Bella had asked as Cole had bitten back a Bella stop, the bad feeling she had been only growing.
"Sam's trying to help me. Don't blame him. But if you want somebody to blame, how about those filthy bloodsuckers you love, the Cullens?"
It felt like having a bucket of ice water dumped over her as he said those words. Hearing that name was painful enough but the word bloodsuckers sent her almost into shock. She remembers what Bella had told her about the cold ones but she had thought Jacob saw those tales as nothing more than scary stories. Bella looked as if she'd been slapped in the face, her big brown eyes filled with sadness.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't say their names to her again and don't speak to her like that. I don't care how angry you are." Cole had surprised herself by speaking up but she had only made the angry boy even angrier.
"What would you know? Your just Bella's shadow, do you ever do things on your own or have you forgotten how?" He seemed to regret it as soon as he had said it but Cole didn't how knows how to react.
"I'm going to wait in the truck," she said not looking in Jacob's direction as she turned to walk back to the truck.
It had stung but a part of her wasn't sure if it stung more because it had come from a friend or if it was because she thought it was true? Since the Cullens had left, she can only think of a handful occasions she hadn't been with Bella. She wondered if she was really as pathetic as she felt sitting in the truck waiting for Bella. She was soaking wet and freezing but she didn't bother with the truck's heating as she watched the two from the truck.
She didn't ask what was said when Bella made it back to the truck but she could tell that it was bad, Bella looked devastated. It shocked her but she didn't say anything through the ride back to Bella's place. Staying in the truck for a few minutes after they had arrived giving Charlie and Bella a moment together.
"What happened?" Charlie had asked when she had finally come inside.
"I don't know, I gave them privacy to talk." It's as close to the truth as she was comfortable with.
Charlie didn't seem happy but not with her so she had just excused herself so she could go and change. Bella was in the shower so she had just changed into dry clothes, towel drying her wet hair. She had crept out onto the landing, listening to it to Charlie's conversation with Billy over the phone. She had never heard him sound so angry but it was clear from what she heard that Billy was accusing Bella of leading Jacob on. She had dashed back into Bella's room when she had heard the shower shut off, she sat at Bella's desk pretending to work on her sketches. She had started carrying a sketchbook with her everywhere again to try to get back into the swing of drawing.
She heard as Bella came into the room but she didn't turn away actually trying to draw instead of just pretending. She knew she would get much sleep again so she figures that she might as well kill some time actually doing something. She can hear Bella climbing into bed but she doesn't move, drawing doesn't feel the same but the more she does it, the easier it was getting so she practised until it was too dark. She had crawled into bed though she didn't have any intentions of actually going to sleep.
She's been laying there for what feels like hours now and Jacob's words have come back to haunt her. She's alway been the kind to ignore her own problems in favour of other people's. When their parents had died, things were about Leo and how he was coping and if he was eating right. It had given her something to think about other than the aching pain in chest and maybe that's what she's doing now. It feels different this time, more urgent, maybe it's because Bella's life really is in danger.
She doesn't say anything as Bella wakes up, she doesn't even need to ask by this point if it's because of a nightmare. She reached out taking the other girls hand and giving it a small squeeze as she watched tears pour down her face. Bella still seems half asleep so she doesn't say anything, letting Bella go back to sleep. She even starts to drift off the sleep herself when she hears the sound of something sharp scrape across Bella's window, it sounds like fingernails against the glass.
Cole snaps upright suddenly feeling wide awake, she tries not to panic as she thinks of the possibilities. She almost thought she had imagined it until she see's Bella react sluggishly and sleepily but it's still a reaction. She's out of bed and over to the window as quickly as she can. Bella isn't far behind her and Cole takes her hand again, though this time she's not sure who's it's to comfort.
She freezes in fear while Bella looks like she wants to scream as they look out to see a huge, dark shape wobbling erratically on the other side of the glass, lurching towards them like it was going to smash right through.
"Bella," it hisses. "Ouch! Damn it, open the window! OUCH!"
The two girls share a look neither one of them willing to move at first. It's Cole that moves heading over to the window and quickly shoving the glass as the way out before she can lose her nerve.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" She gripes, Bella finally moving to look over Cole's shoulder.
Jacob is clinging precariously to the top of the spruce that grew in the middle of Charlie's little front yard. His weight had bowed the tree toward the house and he has swung - his legs dangling twenty feet above the ground - not a yard away from them. The thin branches at the tip of the tree scraped against the side of the house again with a grating squeal.
"I'm trying to keep" - he huffs at Bella, shifting his weight as the treetop bounces him - "my promise!"
"When did you ever promise to kill yourself falling out of Charlie's tree?" Bella asks alarmed and Cole chuckles under her breath.
He snorts, unamused, swinging his legs to improve his balance. "Get out-of-the-way," he orders.
"No, Jake!" Bella exclaims at the same Cole asks if he's out of his mind.
Cole ducks to the side, dragging a stunned Bella along with her. Bella squeezed her eyes shut as Jacob launches himself towards the open window, no doubt imagining that he's going to get himself killed. He doesn't though, landing on the balls of his feet with a low thud. They all turn to stare at the door with bated breath, waiting to see if the noise had woken Charlie.
A grin crosses his face but it's not like his usual smile, even Cole notices so she knows Bella must too. His words from earlier circle through her head as she faced with him so soon afterwards. He finally seems to notice her, looking confused between the two girls.
"What are you doing here?"
"A sleepover, I'm sure you've heard of them, Jacob. You read you watch tv; I'm sure the concept of staying over at someone else's house for the night isn't a completely foreign concept to you Jacob." She snaps sarcastically, it sounds meaner than she had intended but she doesn't take it back.
His smiles falter a little, "look about earlier, I was way too harsh and I'm sorry."
The word still stings but she does believe him so she nods, "Alright, I forgive you. I know you did come here to see, so I'll give you space to talk but I'm only giving you fifteen minutes."
He grins at her again and opens his mouth as if to say thank you but she waves it off, she doesn't want his thanks. She turns to look at Bella and she suddenly isn't sure if he's going to get the full fifteen minutes.
"You know where I am if you need me." She says to Bella before she slips out of the room without a second glance.
She creeps down the hallway, going slowly so the steps don't creak. She's tempted to slip through to the kitchen and make a coffee but she doesn't too worried that she might wake Charlie up. Her shoes are downstairs so she slips them on, grabbing her hoodie before she grabs the keys. Letting herself out, she makes a mental note to remember to lock the door behind her.
She shivers as she zips up her hoodie, freezing even with her hoodie on. She doesn't have anywhere that she wants to go, so she just walks up the street. She has no clue what time it is, wishing she had checked before she left. She walks for a couple of minutes shivering as she does, she wishes she had the energy to keep herself warm again. She figures if she slept properly again that would help but the worry keeps her too alert at night to even think about sleeping. She's afraid that one morning she'll wake up and Bella will be gone or worse dead, it's a nightmare she's been having the few times that she's actually managed to get to sleep. She never woke up screaming like Bella always does but she can never get back to sleep afterwards.
She's walked farther than she had thought and when she turns around she can't see the Swan house anymore. She's not worried, she's been walking in the same direction for five minutes so she's hardly lost. She wonders what Jacob has to say, she knows she'll be too curious not to ask when she gets back. She wonders if Bella will even have heard him our, not that she blames her after how he treated her.
Her mind goes back to magic and this new ability of hers. Teleportation, Emmett would think this is so cool she can't help but think, wincing at the thought of almost bear like vampire. She misses him, it's not just Alice that's left a whole in heart. She can't bear to think of any of the Cullen without realising that she misses them terribly. Now she would pay anything to see Rosalie scowling at her again. She would give anything to see any of the Cullens again, she thinks sadly. It's a pathetic thought and it's one that she would never admit out loud.
She forces her thought on her new power trying to take her mind away from the gnawing pain in her chest, she doesn't like to think about the Cullens this much. It's easier to think of them as an abstract concept than to think of the members that make the family. No, powers, she thinks. Think about how cool teleportation could be, she thinks but it's half-hearted.
She knows she should start practising, she hadn't been able to get her fire under control until she had started to practice it. She thinks about all the times she's used it and it's not that hard to see a pattern. It's times when she's wanted to be somewhere else and she knows she can do it on purpose, she did that day with Laurent, just thinking about it sends a shiver up her spine.
She takes her minds off the powers trying to think of something else to think about and her mind wonder back to Jacob. Her mind wanders back to those scary stories Bella had told her about, she can't figure out why though. It feels like her brain is trying to remind her of something but she's just too stupid to pick up on it. She thinks over the conversation but it's fuzzy now all these months later. She lets herself think about this again distracting herself as she tries to piece together a conversation that's not even hers. Do Werewolves have enemies? It's the same part of the conversation that keeps sticking out to her. She's seen enough movies to know the answer if Vampires.
She knows she should probably start getting back now, she wonders if now is the right time to try her power. She's sure it wouldn't hurt if she just tried, she pictures the doorstep of Bella's house and not any room on the inside. She thinks of the conversation she had with Charlie the night she found James in her room all those nights ago and how the cold stone had felt under her thighs. She concentrates so much it's like she sitting there and a moment later that feeling like she fading builds in her chest.
She doesn't vomit this time as she finds herself on Bella's front step but she feels a little dizzy taking a seat on the step and putting her head between her knees. She feels better quicker than she would have thought, she thinks back to everything that's going with Jacob from the scary stories to everything with Sam and to the fact that he knows about the Cullens. She knows that Sam's the leader of the group, the clear alpha but she still can't make all the pieces fit in her head. She thinks about the disgusting way he had said bloodsuckers as he was personally offended by the word, like to him there was nothing more repulsive than a vampire. It reminds her of the way a vampire hunter or a werewolf would talk about them in all the movies she's seen.
The word werewolf sticks out now, especially giving the Quileute legends about descending from wolves. It would make sense given the legends and it would also explain the situation with Sam, it could be a pack and he could be the alpha. She shakes her head, man you're clutching at straw she thinks to shake her head, as she gets back up. She lets herself in remembering to lock the door behind her. She puts the keys back where she found them before slipping out of her hoodie and shoes.
She's feeling completely drained as she creeps back upstairs. She doesn't want to go to sleep, scared of the nightmares that are sure to follow but at this rate, she feels like she could almost fall asleep standing up. Jacob is gone by now though Bella is sitting on her bed as she comes into the room. Cole just climbs into bed, she almost used to feeling cold almost constantly now but the covers feel nice.
"What did Jacob want?" She asks yawning.
"He came to apologise and to tell me he can't explain what's going on," Bella says as she lays down in her bed.
"That's a bit pointless."
"He said I already know the answer, I just have to figure it out," Bella says sounding sleepy and confused.
"That doesn't make any sense."
"All he told me to do is think about those scary stories he told me but all I can remember is what he said about the cold ones."
The two falls into silence, Cole's mind whirling at the new information. Jacob says those old stories are the key. He already told Bella everything, the parts about his grandfather making a treaty with these cold ones are only coming back to her now. If vampires and witches can exist then why can't werewolves? She thinks when her mind tries to shut the theory down again. There's nothing else that makes sense, there can be no other reason he wanted Bella to remember these stories. Jacob Black is a werewolf, she thinks as she drifts into unconsciousness.
Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
This is a terrible idea, this is going to end badly, it's safe to say Cole isn't exactly happy with Bella's plan to drive down to La Push. Of course, she understands that they need to warn Jacob that the wolves are going to be hunted, she just has a feeling bullets aren't exactly going to do much to the same wolves that killed a vampire. It's obvious that Jacob wanted Bella to figure this out but it's more his pack that she's worried about. How are they going to feel when they know the cat or rather wolf is out of the bag.
But that morning when Bella had told her she knew what was happening, Cole had known there would be no convincing her otherwise. So she was the dutiful friend like always getting dressed as fast as she could and following behind her. She wishes Charlie had kept his mouth shut though she can't really find it in herself to get too angry. She just feels more anxious than anything else, everything with these wolves is so unknown. It's worse that the night she realised the C- that they were vampires. At least she had known what to expect or she had thought she knew what to expect. But without a clue she feels like a bag fleshy of nervous energy, this could go all kinds of bad or all kinds of good and she doesn't like not knowing which to expect.
She fidgets nervously once they're in the car, playing with her seatbelt instead of the radio, it's the first time she's wished Bella hadn't clawed it out. She hopes that a tire bursts or the engine spontaneously decides to stop working but as old as the truck is, she doubts she's going to get that lucky. She hasn't feel lucky in a while, she wonders if she's running out of good luck and if she'll be stuck with only the bad for the rest of her life.
Bella could see the anxiety in her friend and if she wasn't so determined, then it might have made her reconsider. She can practically feel the anxiety coming off of Cole; she can only wonder what it would be like for Jasper, she thinks to wince at the painful reminder of the Cullens. She grips the steering wheel tighter as she pushes those thoughts from her head, she doesn't have time for that today; she's on a mission.
Cole opens her mouth as they come to a halt but Bella is already out of the truck before she can utter a syllable leaving her to stumble after her friend. She lets out a huff of breath as she catches up with her friend just as she knocks on the Black's door. She plays with her hair nervously as Billy opens the door, she's not surprised that he doesn't look happy and she finds herself biting back an apology.
"Bella? Cole?" He adds her name more as an after thought not that she blames him.
"I need to see him," Bella says sounding more determined than she had expected.
"He's not in," Cole doesn't believe him though she wishes that Bella would.
"Okay, I'm sorry but I really need to see him," Bella says as she just walks in, Cole throwing Billy an apologetic look as she follows behind her friend. Great, now they're officially in trouble, she's sure Billy will be furious when he finds out.
She follows her friend through the tiny house grabbing her friend's arm as they stopped outside of Jacob's room. Jacob is dead to the world, fast asleep and looking more peaceful than Cole has seen him in months. He looks more like the gangly kid who crashed their Junior prom than he has in months. She feels a pang in her chest seeing the dark circles under his eyes; despite everything she still thinks of him as her friend, even if she's sure he doesn't feel the same way. She almost feels herself being lulled into a sense of ease until she follows Bella's gaze out of the window and her anxiety picks up tenfold. Outside she see's the four large figure of Sam and his cult, or rather his pack, she corrects herself as she stares at the huge men dressed only in denim shorts.
She hopes that she can keep Bella from going anywhere near them but the angry look that crosses her friends face gives her the idea that would be futile. Dear god, please don't let Bella get us murdered by giant wolves, she prays mentally as she follows behind her friend. She's beginning to wonder darkly if Bella really does have a death wish.
"What did you do?" Bella spits as she storms towards the approaching werewolves, Cole stumbling in her anxiousness to keep up.
"Hey! What did you do to him?" She demands as she shoves Sam Uley in the chest, Cole grabbing her arm trying to pull her friend back before she can do anything else. "He didn't want this."
"What did we do? What did he tell do? What'd he tell you?" Who Cole thinks is Paul demands, he's practically shaking with arm and suddenly her anxiety turns into a bad feeling; the sort of feeling she got before James and before they left.
"Both of you calm down," Sam says sternly as he takes hold of Paul's arm, though it only worries, even more, she's sure something terrible is about to happen.
"He tells me nothing because he's scared of you." Cole didn't know what response to expect but the laughter doesn't feel like a good sign, she grips Bella's arm tighter in case she needs to pull her back.
Of course, she doesn't predict what comes next and as Bella punches Paul in the face, all she can think is oh shit. Shit, shit, shit, plays on a loop around her head; she sure someone says anything but all she can hear is Sam telling them to get back. Everything feels like it's happening so fast as she shoves Bella behind her back to stare at Paul's shaking form. She feels paler than the Cullens as she watches him contort in unnatural ways until he's a wolf. She feels dizzy, she knew, she knew they could do this but knowing and watching it happen is two completely different things. She feels frozen in place until she hears Jacob call her name, stumbling back before she runs after her Bella with her heart racing.
"Jake! Run!" Bella yells as she stumbles falling backwards, Cole goes running to her but finds herself pausing as she watches Jacob change mid-air into a familiar russet coloured wolf.
She takes a slow step back as she watches as the two wolves go at each other, growling viciously. She winces watching as Paul tears into Jacob's throat, watching in mild horror as the other pack members seem to do nothing. If she wasn't so frozen she would say something, anything. She'd be lying if she had she wasn't relieved as the fight only get further from them until the pair is battling it out in the woods. She doesn't want Jacob to get hurt but she's painful of how human and how vulnerable, she and Bella are; witch her not, her magic has hardly proved very useful.
"Take them back to Emily's place," Sam says to the others, snapping Cole out of her daze as she turns to look at them. She's not sure if she trusts them but as much as her anxiety doesn't fade, the bad feeling in her chest does.
"Guess the wolf's out of the bag," Embry comments to himself as Sam heads into the woods after the other two.
Cole takes Bella's hand pulling her back on her feet at the other two approach them. Of course, she's meet Embry before but it feels different this time, he's different. He's much taller now even though he's still shorter than Jacob and he looks more like a man who the last time she saw him.
She's too busy thinking about everything that's happened to feel awkward as she sits pressed in between Bella and Embry. It does occur to her that she doesn't know who Emily is but it's probably a little late to worry about that, especially as they pull up to the small house that had at one point been grey. It looks homey enough, the window box filled with bright orange and yellow marigolds; not the sort of place you imagine a serial killer living in but still, she's on her guard.
"Hey, I think we should go back and see if Jacob is okay."
"I hope Paul gets some teeth in him. Serve him right." Jared responds instantly, there's no malice in his voice, he almost sound like her might laugh but Cole still shudders at the thought of some tearing chunks out of Jacob; he's still a kid at the end of the day whether he's a wolf or not.
"No way. Jake's a natural. You see him phase on the fly? I got five says Paul doesn't touch him." Responds like they're betting on a football game instead of something so dangerous.
His tone is so casual that's it's easy for her to forget what they're actually talking about, though she supposes, in pack fighting has to be a thing. People don't necessarily get along just because fate decided to throw them together. It's almost reassuring somehow like a reminder at the end of the day that they're still just teenage boys. And as annoying as they can be, she knows she can handle; she has Bella and her magic (maybe) and that's all she needs she thinks as she climbs out of the truck behind them.
She looks back seeing that Bella is still sat in the truck. She looks a little lost as she looks out at the little house. She's ready to say something but Embry butts in before she has the chance to say anything.
"Come on in, we don't bite." An amused grin crosses his face as he looks back at Bella.
"Speak for yourself," Jared quips back.
"Try that and you may find that we bite back," Cole gives the sarcastic response as Bella joins her; she sounds more like herself than she has in months and it almost makes her smile.
She ignores the small scoff from Jared as she takes Bella's hand, at this point, it's for her own comfort as much as it is for Bella's, maybe even more. She almost smiles again when she hears Embry laugh, he has a nice laugh. It's warm sounding and it reminds her just how young he really is.
"Oh, hey, about Emily - Sam's fiancé - just try not to stare. It bugs Sam." Embry warns and the two girls share a confused look.
"Why would we stare?" Cole asks before realising the guys are already inside and probably not listening anymore.
The two girls share another look before they follow behind them. The front room like Billy's is mostly a kitchen. Cole's eyes immediately jump to who she assumes is Emily who is popping the biggest muffins she's even seen onto a paper plate. Her copper coloured skin seems perfect from where she's standing, and not a single strand of her straight crow-black hair seems to be out-of-place. In a human she's the closest Cole has ever seen to anyone coming close to Rosalie's beauty. The thought stings so much that the smile drops from her face and she scolds herself to look away before she's caught staring. Someone as beautiful as Emily must get stared at all the time she thinks, best not do that her in her own home.
"Are you guys hungry? Like I have to ask." She laughs as the boys help themselves, turning to face them face on.
Cole bites the inside of her lip trying not to gasp as she takes in Emily's face for a second before darting her eyes away as quickly as she can. The right side of her face is scarred from hairline to chin. They're obviously long healed though they're still a vivid red, standing out blatantly against her flawless skin. If she wasn't sure it would be obvious she would have turned to look at Bella so instead, she focuses on the muffins in Emily's hands. She can smell them from here, the warm and sweet scent makes her stomach growls; she's surprised that she doesn't blush knowing the two werewolves in the room can hear it.
"Oh," Emily says sounding surprised as she eyes the unexpected guests. "Who's this?"
"Bella Swan," Jared tells her shrugging like it should have been obvious. "Who else?" He says pausing for a moment, "and her friend, Nicole or something." He adds like an afterthought and she only just represses an eye roll; if only she had a dollar for every time someone thought her name was Nicole.
"Leave it to Jake to find a way around," Emily murmurs. She glances at Cole but it's only for a second before she turns to stare at Bella. "So, you're the vampire girl." She says like she's all too familiar with who Bella Swan is.
Cole doesn't miss the way Bella stiffens. "And if she is, does that make you the wolf girl?"
It's a surprise when she laughs, Embry and Jared laughing along with her; it's a nice sound, a warm sound. "I guess I am but what does that make you?" Emily asks but there no malice in her tone.
She could have been vampire girl too she thinks but her relationship had been so private, so sacred that's she not sure she wants to spill it out to a room full of strangers. Witch girl might have worked months ago but if weren't for her small moments of magic these days then she would think that there wasn't any left.
"I suppose shadow girl works," she jokes despite how much it had stung when Jacob had called her almost the same thing not even twenty-four hours ago.
Emily laughs again before turning to Jared. "Where's Sam?"
"Bella, er, surprised Paul this morning."
Emily rolls her good eye. "Ah, Paul," she sighs. "Do you think they'll be long? I was just about to start the eggs."
Don't worry," Embry tells her with a grin. "If they're late, we won't let anything go to waste."
Emily chuckles, opening the refrigerator. "No doubt," she agrees. "Girls, are you hungry? Go ahead and help yourself to a muffin."
"Thanks," Bella says as she takes one from the plate while Cole hesitates; Emily did offer after all and they smells so good, she hesitates a moment longer before takes ones. Watching as Embry takes his third and practically inhales it; he eats it so fast that she wonders if he even tasted it.
"Save some for your brothers," Emily chastises him, hitting him on the head with a wooden spoon.
"Pig," Jared comments.
Cole stands close to Bella feeling uncertain as the two lean back against the counter. She watches the three as she eats or rather picks at her muffin. It's strange to watch the three acting like a little family, it's like a shock to the system to see this; it completely shatters her thoughts this what Sam had been some sort of cult. Everyone looks happy enough to her and not the forced happiness kind of happiness, it feels so genuine that it almost sting, Cole knows the last time she felt that happy even if she doesn't want to think about it.
She's not sure where to look she ends up settling on Emily, watching as she stirs a massive batch of eggs. Emily rolls her sleeves up, and now she can see how far the scars really go; she doesn't want to think about how much it must have hurt as she eyes the scars marring all the way down to the back of Emily's right hand. She looks down at her muffin before Emily catches her looking, that's the last thing she wants now.
The front door opens, and it's Sam that steps through.
"Emily," he says, his voice drips with so much adoration and so much love, that Cole can barely stand to listen. She watches from under her eyelashes as he crosses the room in one long stride and gently takes her face in his hands. He leans down pressing a kiss to her scarred right cheek before kissing her lips.
"Hey, none of that," Jared complains. "I'm eating."
"Then shut up and eat," Sam suggests before kissing Emily again.
She feels like she should look away as if she's someone how spying by looking at the tender moment. And as much it makes her heart ache to watch she can't look away; like watching a horror or no, this was too beautiful to compare to gory horror but that doesn't make it sting any less. It's the almost overwhelming envy that she feels towards their happiness is what makes her look away, staring down at the muffin she doesn't want anymore.
She picking the muffin into tiny pieces when Jacob and Paul come through the door. Cole isn't so surprised when she sees them laughing; what's a little fighting between brothers, she thinks. If she didn't know any better she would never have thought these two had just been fighting.
Jacob scans the room before his gaze finds the two of them, though Cole can tell it's more Bella he's looking for. She doesn't blame him, it is her fault they aren't better friends; all those time in his garage she could have said something, made herself into something more than the quiet redhead who acts like Bella's shadow. The title that had stung so much before is already settling in even if she won't admit it to Jacob, she can at least admit how much it fits; not that justifies Jacob in saying that to her. She's already forgiven him though, she remembers that despite how old he looks, he's still just a kid after all and not an ordinary kid to top that off.
"Hey," He greets the two sounding cheerful as always. He grabs two muffins as he passes the table to come and stand beside Bella. "Sorry about before," he mutters under his breath. "So how are you guys doing?" Cole can feel his effort to include her which she appreciates even if a small part of her wonders if he still feels guilty for hurting her feelings.
She just nods as if to say she's fine. Stepping away to give the two a bit of privacy, setting her mostly untouched muffin back on the plate, she's sure it won't go to waste. She wonders how much they all get through in a day, how much they have to get through. She can't imagine that sort of shifting would be a pleasant thing and she can't imagine that it would be easy ever. But they had shifted so quickly, something that she would never have imagined it like. She doesn't like to imagine what the first time would have been like, the pain and the confusion, she almost shudders just thinking about it. Her magic had been scary enough in the beginning and that had never even hurt.
