There once lived a vampire named James. He did whatever he wanted to do, because he wanted to do it. He was an uncomplicated vampire like that. He wanted to wreck general havoc in downtown LA by stealing batteries out of cars? Sure. Steal a bunch of money? Why not. Go deep ocean diving because he didn’t need to breathe and the pressure wouldn’t kill him? Sounded like a great time. He explored, he ate, he traveled.
Bella Swan liked to think of herself as a normal girl. Well, except for the knowing supernatural things existed, and the being in a relationship with a shapeshifter. Not a werewolf. Though, her boyfriend did turn into a large wolf. Did that make him a wolf-shifter? Was that technically a werewolf? Did lunar phases affect his ability to shift? She’d never asked.
Her boyfriend’s name was Jacob. He was large (all the shapeshifters were), and tan, with shoulder length, straight black hair that he recently had started putting up in a half bun. So sexy. Bella loved being with him. Seeing her pale hands and skin against his. Feeling absolutely enveloped by his love and his size. He was a nice guy, and fun to date. It helped that he practically worshiped the ground she walked on.
Bella ran into James one night, walking home. She took an unusual route. The full moon was out, and everything was lit up. Bella peered into the alleyways and they had seemed enticing; the shifting shadows and hidden corners weren’t foreboding at all! The girlfriends of shapeshifters were all brave, after all.
Wasn’t it just her luck, to run into a shady character on the first alleyway she decided to walk down! It was a relatively large space nestled between an imposing office building and an old wooden fence and had seemed perfectly safe. And of course,there was James, feeding on a young, gangly guy wearing the local high school colors.
Bella, normal but not necessarily very smart, was immediately angry. Not scared. Here was vampire, feeding on someone! Was he going to kill the kid? She rushed up to the pair of them. “What do you think you’re doing?? Were you planning on killing this person?!” It belatedly occurred to her, as she watched blood slowly trickle down the neck of the unconscious kid, that this vampire probably wasn’t like her Cullen friends.
On his part, James was, you know, startled. A mortal had just marched up to him. A female. A *young* female. A girl, really. And she didn’t even have the good sense to smell afraid. She just smelt indignant and angry. Angry that he was doing what vampires do. In his surprise, his teeth retracted and he stared at her, mouth ajar. He dropped the kid he was feeding from. He wasn’t planning on killing him, anyway. Body disposal was tedious, if he wanted to stay in one area for longer than a fortnight.
“What?” he could feel some blood escape the corner of his mouth. Seriously, he was as surprised as he ever got these days. (Barring, of course, that time he was pretty damn sure he’d found the leviathan. Yes, like the leviathan of biblical legends. That was not a fun story – how he’d managed to escape that tentacle monster was not something he liked thinking about.)
He dabbed at his mouth with his pocket handkerchief. It had fat cats eating cake on it. He’d gotten it on his jaunt around Japan the previous year – they were all about handkerchiefs over there.
On her part, Bella was immediately distracted by the CAT handkerchief the vampire pulled out from apparently no where. (Hey, she hadn't been paying attention to his hands.) “What?!”
“…what?” James reared his head back, inhaling a deep breath, trying to learn what he could about this weird human girl. Young, clean, apparently in a close relationship with a shapeshifter or something equally nosy and troublesome, clearly no self preservation instincts…
Bella was checking him out, too. He was dressed casually, in jeans, a plain white shirt, and a brown leather jacket. Sensible, traveled in boots. He was completely gorgeous, of course – all the vampires she met were. Average height, but well built, with wavy blonde hair, and big pouty lips paired with a straight nose. But, unlike the Cullens, this one had red eyes. He fed off people.
“You were eating a kid.” She repeated, brow furrowed. This situation was not what she’d thought it would be. Not that she’d thought about it very much. At all. And come to think of it, being alone with a vampire that ate people was probably not the smartest decision she’d ever made.
James smiled, noting the first stirrings of her fear. “Yes.” He grinned wider, showing off his teeth, and noting a spike in her unease. “I was eating. You eat too, don’t you?”
Bella furrowed her brow, confused. “Yeah, well. I don’t eat people.”
