“Do you know what I see, Bella? What I know to be absolutely true?” Alice’s voice called to me as it always did, soft and quiet.
The candles in her room flickered, soothing me as they seemed to reflect off of her skin from where we sat on her bed. This wasn’t real, couldn’t be real, and yet my mind was replaying a memory wrapped within a dream.
“What is it?” My answering prompt was always the same, always whispered like my voice would cause her to shatter.
“You’ll be with us, Bella. For a very long time.” This was spoken right into my ear, her voice so light it could have been a bell and yet to me it was like a gunshot.
She was trying to comfort me, to warn me, or something in between. No matter what, I knew what came next.
The candles smoked, the haven of her room dissolved and so did she. I was left in the darkness, the cold, screaming until life dragged me back into it.
That last shout of her name stuck in my throat as I opened my eyes to Charlie’s worried face, his gaze tracking over me until I gave a shaky half smile.
“I’m ok.” We both knew it was a lie.
This was the seventh day in a row he’d helped me wake up from nightmares. A full week since my life fell apart, since they all left me. Pain shot through my chest as I realized, all consuming and now an old friend. My smile must have turned to a grimace because Charlie was suddenly standing with his arms crossed tight against his chest.
“Are you sure you’re ready to go back to school?” I’d spent the week at home, after the trauma and a fever that had spiked the first night and into the next few days. Charlie was willing to give me more, something I was tempted to take him up on, but I knew I needed to try to. I had to at least seem like my heart was still beating in a body that now feels so hollow.
“Yes. I can’t just keep skipping, dad. I’ll be fine.” Another lie, something we were both growing used to accepting in the face of this.
He stood, watching me for a moment more before finally nodding his agreement. I knew Charlie was happy I was trying but I also knew how much he understood what it was going to take from me. What it could do to me to have to go back where I first saw them and where I saw them everyday.
After he left the room, I went to the computer to do what I had done every morning since they left.
I wrote to Alice.
Everything feels wrong. The fever I mentioned passed but I feel off, like something changed.
Maybe it did, maybe you were all keeping me together more than I even realized.
I’m going back to school today. Hopefully it won’t be too bad but I’m still not sure how I can handle not seeing you there. Not seeing you all.
Maybe I’m just too far gone to really notice.
Short, as usual, and to the heart of the matter. I knew if Alice read them, if she knew the truth, she would come back to me. No matter what Edward had said to get them to go, I knew she would come back.
She had to.
It wasn’t Edward that I longed for. I miss him, just as I missed them all, but the anger and hurt outweighs anything else. It wasn’t until I whispered her name into the dark the second night that I realized just how broken my heart was.
For her. Over her. Always her.
I loved Edward, I always would, but there was something about his charm and the way he was my first anything that made me cling to him. I loved him as I loved Jasper, as I loved Emmet and Rosalie, as I loved Carlisle and Esme.
I loved Alice in a way that eclipsed the sun. I needed her, craved her, everything in me cried out in pain each moment I realized I didn’t know if I would see her again.
Overkill? Probably, but I was never one to do any emotion half assed.
I think it was part of why Edward did what he did with such cruel intensity. He could feel it, he could sense I would start moving away from him.
So for my physical safety, and the safety of his own heart, he decided to break mine.
I wonder if she really knew what he had done. She had left already when he spoke to me, taken off to Alaska to help Jasper with his pain, and Edward knows how to find ways to trip up her visions.
With a sigh, I pushed away from the desk and went to get dressed, looking for actual clothes to wear instead of the oversized shorts and shirt I’d been wearing for a week.
“Be careful today, Bella.” Charlie’s voice rang out from downstairs as she set off for work. “It’s the first night of the full moon. Even people in small towns like this can go a little crazy for those three days.”
He meant me. I knew it, he knew it, anyone within hearing range knew it. Still, it was nice to hear his worry and I knew the cases he was working on lately were hitting him a little hard. Kids going missing in the city, a body found in the forest just outside town that seems to have been ripped apart. It reminded him of the things that happened when I first moved here, of the things that we all thought were over.
Maybe it would never be over. Not really.
Again, I was being over dramatic but really, I think I had the right to be a little intense these days.
The drive hurt more than I thought it would. I’d grown used to getting rides from Edward or Alice when he was hunting, my old truck only having to haul me back and forth on occasion, and today it sounded even louder than ever before.
Pulling into my spot didn’t help much. My friends stared at me as if they hadn’t seen me in years, eyes full of pity and careful curiosity. I waved hello as I headed inside but didn’t stay to chat.