"Hey, guys," Sam says in a loud voice, calling all eyes to him and putting an end to all the each of the conversations around the room. Emily still stands by the stove, scraping the egg mixture into a huge frying pan, Sam's had still sitting on the small of her back.
"I know what the redhead wants." Jacob starts, though Cole doesn't appreciate the glances her way, just because she and the vampire share a hair colour. Of course, she flashes them her most sarcastic look tempted for a moment to bare her teeth as if she really were a vampire but deciding against it.
"That's what I was trying to say before," he says kicking Paul's chair.
"And?" Jared asked.
Jacob's face turns serious again. "She's trying to avenge her mate - only it wasn't the black-haired leech we killed. The Cullens got her mate last year, and she's after Bella now."
Cole tries not to shudder at the mention of James even if it's not by name. She doesn't know what Victoria looks like besides her red hair and no doubt matching eyes, but she remembers her mates face all too well. She still has nightmares about him, they're always different but in her dreams, the Cullens never make it there in time and she has to watch Bella dying, knowing that she's going to be next. She doesn't think she'll ever be able to forget the way James had looked at her; it was her only memory that had perfectly persevered itself in her mind.
"She's just a girl," Embry protests and Cole finds herself bristling even if he didn't mean anything by it.
"It's vampire politics, who said it was logical." Cole pipes up darkly speaking for the first time since Sam had returned. "But it's why she's coming, she's trying to get to Forks" she adds taking everyone's eyes off Bella for a few moments.
"Excellent," Jared finally says, a smile crossing his face. "We've got bait."
Cole flashes with anger and she only gets her hand hidden behind her back just as the small flame flickers across her fingertips. Of course, it dies as suddenly as it came but she can still feel the hot anger rolling through her chest. She doesn't know how to handle Victoria but she knows one thing and that's Bella is not going to be bait under any circumstances, over her dead body she thinks as she inches closer to her friend. She doesn't think she could do anything against a house full of werewolves but it makes her feel less agitated having her friend close.
"Bella is not baited."
"You know what I mean," Jared says, unabashed.
"So we'll be changing our patterns," Sam says, ignoring their squabble. "We'll try leaving a few holes, and see if she falls for it. We'll have to split up, and I don't like that. But if she's really after Bella, she probably won't try to take advantage of our divided numbers."
Quit's got to be close to joining us," Embry murmurs. "Then we'll be able to split evenly."
Everyone looks down, the feeling in the room turning sombre. She remembers how scared Quil had seemed of being next, her stomach turning knowing that he probably is. The pack doesn't look so pleased either as if they don't wish this fate on their friend, even if they've come to terms with it for themselves.
"Well, we won't count on that," Sam says in a low voice, and before continuing at his regular volume. "Paul, Jared, and Embry will take the outer perimeter, and Jacob and I will take the inner. We'll collapse in when we've got her trapped."
"Jacob thinks it would be best if the both of you spent as much time as possible here in La Push. She won't know where to find you so easily, just in case."
"So I get how you fit into all of this," Paul pipes in pointing to Bella. "But what I don't get is where you come in." He says turning his finger to point at Cole.
She has a sarcastic response waiting on her tongue but she bites it back, "well I knew the Cullens too." She begins biting her lip debating a detail of her story for a moment. She catches Bella's eyes and she can tell her friend is wondering the same thing, is she really going to show to tell the real nature her relationship with Alice to these people? As kind as they are, it's definitely a no.
"I never met Victoria and I had never seen Laurent before the day in the meadow. But I meet her mate, James." She says unable to contain a shudder at the name. "I had an encounter with him because I'm Bella's friend and although Victoria has never met me, she definitely knows who I am and where I live." She says keeping deliberately vague on the details of her encounter with James.
It seems to satisfy Paul because he doesn't say anything else to her, settling back down into his seat.
"What about Charlie?" Bella demands
"March Madness is still going," Jacob says and though Cole doesn't know what that means, she guesses it's something to do with fishing. "I think Billy and Harry can manage to keep Charlie down here when he's not at work."
"Wait," Sam says, holding one hand up. His glance flickering to Emily and then back to at them. "That's what Jacob thinks is best, but the of both of you need to decide for yourselves. You should weigh the risks of both options very seriously. You saw this morning how easily things can get dangerous here, how quickly they get out of hand. If you choose to stay with us, I can't make any guarantees about your safeties."
"I won't hurt her," Jacob mumbles, looking down in a way that reminds Cole that he's only 16.
Sam, however, acts as if he hasn't heard him speak. "If there's somewhere else you felt safe..."
The two girls share a look the wheels in their head turning. Of course, Bella could go to live with Renée but that would only be bringing the danger with her and at this point, Cole can't imagine her life without Bella they've become so intertwined. "I don't want to lead Victoria anywhere else." Bella whispers, Cole reaches out taking her friend's hand, rubbing her knuckles gently.
Sam nods. "That's true. It's better to have her here, where we can end this."
She had seen then in their wolf form but Cole almost can't believe they had been able to kill a vampire as old as Laurent, after all, most of the pack are still just kids. But Victoria feels different even for Cole who's never met her. Bella had told her about Victoria's ability of self-preservation and it makes her worry, Victoria would have no qualms about slaughtering any of the pack; even if they win, the chance they could lose one of their brothers still hangs in the air.
"You'll be careful, right?" Bella asks, an audible lump in her throat.
Cole finds herself scowling as the boys laugh at her, laughing away at Bella's concern. Overconfidence is never a good thing, she finds herself so close to reminding them but she bites her tongue. She just hopes this confidence of there's doesn't make them cocky, after all, whose to say they'll go fighting only one vampire at a time forever.
"Food's ready," Emily announces then, and the strategic conversation is all but history. The guys hurry to surround the table - which looks tiny and in danger of being crushed by them - and devour the buffet-sized pan of eggs Emily had placed in their midst in record time. Emily eats leaning against the counter - avoiding the bedlam at the table - and watching them with affectionate eyes.
The two girls spend the day in La Push, though they spend most of it in Billy's house so that's no different from usual. He had left a message for Charlie at the station, and Charlie had later shown up at dinnertime with two large pizzas. It was good he had brought large, Jacob eating one all by himself. Cole had tried her hardest not to stare at him as he eats his food but she had never seen someone eat so fast, he practically inhaled it, if she hadn't seen the way he ate earlier than she might have thought the poor boy was being starved.
Charlie doesn't say anything but his suspicion is clear. After everything that had happened, Cole doesn't blame him for wondering how Bella and Jacob are magically back to being best friends. He's polite enough though, asking Jacob about his hair; Jacob shrugging and telling him it's just more convenient.
Cole knows as soon ad they're gone, Jacob would take off - off to run around as a wolf, as he had done intermittently through the entire day. He and his brothers keeping up a constant watch, looking for some sign of Victoria's return. But since they'd chased her away from the hot springs last night - chased her halfway to Canada, according to Jacob - she'd yet to make another foray.
She walks a little behind Bella and Jacob after dinner letting the two of them talk. Staring intently out of her window to give them the illusion of privacy.
"Don't be afraid tonight." She hears Jacob say, that's easier said than done she thinks but, of course, she keeps it to herself "We'll be out there, watching."
"I won't worry about myself," Bella promises.
"You're silly. Hunting vampires is fun. It's the best part of this whole mess."
"If I'm silly, then you're dangerously unbalanced."
Jacob chuckles. "Get some rest, Bella, honey. You look exhausted, you too Cole, you look like you don't even remember what sleep is," he teases.
"Ah sleep, that's a name I haven't heard in a long time." She retorts dryly as Bella promises to try to rest.
Cole almost jumps out of her seat as Charlie honks his horn impatiently but she's been so on edge recently she's hardly surprised.
"See you tomorrow," Jacob says. "Come down first thing."
Charlie follows behind Bella as she drives home. Cole doesn't say anything but Bella seems distracted the ride back. And if Cole wasn't so sure in her friends driving abilities then she might have felt more uncertain about such a distracted driver.
When they get home, Bella hurries for the stairs, but Charlie is right behind her. Cole who was trailing in behind them walks straight past them to the kitchen. She's giving the two a moment of privacy and she can always make the excuse of wanting a glass of water. Though she's more tempted by the idea of a cup of coffee, she knows she needs a proper nights sleep eventually and tonight almost seems like the perfect opportunity.
She pours herself a glass of water that she doesn't really want as she takes a seat at the kitchen table. Drumming her finger against the table as she wonders how long she should give them. She briefly gives into the idea of calling her brother but she remembers that she's too late to catch and a part of her isn't sure if she'd want to, she's too tired to talk to her brother now. But she does make a mental note to call him soon as understanding as he is, she knows he won't appreciate total radio silence. Her brothers going to be free from school for a little while with spring break but time away from school for Leo just equals more time to study and pulling extra shifts. Cole would probably feel more bitter about the lack of time with her brother if it weren't for the fact that they need every penny, not to mention that she hasn't had a job in months.
She drains her water and washes the glass, counting to one hundred in her head before she exits the kitchen. She almost can't be bothered climbing all the way upstairs to Bella's room but the promise of pj's and a warm bed are enough to drag her upstairs. She wants to say something about today but she doesn't know what and Bella seems so lost in her own thoughts that she decides to just keep her mouth shut.
As she curls up in bed her anxiety and worry over Bella and possibly her own safety start to well up again. Knowing the pack is out there is both something that adds and takes away from her worry. In all of this Bella is her top priority but that doesn't mean she wants to see any of the wolves hurt never mind killed, not to mention that Bella would blame herself as if she had hurt them herself. If she weren't so tired, she would have looked out of the window, looking for Victoria or to see if she could spot one of the wolves which she isn't even sure herself.
She refuses to let her mind wander knowing that if she did her thoughts would wander back to James. She hasn't let herself think about him this much in months and she doesn't plan to continue with that train of thought. Those nights he would stick in her head are always the nights she would dream about him. So instead she thinks about nothing, in particular, not focusing on one thing or another as she eventually relaxes enough to start falling asleep. And for the first time in what feels like forever she falls asleep before Bella, drifting off into what is the best sleep she's had in months.
Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
Cole could hardly believe it was spring break already as Monday morning finally came. Before the days had dragged so much that she was sure time was never going to fly for her again. But she couldn't decide if that's a good thing; a part of her still wants to enjoy life, even if that doesn't feel possible. At this rate she was feeling like all she would have to do is blink and she'd be a cross country at college. She'd never been more grateful that her school is on the other side of the country. It's as far as she can get from her old life without leaving the country. She had wondered once if that would help or if she would keep imagining Alice wherever she went.
She's been at Bella's for so long that Charlie starting to joke that she might as well move in; she laughs but it's true. Stoker hasn't been home in even longer than Cole has. But he doesn't seem to mind having adopted Charlie as his favourite, curling up in the sheriff's lap every night when he comes home from work. Charlie had grumbled at first but it's obvious that he likes it, always petting Stoker as he watches whatever game is on. Most of her stuff is here, everything that matter to her expect her spell book and art supplies but she hasn't had the motivation to paint in months.
She even has her own toothbrush, as well as pillows and blanket that's hers on Bella's bed; Charlie had bought it for her ages ago, saying if she was going to say then he wanted her to feel welcome. She has been so grateful for the gesture that she had almost hugged, she didn't though and instead had thanked him quietly.
They spend Sunday at La Push, they spend most of it on the beach while Charlie spends it with Billy. Cole thinks it's good for Charlie to spend time with him not that she says anything smiling to herself. Jacob is with them or that's what Charlie thinks, but he has other things to do these days.
He dropped in at one point with an apology for ditching them. She deliberately hung back when the two walk down the beach together, she didn't miss the way they hold hands. She wondered if this was Bella moving on after all, Jacob is a nice boy, she thought and it's obvious that he's head over heels for Bella. She ignored the selfish pang in her chest, she wants Bella to get better even if that means there isn't so much room in her life for Cole anymore. She kicked the sand trying not to feel like a spare part in Bella's life, sitting on the beaches of La Push she had never felt more out-of-place but at the same time she had a sinking feeling that it's her own fault.
She squirms uncomfortably in the passenger seat of Bella's truck as they drove to the Newton's store. Cole had agreed to tag along and keep an eye on Bella but that didn't stop Jacob from deciding to drive behind them on his motorcycle, make sure Bella makes it to work safety. She knows it should make her happy that her friend is safe and not like she's even more of a failure as a witch. Magic is something that she wants to get back to but like her art outside of class, she doesn't have any motivation.
"Newton." She greets simply as she follows Bella into the store, she's come in with Bella on so many shifts that he doesn't it, giving her a nod.
She's brought a novel and her sketch pad but she doubts that'll get much use. She's right and she doesn't even touch it. She reads through the novel she brought, it's one of Bella's but it all goes in one ear and out the other. She spends a good part of the day browsing through the Newtons shelves, she's half sure that she knows the stock better than Mike.
She talks to Bella a little too, sitting up on the counter when there aren't any customers, and although Mike keeps looking at her from the corner of his eye, he doesn't ask her to move. She grins at that swinging her legs. It doesn't occur to her that he's checking her out every time he not so subtly glances at her, her long legs shown off by the black skirt she's wearing because all her jeans are dirty. She assumes it because he wants her to move, so she doesn't meet his gaze, keeping the smirk in place even when she doesn't feel like it anymore.
Dinner is at the Black's and she starts to feel less out-of-place. Sam and Emily come by for dessert. Emily brings a cake that wins Charlie over in a heartbeat. conversation flows and even if she talks the least, Cole does speak up now and then. It clear that whatever worries Charlie had about the gang in La Push have vanished.
Cole slips out early with Jacob and Bella, wondering how far werewolf hearing stretches as they slip down to his garage for privacy. Jacob looks exhausted like he hasn't slept in ages, Cole thinks he looks so tired that she thinks he could probably sleep standing up, like a horse.
"You need some sleep, Jacob."
"I'll get around to it," he responds in a tone that leaves Cole doubting her actually will.
She doesn't say anything though slinking back further into the backseat of Jacob's car. They had sat in there once they got into the garage and of course, she had taken the backseat. She shuts her eyes for a moment and if she weren't so cold then she's sure she'd be drifting off to sleep. She only vaguely listens to their conversation but she perks up, opening her eyes when the conversation turns to werewolves.
"And you all heal fast, that's a wolf thing, right." It's not exactly a question because she knows it has to be true.
"Yeah, wanna see? It's pretty cool." He asks meeting her gaze in the rearview mirror and grinning. He reaches into the glove box and routes around before pulling out a pocketknife.
"No, I don't want to see!" Bella shouts at the same time Cole was going to say yes, out of morbid curiosity or so she tells herself.
Jacob laughs but he puts the knife back. "Fine. It's a good thing we heal, though. You can't go see any doctor when you're running a temperature that should mean you're dead."
"I guess not," Cole mumbles in response, that's not something she would have thought of. She doesn't get to the doctors much, without insurance she can't really afford it but that doesn't mean she can imagine not being " And being so big - that's part of it? Is that why you're all worried about Quil?"
"That and the fact that Quil's grandfather says the kid could fry an egg on his forehead." Jacob's face turns hopeless. "It won't be long now. There's no exact age... it just builds and builds and then suddenly - " He breaks off, and a moment passes before he speaks again. "Sometimes, if you get really upset or something, that can trigger it early. But I wasn't upset about anything - I was happy." He laughs bitterly. "Because of you, mostly. That's why it didn't happen to me sooner. Instead, it just kept on building up inside me - I was like a time bomb. You know what set me off? I got back from that movie and Billy said I looked weird. That was all, but I just snapped. And then I - I exploded. I almost ripped his face off - my father!" He shudders, and his face pales.
Cole stares down at her hands, she doesn't know what to say. She's not even sure if there's a right thing to say, she doubts there's anything either of them can say. If they were closer than Cole would have reached out to comfort him but it doesn't feel like it's her place. So instead she stares intently out of the window. She wonders if she could just use her new power, she wonders where she would go if she did. The temptation to see how far she can go is there in the back of her mind but she's too afraid at the same time. The little bits of magic she's managed to produce have left her feeling terrible like she's spread herself too thin and a part of her worries if she keeps going if they'll be nothing left.
She blinks realising that she's zoned out, the conversation between the others is still going so she guesses they didn't notice. But she blinks again to get herself to focus on the here and the now. Trying to tune back into the conversation.
"What's the hardest part?" Bella whispers.
"The hardest part is feeling... out of control," he says slowly. "Feeling like I can't be sure of myself - like maybe you shouldn't be around me like maybe nobody should. Like I'm a monster who might hurt somebody. You've seen Emily. Sam lost control of his temper for just one second... and she was standing too close. And now there's nothing he can ever do to put it right again. I hear his thoughts - I know what that feels like... Who wants to be a nightmare, a monster."
"And then, the way it comes so easily to me, the way I'm better at it than the rest of them - does that make me even less human than Embry or Sam? Sometimes I'm afraid that I'm losing myself."
"Is it hard? To find yourself again?"
"At first," he said. "It takes some practice to phase back and forth. But it's easier tor me."
"Why?" Cole wonders aloud.
"Because Ephraim Black was my father's grandfather, and Quil Ateara was my mother's grandfather."
"Quil?" Bella asks in confusion.
"His great-grandfather," Jacob clarifies. "The Quil you know is my second cousin."
"But why does it matter who your great-grandfathers are?"
"Because Ephraim and Quil were in the last pack. Levi Uley was the third. It's in my blood on both sides. I never had a chance. Like Quil doesn't have a chance."
She turns it over in her head trying to imagine how Quil will feel when it's his turn. She can't imagine he's going to be happy but at least he has a support system, she thinks looking away from the window. Sam had been all alone when he had first transformed or however you want to put it, and she shudders thinking about how lonely that must have been. She blinks out of her thoughts as she shares a glance with Bella in the rearview mirror, it's obvious how worried she is about Jacob.
"So what's the best part?" Cole asks trying to lighten the mood, she knows Bella well enough to know that if Jacob's mood perks up then Bella's will too.
"The best part," he said, suddenly smiling again, "is the speed."
"Better than the motorcycles?"
He nods, enthusiastic. "There's no comparison."
"So how fast can you go?" Cole asks sitting forward in her seat.
"Fast enough. What can I measure it by? We caught... what was his name? Laurent? I imagine that means more to you than it would to someone else."
It shouldn't surprise her but it does. She can imagine anything faster than the Cullens who ran so fast that the human eye couldn't catch it. It seems impossible to her, trying to imagine someone even faster than that.
"So, tell me something I don't know," he says. "Something about vampires. How did you stand it, being around them? Didn't it creep you out"
"At first," Cole answers at the same time Bella says never.
She tries not to blush as she meets Jacob's eyes in the rearview mirror. His eyebrow raised in surprise. Hmm, he probably hadn't been expecting that answer or maybe he didn't expect her to answer at all.
"Of course," she says shrugging, of course, she had been. "I mean when I found out, I knew what they were but I didn't know what they ate. Bella told me about the Quileute stories you told her but an old story that promised they didn't eat people wasn't exactly comforting when you to go to school with them every day. It was different once I got to know them, they're not like most of their kind." She says looking away, an uncomfortable silence falls over them as Jacob clears his throat.
"Say, why'd your bloodsucker kill that James, anyway?" he asks like it's been weighing on his mind.
Cole tries not to wince at all the malice in his voice as he says bloodsucker. She doesn't blame him, she knows why he feels that why. In theory anyway, that doesn't make it any easier to listen to.
"James was trying to kill me - it was like a game for him. He lost. Do you remember last spring when I was in the hospital down in Phoenix?"
Jacob sucks in a breath. "He got that close?"
"He got very, very close."
"What's that?" He asks and Cole knows instantly what he's looking at. "This is your funny scar, the cold one." He says pausing for a moment before gasping.
"Yes, it's what you think it is," Bella says. "James bit me."
"But if he bit you...? Shouldn't you be... ?" He chokes out.
"Edward saved me twice," Bella whispers. "He sucked the venom out - you know, like with a rattlesnake."
Jacob bringing up Edward's name sends a sting through Cole's chest and Edward hadn't even been her favourite Cullen. She can't imagine what that felt like for Bella; she hasn't allowed herself to say Alice's name is what feels like forever, hell, it hurts just thinking about it.
"Careful, Jake. Easy. Calm down."
"Yeah," he pants. "Calm." He says almost sarcastically.
"Yeah, almost. Tell me something else. Give me something else to think about."
She feels a familiar bad feeling twisting in her gut. She doesn't want to think about the damage Jacob would do if he changed now. Her mind conjures up blood and gore; leaving her with the worst possible outcome playing through her head.
"I can do magic." She blurts out as she meets Bella's eyes in the rearview mirror, finding her own panic mirrored in the eyes of her friend.
"What? like magic tricks?" He asks his voice strained like he's concentrating as hard as he can.
"No like real magic, I guess you could call me a witch. I mean, that's what you call it but it not exactly the way you imagine it." She rambles a little, tripping over her words as she tries to form a coherent sentence.
Before she can really think about it, she explaining everything. The way her spell book works comes first and then she talks about how it's nothing like in the films. How simple it seems like the magic is supposed to be all you need and she talks about how hard it actually is; she talks about just about anything to do with magic just trying to fill up the silence. The story of how she discovered her magic is thrown in there too, though it's an edited version cutting out most of Alice's parts.
"So you're like a witch in training?" He asks when he finally seems calm but he doesn't wait for an answer as he keeps talking. "Does it run in your family? I mean are you like a family of witches?"
"I mean I guess so, it's not like I can ask my parents." She says a little harsher than she had meant but he doesn't seem to take it to heart.
"Sure, so you can't ask them but what about your grandparents? They have gotta know something."
"Well I don't think it's my dad's side of the family, I just have a feeling about it. And my mom, well she never mentioned her family and I've never met them." It had never felt than odd to Cole before but now as she says it aloud, she can see how weird that it really is especially as Jacob turns around to face her.
"You never met them? They never sent Birthday cards or Christmas presents?" He asks and she just shakes her head.
It's true. It had never occurred to her to ask; she knows Leo had asked once but their mom had tensed up like a deer in headlights and refused to answer. She had walked out of the room when Leo had pressed her for answers. The closest thing to answers was from their dad and all he said was that their mom had fallen out with her family and never spoken to them again. Cole had a hard time believing it; her young mind couldn't imagine just leaving her family behind and if she didn't she couldn't imagine how terribly she would miss them.
But her mom didn't seem to miss them, they never found any pictures when they were looking through their parent's things after the funeral. No letters either, Cole had always imagined her mom would have some or at least a keepsake for her family. The weirdness of it all just keeps hitting her now, she doesn't even know if her mom is any only child or not.
She doesn't say much for the rest of the night. She feels like a terrible daughter and she wonders if Leo knows how odd this is. She wants to ask him and she wants to find their mom's family. At this point if anyone is going to help her with magic then she's sure it must be her mom's family. She spends hours wondering what she would even say and wondering if they even know she exists, this is what she does instead of sleeping; still, awake hours after Bella fell asleep.
She feels rotten by the time morning swings by and although she all she wants to do is curl up and sleep, she doesn't. Taking a quick shower and downing an almost scalding hot cup of coffee but even after that she still feels tired. She makes an excuse about needing to get a few things from home; she doesn't want to spend another day at La Push like a spare part and picking up some extra clothes couldn't hurt.
She lets Bella drive her home with the promise that she'll be back in time for dinner. She lets a long sigh of relief once she's alone, leaning against the door. She knows her brother won't be home but that's not a new thing. Besides, she may miss him but she doesn't want the company now. The house is a mess, not a complete disaster but it's clear her brother's been neglecting the household chores lately, she doesn't even have it in her to be annoyed at the sloppiness. Besides as much as she would never admit it to her brother, she's almost grateful for something to keep her busy.
It's not actually as messy as she had thought and she's drying the last of the dishes by lunch time, the dryer and washing machine both running. She yawns as she puts the rest of the dishes away, taking one last look around to make sure she's got everything done before she heads upstairs.
She deliberately avoids looking at her bed as she grabs a bag. The spell book wedged under her mattress is already calling to her and the familiar guilt is curling through her stomach. Her thoughts go back to how bad of a witch she is as she tries to distract herself stuffing clothes into a bag. Of course, she can't help but think that she has got to be the worst witch to ever exist and as much as she wants to pick the spell book up, her fear of failure keeps her from it.
It's all she can think about as she gathers her last few bits and pieces. So against her better judgement, she stuffs it in her bag. There, I'll practice later. She promises herself even though she's not sure if later will ever really come.
Her stomach growls and she debates over making herself something to eat. She knows her eating has gone to shit recently or rather it's been to shit for a while now. She knows for sure that's she lost weight, her clothes are much looser than they used to in some cases and in others, they're just too big now; skinny jeans that were once tight now needing a belt to hold them up.