James shrugged. “People are what I am designed to eat. Why shouldn’t I eat them?”
“Because they have free will! Because you used to be a person, too! You shouldn’t…”
“Literally. I am LITERALLY designed to entice and to eat people.”
“Well, you just shouldn’t! People should always have a choice!” Bella trailed off. “It’s wrong.”
“Right.” James turned around, bored. He was full enough, anyway. He jumped onto the roof of the nearest building, turning around just once to bid adieu to the crazy girl. “Catch ya around, Crazy!”
In that moment, Bella was changed.
She felt an all consuming hatred… and intrigue. Or was it desire? Whatever it was, it wasn’t right. It. Was. Not. Right.
But James… damn. Damn it! Was she inexplicably attracted to him? She was afraid the answer was yes.
It doesn’t take very long before James meets the Cullens.
A whole coven of vamps that fed off the wildlife - gross. And weird. He was interested enough, though, that he figured he’d give it a try. Just for fun. Why not? He lived forever, after all – might as well try everything once.
And Washington seemed like a good enough place. Gloomy. Wet. Full of strange girls.
The younger Cullen vamps, though! Choosing to relive high school and college over and over again? No. Definitely, no. Nope. That was dumb. Been there, tried that – James didn’t need a repeat of boredom, hormonal humans, and girls fawning on him. Dominating sports teams, gathering a fanbase, and wearing blue contacts - he didn’t even last a month at school the last time he tried it. (He did get to eat from an abundance of young, fit humans though, which is what kept him there for a month to begin with.)
With the Cullens, James resolves to give up eating humans. He pretends, of course, that he will do so for an undetermined amount of time. He knows, of course, that he will only do so until it’s time to move on. Humans are a bit irresistible. And James is not in the habit of denying himself.
Still, it’s hard. Like getting over an addiction. Only worse. Because he’s giving it up in exchange for freaking bear blood, and that is not the same. It’s like comparing the finest whiskey to moonshine. Barely palatable. It’ll get the job done, but non-human blood was shockingly disgusting. He even tries icing the blood, blending it in with lemons and herbs and whatever, and no, it’s still disgusting.
When the Cullens introduce him to the resident wolf pack, he’s distracted by the smell of the weird girl all over one of the big guys. Huh. The big guy hates him, of course. Jacob (the big guy) seems convinced James is just yanking their chain. Which he totally is, but he has everyone else fooled.
It’s not long after that before he runs into the girl again. Bella. She’s visiting the youngest Cullen girl, the elf-looking one. James is mildly disturbed by the fact that not only do these weirdos choose to relive high school, they actually befriend said high schoolers, too. What, even.
Still, though, Bella is interesting. If only because of her shockingly low self-preservation instinct. Hanging out with a bunch of vampires? Dating a giant wolfman? How has she survived for 17 years?
He pretends he doesn’t notice her, though of course he could smell her coming a mile away. (Literally. In all senses of the word. Deprivation is, apparently, a key in enhancing the senses.)
“You!” Bella says. She sounds shocked. And excited. Those emotions are pretty similar, really.
“Hey Crazy.” James replies.
“What are you doing here?!” She’s working herself up. “How did you…your eyes are green??” She deflates faster than an over-bloated corpse. (Which James has unfortunate experience with. The bloated corpses deflating, that is.)
James gives her a dashing look, turning his head to the side and glancing coyly at her, as if ashamed of his own eye color. Girls love that. “I’m just, you know. Trying something new.”
Alice pipes in then. “James has been super helpful, actually!” She darts over and throws her arms around him, pressing her firm, small body tightly against his. (Rosalie slept with him that first night, and Alice had jumped into bed with him after he’d tamed her boyfriend a bit. Vampire chicks - incredible stamina, increased libido and senses, impossible to catch a disease or get pregnant… monogamy was a rare word in the vampire world.)
James faces Bella, and gives her his best bashful smile. “Really, everyone here has been so great to me!”
Bella is looking suspicious, but also like she wants to believe him. It’s the first step, and he’s cheering on the inside. Smiling just a bit harder on the outside.
James extends a hand. “It’s nice to meet you again. Bella? I hope you’ll forgive the circumstances of the first time we met.”