The day passed in a blur of attempted talks by Mike and Jessica, quiet concern from Angela and Eric, and the droning of each class helping to keep me distracted from the fact that there was a void where the Cullens usually sat.
Once the last bell rang, I headed home as quickly as I could. I wanted to sleep, anything that meant not having to deal with this kind of existence.
Charlie was still out and I was thankful he wasn’t home to see me cry over a bowl of cereal I called dinner. After I ate what I could stomach, I went upstairs to lay in bed, to watch the clouds go by as I imagined what it would be like if they were still here.
I watched out the window as if I expected Alice to jump up any moment, smiling and talking as if she hadn’t vanished out of my life. The clouds moved, the sky darkened and I dozed off with tears still drying on my face.
I don’t know what happened that night but something just hit. The moon rose and I convulsed, my entire body roaring with a pain I don’t think I could ever describe. If the vampire venom felt like fire running through my veins, this was almost like every bone in my body broke at once. While it only lasted a few minutes, maybe less, I thought the entire night had passed when I finally regained myself and stood.
I felt strange, as if my body has a mind of its own, and my steps were drunken, woozy as I ran downstairs, out the door and into the trees.
Everything was brighter, more vibrant, and I could hear the way the leaves moved with each brush of wind. I could smell the animals and my mouth watered, a reaction that normally would have given me pause but I was lost to it all. All I could do was run.
I stopped when I found water, the flow of the creek slowing my movements as I realized how thirsty I really was. Then, in the water as I moved down to drink, I finally saw what I’d become.
A wolf looked back up at me. A strange, very not wolfish wolf. My face had changed, a short muzzle overtaking my jaw and pointed ears off the sides of my skull. As I tilted my head, the wolf in the reflection followed the same path. Black eyes with a ring of light, a ring of moonlight, blinked back at me as I pondered what exactly this meant.
I should have been afraid as I examined hands that had grown larger, covered in a short black hair and tipped with nails and pads like a dogs paw, but they were still my hands. My arms were longer as well as my legs, though those were twisted and canine, ending in feet that were exactly like large wolf paws.
I should have panicked as I felt a tail move behind me, at how my entire body was covered in short brown and black fur, but I just felt free. Everything finally felt right.
All those years of wondering why I didn’t feel right, why I felt as though I could never fully fit in with any crowd I belonged to. Why the only time I ever felt like myself was when I was surrounded by vampires, by something so otherworldly. Of course I belonged in their world, I was always meant to be part of it.
While that part of me rejoiced, my heart caught up with my mind and I felt the cold sorrow creep into me once again. They weren’t here to witness my growth, to understand my excitement. I wouldn’t ever be a vampire but now I could still be with them, be safer around them, and they weren’t here to see it.
A pained howl ripped from my chest and every animal near my startled at the sound, a loud cacophony accompanying my anguish.
Instead of wallowing, I fell to all fours this time and let the instincts drive me again. I let myself go, running into the forest without any destination in mind. It wasn’t until I stumbled up into the empty Cullen house that I realized what a mistake that was.
Of course my instincts would carry me home.
Ignoring the hunger that clawed at my belly and the ache in my legs to run back into the trees, I climbed the stairs and went into the one room I knew could soothe me. Curled up in Alice’s bed, I breathed in her lingering scent and felt the intense pang of loneliness her absence caused. This was different, more intense than usual, and every bit of my being cried out for me to go find her. To run until my legs gave out just so I could try to scent her.
But my soul was weary and I gave into the need to sleep the pain away.
I woke to the sun rising, the strange sensation of my body shifting back to human startling me awake just in time for me to hear my phone ring.
“Hello?” My voice sounded strange, deeper and with a slight gravel that hadn’t been there before. As I sat up, I realized I’d grown as well. I had to be at least six foot now instead of the five foot four I was used to.
“Bella? Did I wake you up? I just wanted to check in since I didn’t get a chance to head home last night.” Charlie sounded guilty, almost a little frantic. “I didn’t want to leave you alone but I got a call and couldn’t make it back and when I called you didn’t pick up, I figured you were asleep since it was so late.”
“Dad!” I cut his rambling off, feeling that familiar tug in my heart that happened when he fussed over me. “I’m fine. I actually stayed over at Angela’s, we were studying for a test and I passed out on her couch. Sorry I didn’t answer your call but I didn’t see it till now but I’m fine. Don’t worry about me, I’ll just see you tonight.”
I couldn’t tell Charlie. Not yet, not before I figured this out myself.
“Oh,” The pleased surprise in his voice hurt a little, I didn’t want to lie to him like this. “Well that’s good, Bells. I’m not sure when I’ll be home but I’ll call after you get out of school. Maybe you should stay over again if she doesn’t mind.”