She heads downstairs deciding to see what her options are, deciding she can just stick to a coffee if there's nothing that she wants. She opens the fridge and immediately regrets it as she's hit with the smell. The fridge is empty but the few contents are clearly expired, she tries not to gag at the smell as she tosses it all in the trash before going to investigate the cupboards.
She equally disappointed though lucky there's nothing disgusting waiting for her but there's no much for a decent snack never mind a meal. All there is is a box of crackers; a jar of coffee; a half ate a pack of biscuits; a packet of sugar and an expired tin of tuna. Wow, Leo, you are such a grade A adult; she thinks sarcastically as she throws the tuna in the trash. Though she figures she's being harsh, after all, she always did the grocery shopping before she abandoned her brother and she winces feeling momentarily guilty.
She shakes her head ignoring the feeling, after all, it's not like she can go back in time and fix things. So instead she decided the least she can do is go grocery shopping for her brother. She finds a shopping list and a stack of cash lying on the counter; remember to buy groceries written in bold letters at the bottom of the list.
It's not a long walk to the store so it's not long before she browsing for the right brand of cereal. Crossing everything off the list as she goes and counting to make sure that she stays within her budget. She doing a sum in her head and just generally not paying attention to where she going when she bumps into someone. She goes to apologise immediately but pauses for a second because the woman seems very familiar in a way she can't put her finger on. She can't place who the woman is but her blonde hair and dark brown eyes just seem someone familiar.
"No don't worry about it, I wasn't looking where I was going either." The woman says in a friendly tone though Cole doesn't recognise her voice.
She studies the woman's face for a few more seconds adding in another apology as an excuse just to keep looking at her but her mind remains blank. She bites her lip wondering if she should just ask if they've met before. She just about to ask when she hears someone calling her name, turning her head she spots Miss Jones at the end of the aisle, smiling at her when Cole meets her eyes.
"Well isn't this serendipitous," Miss Jones says as she gets close enough to them. "The two people that I wanted to meet, meeting all on their own."
It's at this point that the penny drops for Cole. She can remember now that Miss Jones had shown her a picture of her civil partner. Laura that's her name, she thinks pleased that she managed to remember. She looks away as the two smile at each other, their love for each other is so clear that it's hard for her to look at them.
"Laura this is one of my favourite students Cole. And Cole this is my lovely partner Laura." Miss Jones introduces the two.
"Well it's lovely to finally meet you," Laura says beaming at her as she holds out her hand for Cole to shake.
"It's good to finally meet you too," Cole says as she reluctantly shakes Laura's hand, hoping that her apprehension doesn't show on her face.
They make some idle chat, asking each other how their spring breaks have gone so far and Cole, of course, giving an edited version of what she's been doing for the past few days. She feels less uncomfortable as they lull into the conversation and it's almost nice. That doesn't, however, stop the tightening in her chest when one of them says something affectionate or they their eyes lock and she's not seen many people who are as in love as these two. Laura is so animated in the way she speaks, if not a little over dramatic as she launches into a story about a terrible Thanksgiving. They chat for a little longer before Cole excuses herself to get the rest of her groceries.
She's got most of the things from her list by now so it doesn't take her very long to pick up the last few things. She bites her, tapping her foot when she waits in line but being fair she doesn't end up waiting that long and the cashier is very friendly. She makes the usual small talk, asking Cole about her day and if she's enjoying spring break. She answers back enthusiastically as she can, smiling at the cashier as they give hand over her change.
She stops for a moment once she's outside to organise her bag. She barely hears Laura call her name as she parked right on the outskirts of the parking lot. Cole would shout back but she's not sure she'll be heard so instead she just approaches the two. Offering them a hand as they pack their groceries away in their car, they accept and it's not long before they're finished.
"Thank you but of course that's not why I wanted your attention," Laura says as she tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "I was wondering how you were planning on getting home with all of those bags."
"I was just going to walk, it's not that far."
"Are you sure because it's really no problem especially if you don't live so far away." Laura insists giving her an encouraging smile.
Cole thinks it over but when she can't think of any reason to say no, she says yes. Loading her bags into the back of their car and slipping into the back seat. There's no much chat as they drive her home other than when they ask for directions. They have the radio on so that fills the silence, Laura singing along under her breath. It's not long before they arrive back at her house and they help her unload her bags.
"We would love it if at some point if you would join us for dinner. I cook a mean lasagna if I do say so myself," Laura offers as she hands Cole the last of her bags.
"Laura there's no need to strong-arm the girl into saying yes, which you don't have to, say yes that is if you don't want to," Evelyn reassures her with a soft smile.
Cole thinks about it for a moment as she unlocks the doors. Thinking it over as they help her carry the bags into the kitchen. Which only makes her glad that she had tidied up the house before she went out. She agrees as she walks the pair to the door, they don't make any arrangements so there isn't much pressure on her side but the idea is nice. Especially knowing that she can change her mind if she wants too.
She's still in a good mood as she slips through to the kitchen. She starts unpacking the groceries and packing them away. Her stomach grumbles again so she settles on making herself a sandwich, eating it slowly to kill time. She checks the time and finds that she still has a few hours before she has to go back at Bella's.
She washes her plate before she wanders around the empty house trying to find something to do. She tries sketch for a little while but she stops when she finds herself sketching Alice by accident. She scrunched up the sketch before she can focus on it for too long so instead, she tries to watch tv for a little while before she ends up taking a shower.
The next couple of hours pass by without much fanfare and Cole ends up leaving earlier than she had planned to decide to walk to Bella's. Humming to herself as she walks and wishing it were warmer.
That night at dinner there isn't much talk but Bella almost seems to be looking forward to something. Cole doesn't say anything but she hopes it's not planned for another go at the motorcycles and she actually forgets to bring it up until later that night. She's longing across Bella's bed as her friend replies to her mom's emails when she remembers to ask.
"Hey, what are you so excited for anyway?" She asks staring up at the ceiling.
"That actually reminds me, I wanted to tell you that Jacob is taking me cliff diving tomorrow," Bella says as she sends the email.
Cole groans as she rolls over and sighing into her pillow. She had hoped Bella's dangerous behaviour was finally done. But no, of course, she would want to jump off a fucking cliff. Cole isn't afraid of heights in particular, but the idea of jumping off a cliff doesn't appeal to her. Even though she feels like she has to go, at least to make sure Bella doesn't do anything too stupid.
"Is that even safe? I love you but if you're trying to get us killed then please don't." Cole groans into the pillow.
"Of course, Jacob has done it before. So you're coming too? You don't sound very enthusiastic" Bella says as she sits next to Cole on the bed.
"Obviously. Like I've said, someone needs to be the reasonable one." Cole says as she sits up to make more room for Bella. "But I am warning you, if you get me killed then I will haunt you for the rest of your life."
Bella smiles and does something that surprises Cole, giving her a hug. "Thanks, I promise this won't backfire like the motorcycles."
Cole nods along but she still feeling nervous about the idea of cliff diving. She doesn't' say anything though and eventually they both go to sleep or at least she tries to. She's sure the bad feeling in her stomach is just her nerves so she doesn't pay it much attention. After awhile she started to practice her light spell so she read over her spell book in the dark. By the time she falls into an exhausted sleep, she could keep the ball of light going in her hands for over a minute.
Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
Bella wakes Cole up early the next morning, she's exhausted but she forces a smile on her face. She drinks an extra strong coffee as Bella sneaks out to put an extra change of clothes for the both of them in the truck. She's sure that Charlie would be appalled if he heard about their plans for the day. The temptation to tell Charlie is there but she's not sure that Bella would forgive her for that.
She's feeling more awake by the time they're in Bella's truck. She's glad that she hasn't eaten breakfast as her nerves roll around in her stomach. She's so close to changing her mind but she keeps her mouth shut so can't change her mind.
It's a little odd that Jacob doesn't come out to meet them but Cole doesn't think about it too much. He's probably asleep she figures, He's seemed so sleep deprived that Cole's surprised he can even function. The surprisingly warm weather is a treat for Cole although she's still colder than she would have liked as she follows Bella to the door of the Black house.
"Come in," Billy shouts.
The two make their way inside to find Billy sitting in the kitchen, eating cereal.
"Is Jacob sleeping?" Cole asks yawning.
"Er, no." He sets his spoon down, and his eyebrows pull together.
"What happened?" Bella demands and the bad feeling Cole's been having all night only gets worse.
"Embry, Jared, and Paul crossed a fresh trail early this morning. Sam and Jake took off to help. Sam was hopeful - she's hedged herself in beside the mountains. He thinks they have a good chance to finish this."
"Oh, no, Billy," Bella whispers. "Oh, no."
He chuckles, deep and low. Cole figures he's trying to reassure Bella but Cole knows it's probably having the opposite effect. "Do you really like La Push so well that you want to extend your sentence here?"
"Don't make jokes, Billy. This is too scary for that."
"You're right," he agrees, still complacent. His ancient eyes were impossible to read. "This one's tricky."
"It's not as dangerous for them as you think it is. Sam knows what he's doing. You're the one that you should worry about. The vampire doesn't want to fight them. She's just trying to find a way around them... to you."
"How does Sam know what he's doing?" Bella demands. "They've only killed just the one vampire - that could have been luck."
"We take what we do very seriously, Bella. Nothing's been forgotten. Everything they need to know has been passed down from father to son for generations."
She feels like he's trying to make Bella feel better but as confident as he sounds, Cole isn't buying it either. She's sure as strong as werewolves are that killing a vampire isn't easy. She's never met Victoria before but she's already afraid of the dangerous vampire who's hunting down her best friend.
Billy doesn't seem to have anything else to say, turning back to his breakfast. Cole follows Bella to the couch; sitting beside her as she flips aimlessly through the tv channels. There doesn't seem to be anything though Cole isn't paying attention, play with a loose thread at the end of her sleeve.
"We'll be at the beach," Bella suddenly decides. She grabs Cole's hand as she hurries out of the door.
Cole struggles to keep up with Bella at first. She wants to ask if Bella is alright but the two walk along to the beach in silence. It's oddly quiet, there are no people or animals in sight, making the silence between them even eerier.
Bella doesn't seem any happier as the reach the beach, she looks like she wished she hadn't come. Cole doesn't let go of Bella's hand as they trudge down to the driftwood tree, Cole only dropping Bella's hand as she takes a seat of the tree. Bella stares up at the sky for a long moment looking upset.
"Are you alright?" Cole asks after a few more moments pass.
Bella doesn't answer, just groaning as she jumps off the log. Cole isn't sure what to say now so she watches as Bella paces almost frantically. She hopes Bella doesn't decide to do something stupid, it's not like she can stop her, after all, what could she do? Carry her? She sighs under her breath, watching as Bella stares out into the distance.
She's so distracted that she almost misses Bella started jogging away from the beach and back the way they had come. She runs to catch up with her friend, wondering what's going on. She tries to ask Bella but she doesn't get a response. Her bad feeling flares up as Bella climbs in her truck, it only gets worse when Bella admits she won't like where they're going.
The brewing storms doesn't do anything but add to Cole's anxiety. It hits her as they drive up the familiar lane, she remembers seeing the wolves cliff dive so long ago that it feels like a bad idea. She doesn't keep her apprehension to herself and spends most of the ride telling Bella that she thinks this is a bad idea.
"I'm doing this, either way, it's up to you if you come but you can't stop. I need this." Bella says as she stops the truck.
Of course, this is to see Edward. She's never been more angry with him than she has in this moment; she can only think about how he would react to this? How he would feel knowing that Bella was practically trying to kill herself trying to see him. She would try to stop Bella if she thinks it would actually work but what's to stop her from coming back without her? Nothing, she thinks as she follows behind Bella. Her stomach drops farther as she realises that Bella wants to jump from the top. Cole stops as they reach where the dirt and rock merge leaving her faced with the precipice. The rain is starting to come down now, the storm is so close now and the wind is just hitting her now.
The ocean sounds so very far away by now. She's not sure if she should jump with Bella or not. She's not sure if she could bring herself to jump. She doesn't know if she should stay and watch or go and find Jacob, find anyone that can help. She's not even sure if there's a right thing to do.
"Bella? I don't think this is a good idea", shouldn't we go from lower down?" She calls to her friend but Bella doesn't say anything, she just steps closer to the edge.
She wraps her arms around herself, she's freezing, even colder than normal. The rain is soaking through her clothes and her hair is dripping now. She looks back the way they came wondering if she could get someone in time.
"Bella. Don't do anything yet, I'll be right back." She says and when Bella doesn't respond, she's not sure if she's been heard but
She takes one last look at Bella who's standing almost completely still at the edge of the cliff; she wonders if Bella will actually wait for her. She watches for a few seconds longer before she turns to start walking away. She's only taken a few steps when she hears the scream, panic rising through her chest as she turns to see where Bella was standing just a few seconds ago. She's running to the edge before she can even think but it's too late for her to do anything.
"Bella!" She screams more for herself than anything, she can't believe this has actually happened.
She looks back and forth from the edge of the cliff to the pathway struggling to think of what to do. She doesn't know where Jacob is, she doesn't know where any of the pack are; by the time she finds them it could be too late. All she can think is that she has to get to Bella, she has to help Bella. She imagines jumping in after Bella so vividly that she can almost feel it and suddenly it's like she's fading then she hits the water.
She barely has time to think as the shock hits her, the water is so fucking cold. She reaches out and she almost manages to grab an arm, what must be Bella's arm but the water jerks her away before she can get a good grip. The water is too harsh for her as she tries to swim but she isn't strong enough, the water shoving her in all directions. I'm going to drown, she thinks and it only increases the panic starting to rise through her chest.
She imagines the beaches of La Push and the shore, she imagines the feeling of the wet. There's a desperate edge to her thoughts as she tries to keep her thoughts together. This new affinity isn't something she can control the way she can control her fire. Nothing happens for several long seconds and it's getting harder for her to conserve her oxygen. But she doesn't have the fight in her so she let's go, a part of still hoping for her magic to spark. Her lungs are burning for air and suddenly she feels herself against the cold sand.
She's never felt colder in her life but she's never been more grateful for the oxygen. She's so cold that it hurts like the cold is eating away at her exposed skin. She starts coughing and before she can do anything she vomiting out on to the beach; it leaves her shivering even more and her throat burns. She's so out of focus that she doesn't see him coming, she doesn't even know he's there until she feels the warm hand on her shoulder.
"Cole, are you alright? Are you hurt?" It's Sam she realises.
"I'm fine, but Bella. She's still in there, she jumped off the cliff and I couldn't stop her; you have to help her." Her voice rises and there's an edge to the hysteria that only gets worse the more she goes on.
"Take a deep breath, easy now. Jacob is looking for her now, he won't let anything happen to her." Sam says and despite herself, she does what he says, taking in a long and slow breath.
It's the biggest feeling of relief as she sees Jacob pulling Bella out of the water. It doesn't look like she's breathing at first as Jacob forces the water out of her lungs resting her on the beach She's not sure if Bella's going to start breathing again. She's breathing Cole thinks and she's never felt more relieved in her life. She hears Jacob and Sam talking but she barely picks up a thing but the Bella says Jacob's name and then hers and it brings everything back into focus.
" Oh, Bella! Are you okay? Can you hear me? Do you hurt anywhere?"She hears Jacob ask Bella.
"J-Just m-my throat," Bella stutters. "Where is Cole? Is she alright" She asks her voice a little more steady.
"I'm right here and I'm fine."
"Let's get you out of here, then," Jacob says as Sam offers Cole a hand, pulling her back to her feet.
He waits until she's steady on her feet before he let's go of her hand, something that she's grateful for. Though she already misses the warmth of his hand, her hands starting to go numb in the cold. She rubs her arms but it doesn't bring her much heat, she's shivering but she thinks it's just as much from the magic use than from the cold. She manages a few sparks of heat up her arms but it's not enough to really keep her warm.
"You got her?" Sam asks.
"Yeah, I'll take it from here. Get back to the hospital. I'll join you later. Thanks, Sam."
Jacob looks back at Cole to make sure she follows and she does. Her wet clothes feel heavy weighing her down and sapping all the warmth from her skin. She struggles to keep up with Jacob he's walking so fast and her legs shake a little.
"How did you find me?" Bella rasps and Cole has to admit she's curious.
"I was searching for you," answers."I followed the tire tracks to your truck, and then I heard you scream..." "Why would you jump, Bella? Didn't you notice that it's turning into a hurricane out here? Couldn't you have waited for me?" Anger filled his tone as the relief fades.
"Sorry," Bella mutters. "It was stupid."
"Yeah, it was really stupid," he agrees. "Look, do you mind saving the stupid stuff for when I'm around? I won't be able to concentrate if I think you're jumping off cliffs behind my back." He looks back at Cole, "and what were you thinking going in after? It's brave I'll give you that but it's just so stupid."
She nods because he's right, "I can't argue with that but I didn't actually mean to."
"What do you mean? You can't accidentally jump off a cliff," Jacob says sounding sceptical and she doesn't blame him.
"It was my magic. It's not easy to control sometimes if I think about doing something or if I want to enough my magic steps in if I have a spell."
"Tough. And yeah it was stupid," he agrees, drops of rain shaking free of his hair as he nodded. "Look, do you mind saving the stupid stuff for when I'm around? I won't be able to concentrate if I think you're jumping off cliffs behind my back."
"Sure," I agreed. "No problem." I sounded like a chain-smoker."What happened today? Did you... find her?" It was my turn to shudder, though I wasn't so cold here, right next to his ridiculous body heat.
"No. She took off into the water - the bloodsuckers have the advantage there. That's why I raced home - I was afraid she was going to double back swimming. You spend so much time on the beach..." He trails off, a catch in his throat.
"Sam came back with you... is everyone else home, too?" I hoped they weren't still out searching for her.
"Yeah. Sort of."
"Wait, you said something about the hospital. Is someone hurt? Did she hurt someone?" Cole asks worry creeping up on her.
"No, no. When we got back, Em was waiting for the news. It's Harry Clearwater. Harry had a heart attack this morning."
"Harry?" Bella asks shocked. "Oh, no! Does Charlie know?"
"Yeah. He's over there, too, with my dad."
"Is Harry going to be okay?"
Jacob's eyes tightened again. "It doesn't look so great now."
They're at Jacob's house by now much to Cole's delight, all she wants to do is warm and hopefully borrow a change of clothes. The rain has stopped as she follows him inside and the storm pounds on the roof. She already starting to warm up even in her wet clothes.
"I'll get you both something to change into," Jacob says as he sets Bella on the short couch, Cole taking a seat on the other.
They stay for longer than Cole would have expected even after Jacob brings them dry clothes. Though he had warned them both that they would be much too big at that point Cole wouldn't have cared if they were bright yellow and ten times too big. It's dark by the time they leave, Jacob going to get Bella's truck.
Jacob gets in the driver's side and no one argues, Bella sitting in the middle cuddling up beside him. Cole has wondered for a little while now if they'll end up together. She knows that Jacob has feelings for Bella or whatever he feels will develop into that. Before she would never have considered Bella ending up with someone other than Edward but now that he isn't an option anymore, she's not sure.
"How will you get home?" Bella asks.
"I'm not going home. We still haven't caught the bloodsucker, remember?"
They drive the rest of the way in silence and get out as soon as they arrive, leaving Bella and Jacob to have their moment in peace. She folds her arms across her chest trying to keep as much warmth as she can but it doesn't help much and she stands there shivering as she waits for the two to finish. Several long minutes pass before Bella opens her car door and she hears Jacob telling her to wait.
"What's going on?" She asks leaning into the truck; she jumps as Jacob grabs hold of her wrist tugging at it until she climbs back in the truck, Bella sliding up to make room for the other girl.
"There's a vampire," he says before she can ask what's going on.
"How do you know?" Cole asks feeling bloom in her chest.
"I can smell it. I'm getting the two of you out of here." He says starting the truck back up.
Cole settles into her seat as Bella twists to look through the back of the truck. She seems to pause for a second and Cole wonders what she's looking at.
"That's Carlisle's car, they're here," Bella says leaning over Cole to open the door before she shoves the other girl out of the truck.
When Bella sees the that Cole isn't walking she takes her hand pulling her along. Jacob getting out of the car following after the two, Cole looking over her shoulder to watch.
"Bella, it's a trick! Stop! You gotta come with me," he warns as he grabs Bella's other arm pulling her back as she turns to look at him with a soft grunt.
"They won't hurt me."
"If a Cullen is back here, this is their territory. The treaty says we can only defend our own lands. I can't protect you here."
Bella opens her mouth to speak but Cole beats her to it, "you don't have to protect her because I will." She says no doubt surprising the two as her flames jump to life in her free hand, of course, she had told Jacob about this but he's never seen it before.
"You're about to cross a line," he warns.
"Then don't draw one. Please?"
The two glance at each other for a few or so before Bella is dragging her towards the house. She throws Jacob an apologetic look over her shoulder before she allows Bella to drag her towards the house. She keeps her flame lite not believing so easily like Bella does. She waits for Bella to turn the light on once they enter the house, the unease in her chest only growing.
She had imagined this in her head a million times but even as it happens it's nothing like she would have imagined. She had dreamed that seeing Alice again would be the best feeling in her life but it's not. She stands there looking at the girl she loves or loved, she can't make that distinction now and she feels anything but relief.
Her flames die down once she see's that there is no threat. She feels her throat constricting as she watches Bella almost throw herself into Alice's arms. There's none of the joy she had expected as she looks at the other woman. She feels angry and hurt but most of all she feels betrayed. Alice looks at her and Cole can't read her expression; she can't even look at Alice without the pain rippling through her chest as she takes a step backwards. She feels a flush of embarrassment as hot tears start pouring down her cheeks.
"Don't come near me," she says when it looks like Alice is going to say something; she throws Bella an apologetic look but it's all she can manage before she turns and runs outside as fast as she can.
She feels like she can't breathe, her whole worlds just been shaken to its core all over again and yet this isn't the way she had imagined it. She had expected seeing Alice again would fix everything, that it could be like nothing had ever happened. But as she had looked at Alice her heart had throbbed in a way she'd never felt before. She had so many things that she had wanted to say but she felt like if she spent one more moment in that room then she would have burst.
Chapter 14: Chapter Four
Life doesn't always happen the way we want, that's what Cole's mom always used to say when something would go wrong. Whenever something would go wrong she'd sigh and say 'oh well, life doesn't alway happen the way we want.' Sometimes because you want something to happen doesn't mean you'll always like it once you have it, her mom used to say that too; of course, Cole had never understood when she was younger, why wouldn't I be happy if I got what I wanted? She had asked and her mom said she would understand when she was older, she had never quite believed her mom but she was right. It's something that's never felt truer to Cole than it has now; all she's wanted for months was for Alice to come back and now that she is, it's nothing like she would have imagined it.
She had never imagined that it would hurt so much. Her fantasy changed, sometimes she was angry at first but she always happy, it always felt like a good thing that Alice was back and not like a slap in the face. Why would Alice come back now? Is the question praying on her mind and a small part of her wonders why Alice had come looking for Bella instead of her? It brings her so many questions and so few answers as well as making the pain in her chest double. The rational part of her knows Alice is here for a reason, after all, why would she come back without one but it's not acting as much of a balm for her tender heart.
She just stands there at first, she's not sure what to do, should she go back inside? Should she leave? Should she go home? None of those feels appealing at the moment, walking home in tears or facing her ex-seem to be her only options. So instead she does neither sitting down on Bella's front steps and wrapping her arms around herself either for comfort or warmth but she isn't sure which.
She isn't sure how long she's been sitting there when Jacob comes back but as she feels him looking at her, she feels a flush of embarrassment. She's sure she must look pathetic sitting shaking a sobbing on Bella's front step. She wipes her face roughly with her sleeve as she looks up at Jacob, she doubts it's helped much but she does stop crying. She doesn't bother forcing a smiling knowing that'll only make her look even more miserable than she already feels.
"What are you doing here?" She says making a face as she realises how bad that sound. "What I mean is, I thought you couldn't do anything if one of the Cullens were back." She says the word Cullen sticking in her throat.
"I can't but I needed to come back to make sure that you were both safe." He explains as he sits down beside her on Bella's front step.
"Are you alright? You look like someone kicked your puppy." He jokes but his expressions turns serious as they meet each other's eyes.
"It turns out that it's not Carlisle that came back it's Alice." She says though she knows that doesn't answer the question for Jacob at least.
"Am I missing something? I thought you were friends with the bloodsuckers too?" He asks raising an eyebrow.
"Alice and I- You see things with Alice are complicated-," she stops mid-sentence trailing off as she looks away from him. "Alice and I were together before the Cullens left, it broke my heart when she left. And I don't know how to face her so here I am," she confesses all at once staring down at her feet.
She's not sure what she was expecting but it's nice when he puts a hand on her should. His hands are so warm that it takes effort not to lean into his touch. He grimaces and at first, she thinks she's being weird until he mentions that he can feel how cold she is through her t-shirt. She's a little surprised when he hugs her but it's nice and comforting, she's always thought of him as a friend and it feels like a reassurance that he feels the same.