Alice is looking between them. “You’ve met before?”
Bella cocks an eyebrow. “Yeah. I caught him sucking the blood out of some kid.”
James waves his hands. “I mean, everyone here knows I used to drink human blood. Obviously. I never killed them, though.”
Alice nods eagerly. “He’s been here for a month now, Bella. I’ve never seen a vampire take to drinking animals as quickly as James has.”
“Ah, well…” James struggles to project an embarrassed air. He thinks he succeeds.
“Anyway. Bella came here to do girly stuff with me! Come on, let’s get to it!”
Bella is staring at him as she’s dragged away, and James vows to taste that, before leaving the beautiful Forks, Washington.
Since he’s Not Feeding On People, James becomes increasingly aware of how delicious people smell. Bella in particular. It’s different than the normal populace. It’s all he imagines every time he sees her, her warm thick blood sitting heavy on his tongue, the taste of it, the smell of her fear, her rapid heart beat against his fangs - it would be perfection.
Bella stares at him. A lot. James is pretty sure she has a staring problem. She comments on his eyes more than once, too, which he preens about. They’re honey colored, like the Cullen’s, but with a hint of deep green around the edges.
“It’s probably due to you attempting to combine blended vegetables into your diet.” Carlisle hypothesizes. Whatever. Vegetables literally taste no worse than non-human blood to James. At least it gives the blood he collects interesting textures.
So, James pretends that it’s been very difficult, this whole not eating humans thing, but that being around Bella, for some weird, weird reason, what could that reason be? Makes it easier on him.
Apparently no one around here is smart. Or they’re just too trusting. Same thing. Either way, James finds that he’s allowed to hang around Bella during her free time. Encouraged to, sometimes, when clearly the lack of human blood is getting to him.
James is quite tickled by it all.
Bella, for her part, decides she misjudged James. He’s not so bad, after all.
“It’s like getting over an addiction..” he’d say weakly, every time he is with her.
Jacob hates him. So much. Bella, the sweet, trusting gal that she is, is getting increasingly frustrated with her boyfriend. While her boyfriend is getting increasingly more likely to attack James.
James rather suspects that the time to act is nigh.
James takes her out, to the ocean. The day had been, if he did say so himself, exquisitely romantic. Vampires can’t fly, obviously, but James was old enough he’d perfected the art of leaping across the tops of things. It was almost like flying, and Bella had loved it.
Bella wasn't sure who leaned in first, when he set her down in her room afterwards, but suddenly they were kissing, lips mashed together and faces pressed closed. James was cool and dry. It was weird kissing him, since all of her recent kisses had been with the passionate and passionately warm Jacob.
James laughed when he leaned away from her, but probably not in a mean way. It was hard to tell. “Don’t worry baby Bella.” He said. “Let’s not move too fast, hmm?”
He said all that right before he bit her!
Bella was stunned, frozen. What oh what had she gotten herself into? Was she going to die? (Was this James’ sneaky way of surprise-turning her into a vampire? How else was she supposed to live forever with the new love of her life, and to stay young and beautiful with him?)
None of those things happened to Bella.
Instead, James drank his fill. The first human blood he’d allowed himself for months - it was hard not to drain her! He didn’t want to kill her, though.
He left her lying there, in her room, two small pin-pricks on her neck.
He imagined wolf-boy would take her back. He imagined everyone pat her on the back consolingly, while thinking that she had at last learned her lesson about the nature of vampires. But. James saw the way she had eyed that goody two shoes Edward Cullen.
James dropped by the Cullen estate to bid everyone adieu. (It was only polite, after all.)
He’d had no idea his eyes would turn almost instantly red.
The Cullens were all shocked, with varying degrees of betrayal writ accross their faces.
It was precious.
The entire situation was just too precious! The memories of his time in Forks, culminating in an ultimate, inevitable, and timely betrayal, would stay with him for all his vampire years.
And, with a simple “Toodles!” shouted gaily from the rooftops, he vanished.
Really, James was an exceedingly curious and smart vampire.
So much to do, so much to see - people, places and things to screw.
James simply couldn’t stay in one place for too long.