“Sure, Dad, I’ll let you know.” And just like that, I had an alibi for tonight and a way to ease Charlie’s worries.
I decided to raid Alice’s closet, to see what she left, but it seemed as if most of her clothes were gone. Either she packed them or Esme had taken her things with the family. Nothing I could find would fit anyway, her frame had been a little smaller than me before this growth spurt but now her clothes seemed so tiny. Instead, I found a small black ribbon left on her desk, probably left over from one of her designs, and tied it around my wrist.
Searching the other rooms didn’t provide much either but I eventually found a large flannel shirt that could only have belonged to Emmett and a pair of jeans that were too short for my legs. I ripped the bottoms off to make shorts, just happy that the waist area fit fine, and realized belatedly these must have been from Jasper’s closet. Hopefully he wouldn’t mind that I’d stolen them.
I took a moment to look at myself in the mirror on my way out of the house, this time actually shocked at what my reflection showed me.
My guess of my height must have been correct as I took up most of the long mirror by the door, my arms and legs suddenly showing an amount of muscle that would have taken forever for me to get. While my face hadn’t really changed, I noticed that my hair seems healthier and my eyes brighter, that circle of light I’d noticed in the woods shimmering around my pupils if I looked a little harder at myself.
I groaned as I realized a shopping trip would be needed to fix my wardrobe. Then the groan turned to a whine as the sudden sharp realization I wouldn’t be able to go with Alice slammed into me once more.
As I left the house, I realized I had no ride home. The walk was long and I didn’t think I would make it in time for school. Then I remembered that I wasn’t exactly human. I took a deep breath, pointed myself towards home, and started to run.
My speed wasn’t the same as it was changed but this was good enough. My legs felt free, the air cooling my heated skin and my feet easily taking me home even without shoes. Halfway home I ripped the sleeves from the shirt to keep the heat down and belatedly realized I’d ruined something of Emmet’s as well. I knew he wouldn’t mind.
I didn’t have time to do much at home other than to put on some shoes, I had to steal some of Charlie’s sneakers since mine didn’t really fit anymore, and to grab my truck.
This drive was even louder than before, the roar of the engine causing me to flinch before it settled down. On the way I tried to think of a way to explain these changes. By the time I parked, the only plan I had was to walk with a slouch and hope no one commented on my wardrobe.
This plan failed the moment I got out of the truck.
All eyes were on me as I walked to the door with my head down. I tried to ignore them, making sure I looked nowhere but my shoes, but it was hard not to hear the whispers now. I could hear so much more and I wasn’t sure I liked it in this instance.
I needed a distraction, as well as information, so I headed to the library. The school didn’t have much but I figured it was the only place I had for a quick attempt before class. As expected, I didn’t find much beyond some stories of the Quileute tribe I’d already read and a few books on folklore. Nothing to explain why I’d suddenly become a teen werewolf.
I spent the day listening to the whispers, the rumors, the questions that came from every inch of the school. No one asked me directly, only Angela spoke to me like everything was fine and I thanked her profusely in my mind for putting her curiosity on hold when she saw the sheer frustration on my face.
Thankfully I didn’t have to explain to Charlie yet. He was sleeping on the couch when I got home, still in uniform. I quickly made some sandwiches for both of us and left him a note saying I would be at Angela’s again before I grabbed my food and some clothes and headed back to the Cullen house.
If I was going to change again, I wanted to be away from Charlie and near the forest. There was still a computer in the house to try to figure this out and I could find some peace in Alice’s room if I needed a break. I didn’t have much time before sundown and I wanted to try to do some digging before the moon rose.
Pulling up the driveway, I felt a strange pull in my chest, like someone had tied a string around my heart. Slowing to a stop, I got out of the truck, swallowing thickly past the lump in my throat as I caught sight of a light on inside the house.
I must have turned it on this morning. Either that or I was finally losing it.
Slowly, I went to the front door and hesitated to open it. Either I was seeing things, I had left a light on or, my heart thudded painfully in my chest, someone had come home. Taking a deep breath, I finally opened the door and walked inside.
The living room was brightly lit and a small bag sat on the couch where it had obviously been thrown. The now uncovered couch. So option three it was.
I bit my lip as I walked further inside and then forced back a sob when I breathed in and caught the scent in the air. Her scent. It was everywhere, new and inviting and so unlike the leftover shadow of her that was left in her room.
I’d barely breathed the word, the last hint of her name just leaving my mouth when I felt the wind shift and then she was there. Standing in the open front door, her eyes wide and her hands clenched at her sides in worry.