He doesn't say anything when they pull apart and she's grateful for that. He stands up and she remembers that he stills needs to check in with Bella, more for a piece of mind at this point but she isn't going to tell him not to. He offers her a hand up, his way of asking if she's coming too and she's not sure. She looks at his hand before making a split second decision to take go back with him.
She follows a little behind him back into the house. She can hear Bella and Alice talking though she can't make out what they're saying but from the way Jacob is scowling she can guess he doesn't like it.
"Werewolves are not good company to keep," Alice says from the living room.
"Speak for yourself. I had to see you were safe," he says as he stops at the living room door, Cole stopping behind him as Bella speaks up.
"I thought you couldn't protect me here?" Bella says a hint of a smile creeping at the corner of her lips.
Cole keeps her eyes glued to the floor, she doesn't have anything to say now and if she looks up, she knows all she's going to do is stare at Alice. Being so close makes her chest ache and she can't tell what she wants to do. She feels crossed between wanting to slap her and kiss her, so she does nothing. The last thing she wants to do after all these months is to humiliate herself.
"Guess I don't care."
She can feel Alice looking at her and she doesn't look up for what feels like ages though she knows it can't have been more than a few seconds. Alice meets her eye for a second and Cole feels a small twinge of guilt when she see's a hurt look in her eye. She's not sure if she should say something but before she can think of something Alice has turned to Jacob and the moment is gone.
"Well, I'm not going to hurt her." She says like that should be obvious.
"No, you're just a harmless Cullen." Jacob bites back and it's impossible to miss the malice in his voice.
"I'm talking about the other bloodsucker who tried to kill Bella because of you."
"She's been around," Cole answers though she regrets it when Alice looks at her again.
"I didn't see her," she says looking back at Bella. "I didn't see you get pulled out of the water either. I can't see past you and your packs of mutts." The edge of hysteria in Alice's voice flares up the more she speaks.
"Don't make me upset," Jacob says anger creeping into his voice in a way that makes Cole want to put herself between the two. Of course, she knows she couldn't protect Alice from Jacob even in his human form but that doesn't stop the need to from curling in her stomach.
"Don't either of you start something here," she says at the same time as Bella tells them to stop; though unlike Cole who feels like her feet have been cemented to the floor, Bella actually puts herself between the two.
Anxiety curls in her stomach at seeing her friends between two very angry and unbreakable people. Bella seems stuck to turning between the both of them. It's obvious she needs to talk to Jacob to sort this mess out but Cole has a feeling that she's scared to look away from Alice in case she vanishes. She catches Alice's eye and glances towards the door, we should give them some space is what she's trying to say.
"We'll give you a minute," Alice says, of course, having picked up on Cole's signal, following her to the door.
"Hey. You're not going anywhere. You're gonna come back, right?" Bella asks and Cole would be lying if she said if she wasn't already imagining Alice slipping away as soon as she as much as looked away.
She can't help wrinkling her nose at Alice's responds. She doesn't like way Jacob talks about vampires but the way Alice calls Jacob a dog feels worse somehow. She doesn't plan on saying anything, now at least, as much it bothered her it's hardly the most important thing she has to say to Alice. No, that would be what are you doing here? Why did you come back in the first place? And are you planning to stay?
"Why are you here Alice?" It comes out harsher than she had intended but she doesn't regret it, she is angry with Alice.
"I saw Bella jump off a cliff and I waited for her to resurface but she never did. I knew it wouldn't get here in time but I got on a plane anyway, there was no way that I could do nothing. I thought I could help Charlie somehow." She pauses as her eyes meet Cole's. "I thought that I could help you too, I didn't want either of you to go through that alone."
"Well she's not dead and you obviously know that now." Cole can't stop the harsh words spilling from her lips. "So do you plan on sticking around or what? Because I don't know if Bella will survive going through that all over again."
She expects Alice to be angry with her and she waits for her to say something harsh back but nothing comes. She waits still expecting something but it becomes clear that her memories of Alice haven't done justice to real girl because Alice doesn't sink down to her level. Instead, she walks up behind Cole, putting a cool hand on her shoulder. She jumps a little at the initial contact but she can't bring herself to move away from Alice's touch.
Being so close to Alice is comforting in ways that she wishes it wasn't. Like this, she feels like she could melt back into Alice's arms as nothing ever happened if Alice would take her. She doesn't want that, she doesn't know what she wants but she doesn't want to ignore that past like it never happened. She doesn't move away like she should though, she lets herself soak it up like there's a limited supply; she already feels like crying as she imagines Alice leaving again.
"I don't know what I'm going to do, I didn't see any of this but I never see things when it comes to you. It's part of the reason I fell in love with you." Alice says after what feels like several minutes have passed.
"Alice-" Cole's voice is pained; she doesn't know what to say and she knows sure what she wants to say. "I don't know how I feel about you anymore Alice, you broke my heart and then you left. My feelings for you aren't the same anymore and I don't think now is the right time for us to have this conversation. I'm sorry."
"No, you don't have to apologise, I hurt you and I can't expect things to go back to the way they were before; especially when I don't know what I'm going to do now. You are right though-" Alice trails of mid sentence.
Cole can't stop the spike of irrational panic in her chest as she turns to look at Alice. Seeing the vacant look in her eyes is almost reassuring to Cole. She's having a vision but that thought leads to the question of what is Alice seeing? Cole watches and it feels like hours before Alice snaps out of her trance but she knows it can't have been more than a few minutes.
"What did you see?" Cole asks when Alice comes back down to earth but there's a frantic look in her eye that makes her stomach sink to her feet.
"It's Edward. Bella, I have to tell her." Alice says her tone frantic.
Cole opens her mouth but before she can even take a breath, she's standing there alone. Cole can't process this for a moment, thinking about how far away Alice could be by now makes her sick with panic. She has to tell Bella something she remembers and before she can even process it, she's running back into the house as fast as her feet can carry her. She doesn't have much time to feel relieved as she stops at the kitchen door finding that Alice isn't gone.
"Why didn't you let me speak to him?"Bella's tone is hysterical.
She's look betrayed and she's standing too close to a shaking Jacob for Cole's comfort even with Alice standing so close. Jacob looks angry. She can already see him shifting right here in Bella's kitchen he's so angry. She meets Alice's eye and Alice doesn't look happy to see her, looking between Bella and Cole like she can't decide who to protect.
"He didn't ask for you."
"Bella," Alice warns taking hold of Bella's arm, Bella looks like she might lunge at him.
"I don't care!"Alice is holding Bella back now as if she's trying to calm her down or at least get to see in another colour than red.
Cole steps into the kitchen and she can tell Alice isn't happy even when she doesn't make a move to stop her. She puts a firm hand on Bella's shoulder, I've got her is what her look says to Alice. She doesn't look pleased with Cole but she takes a step away from the two because Cole is right, if this comes down to a fight she's better off with her hands-free.
"It's going to be okay Bella, Alice can fix this." She says sounding more confident than she would have expected. "Now you have to tell me what's going on," her voice is less sure as she looks to Alice.
"It's Edward, Rosalie told him why I came here and now he thinks Bella is dead," Alice says to Cole though she doesn't take her eyes off Jacob at first after a moment she looks at them both. " He's going to the Volturi. He wants to die too."
It feels like someone's dumped a bucket of cold water over Cole's head, she's so shocked that she almost can't process what's just been said. Edward can't die. She can't imagine what Bella must think, the other girl slumping in her arms. Even with her feelings so turned upside down, she can't bare to think about Alice dying.
The next few minutes pass by in a complete blur. Cole feels like she's never moved so fast in her life. Scribbling out a note for her brother for Alice to deliver while she grabs her passport. All she can think is that it's lucky that she has one, she can't bare the thought of being left. She can barely process the fact she's going to Italy as she stumbles up the stairs behind Bella. She has more than half of her clothes here and her backpack is still lying on Bella's bed where she had left it. She packs so quickly that she doesn't even know what she has and she almost falls down the stairs she's running so fast.
The frantic feeling in her chest calms a little when Alice is back but it only lasts for a second before Alice is bringing the car as close to the house as she can. She stumbles behind Bella as Jacob trails behind her. He looks almost frantic himself but for a different reason. He doesn't want Bella to go and as much as that doesn't surprise her, she can't imagine Bella letting Edward die even for Jacob.
"He left you, Bella. He didn't want you anymore. Remember?"He says following behind her and Cole swears she see's Bella flinch.
"No, I'm not going to let him kill himself out guilt." Bella's response is surprisingly calm and Cole feels a rush of pride at this.
"What about your dad?" Jacob is clinging at straws now.
"I'm 18. I'm legally free to go, and I left a note." Bella answers climbing into the car.
Cole is rooted to the spot for a moment watching Jacob lean in through the driver's side. She does feel a pang of sympathy hearing him beg Bella to stay. She can almost see things from his point of view, Edward is only a vampire after all and she's sure he has concerns for Bella's safety. But it's not right, it wouldn't be right. She's already moving again as Jacob is walking away from the car looking defeated.
"I'm sorry that you're getting hurt because of this but you can't have expected her to stay. We both know that he's the one she's in love with." She doesn't say it to be cruel but she doesn't stick around for his answer climbing into the back of the car.
She doesn't think any of this has turned out fairly for him and at times she's question Bella's relationship with him. It's not exactly fair how heavily Bella had leant on him considering the feelings he clearly has for her but at the same time, she doesn't think Bella has ever been malicious. She keeps her eyes forward not wanting to watch him walk away.
They only make it onto their flight by the skin of their teeth and it's only once they're on the plane that Cole's nerves sink in. She's never been on a plane before, she had only got her passport the year her parents had died; they had wanted to take a family trip to Europe but after they had died there had never been enough money for trips out-of-state never mind enough to jet of to Europe. She keeps her breathing even trying not to draw unnecessary attention to herself as she settles into her seat beside Alice. Alice as if sensing her nerves takes her hand but she thankfully doesn't say anything about it.
"It's faster than running," Alice reminds Bella who hasn't stopped bouncing in her seat since she sat down.
Cole keeps her eyes shut as the plane takes off. She wasn't sure what to expect but she finds herself able to relax and open her eyes. She watches Alice who is now speaking on the phone from the back of the seat in front of her or she already was before Cole opened her eyes but she doesn't let herself focus on such a small detail. She knows it's probably her way of trying to distract herself from what's happening. She tries to take in as much of what Alice is saying as possible but she's still feeling so overwhelmed that some things go in through her ear and out the other.
"I can't be sure, I keep seeing him do different things, he keeps changing his mind... A killing spree through the city, attacking the guard, lifting a car over his head in the main square... mostly things that would expose them - he knows that's the fastest way to force a reaction..."
She winces at the words killing spree but even now she knows Edward wouldn't do that, he can't. No matter what her feelings are towards Edward and they aren't always good, she still believes he's a good person, someone who wouldn't do that. Besides, she's sure that even know that he wouldn't want to disappoint Carlisle; it hurts trying to imagine his face as he finds out that his son has gone on a killing spree.
"No, you can't." Alice's voice drops till it's nearly inaudible and Cole finds herself leaning in closer to hear her. "Tell Emmett no... Well, go after Emmett and Rosalie and bring them back... Think about it, Jasper. If he sees any of us, what do you think he will do?"
"Exactly. I think Bella is the only chance - if there is a chance... I'll do everything that can be done, but prepare Carlisle; the odds aren't good."
She hangs up and leans back in her seat with her eyes closed. "I hate lying to him."
"What's going on Alice?" Cole asks as she meets Bella's eyes, the two just as eager for answers as the other. "Why can't the others help us? Wouldn't it better if they were here? You know strength in numbers and all that." She says grimacing at her own rambling.
Alice lets out a weak laugh. "Two reasons," she says her eyes still closed. "The first I told him. We could try to stop Edward ourselves - if Emmett could get his hands on him, we might be able to stop him long enough to convince him you're alive. But we can't sneak up on Edward. And if he sees us coming for him, he'll act that much faster. He'll throw a Buick through a wall or something, and the Volturi will take him down."
"That's the second reason, of course, the reason I couldn't say to Jasper. Because if they're there and the Volturi kill Edward, they'll fight them." She opens her eyes, looking to Cole before settling on Bella. "If there were any chance we could win... if there were a way that the four of us could save my brother by fighting for him, maybe it would be different. But we can't, and as much as Jasper thinks that he needs to be here; I don't see this as a risk that will pay off."
Cole feels like she's leaving something out and when Alice can't seem to make eye contact it confirms her suspicions. "Of course he wants to be here, he wants to protect his brother like you do." She almost feels bad for trying to guilt Alice but the looks the Alice flashes her leaves her to think that Alice knows what she doing; smart as always she thinks.
"Jasper isn't sure I'm going to be careful enough. Of course, we all trust each other but he's worried that I'll act recklessly."
"Why does he think that?" Bella asks sitting up, her curiosity spiked.Alice hesitates for a moment glancing between the two.
"He's worried that because you're here that I won't be able to think straight and I'll do something reckless trying to protect you," Alice admits looking Cole in the eyes and Cole feels guilty wondering if she should have stayed behind. "But I won't and I feel better knowing that you're here especially knowing that Victoria is still out there," Alice says as if she senses Cole's feelings of guilt.
"Wait, won't Edward be able to hear you?"Bella asks. "Wouldn't he know, as soon as he heard your thoughts, that I was alive, that there was no point to this?"
Cole can see the wheels in Bella's head turning and in this moment she'd pay to be able to see what the other girl is thinking. She's confused Cole can tell that at least. Maybe she's confused about Edward's reaction? She considers this and it makes sense; Edward leaving Bella wasn't something they ever talked about but it was clear that Bella was sure that Edward didn't love her anymore. Before Cole couldn't help but be inclined to agree; after all if he really loved her then why would he leave her? But now she's not so sure, you don't kill yourself over just anyone guilty conscience or not.
"If he were listening," she explains. "But believe it or not, it's possible to lie with your thoughts. If you had died, I would still try to stop him. And I would be thinking 'she's alive, she's alive' as hard as I could. He knows that."
Cole wishes it could be that easy and it goes without saying that Bella must as well. Please for the love of god let us get there in time. Bella had barely survived Edward leaving her, Cole's not sure she could cope with his death.
"If there were any way to do this without you, Bella, I wouldn't be endangering you like this. It's very wrong of me."Don't be stupid. I'm the last thing you should be worrying about."
Bella shakes her head."Tell me what you meant, about hating to lie to Jasper."
"I promised him that I could handle things if they went south, make sure that no ones else dies, too. It's not something I can guarantee - not by a long shot."
"Who are these Volturi?" Bella demands in a whisper. "What makes them so much more dangerous than Emmett, Jasper, Rosalie, and you?" Bella asks and Cole finds herself nodding along; sure Jasper had explained this to her but she still can't seem to wrap her head around all this.
Alice takes a deep breath before levelling a dark glance over Cole's shoulder. She turns around to see the man in the aisle seat looking away as if he hadn't been eavesdropping. He's well dressed in a dark suit with a dark tie with a laptop on his knees. Cole swallows back a laugh as he opens his laptop and very conspicuously puts his headphones in. That's right don't you eavesdrop she thinks pleased that he had been scared by Alice.
"I was surprised that either of you recognised the name," she says. "That you understood so immediately what it meant - when I said he was going to Italy. I thought I would have to explain. I understand that Edward must have told you but how did you find out?" She asks Cole evenly.
"Jasper told me."
"So how much do you both know?"
"Well, Edward said they were an old, powerful family - like royalty. That you didn't antagonise them unless you wanted to... die," Bella whispers.
"That's all that I know," Cole adds.
"You have to understand," she says, her voice slower, more measured now. "We Cullens are unique in more ways than you know. It's... abnormal for so many of us to live together in peace. It's the same for Tanya's family in the north, and Carlisle speculates that abstaining makes it easier for us to be civilised, to form bonds based on love rather than survival or convenience. Even James's little coven of three was unusually large - and you saw how easily Laurent left them. Our kind travel alone, or in pairs, as a general rule. Carlisle's family is the biggest in existence, as far as I know, with the one exception. The Volturi. There were three of them originally, Aro, Caius, and Marcus."
"The nighttime patrons of the arts," Cole mutters thinking back to the painting in Carlisle's office.
"Two females joined them over time, and the five of them make up the family. I'm not sure, but I suspect that their age is what gives them the ability to live peacefully together. They are well over three thousand years old. Or maybe it's their gifts that give them extra tolerance. Like Edward and I, Aro and Marcus are... talented." She continued before either of them can respond. "Or maybe it's just their love of power that binds them together. Royalty is an apt description."
"But if there are only five - "
"Five that make up the family," she corrects. "That doesn't include their guard."
"That sounds serious and dangerous."
"Oh, it is," she assures Cole. "There were nine members of the guard that were permanent, the last time we heard. Others are more... transitory. It changes. And many of them are gifted as well - with formidable gifts, gifts that make what I can do look like a parlour trick. The Volturi chose them for their abilities, physical or otherwise."
Cole feels small and overwhelmed hearing about these powerful vampires congregating in one place. It increases the feeling that they're on soon kind of suicide mission thinking about how bad the odd must be for them. So Cole tries not to think about it though it weighs on her mind.
"They don't get into too many confrontations. No one is stupid enough to mess with them. They stay in their city, leaving only as duty calls."
"Didn't Edward tell you what they do?"
"There's a reason he called them royalty... the ruling class. Over the millennia, they have assumed the position of enforcing our rules - which actually translates to punishing transgressors. They fulfil that duty decisively."
"There are rules?" Bella asks her voice way too loud, Cole immediately scans the plane as if Bella's little outburst would have turned all eyes onto them.
"Shouldn't somebody have mentioned this to me earlier?" she whispers angrily. "I mean, I wanted to be a... to be one of you! Shouldn't somebody have explained the rules to me?"
Alice chuckles at Bella's reaction. "It's not that complicated, Bella. There's only one core restriction - and if you think about it, you can probably figure it out for yourself."
"Nope, I have no idea."
Cole mulls over the idea herself for a few moments. What would the most important rule for vampires be? She wonders to herself, careful hunting so humans don't go instinct? Nope, too stupid she thinks; vampire population can't be that big or humans would know and them vampires would have real problems. Wait. Vampires probably don't want humans knowing about them, it's one of their biggest advantages, Cole thinks.
"To keep your existence a secret?" Cole asks keeping her voice down, feeling pleased as Alice nods.
"It makes sense, and most of us don't need policing," she adds. "But, after a few centuries, sometimes one of us gets bored. Or crazy. I don't know. And then the Volturi step in before it can compromise them, or the rest of us."
"Is planning to flout that in their own city - the city they've secretly held for three thousand years, since the time of the Etruscans. They are so protective of their city that they don't allow hunting within its walls. Volterra is probably the safest city in the world - from vampire attack at the very least."
"Wait, I thought you said they didn't leave. How do they hunt? How do they eat?" Cole asks in confusion.
"They don't leave. They bring in their food from the outside, from quite far away sometimes. It gives their guard something to do when they're not out annihilating mavericks. Or protecting Volterra from exposure..."
"From situations like this one, like Edward," Bella finishes her sentences.
"I doubt they've ever had a situation quite like this," she mutters, disgusted. "You don't get a lot of suicidal vampires."
Bella lets out a strangled cry like a wounded animal. It's painful to hear and it's not long before Alice has a strong arm wrapped around her while Cole takes her hand.
"We won't let him die, Bella. Alice won't let that happen and neither will you or me, besides it's not over."
"Not yet. And the Volturi will get us if we mess up."
Alice stiffens and Cole winces. "You say that like it's a good thing."
Bella shrugs refusing to look at either of them.
"Knock it off, Bella, or we're turning around in New York and going back to Forks."
"You know what. If we're too late for Edward, I'm going to do my damnedest to get you back to Charlie, and I don't want any trouble from you. Do you understand that?"
"Sure, Alice." She pulls back so that she could glare at Bella.
"Scout's honour," Bella mutters.
"Let me concentrate, now. I'm trying to see what he's planning."
Cole tries not to watch a first as Alice sinks back into her seat, her arm still wrapped around Bella as she presses her free hand to the side of her face.
Cole sits back in her own seat and closing her eyes as if she's trying to get to sleep. It doesn't work, Cole finding herself to riled up to sleep. All she can think about is the hundreds of ways things can go wrong and there's nothing much she can do to keep herself alive; like a chose your own adventure game that ends with your death in many and gruesome ways if you aren't lucky enough to get the good ending.
Cole finds herself overwhelmed by the thoughts of her own death. Then there's Leo left with shoddy note letting him know that she'll be gone for a few days and that it was an emergency. Of course, if she's coming back it's not so bad, she can explain the situation once she's back but it's starting to look like she won't be coming back. And he'll have no clue what happened to her; of course, she's used her passport but all that's going to tell him is that she was in Italy. She's not sure if they'll find her body but she doubts it, so if she dies here then her brother is never going to know what happened to her.
The anxiety crawling through her is too much so she distracts herself, looking around the crowded plane at all the other passengers. Imagining for a few moments what their stories are or what's waiting for them in New York. New York, the city Cole's supposed to go to after graduation but thought of College are hardly comforting when she's not sure she's going to survive into next week never mind long enough to actually graduate.
After a while she finds herself watching Alice out of the corner of her eyes, Alice who of course is perfectly still. She lets this go on for a several minutes before she allows herself to outright stare at Alice. When she does she feels like she can't look away; staring at Alice who is more beautiful than her memory could capture. She drinks it all in like she's trying to commit Alice's likeness to memory so she can revisit it once she's gone again; it's one of the things that's going to cause her pain in the coming months but she can't stop herself.
The plane ride seems to stretch on forever and for a few minutes, Cole imagines the plane journey going on forever like a terrible nightmare. At one point her mind almost starts to convince her that's what's going to happen. So the relief she feels as they land is very real though it doesn't last for long before anxiety takes its place.
"Alice," Bella says. "Alice, we have to go," she says reaching out to touch Alice's arm.
Alice's eyes peel open and if Cole hadn't known any better she would have thought Alice was waking up from a long nap.
"Anything new?" Bella asks keeping her voice low.
"Not exactly," she breathes out in a barely audible voice. "He's getting closer. He's deciding how he's going to ask."
They have to run to catch their connection. It's a temporary distraction from the darker thoughts rolling around in Cole's head; better focus on not tripping because she's so focused on running that thought of her impending death. Alice falls back into the same stupor as before as soon as the plane is in the air. Cole knows why but she wishes she could have caught minutes with Alice first; she knows she can hardly ask for reassurance when Alice is sure they're all going to die but she feels like it would have relaxed her.
Cole manages to relax enough to fall asleep but she dips in and out of consciousness rather than sleeping peacefully. Alice is shaking Bella awake when she fully dips back into consciousness, rubbing her eyes as she takes a look around the darkened cabin.
"Your awake, that's good," Alice says to Cole as Bella starts to come to.
"What's wrong?"Comes Bella's voice a few moments later.
"It's not wrong." She smiles fiercely, in a way that stirs an unfair amount of hope in Cole's chest. "It's right. They're deliberating, but they've decided to tell him no."
"Of course, Bella, keep up. I can see what they're going to say."
An attendant tiptoes down the aisle to them. "Can I get you, ladies, a pillow?" He whispers in a hushed tone, a stark contrast to their fairly loud conversation.
"No, thank you." Alice beams at up at him, her smile shockingly lovely. The attendant looks completely dazed and for a second Cole almost feels jealous before it hits her that she's not allowed to be jealous anymore, Alice isn't her girlfriend anymore.
"So?" Cole prompts Alice to continue in a whisper.
"They're interested in him - they think his talent could be useful. They're going to offer him a place with them."
"What will he say?"
"I can't see that yet, but I'll bet it's colourful." She grinned again. "This is the first good news - the first break. They're intrigued; they truly don't want to destroy him - 'wasteful,' that's the word Aro will use - and that may be enough to force him to get creative. The longer he spends on his plans, the better for us."
Cole feels hopeful for a moment but it doesn't last. With all the unknowns her mind can't seem to think of way for this to end well. She sure that together or not, she knows she won't want to live through any of this if Alice doesn't.
"I'm confused. How are you seeing this so clearly? And then other times, you see things far away - things that don't happen?"
Cole is only half listening now. She's always been interested in Alice's gift because it was a part of her but maybe because it doesn't affect her, she's never been that interested in her gift as its own entity.
"It's clear because it's immediate and close, and I'm really concentrating. The faraway things that come on their own - those are just glimpses, faint maybes. Plus, I see my kind more easily than yours. Edward is even easier because I'm so attuned to him."
"You see me sometimes," Bella reminds her.
"Not as clearly."
"I really wish you could have been right about me. In the beginning, when you first saw things about me, before we even met..."
"What do you mean?"
"You saw me become one of you."
Cole stiffens leaning back further into her seat as if she's trying to disappear. She's surprised that Bella would bring this up now. She had always thought that Bella had left that dream behind once Edward had left. She still finds herself listening though, even if the conversation is taking her back to before.
She sighs. "It was a possibility at the time."
It's obvious that this is probably once of the last things that Alice wants to talk about, now at least. Cole would be lying though if she said that she wasn't curious about where this conversation is going to go. The subject had never come up when they had been together and Cole wonders what Alice would have said if she had been as determined to become a vampire as Bella. In the beginning, she hadn't been sure that Witches could become vampires; Carlisle had told her that they could but what happened to their abilities, well that was something that Carlisle couldn't answer.
"At the time," Bella repeats.
"Actually, Bella..." She hesitates. "Honestly, I think it's all gotten beyond ridiculous. I'm debating whether to just change you myself."
"Did I scare you?" Alice wonders after several moments of silence. "I thought that's what you wanted."
"I do!" She gasps. "Oh, Alice, do it now! I could help you so much - and I wouldn't slow you down. Bite me!"
Cole grimaces at how loud that comes out, wondering what the attendant must be thinking. He must think we're all pretty strange, Cole ponders to herself as Alice shushes Bella. Cole glancing round to see the attendant looking in their direction again.
"Try to be reasonable," she whispers. "We don't have enough time. We have to get into Volterra tomorrow. You'd be writhing in pain for days." She makes a face. "And I don't think the other passengers would react well."
"If you don't do it now, you'll change your mind."
"No.I don't think I will. He'll be furious, but what will he be able to do about it?"
"Nothing at all."
She laughs. "You have too much faith in me, Bella. I'm not sure that I can. I'll probably just end up killing you."
"I'll take my chances."
"You are so bizarre, even for a human."
"Oh well, this is purely hypothetical at this point, anyway. First, we have to live through tomorrow."
"Go back to sleep," she encourages Bella. "I'll wake you up when there's something new."
Cole sits in silence thinking about the conversation she had listened to, though of course, Alice had to have known that she was listening. She knows Alice won't have been lying at the prospect of turning Bella and she doesn't know what to think about that. Of course, it's what Bella has always wanted and Cole wonders if it's the selfish part of her that feels a pang in her chest at the thought of losing her best friend.
Those thoughts are too painful to dwell on so she tries to think about other things. Her mind wandering back to all her other encounters with other vampires. She focuses on all those terrible memories and not the danger ahead. It doesn't take long for a question to form in her head as she sits up in her seat.
"Alice?" Cole whispers under her breath. "I want to ask you something."
"What is it, Cole?" Alice asks her voice quiet.
"How can vampires always tell that I'm a witch? I mean James knew and so did Laurent but none of you seemed to when I first met all you."
Alice sits up a little straighter at the question. "Well, it's because of your scent. Before your magic kicked in there was something off about your scent and at first I didn't put much into it, human doesn't all smells the same. Of course, when we eventually went to Carlisle about it, he told us it could be possible that you were a witch but that didn't come through in your scent until after your magic came through."
Cole nods. "Why do vampires always seem so interested in that? I get now that I smell different but would I taste that different? I mean I'm guessing humans don't all taste the same but are witches that big of an improvement?" She keeps her voice low, looking out for the attendant.
"Well I've never tasted a witch, none of have but I know what it's supposed to be like. It's difficult to explain because your blood would still quench a vampire's thirst." Alice says wrinkling her nose as if thinking about a vampire draining Cole.
"But the best way to explain it's like wine, it's an acquired taste. You don't meet many witches so the scent is sometimes a shock for vampires, think of it like smelling your parent's wine for the first time. You don't exactly smell bad but appetising isn't a word I would use either." Alice pauses for a moment," it doesn't usually appeal to vampires until after they've tasted witch blood Or that's what Carlisle has been told. Witch blood other than sustaining us, it gives vampires a sort of buzz, they feel even stronger than when they feed on humans, some vampires even believe it makes them stronger."
Cole nods because she's not sure what she should say. All information seems to do is make her feel like she has an even bigger target painted on her back. She won't say that though, she asked the question and it's hardly Alice's fault. Alice reaches over and squeezes her hand like she can sense Cole's ever-growing anxiety.
"I don't care how tempting your blood is, as long as I'm able, I won't let anyone hurt you," Alice says and it's a solemn promise.
They don't look away from each other their eyes locked. Cole can't quite bring herself to look away and for a moment she considers kissing Alice. It would be so easy, all she would have to lean in and do it. But there are so many reasons in her mind not, so she doesn't. She regrets it once the moment is gone, if she's going to die then she'd like one last request and she can think of nothing better than one last kiss from Alice.
"Try and get some rest, I'll wake you up if there's any news," Alice says taking her hand back.
Cole stares down at her empty hand before she nods. She mumbles something along the lines of that being a good idea as she settles back in her seat. I wonder if Alice knew what I wanted to do, she thinks.
It feels like only seconds have passed when Cole finds herself waking up. Watching Alice as she snaps the shade closed.
"Any news?" Cole asks through a yawn."
They've told him no." she says quietly, all the enthusiasm in her voice from earlier has been drained away.
"What's he going to do?" Bella's voice comes out in a choke.
"There was a bad hour," she whispers.
"He'd decided to go hunting."
Cole sits bolt upright in her seat as it dawns on her. Edward wouldn't do that, there's no way; she thinks as she meets Bella's eyes seeing her thoughts mirrored.
"In the city," she explains. "It got very close. He changed his mind at the last-minute."
"I don't think he would have done it, even now I don't think he has it in him to disappoint Carlisle," Cole mutters.
"Probably," Alice agrees.
"Will there be enough time?" As Bella speaks, there's a shift in the cabin pressure.
"I'm hoping so - if he sticks to his latest decision, maybe."
"What is that?"
"He's going to keep it simple. He's going to walk out into the sun."
That would do it. No one could look at him in the sun and still think he was human, not when he sparkles like a million tiny diamonds embedded into his skin. Who could forget that, the memories of Alice in the sun the memories that are still strongest in Cole's mind? She had looked so beautiful and inhuman at the same time. The Volturi couldn't allow that and she can't see them ever letting anyone away with the crime of trying to expose their secret.
"We'll be too late," Bella whispers.
She shakes her head. "Right now, he's leaning toward the melodramatic. He wants the biggest audience possible, so he'll choose the main plaza, under the clock tower. The walls are high there. He'll wait till the sun is exactly overhead."
"So we should have until noon then?" Cole asks never having been gladder for Edward's dramatics.
"If we're lucky. If he sticks with this decision."
The pilot comes on over the intercom, announcing, first in French and then in English, our imminent landing. The seat belt lights dinged and flashed.
"How far is it from Florence to Volterra?"
"That depends on how fast you drive... But I have to ask?"
"What do you have to ask?" Cole asks raising an eyebrow as she wonders what Alice has up her sleeve.
She eyes then speculatively. "How strongly are you opposed to grand theft auto?"
Cole isn't sure what she had expected Alice to come up with but it definitely wasn't the bright yellow Porsche that screams to a stop a few feet in front of them. She can tell that Bella is on the same wavelength as her. She is impressed though almost smiling at she reads the word TURBO scrawled across its back in silver.
"Hurry up!" Alice shouts impatiently.
Cole and Bella share a quick look before they get it the car as quickly as they can. No one wanting to waste even a second.
"Sheesh, Alice," Bella complains. "Could you pick a more conspicuous car to steal?"
The interior of the car is as impressive as the outside, with sleek black leather and dark tinted windows. The dark windows must be better for Alice, Cole thinks, it might as well be nighttime in here. Alice is already weaving, through the thick airport traffic - sliding through tiny spaces between the cars, Cole finds herself watching impressed for a moment before she snaps out of it and puts her seatbelt on.
"The important question," she corrects, "is whether I could have stolen a faster car, and I don't think so. I got lucky."
"I mean she does have a point. It's not like we have the time to waste on a slow car." Cole finds herself defending Alice without even having to think about it.
"I'm sure that will be very comforting at the roadblock."
"Trust me, Bella. If anyone sets up a roadblock, it will be behind us." She hit the gas then as if to prove her point.
Cole watches out of the window watching as the city of Florence passes her by in a blur followed by the Tuscan landscape. It doesn't help the anxiety that curls in her stomach but it helps keep her thoughts from getting too dark. She can hear Alice and Bella talking but she isn't picking up on anything that they're saying.
"Well, that's ironic. It's Saint Marcus Day."
"Saint who?" Cole asks dropping herself into the conversation.
She chuckles darkly. " Saint Marcus. The city holds a celebration every year. As the legend goes, a Christian missionary, a Father Marcus - Marcus of the Volturi, in fact - drove all the vampires from Volterra fifteen hundred years ago. The story claims he was martyred in Romania, still trying to drive away the vampire scourge. Of course, that's nonsense - he's never left the city. But that's where some of the superstitions about things like crosses and garlic come from. Father Marcus used them so successfully. And vampires don't trouble Volterra, so they must work." Her smile is sardonic. "It's become more of a celebration of the city, and recognition for the police force - after all, Volterra is an amazingly safe city. The police get the credit."
"Of course Edward would choose to do this on today of all days," Cole mutters and Alice nods.
"He's still planning on noon?" Bella.
"Yes. He's decided to wait. And they're waiting for him."
"Tell me what I have to do." She keeps her eyes on the winding road - the needle on the speedometer touching the far right on the dial.
"You don't have to do anything. He has to see you before he moves into the light. And he has to see you before he sees me."
"How are we going to work that?"
"I'm going to get you as close as possible, and then you're going to run in the direction I point you. Cole, you're with me, he may not be able to read your mind but that doesn't mean he won't think that I roped you into this to trick him."
"Alright," Cole says
"Try not to trip," she adds.
"We don't have time for a concussion today."
Bella groans and it's clear she's imagining all the was her clumsiness could ruin things. Cole has more faith in her though, she thinks that Bella will be able to do it and she tells her so though she knows it's not going to mean much.
The sun is climbing in the sky as Alice races against it. It's so bright, Bella radiating panic as she wonders what if Edward decides to go through with his plans earlier. Cole doesn't want to think about that but she'd be lying if she didn't think it was possible.
"There," Alice says abruptly, pointing to the castle city atop the closest hill.
Cole stares up at the ancient sienna walls and towers crowning the peak of the steep hill, a new kind of dread filling her stomach. Maybe it because she has some kind of idea about the secrets being the ancient walls but even with beauty of the city, Cole finds her fear building in her chest. Alice had been honest with them about the dangers ahead of them and Cole had believed her, they had haunted her on the plane ride here but only now do they sink in for Cole. I'm going to die here, she thinks staring up at the city.
"Volterra," Alice announces in a flat, icy voice.
Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
They begin the steep climb, and the road only grows more congested the farther they go. As the wind higher, the cars become too close together for Alice to weave between them anymore. They slow to a crawl behind a little tan Peugeot.
"Alice," Bella moans, glancing at the clock on the dash which seems to keep getting faster.
"It's the only way in," she attempts to soothe Bella but she's too on edge for it to work.
It feels like an eternity as the cars edge forward slowly. The sun beaming down almost blindingly, seeming already overhead.
Cole taps her fingers against her thighs watching as cars creep one by one towards the city. As they get closer, she starts to notice cars parked by the side of the road with people getting out to walk the rest of the way. Cole chalks it down to impatience at first, tourists are hardly known for their patience. That thought is dashed as they come around a Switchback, the car park outside of the city wall is filled to the brim, the crowds of people walking through the gates. No one is allowed to drive through.
"Alice," Bella whispers urgently.
"I know," she says.
Cole forces herself to watch the crowds of people, trying to distract herself so she doesn't get to overwhelmed. The last thing anyone needs it for her to take a meltdown when they're so close to reaching Edward, she refuses to do that to them. She can see the colour red is dotted everywhere, painting the city crimson. It coats everything, red shirts, red hats, red flags drapped by the gates. It whips around in the strong wind, people have to get a hold of their hats so they don't lose them, their clothes billowing around them.
"Bella," Alice speaks in a fierce, low voice. "I can't see what the guard here will decide now - if this doesn't work, you're going to have to go in alone. You're going to have to run. Just keep asking for the Palazzo Dei Priori, and running in the direction they tell you. Don't get lost."
"Palazzo dei Priori, Palazzo dei Priori," Bella repeats the name, trying to get it down.
"Or 'the clock tower,' if they speak English. I'll go around and try to find a secluded spot somewhere behind the city where I can go over the wall."
Bella nods. "Palazzo Dei Priori."
"Edward will be under the clock tower, to the north of the square. There's a narrow alleyway on the right, and he'll be in the shadow there. You have to get his attention before he can move into the sun."
Let us through, come on, let us through; Cole thinks over and over impatiently. Let us be lucky enough she thinks as Alice nears the front of the line. A man in a navy blue uniform is directing the flow of traffic, turning the cars away from the full lot. They U-turn and headed back to find a place beside the road.
The uniformed man motions lazily, not paying attention. Alice accelerates, edging around him and heading for the gate. He shouts something at them, but holds his ground, waving frantically to keep the next car from following the bad example.
The man at the gate wears a matching uniform. As they approached him, the throngs of tourists pass, crowding the sidewalks, staring curiously at the pushy, flashy Porsche.
The guard steps out into the middle of the street. What are you planning Cole wonders as Alice angles the car carefully before coming to a full stop. The sun beating down against the passenger side window, leaving her in the safety of the shadows. She swiftly reaches behind the seat and grabs something from her bag.
The guard comes around the car with an irritated expression and tapping on her window angrily. She rolls the window down halfway, Cole watching the man's jaw drop as he sees the face behind the dark glass. Cole looks away from the spark of jealousy sinking into her stomach, she doesn't like the way he's looking at her but she bites her tongue; it's not her place to say anything.
"I'm sorry, only tour buses allowed in the city today, miss," he says in English, with a heavy accent. He's apologetic, now, probably wishing he had better news for the strikingly beautiful woman.
Cole's scowl only grows but she's not going to into a huff now of all times, she hopes she doesn't have to listen to Alice flirt with him. Stop being a brat, it's life or death here. This is not the time to get jealous, she thinks as she takes a calming breath as she glances at Alice out of the corner of her eye.
"It's a private tour," Alice says, flashing an alluring smile. You have him now, she thinks as she watches Alice reach her hand out of the window. Cole's sure her eyes bug out of her skull, as she wondered for a second what the hell must be going through Alice's mind until she spots Alice is wearing an elbow-length, tan glove. She takes his hand, still raised from tapping her window, and pulls it into the car. She put something into his palm and folds his fingers around it.
He looks dazed as he retrieves his hand and stares at the thick roll of money he now holds. The outside bill was a hundred-dollar bill.
"Is this a joke?" he mumbles.
Alice's smile is dazzling. "Only if you think it's funny."
He looks at her, his eyes staring wide. Just take the money, Cole thinks deliberately not looking at the clock on the dash, she knows there isn't much time left. Come on, that's more than your wages. She gives up looking at the clock, only five minutes
"I'm in a wee bit of a hurry," she hints, still smiling.
The guards blinks twice, and shoves the money inside his vest. He takes a step away from the window and waves them on. None of the passing people seem to have noticed the quiet exchange. Cole let's out a sigh of relief as Alice drives on into the city.
The street is very narrow, cobbled with the same colour stones as the faded cinnamon brown buildings that darken the steer with their shade. It reminds Cole of an alleyway. Red flags decorate the walls, spaced only a few yards apart, flapping in the wind that whistled through the narrow lane. Cole glares out at the crowds, the foot traffic slowing their progress; though she knows it's unfair to angry.
"Just a little farther," Alice encourages Bella, the tension in the car only growing. Bella is gripping the door handle, ready to throw herself into the street as soon as Alice says the word.
She drives in quick spurts and sudden stops, and the people in the crowd shake their fists at them and snap out angry words that Cole can't understand. Cole finds her annoyance creeping back up, she wishes they would just fuck off. Alice turns onto a little path that can't be meant for cars; shocked people have to squeeze into doorways as they scrape by. They find another street at the end. The buildings are even taller here; they lean together overhead so that no sunlight touched the pavement.- the thrashing red flags on either side nearly met. The crowd is much thicker here than anywhere else. Bella has the door opens before they're even at a standstill.
She points to where the street widens into a patch of bright openness. "There - we're at the southern end of the square. Run straight across, to the right of the clock tower. I'll find a way around - "
Her breath catches suddenly, and when she speaks again, her voice was a hiss. "They're everywhere?"
Bella is frozen in place, but Alice pushes her out of the car. "Forget about them. You have to minutes. Go, Bella, go!" she shouts, climbing out of the car as she speaks.
Cole is frozen in her seat until Alice grabs her arm yanking her out of the car, the pain in her arm snapping her out of her daze though she doesn't make a sound. She watches Bella running for a few moments before Alice pulls her along.
Alice takes Cole's hand giving it a soft squeeze. Neither of them is in the right place to comfort the other both of them to on edge. Time seems to drag as Cole follows behind Alice through the shadowed streets. In other circumstances, she would have tried to look around. To soak up the beautiful scenery and atmosphere, savouring the festival itself. But it's not those kinds of circumstances and Cole is sure no matter how long passes that Italy will always be marred by these memories for her.
It feels like hours have passed when Cole hears the deep booming chime, her mouth goes dry knowing their time is up. She doesn't say anything and neither does Alice, she almost doesn't want to know what happened, too afraid that Bella won't have been able to make it in time. The continues to toll and Cole feels like her stomach drops each time.
Alice keeps a tight grip of her hand, it's not enough to hurt Cole but she can't forget that Alice has her. She's not sure if it's to keep her safe or to reassure her and it does help a little. She isn't sure where they're going but Alice seems to know what she's doing, so she doesn't ask. If it were anyone else she would have questioned them as finds herself in a dark alleyway but it's Alice and you don't bet against Alice.
She's never been happier to the back of Edward, he's stood in front of Bella protectively, blocking her from two figures in smoky grey cloaks that reach the ground. Alice is tugging her closer before she can blink. Putting a protective arm around her waist. She wonders who they are, and from the way, Alice is behaving she has a feeling who they are, or rather who they work for.
"Let's behave ourselves, shall we?" Alice suggests. "There are ladies present."
Cole tries not to stumble along Alice as she joins by her brother's side, her stance more casual. There's no hint of tension in her body language as if there had never been any danger, to begin with. She doesn't let go of Cole though keeping a firm grip on the other girl.
Cole watches the other vampires evenly hoping her face doesn't give her apprehension away as they straighten. The bigger of the two looks displeased at Alice's arrival. Probably not happy with the even numbers. He catches her stare and she tries to not look like a deer caught in the headlights, meeting his gaze and refusing to be the first to look away. She watches him wrinkle his nose looking almost confused for a split second like he smells something confusing and her mind drifts back to what Alice had said about her scent, wondering if it's her that he's confused over.
"We're not alone," she reminds them.
Demetri glances over his shoulder. A few yards into the square, a small family with two little girls is watching them. The older of the two can't be older than five or six, both girls in crimson dresses with matching bows holding back their dark hair.
A few yards into the square, the little family, with the girls in their red dresses, was watching us. The mother was speaking urgently to her husband, her eyes on the five of us. She looked away when Demetri met her gaze. The man walked a few steps farther into the plaza and tapped one of the red-blazered men on the shoulder. The mother is speaking urgently to her husband but her eyes don't leave them. She looks away when Demetri meets her gaze. The man walks a few steps farther into the plaza and taps one of the red-blazered men on the shoulder.
Demetri shakes his head. "Please, Edward, let's be reasonable," he says.
"Let's," Edward agrees. "And we'll leave quietly now, with no one the wiser."
Demetri sighs in frustration. "At least let us discuss this more privately."
Six men in red now join the family as they watched the group with anxious expressions. Come on, can't you just pretend you haven't seen anything. Cole thinks though she's can't imagine that's a likely outcome. Just take your kids and get away, she wants to say but she keeps her mouth firmly shut so nothing spills out. She doesn't want any of them to get hurt but the idea of either of those little girls getting hurt makes her stomach twist. Before she would have thought even vampires would have stopped at children but now that she's meet the bad kind, she's not so sure.
Edward's teeth come together audibly. "No.
The bigger one's smiles and Cole barely manages not to wince. She doesn't know what he's Dei about of course but she knows it can hardly be good for them.
"Enough." The voice is high and reedy, coming from behind them.
Cole looks over her shoulder to see a small, dark shape approaching. Given the reaction, she can only guess it must be another one of them and she's willing to bet it's someone powerful.
Cole thinks the newcomer is a young boy at first. They're just as tiny as Alice, with lank, pale brown hair trimmed short. Their cloak she notes is much darker than the others, she finds herself wondering if that has any meaning. Their face is what helps Cole identify them as a girl, with wide eyes and full lips. Even with those crimson coloured eyes she still looks like a little angel.
She doesn't let her size of her appearance fool her though, she is a vampire after all. And Alice had said only the most powerful vampires could work for the Volturi. The way the other two react only furthers her line of thought.
She knows this has to be someone dangerous when Edward drops his protective stance into a more relaxed one. He doesn't look happy about it, just like he's been beaten.
"Jane," he sighs in recognition and resignation.
Cole looks at Alice from the corner of her eye trying to gauge her reaction. Her grip on Cole's slackens just a little but she doesn't let go and her expression remains impassive.
"Follow me," Jane speaks again, her childish voice a monotone. She turns her back on them and drifts silently into the dark.
The bigger one gestures for them to go first, smirking. Cole decides that out of all of them she likes him the least. If she can and if wouldn't be the stupidest move on her part, she'd like to slap that stupid smirk off his face.
Alice moves first and Cole sure she would have fallen flat on her face without Alice's steady arm. She has a million question but she shares a look with Alice for just a second and she follows her gut instinct of keeping her mouth shut. The alley angles slightly downward as it narrows. Cole has a more difficult time keeping her mouth shut, new questions buzzing around her brain.
"Well, Alice," Edward says conversationally as they walked. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see you here. And of course, right alongside you is Cole."
"It was my mistake," Alice answers in the same tone. "It was my job to set it right. Besides, how could I leave the country without my best girl"
"What happened?" His voice is polite as if he's forcing himself through an annoying conversation with a nosey neighbour. Though how else would he act? This is hardly a private conversation and Cole's willing to there are ears everywhere.
"It's a long story." Alice's eyes flicker towards Bella. "In summary, she did jump off a cliff, but she wasn't trying to kill herself. Bella's all about the extreme sports these days."
Cole resists the urge to cling to Alice like a scared kitten, the farther they walk the less Cole can see; the alley just getting darker as it goes, she's sure eventually she'll be able to wave her hand in front of her face and not see it. She wonders about everything Alice is telling Edward in the privacy of her thoughts.
There's a loose curve to the alley, still slanting down, so Cole doesn't see the squared-off dead-end coming until they reach the flat, windowless, brick face. Cole glances around uselessly in the dark almost expecting Jane to attack.
Alice meets Edwards eyes for just a second before she let's go of Cole. Cole relying on Alice to keep her balance as she stumbles only for Edward to steady her, keeping a hold of her. Cole doesn't have time to wonder if they had done that on purpose as she watches Alice slid down an open hole in the street with an easy grace.
It looks like a drain, sunk into the lowest point of the paving. Cole noticed it until Alice disappeared, but the grate is halfway pushed aside. The hole is small, and black.
"It's right, Bella," Edward says. "Alice will catch you."
She doesn't blame Bella for not being over the moon about dropping down a tiny dark hole. She can already feel goosebumps running up her arms. Just looking at the little hole has her imagining a million implausible ways it could go wrong. But Alice is there. And Alice won't let either of you gets hurt, the more rational part of her brain tells her.
"I'll go first." She says not turning to look at either of them, she already walking before she can finish her sentence; just in case she tries to change her mind last-minute.
She schools her face and sends Bella a reassuring smile over her shoulder before she crouches down, swinging her legs into the narrow gap.
"You better catch me, I'm too pretty to have a broken nose." She jokes weakly as she takes in a slow breath, bracing her hands against the sides of the hole to push herself down.
She doesn't shut her eyes but she keeps her mouth tightly shut; don't scream, don't scream, are the only things she can think of her short fall. The air whips past her for just half a second, and then, Alice's waiting for arms caught her.
She lets out a breath of relief, feeling safer than she has in a long time in Alice's arm. They lock eyes for a moment and it feels like they're the only two people there. But soon the moment is shattered.
"So do you come here often?" Cole asks trying to calm her nerves as Alice sets her back on her feet, Alice doesn't laugh but Cole can see the corners of lips tug into an almost smile.
"Alice?" Bella whispers, voice trembling.
"I'm right here, Bella," Alice says reassuringly.
"Ready?" he asks.
"Drop her," Alice calls.
Cole moves to stand by Alice's side, watching for Bella. It's only seconds later than Bella is safety in Alice's arms, still looking rightfully uneasy. Alice has an arm back around Cole as soon as Bella is steady on her feet again.
It's not so dark that Cole can't see down here. The light from the hole above offering a faint glow, reflecting wetly from the stones under her feet. It's gone for a second before Edward takes his place beside Bella. He wraps an arm around her, holding her protectively to him. Alice is already pulling Cole along beside her before she can say anything. Cole keeps as close to Alice as she can her eyes watching the uneven floor. She's hardly as clumsy as Bella but it would be just her luck to trip now. The sound of the heavy grate sliding over the hole is almost enough to make Cole wince as the metallic sound rings out, there's something ominous about it.
The dim light from the streets doesn't last long, Cole finding herself with the need to cling to Alice again. Cole can hear footsteps echoing. It's the only sound she can hear except for Bella's footsteps.
Alice's grip on Cole doesn't let up, something that Cole is grateful for. It's the only thing that reminds her that there's someone here looking out for her. Cole doesn't want to let herself fall all over again; not when she's so sure that if she survives this, then this will be the last time she sees any of the Cullens. If it weren't for the danger she was in, she wouldn't let Alice hold her so close to but then Alice probably wouldn't be doing this if there was no danger.
Cole still wants to ask what's going on, she wants to now if this is just an elaborate walk to their death. Right now she feels like she would give anything for Edward's gift, just so she can understand what's happening. But that's what being around the supernatural seems to bring her, confusion and reminders of just how fragile she really is.
The path beneath their feet continues to slant downward, taking them deep underground. The farther they go the more panic starts to creep up and her heart beats so loud that it's all she can hear. She gives into her need to cling to Alice, it only helps her nerves a little but she refuses to let go.
Gradually it begins to get lighter, turning to dark grey instead of the previous pitch black. They're in a low, arched tunnel. Long trails of ebony moisture seep down the grey stones, like as if they're bleeding ink. It's absolutely freezing down here, Cole's sure she would be able to see her breath if there was enough light. She wishes she had worn something warmer and being pressed right up against someone who feels like ice isn't helping but she refuses to move away.
At the end of the tunnel is a grate - the iron bars are rusting, but thick as Cole's arm. A small door made of thinner, interlaced bars was standing open. Cole would have paused to take a look around if she had the time but Alice is already tugging her through before she can really think. The next room is larger, brighter stone room. The grill slams shut with a loud clang, followed by the snap of a lock. Oh shit, Cole thinks but she refuses to look panelling her, she knows the real panic will sink in them
On the other side of the long room is a low, heavy wooden door. It's very thick and open like the other door. They step through the door, Cole glancing around in surprise as she takes in the drastic change of environment. It feels like somewhere entirely different, just another unassuming corridor in an office building.
The walls are off-white, the floor carpeted in industrial grey. Common rectangular fluorescent lights are spaced evenly along the ceiling. It's warmer here, something that Cole begrudgingly appreciates. There's something about this hallway that she finds eerie, seeing such a mundane looking corridor in a place like this is just unsettling to her. She almost feels likes she's in horror movies and now that she's out of the typically scary setting things are really going to get dark.
At the end of the corridor is an elevator, a black shrouded figure standing beside it. The heavy door slams shut behind them, and it's followed by the thud of a bolt sliding home. Cole doesn't think about just staring ahead as she walks, Jane waiting by the elevator, one hand holding the doors open for them. Her expression is apathetic.
Once they're in the elevator, the vampires of the Volturi relax even further. Cole's anxiety rears its ugly head in her stomach feeling worse than ever. She wants to scream or run away but she doesn't even move. She just stares at one spot and clings to Alice until she's sure she won't do something stupid. She looks at the vampires out of the corner of her eyes realising that she still doesn't know their names. The bigger one has his hair cropped short, while the others wave to his shoulders. Their irises are a deep crimson around the edge darkening until they become fully black around the pupil. Under the shrouds, their clothes are modern, pale, and nondescript.
The elevator ride is mercifully short and soon they're stepping out into what looks like a top of the line reception area. The walls are panelled in wood, the floors carpeted in thick, deep green. There are no windows, but large, brightly lit paintings of the Tuscan countryside hung everywhere as replacements. Pale leather couches are arranged in cosy groupings, and the glossy tables held crystal vases full of vibrantly coloured bouquets. Cole finds this just as eerie as the corridor they had come from. None of these rooms are what comes to mind when Cole thinks vampire royalty.
In the middle of the room was a high, polished mahogany counter. Cole blinks in surprise at the sight of another human. She's tall, with dark skin and green eyes. She's absolutely lovely but there's something so unsettling about seeing her here that Cole can't appreciate that. Her mind whirls in confusion, humans working here are the last thing she had expected to see. She doesn't understand why she would be so comfortable, or why the Volturi would hire humans.
She smiles politely in welcome. "Good afternoon, Jane," she says. There not even a hint of surprise in her face as she glances at Jane's company. Cole finds herself wondering what she really must think about all of this, about all the things she must see.
Jane nods. "Gianna." She continues toward a set of double doors in the back of the room, and they follow closely behind her.
The bigger one winks at Gianna as he passes the desk, she giggles. Cole finds herself even now repressing an eye role. Straight girls. How could she be attracted to him? Cole just doesn't see the appeal.
On the other side of the wooden doors is a different kind of reception. The pale boy in the pearl grey suit could easily be Jane's twin. His hair is darker, and his lips are not as full, but he is just as lovely. He comes forward to meet them. He smiles, reaching for her. "Jane."
"Alec," she responds, embracing the boy. They kiss each other's cheeks on both sides. Then he looked at then.
Cole makes sure not to make eye contact, looking away completely. This is hardly polite company but she hardly wants to be caught staring, especially by either of the twins. There's just something she finds so creepy about them.
"They send you out for one and you come back with two... and two humans," he notes disgust in his tone "Nice work."
She laughs, the sound sparkled with delight like a baby's cooing.
Is there anything about them that isn't creepy? Cole thinks to herself still avoiding looking in either of their directions. Maybe after this I'll be stuck with a phobia of twins, she thinks trying to keep her thoughts as light as possible.
"Welcome back, Edward," Alec greets him. "You seem in a better mood."
"Marginally," Edward agrees in a flat voice. Edwards foul mood only feeds into Cole's reasoning that something terrible is about to happen.
Alec chuckles, "And this is the cause of all the trouble?" he asks, sceptical.
Cole feels anger twist her in stomach, it makes her skin crawl hearing him talk about Bella like she's a piece of meat. Edward seems to agree, turning as a low snarl builds deep in his chest. He smiles, his hand raised, palm up; curling his fingers twice, inviting Edward forward. It would be the stupidest thing he could do but Cole would be lying if she said she wouldn't take great joy from watching Edward kick his ass.
Alice touches Edward's arm. "Patience," she cautions him.
They exchange a long glance, Cole once again wishing that she had Edwards power just so she could listen in. It's clear she's telling him not to attack; even she knows that' the wrong move. Edward doesn't look happy but he takes a deep breath and turns back to Alec.
"Aro will be so pleased to see you again," Alec says as if nothing had happened.
"Let's not keep him waiting," Jane suggests.
Alec and Jane, holding hands, led the way down yet another corridor that seems to go on forever. Cole finds herself marvelling at just how creepy they are again, definitely creeper than the twins from the shining.
They ignore the doors at the end of the hall - doors entirely sheathed in gold - stopping halfway down the hall and sliding aside a piece of the paneling to expose a plain wooden door. It's not locked. Alec holding it open for Jane.
The next door is just as cold and dark as before, Cole fights back the urge to whine like a small child. It's the same ancient stone as the square, the alley, and the sewers. The stone antechamber is not large, opening quickly into a brighter, cavernous room, perfectly round like a huge castle turret... which is probably exactly what it was.
Two stories up, long window slits throw thin rectangles of bright sunlight onto the stone floor below. There are no artificial lights here. The only furniture in the room is several massive wooden chairs that can only be described as thrones, spaced unevenly flush the curving stone walls. In the very centre of the circle, in a slight depression, was another drain. Cole ponders briefly over the purpose, it looks too small to her to be another exit.
The room is hardly empty. A handful of people convenes looking perfectly at peace. Cole can only make out low murmurs of the smooth voices. She glances around the room not letting her eyes settle on any on person for too long. Her eyes linger over a pair of pale women in summer dresses as they pause in a patch of light. Though her eyes are more focused on the way their skin throws light in rainbow sparkles against the walls than the woman themselves. In other circumstances, she would have wanted to paint the women and try to capture their light against the sienna walls.
They all turn to look at the incoming party. In other circumstances, Cole would have been embarrassed for so many perfect people to see her in this state. They're all dressed inconspicuously, nothing that would demand too much attention on the streets below. The man who speaks first isn't so inconspicuous, dressed in the same long robes as their escorts. His is a pitch black, brushing against the floor, Cole wonders again at the meaning of the colours; maybe the different colours are different statuses.
"Jane, dear one, you've returned!" he cries in evident delight. His voice as soft as sighing.
Cole is astonished as he drifts forward, flowing with such an ethereal grace that she almost thinks of it as godlike. It's by far the most graceful thing she ever seen, even overshadowing Alice who's every movement is like dancing.
Cole's surprise only grows as he approaches them and she gets a better look at his face. His skin is a translucent white like onion skin, and it looks as delicate, it stands in a shocking contrast to the long black hair that frames his face. His eyes ae red, the same as the others around him, but the colour is clouded, milky; Cole wonders if his vision was affected by the haze. There's something familiar about him even if she can't put her finger on where she could have seen him before.
" Yes, Master." Jane smiles; the expression though making her look more like an angel still sticks out as almost creepy to Cole. "I brought him back alive, just as you wished."
"Ah, Jane." He smiles, too. "You are such a comfort to me."
He turns his misty eyes toward them, and the smile brightens - becoming ecstatic.
"And Alice and Bella. And Mila too!" he rejoices, clapping his thin hands together. "This is a happy surprise! Dei!"
Cole stares at him in shock not just because of how informally he uses their name, but it's also so jarring for her to hear someone calling her by her first name. No ones called her by her first name in years now. Not that she's going to correct him on that.
He turns to their hulking escort. "Felix, be a dear and tell my brothers about our company. I'm sure they wouldn't want to miss this."
So that's his name, Cole thinks glad to have something to refer to him as other than the bigger one. But it doesn't matter much, still so sure that she's not going to live till tomorrow.
"Yes, Master." Felix nods and disappeared back the way they had come.
"You see, Edward?"The strange vampire turns and smiles at Edward like a fond but scolding grandfather. "What did I tell you? Aren't you glad that I didn't give you what you wanted yesterday?"
There's something so off-putting about this vampire more than any other vampire she's ever met before. It makes her skin crawl when he even looks in her direction and she definitely doesn't want him anywhere near Alice or Bella. Maybe it's the way he's talking to Edward as they're family that add to his creepiness.
"Yes, Aro, I am." he agrees his tone completely formal.
"I love a happy ending." Aro sighs. "They are so rare. But I want the story. How did this happen? Alice?" He turns to gaze at Alice with curious, misty eyes. "Your brother seemed to think you infallible, but apparently there was some mistake."
"Oh, I'm far from infallible." She flashes a dazzling smile. She looks perfectly at ease, expect that her free hand is balled into a tight little fist. "As you can see today, I cause problems as often as I cure them."
"You're too modest," Aro chides. "I've seen some of your more amazing exploits, and I must admit I've never observed anything like your talent. It is so wonderful to have such talented guests, a seer and witch both in the same day."
Cole wants to sink closer to Alice to hide away from this man but at the same time, she wants to put herself between the two. She knows it's irrational this need she has to protect Alice, Alice who could break her bones without breaking a sweat. She does neither, of course, afraid the former would seem as an offence and the latter because it is impossible.
Alice flickers a glance at Edward. Aro doesn't miss it.
"I'm sorry, we haven't been introduced properly at all, have we? It's just that I feel like I know you already, and I tend to get ahead of myself. Your brother introduced us yesterday, in a peculiar way. You see, I share some of your brother's talent, only I am limited in a way that he is not." Aro shakes his head; his tone envious.
"And also exponentially more powerful," Edward adds dryly. He looks at Alice as he swiftly explains. "Aro needs physical contact to hear your thoughts, but he hears much more than I do. You know I can only hear what's passing through your head fireballs the moment. Aro hears every thought your mind has ever had."
Alice raises her delicate eyebrows, and Edward inclines his head.
"But to be able to hear from a distance..." Aro sighs, gesturing toward the two of them, and the exchange that had just taken place. "That would be so convenient."
There's something so off about this man though he hasn't threatened them or been anything but polite to them. It might be his clear fascination with Alice that sets her teeth on edge but the more he speaks the more uncomfortable Cole becomes. He's going to ask them to join, she thinks, he's practically salivating at the thought of their abilities.
Aro looks over their shoulders. All the other heads turned in the same direction, Felix is back, and behind him floating two more black-robed men. Their skin is identical to Aro's, looking just a fragile. One of them even has the same flowing black hair as Aro while the others has snow-white hair, the same colour as his face.
They each look as familiar to Cole as Aro does. She looks between the three of them trying to make the connection and after a moment her mind drifts back to a familiar painting. They're the nighttime patrons of the arts, it clicks in her mind.
"Marcus, Caius, look!" Aro croons. "Bella is alive after all. She has Alice and Mila with her! Isn't that wonderful?"
Neither of the other two looks as if wonderful would be their first choice of words. The dark-haired man seems bored like he has seen too many millennia of Aro's enthusiasm. The other's face is sour under the snowy hair.
Their lack of interest does nothing kerb Aro's enjoyment, nothing seems to be able to kerb Aro's enjoyment.
"It's so difficult to understand, even now," Aro muses, staring at Edward and Bella. Cole isn't sure what he means now, struggling to keep up with him as he jumps from topic to topic."How can you stand so close to her like that?"
"It's not without effort," Edward answers calmly.
"But still - La Tua Cantante! What a waste!"
Edward chuckles once without humour. "I look at it more as a price."
Aro is sceptical. "A very high price."
Aro laughs. "If I hadn't smelled her through your memories, I wouldn't have believed the call of anyone's blood could be so shortfall. I've never felt anything like it myself. Most of us would trade much for such a gift, and yet you..."
"Waste it," Edward finishes, his voice sarcastic.
"But your restraint!" Aro sighs. "I did not know such strength was possible. To inure yourself against such a siren call, not just once but again and again - if I had not felt it myself, I would not have believed."
"Just remembering how she appeals to you..." Aro chuckled. "It makes me thirsty."
Cole tenses, her stomach curling with disgust. She avoids looking at him so he can't see the disgust on her face. Her anger curls in her stomach and she starts to feel heat flashing in her palms. In her anger, she almost wants to hurt him but that would mean her death so instead, she keeps taking in steady breaths as her palms slowly cool.
"I under that you both are exceptions to Edward's impressive talent." He addresses both Bella and Cole now. "I was wondering, since our talents are similar in many ways, if you would both be so kind as to allow me to try - to see if you are an exception for me, as well?"
Cole doesn't believe that she has a choice so she steps forward first. Bella still frozen in panic by Edward side. Cole puts on a brave face offering Bella her hand as they approach the ancient vampire. Cole offers her hand to Aro first, pleased by how steady her hand is. Bella's own hand trembles as she raises it.
"So very interesting," he says as he released Bella's hand and drifting back towards his thrones.
"A first," he said to himself "I wonder if they are immune to our other talents... Jane, dear?"
"No!" Edward spits.
Little Jane smiles up at Aro, in a way that makes Cole uneasy. "Yes, Master?"
Edward snarls, the sound ripping and tearing from him, glaring at Aro with baleful eyes. The room has gone still, everyone watching him with amazed disbelief. Felix grins taking a step forward. Cole doesn't know what Jane can do but she already knows that she doesn't like. She takes a step back pushing Bella behind her as if put herself between then could do anything. She keeps stepping back like this until Edward has her, finally someone who can protect her hides Bella from view.
Aro watches her with a mixture of confusion and fascination. "So fragile yet so willing to risk your life for the protection of other." He says like he's thinking out loud.
Then he speaks to Jane. "I was wondering, my dear one if they are immune to you."
"Don't!" Alice cries as Edward launches himself at the girl.
He doesn't even make it halfway to her before he's writhing on the stone floor though no one has laid a hand on him. Jane is smiling in pure delight at him and it clicks into place that it's her doing this. Cole grabs Bella's hand both to try to offer some comfort but also in trying to keep Bella from doing something drastic.
"Stop!" Bella shrieks. Cole holds her friend her closer wrapping her an arm around her waist to keep her friend in place. She struggles at first before slumping back in Cole's arms in defeat, anger stirs in her stomach but she keeps her fire at bay lest she hurt her friend.
"Jane," Aro recalls her in a tranquil voice. She looks up, still smiling with pleasure, her eyes questioning. As soon as Jane looks away, Edward is still. He inclines his head towards Bella.
Jane looks at Bella that same sick smile across her face. Bella squeezes her eyes shut bracing herself for the pain. Cole holds Bella tighter in her arms, she shouts Jane a dark look as she waits for Bella to start screaming. Nothing happens for a few seconds and soon those seconds draw out to minutes. Cole thinks Jane is playing with them at first until the girl lets out a hiss of frustration.
Cole feels like she can finally breathe again when Aro's gaze turns to her. Her heart speeds up in her chest, she's not so confident that Jane's powers won't work on her. She let's go of Bella leaving her to Edward as she tries to brace herself.
"Now her," Aro says his eyesVolturinot leaving Cole's face.
It's Alice's turn to growl now and in a flash, she's by Cole's side. She looks like she's about to lunge for Jane even after that had been such a disaster for Edward. Jane smiles at Alice and although she isn't hurting Alice, yet, it makes Cole's blood boil. She can't do a thing to Jane but she sends her a look that reads loud and clear, don't you fucking dare. She tries to swallow down her anger so she doesn't do something stupid but it keeps going like there's a fire raging through her chest. She doesn't even feel it as the heat starts to build in her palms and before she realises what's going on, flames burst to life in her left palm.
Aro lets out what Cole thinks is a squeal of delight but the panic that flares up in her leaves her mind in a frenzied state. She hadn't meant to do that, it was an honest mistake. But they might not believe her and take it as an attack or a threat. The concerned look that Alice and Edward's share doesn't leave her feel any better.
"I swear I didn't mean to do that," she says as steadily as she can manage to put the flames out in an instant.
"Of course not," Aro says in what Cole thinks is supposed to be a reassuring tone. "Mistakes are common amongst the young of your kind. I understand that one's affinities can be very difficult to control especially for someone with such a volatile gift as yourself."
Cole nods relived it wasn't perceived as an out was seen threat but her heart can't seem to slow down. "Thank you for your consideration, I wouldn't want to cause any offence," Cole says as evenly as she can manage.
Alice doesn't seem so an edge as before. Aro is still looking at her with the same fascinated look on his face that makes her want to hide. She doesn't move trying to keep herself from committing a fatal social faux pas.
"I have been lucky enough to see a demonstration of your powers through Edwards memories but since then your must have come leaps and bounds. So I hope you would be so kind to give us a live demonstration?" He asks rubbing his hands together gleefully.
Cole's mouth goes dry, the last thing she wants to do is disappoint a man like this but with her lack of practice, she doesn't know how impressive a display she can muster. She looks between Alice and then Edward looking for any sign of what she should do. Edward meets her eyes and nods, encouraging her to comply.
"I would be happy to." She says feeling unsure as she starts to roll up her sleeves past her elbow.
She takes a small breath making it clear she's preparing herself as she shuts her eyes. It's hard to recapture her old anger with the fear running through her veins but she musters enough to coat the palm of her hand in flames. She opens her eyes finding Aro watching her with wide childlike excitement as if he expects the best is yet to come. I can't do any better, she thinks and she's about to confess this when she hears Felix snort from behind her.
"Some witch," he says clearly wanting her to hear him.
She can't explain why and she probably won't ever be able to but hearing that triggers something inside of her. She's been doubting herself as a witch for so long but hearing it from him of all people leaves a burning anger in her chest, it's the emotion she's felt in a long time. She can imagine her new-found anger sweeping through her like fire crawling through her brains. She's performed magic these past few months but it's been weak and to keep she had ever remembered it being. But it feels like whatever it was that was holding her back is being burned out of her veins, leaving her stronger than ever.
More, she thinks and the fire engulfs her hand, coating it completely from her wrist to her fingertips. Aro is starting to look almost impressed. The fire crawls up to below her sleeve in under a second and she lights up her free hand. Allowing it to cover her arm even quicker now, it feels good to be using her magic to be pushing her limits and letting all the built up energy come out. It feels like every barrier is gone now, not only the ones that she had put up after Alice had left but all the barriers she had ever put on herself.
"I could probably bring it up to at least my shoulders but as fireproof, as I am, my clothes aren't," Cole says closing her hands into fists and extinguishing the flames.
"Absolutely marvellous." Aro seems awed in a way that makes Cole wish she hadn't shown him anything.
"Such a wonderful defensive tool your gift makes but is it possible for you to take a more offensive approach with your gift?" He asks and as much as she doesn't want to answer she nods.
Edward had never been one to help her practice her magic that had always been Carlisle and Jasper when it came to her fire. She had bee working on making fire balls that hovered over her skin and not coating it before the Cullens had left. They had been more difficult to control than she had expected and she had left more than a few things in her wake.
Aro's smile is ear-splitting now. He motions for her to demonstrate and as much as she wants to say no, she feels like she's well past that point. She cups her hands rubbing them together as she imagines a spark lighting between her palms. As the balls of fire appears, she feels the same heat coming from her magic. The ball of fire is small at first but she allows it to grow to the size of a small apple before holding out her left palm. The small ball of fire floating above her palm.
"I can manoeuvre it, however, I want now," she explains as she moves the small ball from hand to hand.
"Could it be used as a projectile?" Aro questions.
She feels as if he already knows the answer so she doesn't feel like she can lie. "I would imagine so." She says throwing it in the air before catching it with her left hand and putting it out.
Aro is still watching with the same excitement as before, rubbing his hands together gleefully. "I've seen in young Edward's memories that it's only possible for you to put out your flames, have you put that to the test."
"Yes, it was Carlisle that first came up with that theory and I helped him test his theory when he was helping me learn to control my affinity. It seems to be true that nothing can put it out if I don't want it to be put out"
"Truly fascinating, I look forward to seeing the way your gift developes," Aro says though his smile is already fading.
Aro sighs."So what do we do with you now?"
Edward and Alice stiffen. This is the part where shit hits the fan, Cole thinks. She doesn't want to turn her back on him as she backs up until she's standing beside Alice again. Alice immediately taking a hold of her hand.
"I don't suppose there's any chance that you've changed your mind?" Aro asks Edward hopefully. "Your talent would be an excellent addition to our little company."
Edward hesitates. "I'd... rather... not." He says as if he's choosing each word very carefully.
"Alice?" Aro asks, still hopeful. "Would you perhaps be interested in joining us?"
"No, thank you," Alice says.
"And the two of you, Bella? Mila" Aro raises his eyebrows.
Edward let's out a barely audible hiss and Alice looks far from pleased. Cole blinks, surely he can't mean that. She wonders if this is his idea of a sick joke.
It's Caius who breaks the silence."What?" he demands of Aro; his voice, though no more than a whisper, is flat.
"Caius, surely you see the potential," Aro chides him affectionately. "I haven't seen a prospective talent so promising since we found Jane and Alec. Can you imagine the possibilities of two such talents when they become one of us?"
"I'm humbled by your offer but I feel like I have to decline." Cole keeps her tone as respectful and genuine as she can, keeping any hint of irony out of her tone
"No, thank you," Bella's answer is barely more than a whisper, her voice breaking in fright.
Aro is clearly disappointed. "That's unfortunate. Such a waste," he sighs.
Edward hisses. "Join or die, is that it? I suspected as much when we were brought to this room. So much for your laws."
"Of course not." Aro blinks, astonished. "We were already convened here, Edward, awaiting Heidi's return. Not for you."
"Aro," Caius hisses. "The law claims them."
Edward glares at Caius. "How so?" he demands.
Caius points a finger to Bella. "She knows too much. You have exposed our secrets." He says before he points his finger at Cole. "She posses a threat to our kind with such unusually powerful magic, she could harm any vampire in this room."
His eyes don't leave Cole's face and she imagine him plotting her death, no she's not worth even that, she imagines him his head she's as good as dead. Unusually powerful is what sticks out to her, she's sure she read that fire affinities while not exactly common are hardly anything special. But it clicks into place, only she can put her fire out, no wonder Aro had taken such an interest in the details of her magic. Fire is the only to thing that can kill a vampire, you tear them to pieces and light them on fire, that's how you kill a vampire. If you light them on fire then they can put it out but not if it's impossible to put the fire out in the first place.
"There are a few humans in on your charade here, as well," Edward reminds him.
"Yes," he agrees. "But when they are no longer useful to us, they will serve to sustain us. That is not your plan for this one. If she betrays our secrets, are you prepared to destroy her? I think not. And who is to stop the other one from turning on you? Using the powers you have helped her build to tear you down." he scoffs.
"Nor do you intend to make her one of us," Caius continues. "Therefore, they are both vulnerabilities. Though it is true, for this, only their lives forfeit. You both may leave if you wish."
"That's what I thought," Caius says clearing getting a kick out of this.
Cole can't decide if she hates him or Jane more but she definitely hates them. Anger curling up her stomach but she keeps herself under control. She refuses to make any of this worse by losing control of her magic again.
"Unless..." Aro interrupts. He looks unhappy with the way the conversation had gone. "Unless you do intend to give them immortality?"
"Of course, I have the full intentions of turning Cole. It's been something that I've wanted to talk to Cole about for a long time now. When she is one of us we can truly be together." Alice says painting a beautiful picture of their life together with such a perfect amount of sincerity that it seems to be drawing Aro in.
He looks at Cole his eyes hopeful and she nods her head. "That's exactly what I want, there's nothing I want more." She says and she's not sure if it's the truth or not.
Edward meanwhile purses his lips, hesitating. "And if I do?"
Aro smiled, even happier now. "Why, then you would be free to go home and give my regards to my friend Carlisle." His expression turns hesitant. "But I'm afraid you would have to mean it."
Edward's lips tightened into a fierce line. He stares into Bella's eyes.
"Mean it," she whispers. "Please."
Say yes Edward, Cole finds herself thinking. Before she had never been sure what was right for Bella, she would have stood by her friend no matter what but now she's starting to think about becoming a vampire might be the best thing for Bella. She can't understand why Edward who can't seem to live without Bella wouldn't be more than willing to turn her.
Edward stares down at Bella with a tortured expression.
And then Alice intervenes stepping away from the group, moving forward towards Aro. Cole almost smiles and for a moment thinking there goes my girl, watching as she raises her hand. She doesn't say anything, and Aro meets her halfway and takes her hand with an eager, acquisitive glint in his eyes.
He bends his head over their touching hands, his eyes closing as he concentrates. Alice is motionless, her face blank. Edward's teeth snap together in frustration.
No one moves or makes a sound. Aro is frozen over Alice's hands. Each second seems to stretch out longer than the last one, so it feels like an eternity may be passing. Cole stand almost as still as the vampires around her, just waiting for them to say something.
He laughs, his head still bent forward. He looks up slowly, his eyes bright with excitement. "That was fascinating!"
Alice smiles dryly. "I'm glad you enjoyed it."
"To see the things you've seen - especially the ones that haven't happened yet!" He shook his head in wonder.
"But that will," she reminds him, voice calm.
"Yes, yes, it's quite determined. Certainly, there's no problem."
"Aro," Caius complained.
"Dear Caius," Aro smiles. "Do not fret. Think of the possibilities! They do not join us today, but we can always hope for the future. Imagine the joy young Alice alone would bring to our little household... Besides, I'm so terribly curious to see how Bella turns out! And think of the how young Mila's gift will develop"
Cole feels like she can breathe again, surprised that Aro seems so ready to let them leave. She hopes that someone does turn Bella. She doesn't know if that's what she wants yet but she thinks this should be Bella's choice. And if that's what Bella wants then she hopes Alice will stick to her word and change her.
"Then we are free to go now?" Edward asks in an even voice.
"Yes, yes," Aro says pleasantly. "But please visit again. It's been absolutely enthralling!"
"And we will visit you as well," Caius promises. "To be sure that you follow through on your side. Were I you, I would not delay too long. We do not offer second chances."
Edward's jaw clenched tight, but he nodded once.
"Ah, Felix." Aro smiled, amuses. "Heidi will be here at any moment. Patience."
"Hmm." Edward's voice has a new edge to it. "In that case, perhaps we'd better leave sooner than later."
"Yes," Aro agrees. "That's a good idea. Accidents do happen. Please wait below until after dark, though, if you don't mind."
"Of course," Edward agrees.
Cole doesn't want to have to spend another moment here than necessary. But she keeps her complaints to herself she'd rather have hours to wait than never be able to leave at all. At least now she knows that she's going home. She doesn't care how mad Leo will undoubtedly be at her, she can't wait to see him again. She hopes she doesn't end crying.
"And here," Aro adds, motioning to Felix. Felix comes forward at once, and Aro unfastens the grey cloak the huge vampire wore, pulling it from his shoulders. He tosses it to Edward. "Take this. You're a little conspicuous."
Edward put the long cloak on, leaving the hood down.
Aro sighs. "It suits you."
Edward chuckles, but breaks off suddenly, glancing over his shoulder. "Thank you, Aro. We'll wait below."
"Goodbye, young friends," Aro says, his eyes bright as he stares in the same direction.
"Let's go," Edward says, urgent now.
Demetri gestured that they should follow, and then sets off the way they had come in, the only exit by the look of things. Edward pulls Bella swiftly alongside him while Alice does the same thing with Cole. Cole wonders what's going on, panic at the unknown already starting to build. She can't take any more uncertainty, feeling like she's one set of bad news away from breaking down into tears.
"Not fast enough," she mutters.
Cole looks at her in confusion and fear trying to gauge the situation from her face. She only seemed chagrined. It's then that Cole first hears the rising babble of voice, coming from the antechamber. Her mind flashes back to what Alice had said about the Volturi's meals and she feels like she might vomit.
"Well this is unusual," a man's voice booms.
"So medieval," a shrill, female voice gushes back.
A large crowd is coming through the little door, filling up the smaller stone chamber, Demetri motioning for them to make room. They press their backs up against the wall to let them pass. The couple in front, Americans from the sound of them, glanced around themselves with appraising eyes.
"Welcome, guests! Welcome to Volterra!" She can hear Aro sing from the big turret room.
The rest of them, forty or more file in after the couple. Some study the setting like tourists, a few even stopping to snap pictures. Others look confused as if the story that had brought them here is no long adding up. Cole spots a small dark woman, in particular, walking more slowly than the other. She grips the rosary around her neck, touching someone now and then and asking a question in a language Cole doesn't recognise. No one seems to understand her, and with each attempt, she grows more panicked.
They're all going to die, Cole thinks and her stomach feels like it's filled with rocks. Alice glances at her face realising that Cole understands. They're going to die and their families are never going to know what happened. Their families are never going to get their bodies, they'll never have that closure. All those thoughts whirl around her head as she thinks about how they're going to suffer the death she had been so afraid of.
Alice is pulling her toward the door as quickly as she can. Cole can't stop the horrible images that flash through her head. She doesn't cry thought, she feels to shocked for that, a feeling she knows is completely unwarranted. Alice tries to pull her along eve faster now but it's still not fast enough. They through the ornate door at the end of the hallway before the screaming starts.
Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
Demetri leaves them in the cheerfully opulent reception area, where the woman Gianna is still at her post behind the polished counter. Bright, harmless music trickles in from hidden speakers. Those screams are still ringing through Cole's ears and this overly happy overly happy reception area feels even more macabre than it did before.
"Do not leave until dark," he warns them.
The world almost seems to fall away from Cole at this point as she finds herself staring at one fixed point on the wall. She feels strange like she's disconnected from not just the world around her but her body as well, like she's not a part of this word anymore. Time ticks by sluggishly and she doesn't know if it's minutes or hours that are passing, she doesn't even care any more.
She thinks she can hear something, a voice but it sounds so far away. She thinks the voice is calling her name but she can't concentrate on the words. She blinks in confusion straining to hear but the harder she tries the farther away the voice seems to be. She tries to reach for the voice in her mind, it feels like the last thing tethering her to this world but it just seems out of her reach.
Suddenly there's a sharp pain radiating through her shoulders. The shock of the pain pierces through her thick haze. She blinks rapidly coming back to earth, she feels like she's in her own body again and then she feels someone shaking her a little too roughly. It's Alice, it takes her a long second to realise her brain working slower than normal and it takes Alice a second longer to stop shaking her. Her cool hands not moving from Cole's shoulders and a look of relief crossing her face.
"What's the matter?" Cole asks confused her brain just catching up with her surroundings. "I just zoned out for a minute." She doesn't know how long she was out but a minute seems like a safe bet.
Alice laughs without humour. "A minute?" Her tone has a frantic edge to it. "Cole you were staring off like that for ten minutes before we tried to snap you out of it. I was sure it was just shock but then you wouldn't respond when I called your name. I was calling your name for almost ten minutes, I didn't know what to do, I wasn't sure if shaking you would even work." She admits taking a unesecary breath to calm herself.
"I'm sorry for worrying you." She says the events of today feeling so far away, the only reminder is a dull anxiety weighing on her chest, for now at least.
"I don't want you to apologise, I just don't want that to happen again. I know it's not your fault and it's probably just the shock but you really scared me."
Cole wants to apologise again but instead, she finds herself pulling Alice into a hug. Alice doesn't move at first stiff and unresponsive before she wraps her arms around Cole. Cole finds herself savouring the moment, feeling truly safe for the first time in a long time, inhaling Alice's sweet scent. I don't ever want to lose you again, please don't go, she thinks as she holds Alice tighter. I couldn't survive that, she thinks the thought leaving her with a sinking feeling.
Alice goes to move a moment later but Cole refuses to move, not caring how pathetic she's being. "Please don't let go, not yet." She whispers.
Cole lets herself sink into Alice's arm even further and for however long she's there forget about the outside world. She can hear the other talking but she tunes it out, her focus is on Alice, The feeling of her cool skin and how the cold seeps through Cole's clothes. She imagines resting her head against Alice chest where her heart is and listening to the emptiness where a heartbeat should be.
For a second she imagines the world where Alice's heart still beats, a world where they are both humans. In that world being together is the easiest thing they can do, in this world of Cole's imagination they grew up together and Cole's parents never died. In this world, they are allowed to get married and in this world, they grow old together.
"What was all that talk about singers?" Alice asks as Cole comes out her fantasy, still to her surprise snug in Alice's arms.
"La Tua Cantante," Edward says.
"Yes, that," Alice says, Cole is only half concentrating on the conversation more interested in hearing Alice's voice than the specifics of what she's saying.
"They have a name for someone who smells the way Bella does to me. They call her my singer - because her blood sings for me."
Cole doesn't want to move but she feels herself getting too comfortable, too attached. She wiggles just a little in Alice's arm before she's let go. She doesn't want to let go of Alice but she does. Moving until she's standing beside her, still within arms reach but not so close that they're touching.
She cringes wishing she was still in Alice's arms as Alec walks through the double doors. His eyes now a vivid ruby, his light grey suit is still spotless, leaving behind no evidence of his afternoon meal. She doesn't rush back into Alice's arms like she craves too but she moves closer to her, just for when.
"You're free to leave now," Alec tells them, his tone is warm now like he's speaking with old friends, it jars Cole more than the disgust that had previously coated his words. "We ask that you don't linger in the city."
Edward's voice is ice-cold. "That won't be a problem."
Alec smiled, nods, and disappears again.
"Follow the right hallway around the corner to the first set of elevators," Gianna says as Edward helps Bella to her feet. "The lobby is two floors down and exits to the street. Goodbye, now," she adds pleasantly.
Alice shoots her a dark look.
Cole stumbles a little as she walks at first, Alice catching her before she can trip, supporting most of her weight as they approach the elevator. They leave through a luxurious lobby, something in another place would have been beautiful to Cole but she keeps looking straight forward as if she has blinders on. The less of this place she has to remember the better.
The party is still going strong as they make it outside. The street lights only just coming on as they walk swiftly through the narrow, cobbled lanes. The sky is a dull, fading grey overhead, but the buildings crowded the streets so closely that it feels darker.
Cole is feeling so out of it that she doesn't notice Alice's absence until Bella points it out. She doesn't say anything trudging along, the walk is so much longer than she had expected it to be. She lets on a real sigh of relief as Edward leads them to the dark car, getting into the back of the with Bella. Cole only pauses for a moment before climbing into the passenger seat.
Alice is apologetic. "I'm sorry." She gestures vaguely towards the dashboard. "There wasn't much to choose from."
"It's fine, Alice," Edward responds. "They can't all be 911 Turbos."
Alice sighs wistfully. "I may have to acquire one of those legally. It was fabulous."
"I'll get you one for Christmas," Edward promises.
"Yellow," she tells him.
Cole leans back in her seat, she's starting to feel exhausted but she doesn't want to go to sleep; she's scared of what she'll see if she closes her eyes. She stares out of the window at the dark scenery not focusing on anything in particular. The bright lights at the airport in Florence help to wake her up and she feels better being able to change into a fresh set of clothes. A part of her wants to burn the old ones, not sure she'll ever be able to wear them again without thinking about today.
The plane ride to Rome is so short that she doesn't have to worry about falling asleep but her exhaustion catches up with her as she gets on the flight from Rome to Atlanta. She fights to keep her eyes open. She debating over asking the attendant to bring her a coffee when she feels Alice watching her.
"You should go to sleep, I'll wake you up when we land," Alice says turning to face her but Cole just shakes her head.
"Why not?" Alice asks softly.
Cole sighs not meeting her eyes at first, "I'm scared of what I might see if I close my eyes." She confesses her voice low.
"Well, I still think you need your sleep but I promise I'll wake you up if I think that you're having a nightmare," Alice promises her voice soft and reassuring.
Cole finds herself nodding along. She relaxes and just lets her eyes shut. She thinks Alice might say something else but she's not awake enough to make out what she's saying.
She's back in Volterra in her dreams, back in that hallway but this time she's alone. She starts running for the ornate doors but no matter how fast she runs, she doesn't get any closer to those doors. The hallway seems to stretch on forever and every time she thinks she's making progress the doors get farther and farther away.
She knows the screams are coming but it still shocks her as they start. It's worse this time, they seem to echo through the hallway. It's no use but she keeps running even as her legs are starting to shake. The screams are going getting louder and louder. She keeps running but her legs give way. She tries covering her ears to block out the screaming but it's so loud now that it doesn't even make a difference.
She feels like her head is going to explode as each scream pounds through her head. She's crying now, hot tears pouring down her face. She starts trying to crawl away in desperation now but it's getting her nowhere fast. She can barely make it a few feet before she has to clamp her hands over her ears again.
She wakes to Alice calling her name and tears in her. Tears that she wipes away quickly, pretending like they were never there. Alice doesn't say anything at first tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear, she doesn't push, waiting to see if Cole's going to say anything on her own.
"Are you alright? That must have been some dream."
"I'm okay. I wouldn't know, I can't remember it," she the lie slips out so easily that she doesn't correct herself.
Cole isn't sure if Alice believes her but she doesn't call her out if that's the case, just nodding her head.
Neither of them says anything else and Cole doesn't go back to sleep right away. The minutes stretching out in a comfortable silence. She slowly reaches her hand out until she takes a hold of Alice's, who give it a comforting squeeze. After that she lets herself go back to sleep.
This time she knows that she's dreaming this time. She's running through the woods, sunlight slipping through the cracks between the trees. She doesn't know why she's running but she knows two things; 1. Someone is chasing her and 2. There's no danger of being caught. She's smiling as she runs faster, she's faster than whoever's chasing after her.
She lets out peals of laughter, smirking as she looks over her shoulder. A part of her is surprised to see Alice running behind her, grinning from ear to ear but it also feels so natural that she doesn't question it. She opens her mouth to say something as the scene changes around her.
She's standing in front of a mirror now, gasping when she takes a second to check her reflection. She's much paler, her skin a perfect cream colour and all of her freckles are gone but that's not what shocks her the most. No, what shocks her the most is the large pair of golden eyes that stare back at her. She raises her hand up reaching it for the mirror but before she can touch it the scene around her is already changing again.
She's with Alice again, she doesn't know where they are but she feels content and Alice is looking at her like she's in love. I love you, she whispers against Alice's neck and she can't stop smiling. She doesn't know how long she'll have so she leans in and kisses Alice.
The scene changes again and this time she only gets flashes, a few seconds of each and she's gone. Flashes of kisses, dates and romance flashing leading to flashes of intimacy followed by one she thinks is a wedding. She's a vampire in most of them, the dream painting a beautiful picture of what her life could be with Alice.
She's hunting now, a deer, she feels the thrill of the hunt and as she sinks her teeth into its neck the scene is different; her meal isn't a deer anymore, it's a person. It changes again before she fully understand what happening and the body turns into an alley full of them
"How could you?" Alice is standing at the end of the alley her golden eyes wide with betrayal. "All of those people. Does that mean nothing to you?"
She can't speak staring down at her hand, they're coated in blood. She calls out for Alice but she's already gone and the scene has changed again. Everything comes to her in flashes again but this time they aren't painting her such a pretty picture. She's hunting humans this time and she has flashes of drinking from them. It changes again this one lasting longer like the first few, she's back in front of the mirror but this time a pair of crimson eyes is what stares back at her.
No, no; this can't be happening, she thinks as she stares at the mirror in mute horror. This couldn't happen, I would never. I wouldn't. I'm a good person, I could never kill anyone. Not everyone who becomes a vampire started off as a bad person, a voice whispers in the back of her mind. They were all normal people, normal people who probably never thought about killing another person. But being a vampire changes that, the thirst changes people so why are you any different, the voice whispers treacherously.
She wakes up on her own this time, she remembers this dream even more vividly than she remembers the last one. She doesn't say anything just staring out of the plane's window blankly. She wants to push it all aside as just a nightmare but she can't stop thinking about what that voice had said. It's true, at least it makes a lot of sense; it's not just bad people who become vampires and those good people go on to kill.
But they didn't have the Cullens or Carlisle, they didn't know they could survive without killing; she tries to argue back with herself. It's not like everyone Cullen has a spotless record, even the ones who had that support; they feel off the waggon and Edward lived like that for years. What makes you so different? You're not strong, you're too weak, you wouldn't be able to resist; a voice in the back of her head berates her. If you become a vampire, you'll probably lose yourself and become a monster.
She doesn't go back to sleep and she's awake as they land Atlanta. She's still awake as the sun begins to rise over Seattle's clouds. Her mind won't stop racing about thoughts of becoming a vampire; about becoming a monster and immortality. She can't stop about thinking about Leo and what it would do to him. She can feel Alice looking at her every so often but she never says anything, she just watches her for a few minutes before turning away. A heavy atmosphere hangs between the two of them, there's so much that the two need to talk about yet neither of them seems willing to breach the subject.
Cole is taken by surprise at the reception that's waiting for them at Sea-Tac airport and Bella seems just as surprised. She doesn't know what to think as she looks between the waiting Cullens, all of them there bar Rosalie and Emmett. She still can't tell if she's happy to see them or not. Jasper smiles at her when her gaze lingers on his face, she doesn't smile back but that doesn't seem to mind.
Carlisle and Esmé are waiting in a quiet corner far from the line for the metal detectors, in the shadow of a wide pillar. Cole doesn't move forward at first, lingering back as Bella and Edward approach the couple. Alice stays close by her side and after a moment she moves forward. She stops off by Jasper first though she doesn't know what to say.
"It's good to see you again," Jaspers says his eyes apologetic but she doesn't get the feeling he's saying that to make her feel better.
She nods. "I missed you, I missed all of you," she says not meeting his eyes at first.
"Well, this is us back for good. I would like it if we could still be friends, I would appreciate a second chance," he says sincerely giving her a small smile.
"I think we could that," she says giving him a small smile.
They talk for another minute or two before she goes over to the others who have grouped together. Like with Jasper she isn't sure what she wants to say but when Esmé pull her into a hug she realises that it doesn't matter. She had known it wasn't just Alice that she had missed but she only realises now how much she had missed Esmé.
"That was very brave of you," she says in Cole's ear.
She pulls Alice into a quick hug before looking between the two humans of the group, her eyes lingering over Bella. Who looks like she's ready to drop like she didn't catch moments sleep on the plane.
"She's dead on her feet," Esmé scolds Edward. "Let's get her home."
"I'll get you home," Alice says to Cole quietly.
Neither of them says another word on the way out to the parking garage. The silence lasting the way as Alice drives Cole back home. Cole just stares out of the window silently, she's starting to feel excited about seeing Leo. It feels like it's been so long since she last saw him; she doesn't even care about how mad he does not doubt going to be.
"Goodbye Alice," she says as they stop outside her house.
She gets out of the car before Alice can say anything. She knows they have so much that they need to talk about. But she doesn't want to, not yet at least. Alice doesn't try to say anything just watching Cole from the car. Not driving away until she's safely inside.
Cole shuts the door behind her with a soft click, not moving at first. She can hear music coming from the kitchen where her brother undoubtedly is. She walks quietly through to the kitchen, not saying anything at first as she watches her brother make a sandwich with his back to her. She clears her throat, his face going through a multitude of emotions as he turns to face her, anger and relief being the most prominent.
"What the hell did you think-"
She's surprised by the relief she feels just seeing him, I thought I was never going to see you again, she thinks but she's never going to say that. She's already throwing herself at him before he can finish his sentence. He barely manages to keep his balance as she puts her around him. She can't believe that she's crying but it's a build of all the emotions, the good and the bad. It's the fear and anxiety spilling out but also the relief and before she knows it, she's sobbing into his shoulder.
"Hey, what's the matter? What's wrong?" He asks the anger already seeped out his tone, he rubs her back gently wondering what's the cause for such a strong emotional reaction.
"I'm just happy to see you and I'm sorry for worry you." She says still crying.
He's still surprised but he doesn't stop rubbing her back. She's never been one to use tears to get out of trouble so he knows she's being genuine with him. Though he can't help but feel like he's missing something.
"Take a minute to calm down and I'll make some coffee, then we can talk. Okay?" He asks his tone firmer this time.
She nods her head as she wipes her tear. She's feeling a little embarrassed, knowing how weird that must have been. She dumps her bag on the floor as she takes a seat at the table, taking a few calming breaths so she doesn't start crying again. Once she's calm again she taps her fingers against the table waiting for her coffee.
"Now explain." he says setting her coffee down in front of her.
She takes a sip giving her more time before she has to answer. "I can't tell you everything-"
"Cole," he interrupts her. "I don't want to have to act like your father because I'm not especially with what little time before you go to college. But if you think you can vanish for days and come back with half backed excuses then you're going to have another thing coming. I want to treat you like the adult but while you're living here, you can't just go off the rails."
"I know that and I don't want to put you in an awkward place. But things are complicated, I'm willing to accept responsibility but I don't feel it's right to divulge other people's problems. I can promise you that no ones in danger or in trouble and their parents know about it." She says looking at him hopefully.
He seems to debate it before he nods. "I'll accept that but I still want you to explain to my why you want. Leave in the blanks you need to but why did you have to go?"
"Well Alice Cullen came back, you see Bella has gotten into extreme sports and she was under the misunderstanding that Bella had been hurt. She hasn't been hurt by the way. Long story short Edward was a bit of trouble and Alice needed Bella to come with her. So I ended up going along as moral support because I didn't think it would be good for her to see her ex without back up." She looks down at her cup, she knows just how weak her story is but it's the closest to the truth that she feels comfortable with.
"So you went just to support Bella?" He asks evenly.
She nods, "I thought she would need me so I went. I'll take the full blame for my what I did and I'll deal with the consequences of my actions. But I'm not going to apologise if that's what you're hoping for because I believe that I did the right thing." She says maintaining eye contact because she means it. She would never have been able to live with herself if she hadn't gone.
"Okay," he pauses like he's trying to think of just how he should word this. "Like I said the last thing I want is to have to treat you like a child. You scared me out of your mind, you better not pull a stunt like that ever again." He says starting to stand up.
"Wait, aren't I grounded? Or something?" She asks confused, Leo might be just her brother that hasn't stopped her from grounding her in the past as much as she knows how much he hates it.
"Not this time. I trust you and I know you had the best intentions at heart. But you're not completely off the hook, consider yourself on probation. I swear if you step out of line again, you'll be in for it." He says his tone stern, he doesn't sound like himself.
She nods, getting into any more trouble is the last thing that she wants. She just wants the last of her senior year to be as event free as possible. It would be nice for her to have some time to just breathe and be a teenager for once. She doesn't think she's going to be lucky enough, she stills has her feelings for Alice to sort out and there's the impending need for her to become a vampire now.
"So are the Cullens coming back? And if they are do you think Bella's going to give Edward a second chance? I mean, you don't go to so much trouble for someone you don't care about." Leo asks snapping Cole out of her thoughts.
"I know they're back for good and I haven't had the chance to ask her but I have a feeling they're getting back together." She says as Leo sets as sandwich down in front of her.
"I know it's not really my business but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not and I'm sure Bella's dad probably feels the way too. I mean I wouldn't be happy if some guy broke your heart and then months later you go and bail him out of trouble." He says and she wonders if he still thinks she has a thing for Jasper.
"Well of all the things you have to worry about, that won't be one of them. I would never go through so much trouble for a guy." She says confidently but I would do it for a girl, she thinks taking a bite of her sandwich.
"Good besides as old as this is going to make me sound, you are still young and it's good for you to focus on school and not dating or boys. You get to enjoy New York without having to deal with a boyfriend and I get to sleep at night knowing that you won't be out getting pregnant." He chats away casually as he eats his own sandwich.
She tries not to squirm in her seat uncomfortably. She wishes that people didn't just assume you were straight until you say otherwise. She's always meant to broach the subject with her brother, dip her toes in before she actually comes out but she's always chickened out. You could tell him now, she thinks, he's already mad at you about other things so this will be the last thing he's worried about.
"While we're both here, there's something I'd actually like to talk to you about." She says before she can change her mind. "It's nothing bad, I promise this isn't me dropping another bombshell on you."
"Sure thing kiddo," he says as his phone beeps. "Just give me to answer this," He says as he checks his phone.
"So who is it? Is someone inviting you for a study session?" She picking at her food.
"Mia, she's one of my classmates. But she's not inviting me to study, she's actually inviting me out for lunch and a movie before my shift at work. And I think she wants to grab some drinks after my shift too, so I wouldn't be back until at least noon." He looks hesitant as he stares down at his phone.
She's never heard the name Mia before or rather she doesn't remember the mention of any Mia, her brother has so many friends that it's hard to keep up. She can tell though just in the way he said her name that he likes her, a lot. She's can also tell by the way he won't say it that he really must want to go.
"I'll just check her that I can't make it and then you can tell me whatever it is that you need to. Then we can just spend a little time together before I go to work" He says as he starts typing into his phone.
"Don't. I mean you don't have to do that. I think you deserve a break so I think you should go with her."
"Are you sure?" He says trying not to sound overly eager.
"I'm sure besides I won't be any fun tonight. I'm actually pretty tired so I was going to take a nap." She lies casually.
"As long as you're sure," he says still texting as he rises from his chair. "Look I know I said you aren't grounded but I'd prefer if you didn't go anywhere tonight. I want you home for a few days before your dashing off back to Bella's."
"That's fine, besides I don't think I'll be staying with Bella so much now that she's feeling better." She calls after Leo as he dashes up the stairs.
She sighs pushing her half eaten sandwich aside, she doesn't have any appetite anymore. She had really wanted to talk to him today, to come out but that's not something she wants to shout to him as she's out the door.
"Do you still want to talk before I go?"
"Nah, you just go and have fun. It's nothing important anyway so we can just talk about it later." She says as he slips back into the kitchen
"Alright, but before I forget," he says looking through his wallet. "I forgot to go grocery shopping so just order yourself some takeout." He says leaving a twenty-dollar bill before he heads out.
She sits at the table listening as the door shuts behind him, tapping her finger against the table impatiently. She sits like this for a few minutes but it feels so strange to be alone, it feels like she's barely spent five minutes away from Bella in months, the silence feels almost deafening. She already wants to leave the house but she has no intention of breaking her word and she's not sure where she would go; not to Bella's and she's not ready to face Alice again so soon.
She finds herself pacing to agitated to read or watch a movie. She doesn't have the patience for drawing now so she doesn't even bother. Eventually, she just makes herself a fresh cup of coffee and heads outside to the backyard. She feels a little better just being outside listening to the wind.
She doesn't set out to practice magic, at first she just projects enough heat through her skin to keep herself warm. It's a shocking feeling, she hasn't felt so warm in a while. But after a while she just starts to get bored, letting of little fires in her palms and letting them spread up her arms like gloves. She goes right up to her shoulder seeing how long she can keep the fire going before it becomes a strain. The answer is a few minutes for her whole arm, the less fire, the longer she can keep it going.
She experiments with the size of her fireballs, this takes her a lot more focus as she slowly increases the size. After several minutes of strain, she has a ball about the size of a volleyball. She can only maintain it for a few seconds and it goes out before she can do anything with it.
It's already starting to get dark by the time she heads back inside, feeling tired but pleased with herself. She just ends up ordering Chinese food putting the change aside to give back to her brother later. Her good doesn't last long, loneliness creeping up on her as she sits down to eat dinner. You should be used to being alone, things were like this before Bella came, she thinks but can't bear it for long.
She just leaves her food half-finished and goes to take a shower. She doesn't bother fully drying her hair when she comes out, just braiding it quickly. She's tempted to call Alice before she goes to bed but she pushes the thought aside heading through to her room. She's still thinking about it as she falls asleep.
"Wake up," a gentle voice says and Cole can feel cold hands on her shoulder.
"No. I don't wanna," she says at first, thinking this is part of a dream, bolting upright when she realises that it's not.
"Hey, it's just me. The last thing you need to do is freak out and burn your house down." The voice says and Cole breathes a sigh of relief realising it's Alice.
"What the hell are you doing here? You almost gave me a heart attack. Seriously, who sneaks into a person room when they're sleeping." She says as Alice turns on the light for her.
"Well Edward for one," Alice jokes with a smile before her expression turns more serious. "Bella called a meeting and we all thought that you should be there too.
"A meeting? What time is it?" Cole asks as she rubs her eyes.
"Almost two am," Alice says. Cole looks like she's about ready to tell her where to go but Alice interrupts before she has a chance. "I promise you it is very important and it's going to mean a lot to her if you come."
Cole sighs as she closes her eyes. "Fine but on two conditions. One, I have to be back before my brother notices and two, you have to make a cup of coffee while I get dressed."
"Thank you, Cole," Alice says enthusiastically zipping out of the room before Cole has the chance to blink.
As tired as she is, she already feels better than she did earlier just knowing there's another person in the house. She wants to stay in bed but she knows Alice will be finished in the kitchen before she knows it. She just throws the first thing she finds on, jeans and a hoodie. She brushes through her hair quickly and grabs her shoes before heading downstairs. Alice is already waiting for her with a travel mug in hand.
"Like trash, I know." Cole interrupts her accepting the coffee.
"I was going to say you look beautiful. Take a drink and tell me, how's the coffee? I know that you like it black but I wasn't sure how strong to make it." Alice says waiting eagerly waiting for Cole to take a drink.
Cole blows on it before taking a drink. She regrets the large mouthful she takes, wrinkling her nose at the taste.
"Did I do something wrong?" Alice asks sounding a little disappointed
She shakes her head. "It's not bad but it's very strong. It's like rocket fuel but I like," she says taking another drink as if to prove she's telling the truth.
"Excellent," Alice beams. "Now let's get going," Alice says as she leads Cole out to the car.
With the way, Alice drives it's a short ride to the Cullens. They both sit in silence, Cole still not awake enough to make intelligent conversation. She makes her way through the entire travel mug before they arrive. The caffeine starting to take effect as she gets out of the car. She thanks Alice for opening her door as they enter The Cullen house.
She remembers the brief seconds she was in here and they feel like a lifetime ago. The house already seems alive again and they haven't even been back for a full day. Alice leads her through to the dining room where everyone is sitting at the polished dining table. Cole sits down in one of the free seats and Alice takes the seat on her right, Jasper sitting on her left. Esmé smiles at Cole from across the table and she smiles back.
Carlisle nods toward Bella. "Now that everyone is here, the floor is yours."
"Well," she pauses. "I'm hoping Alice has already told you everything that happened in Volterra?"
"Everything," Alice assures her.
"And on the way?"
"That, too," she nods.
"Good," Bella sighs with relief. "Then we're all on the same page."
Cole's up to speed now, she doesn't know what Bella is trying to pull but this is about her becoming a vampire. She looks around the table as the rest of the Cullens wait for what Bella has to say next.
"So, I have a problem," She begins. "Alice promised the Volturi that I would become one of you that we both would." She says glancing at Cole. "They're going to send someone to check, and I'm sure that's a bad thing - something to avoid."
"I can't speak for Cole on this but I can speak for myself. And so, now, this involves you all. I'm sorry about that." Bella looks around the table stopping to look at everyone for a second or two "But, if you don't want me, then I'm not going to force myself on you, whether Alice is willing or not."
As Esmé opens her mouth to say something as Cole sits up straighter in her chair. Bella holds up one finger to stop her.
"Please, let me finish. You all know what I want. And I'm sure you know what Edward thinks, too. I think the only fair way to decide is for everyone to have a vote. If you decide you don't want me, then... I guess I'll go back to Italy alone. I can't have them coming here."
Cole winces at thought of Bella going back to Italy at all, even more so the idea of her going alone. Edward seems to agree, a growl rising in Edward's chest.
"Taking into account, then, that I won't put any of you in danger, either way, I want you to vote yes or no on the issue of me becoming a vampire."
"Just a minute," Edward interrupts."I have something to add before we vote."
This should be good Cole thinks rubbing her temples. She can't imagine this conversation ending in anything but an argument, no matter its outcome. She is however confused about why she's here, she doesn't see why she would get a vote, a thought that she keeps to herself.
"About the danger, Bella's referring to," he continues. "I don't think we need to be overly anxious." He says his expression animated, setting his free hand on the shining table and leaning forward.
"You see," he explains, looking around the table while he speaks, "there was more than one reason I didn't want to shake Aro's hand there at the end. There's something they didn't think of, and I didn't want to cine them in." He grins.
"Which was?" Alice prods, her expression sceptical to say the least.
"The Volturi are overconfident, and with good reason. When they decide to find someone, it's not really a problem. Do you remember Demetri?" He glances down at Bella.
She shudders something that he takes as a yes.
"He finds people - that's his talent, why they keep him.
"Now, the whole time we were with any of them, I was picking their brains for anything that might save us, getting as much information as possible. So I saw how Demetri's talent works. He's a tracker - a tracker a thousand times more gifted than James was. His ability is loosely related to what I do, or what Aro does. He catches the... flavour? I don't know how to describe it... the tenor... of someone's mind, and then he follows that. It works over immense distances. But after Aro's little experiments, well..." Edward shrugs.
"You think he won't be able to find me," Bella says flatly.
He's smug. "I'm sure of it, I'm sure he couldn't find either of you." He says glancing at Cole for a moment. He relies totally on that other sense. When it doesn't work with you, they'll all be blind."
"Wait." Cole speaks up," your brilliant plan is to just hide her? Because you have a theory that Demetri won't be able to find. Are you serious?" Cole asks raising an eyebrow, she can't believe he would risk Bella's life with just a theory to go on.
"Of course, Alice will be able to tell when they're planning a visit, and I'll hide you. They'll be helpless," he says with fierce enjoyment. "It will be like looking for a piece of straw in a haystack!"
He and Emmett exchange a glance and a smirk; that leaves Cole shaking her head and muttering 'straight boys' under her breath, something that they both pointedly ignore.
"But they can find you," Bella reminds him.
"And I can take care of myself."
Emmett laughed, and reaches across the table toward his brother, extending a fist.
"Excellent plan, my brother," he says with enthusiasm.
Edward stretching out his arm to smack Emmett's fist with his own.
"No," Rosalie hisses.
"Absolutely not," Bella agrees.
"Nice." Jasper's voice was appreciative.
"Idiots," Alice mutters.
"I second Alice's point. It's the stupidest plan I've ever heard," Cole adds bluntly.
Esmé doesn't say anything but the glare she gives Edward makes it clear which side she's on. Why are woman always so much smarter than men? Cole thinks or smarter than teenage boy, she amends in her head.
"All right, then. Edward has offered an alternative for you to consider,"Bella says coolly. "Let's vote."
"I just need to interject, I suppose I can see why I'm here but what I don't see is why I would get a vote," Cole says honestly.
Bella opens her mouth to say something but Esmé beats her to it. "I know we haven't always acted like it but you're a part of this family just the same as Bella is. And as part of this family, I believe that you deserve a vote." She says looking around the table as if she's daring anyone to say, someone, to disagree with her. When no ones does she smiles, "see? And no one else objects to you having a say."
Bella looks to Edward first just wanting to get him out-of-the-way. "Do you want me to join your family?"
"Not that way. You're staying human."
Bella nods once, keeping her blank as she moves on.
"Yes," he says, voice grave.
Rosalie hesitates, biting down on her perfect bottom lip. "No."
Cole would be lying if she said she was surprised by Rosalie's answer. Watching Bella manage to keep her face blank, turning her head to move on, but Rosalie holds up both her hand's palms forward
"Please, just let me explain," she pleads. "I don't mean that I have any aversion to you as a sister. It's just... this is not the life I would have chosen for myself. I wish there had been someone there to vote no for me."
Bella nods slowly and turns to Emmett.
"Hell, yes!" He grins. "We can find some other way to pick a fight with this Demetri."
Cole just knows that it's her turn and she suddenly wishes it wasn't. She already knows her answer, the answer that she believes is best for Bella, and not the answer that's best for her. Maybe it's the selfish part of her that wishes it was anyone else turn.
Cole sighs licking her lip. "I'm not going to sit here and claim that I know what's best for you but I think at the end of the day, this should be your decision. So I vote yes." She answers pointedly not looking in Edward's direction.
Bella looks to Esmé now.
"Yes, of course, Bella. I already think of you as part of my family."
"Thank you, Esmé," Bella murmurs as she turns toward Carlisle.
Bella is nervous now, wishing that she had asked for Carlisle to vote first. She's sure that this is the vote that matters most, the vote that counts as more than any majority.
Carlisle isn't looking at Bella. "Edward," he says
"No," Edward growls. His jaw is strained tight, his lips curling back from his teeth.
"It's the only way the makes sense," Carlisle insists. "You've chosen not to live without her, and that doesn't leave me any choice.
Edward drops Bella's hand, shoving away from the table before stalking out of the room snarling under his breath. Cole isn't paying attention after that, staring at the dining room table blankly. She knows it's going to be her turn for real soon, her turns to decide whether to become a vampire and she isn't ready. She doesn't have an answer, she doesn't think she has an answer; her mind is overrun with all the reasons not to become a vampire.
Edward snarls in fury, snapping Cole out of her daze. She blinks looking around the room, watching as Alice shakes her head quickly, looking panicked. She puts her attention into the conversation trying to pick up on what's she's missed.
"Carlisle?" Bella turns to look at him.
Edward grabs Bella's face in his hand, forcing her to look at him. His other hand is out palm toward Carlisle.
Carlisle ignores that. "I'm able to do it," he answers the question. Cole just wishes she knew what the question was about but after he finishes speaking, it clicks into place."You would be in no danger of me losing control."
"Sounds good," Bella says.
"Hold on," Edward says between his teeth. "It doesn't have to be now."
"There's no reason for it not to be now," Bella says, the words coming out distorted.
"I can think of a few."
"Of course you can," Bella says sourly. "Now let go of me."
He lets go of her, folding her arms across his chest. "In about two hours, Charlie will be here looking for you. I wouldn't put it past him to involve the police."
Cole hates even admitting it to herself but she thinks Edward is right. Turning Bella now seems like the worst and most conspicuous thing the Cullens could do. She doesn't say it but she thinks Bella should, until after graduation at least.
"All three of them." Bella bites back but she's frowning.
"I know you don't want to hear this but I think Edward's right," she says keeping her face blank, making sure she doesn't wince at the look of betrayal that momentarily crosses Bella's face.
It stings but she knows it's the right thing to do. It's the worst move the Cullens could make and she knows it and she thinks Bella knows it too, even if she won't admit it. But if they waited until Bella left for college well that just ties everything up in a nice little bow. Bella Swan who clearly never liked Forks leaves for college and then never comes back. It's not something that would be hard to swallow. Sure, it wouldn't be easy on Charlie but neither would Bella disappearing out of the blue."
"In the interest of remaining inconspicuous," Edward says, still talking through his gritted teeth, but he's looking at Carlisle now, "I suggest that we put this conversation off, at the very least until Bella finishes high school, and moves out of Charlie's house."
"That's a reasonable request, Bella," Carlisle points out.
Cole watches Bella, she can see the other girl is thinking everything through in her head. She just hopes that Bella won't be too stubborn to do the right thing. Charlie deserves better than that and she hopes Bella not only knows it but gives him that.
Bella purses her lips. "I'll consider it. I should probably go home soon but we still have something that we need to talk about while we're all here."
Cole knows exactly what she means; getting out of her seat like she's going to flee at a moments notice. All eyes are on her in a moment and it makes her want to flee.
"I know what the Volturi said and the last thing I want to do is put any more in danger but my answer is no." She says, eyes firmly planted on the floor.
"What?" Bella asks like she doesn't believe what she just heard.
"I said no. I don't want to become a vampire, I want to stay human." She says looking up, all eyes are still on her and she chokes up. "I know that all things considered that I should explain myself. But I can't, not now at least and I'm sorry; I think I should just go." She says turning to walk away before anyone can say anything to her.
"I'll take you home," Alice says following behind her.
Alice takes the lead, taking Cole out through the back, hiding her brother destruction of the living room. On the car ride back to Cole's they don't say a word, the silence hangs between the heavily. It's not like there's nothing to be said, there's so much that needs to be said, so many things they need to sort out between them.
"Won't your brother know you snuck out if you go in through the front door?" Alice asks as they pull up outside her house.
"No, he's not home," Cole says as she opens the passenger door.
"Wait," Alice says grabbing her arm.
"What Alice?" Cole asks sounding tired as she turns back to look at Alice.
"We need to talk, I know it and so do you. We can't keep avoiding this forever."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Cole says blankly.
"Us," Alice says not bothering to hide the hurt from her tone. "We need to talk about us."
Cole doesn't say anything for a long moment. "I know and you're right, we do need to talk. But not today." Cole says getting out of the car, not looking back as she walks into her house.
There are a million things that Alice wants to say to Cole but she doesn't say any of them. She wants to go after Cole but she doesn't move. She just sits there watching as the girl she loves walks away and she just lets her. She can't stop herself from waiting until Cole is safely inside to leave but she doesn't wait for a second longer.
Cole already has tears in her eyes before the door shuts behind her. They're coming so fast that her vision is blurred as she stumbles up the stairs. She's right, her brother isn't home so she doesn't have to worry about him catching her crying. Not like she cares about that now, she just wants to go to sleep so she doesn't feel the ache in her chest anymore. Curling up in bed as the tears pour down her cheeks.
Chapter 17: Epilogue
A part of Cole wants to avoid Alice for as long as she can, she's dreading the conversation they need to have. While the other half just wants to get it over with. The longer you leave it the harder it's going to get, she can hear her dad telling her. She had never admitted it while he was alive but the older she gets the more she realises how right he had been.
It clings to her thoughts all day, she can't think about anything else. It's the first thing she thinks about when she wakes up afternoon as she stares blankly up at her ceiling. She can't even bring herself to care about missing her first day back at school. She lays in bed for at least a half an hour, wondering if there's any point in getting out of bed. It doesn't feel like there but she drags herself out of bed eventually.
The house feels emptier than even as she pads downstairs, a message flashing on the house phone. She already knows that it's Leo before she listens to it, of course, he won't be back home until late, it's something about an important paper and a study group but she's barely listening.
The day drags by slowly as she tries to make up her mind, after all, Alice might not share her dread. But she has so much to think about and so many things that she wants to say to Alice, all the thing she thought she would never get to say.
Just do it today, she thinks knowing that's the advice both of her parents would be giving her. Well, she might be at school so I should wait until school gets out, it's a weak excuse even to her but she runs with it. She takes a shower again like she's trying to kid herself that she's actually got something done today.
Once she's dried and she just puts her pyjamas back on before she heads back downstairs. She puts her favourite Nirvana CD on, turning it up to full blast, trying to drown out the silence. It works but it doesn't stop the house from feeling so empty. She heats up some Chinese food that she ends up not eating and before she knows it, it's almost five o'clock. She still needs to get dressed but she calls Alice first so she can't change her mind later.
"Alice, it's me," Cole says as the other girl answer the phone.
"Cole," Alice says sounding happier that Cole had expected.
"I want to talk to you, I know there are some things we need to talk through and I'd like to do it in person."
"Of course. Don't go anywhere, I'll come and pick you up."
"See you soon," Cole says hanging up.
She knows Alice won't be long, scribbling a note on the off-chance her brother gets back while she's away and scrambling upstairs to change. She slips into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt throwing on a plaid shirt and leaving her hair down. She doesn't bother brushing her hair, pulling on her old converse as she heads downstairs. She grabs her keys and she's out the door, Alice already waiting for her.
"I hope I didn't keep you waiting for too long," Cole apologises as she climbs into the car.
She doesn't look at Alice at first as she puts on her seatbelt, dragging the moment out before she lets herself look at Alice. She looks beautiful but she always looks beautiful and she's always going to looking this beautiful. She's always going to be the brightest and most brilliant person Cole has ever known. Cole is always going to love her, she's always going to be in love with Alice but she doesn't know if they can be together again.
"I was only waiting for a minute, it's okay. Do you want something? I could grab you something to eat or a coffee," Alice says and it feels like she's trying to drag this out as well, maybe without her visions, she's just as nervous as Cole.
"I'm not sure that's a good idea, this isn't exactly a date." She says but she can't meet Alice's eyes.
"I know this is serious but I'm worried about you." Alice pauses like she's not sure how Cole is going to react, "you're a lot smaller than the last time I saw you, you're too thin."
In the end, the worry in Alice's eyes is too much and she caves. They make a quick stop, grabbing her a sandwich and a black coffee before they start driving again. Cole doesn't know where they're going but she doesn't care so she doesn't ask. They don't say a word either, the only sound is Cole's eating. They stop a not far outside of town limits.
"I wasn't sure where to talk but I thought this would feel private enough," Alice says as she brings to the car to a halt.
"This is fine." Cole says sitting her half-finished coffee on the dashboard, "I missed you so much when you were gone. I thought that I was never going to love someone else the way that I love you and even now, I don't know if I can."
"I am so sorry Cole. I never stopped thinking about you, I missed you every single day and I want to make it up to you." She says, her voice soft as she reaches out for Cole's hand but she snatches her hand away.
"I need some air," Cole says grabbing her coffee and climbing out of the car.
She chugs down the last of her coffee as she takes a seat on the hood of the car. It's starting to get cold but she doesn't bother heating herself up. Alice waits a moment before she climbs out of the car, joining Cole on the hood of the car.
"Look, I believe you. I believe that you're sorry and that you want to make thing alright again but that's not possible Alice. You destroyed me, Alice, I was nothing without you, I felt like I could never be whole again without you." She doesn't look at Alice, staring at her hands clasped tightly in her lap.
"I made a mistake and I hurt you b-"
She holds up a hand, "but it's not just that. Alice, you have so much faith in Edward and Bella, in this grand love of theirs. You're so sure that they belong together and that Bella should become a vampire so they can be together. You believe in them so much but you don't seem to have that kind of faith in us."
"I know you may not have wanted to leave but you go with your coven, I get that. But you're an adult, no one made you break up with me and no one made you lose contact with me that was your choice. Before I thought we could have survived anything, I would have stayed with you no matter what." She looks up at Alice this time.
She looks at Alice and she knows even now, she still loves her. It feels so good being so close to her, it's intoxicating. It would be so easy for her to forgive Alice like nothing had ever happened. It would be so easy to go back to the way things used to be.
"I do believe in us, I never doubted how I felt about you for a second. I was blinded, I didn't have my visions and I thought at first that a life without vampires would be the best thing for you. I understand if you need space but I love you, Cole."
Cole sighs sliding off the car, she walks forward stopping with her back to Alice."I love you too and I think I'm always going to love you. But we can't be together Alice. I lost myself without you and it took me so long to feel alive again, I still don't feel like myself. It was like when my parents died, Alice. If I lose you again, I don't think I could survive that and I need to learn to survive on my own."
"I understand, I know this is a long shot but can we be friends?" Alice asks her voice cracking halfway through.
"I think we can do that but I need some space, just to get my head around everything that's happened." She says wiping the tears from her eyes before she turns to look at Alice again.
"I'll give you whatever you need, as much space or time, anything."
It's easier to use this affinity this time maybe because it's she wants to get closer to Alice but she doesn't think about it much. It's that same feeling like she's falling out of focus for a split second and then she's standing in front of Alice who is still sitting on the hood of the car. Her eyes have gone wide as she stares at Cole.
"I'd ask how you did that but it must be one of your affinities, I'm sorry that I missed that," Alice says softly more to herself that to Cole. "Can I give you a ride home?"
"I don't think that's a good idea," Cole says softly as she pulls Alice into a hug.
It feels so right being in Alice's arms, she never wants to let her go. Alice hugs her back holding her tightly. She really doesn't want this to end but it has to, it's too tempting. If she doesn't let go then her will power with evaporating and she'll be begging Alice to take her back. She takes a few deep breaths before they pull apart making sure she won't cry.
"Goodbye Alice." She says before she turns to talk away, she only walks a few steps before she makes use of her power imagining her familiar living room.
She feels ready to burst into tears again as she arrives in her living room, she could just curl up in her bed again and feel sorry for herself. Of course, her brother isn't home so she doesn't have to hide it from anyone. No, this isn't the time to throw yourself another pity party, she thinks.
"I'm done feeling sorry for myself," she says out loud before she downs the glass of water. "Now things are going to change," she says to herself.
I'm not going to be weak anymore. I am a witch and witches are stronger than this, I can do better than this she thinks to herself. It's time to take control of my magic, of my life; she thinks refusing to let herself cry again. She lights a small fire in her backyard, she burns some sketches at first before she burns the most important thing now, the clothes that she had worn to Italy.
"I can do this," she says starting to sound sure of herself.