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Conjunction ❂

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Charlie was just about as tense as I expected him to be durning my final week in Forks before the wedding. I had been watching it bubble away in him for days now and it seemed that it would be spilling right over this morning. I was unsurprised when he asked for a “chat” with a grimace, hand rubbing the back of his neck. What did surprise me was exactly what he wanted to talk about. We sat opposite each other. I mirrored him, or maybe he mirrored me, as we sat straight backed, hands folded neatly in front of each other looking much too formal for Charlie’s familiar old banged up dining table.

“Bella, do you want kids?”

I blinked.

“I mean, maybe? I hadn’t put a whole lot of thought into it” I replied honestly. I had assumed if I ever did get the inclination, fostering would be a good option, especially for teenagers who needed short stays and the like. Renee had known a few couples in Arizona who did that sort of thing.

“Yeah, I figured.” There was an uncomfortable pause while I waited for Charlie to find the rest of his words. “So definitely not in the next few years then?”

“Definitely not” I said with absolute confidence, relieved I didn’t even have to lie by omission this time.

“OK. OK, good. Yeah good.” I thought with this he was done but he motioned for me to stay put as I started to push back the chair. “Bella look. You are my greatest achievement. No- stop. You are. But listen. When you’re young as we were when we had you… Bella are you on birth control right now? Or do you have uh, an appointment?” I felt my cheeks grow red and opted for a slow shake of my head. Charlie was really on a roll today, I started to doubt my ability to guess even close to whatever it was he planned on saying next. “Ok then here’s the deal” he ploughed on, determined but clearly wanting this talk to be over almost as much as me.

“You and I are gonna sit right here until we’ve got you in with a GP to sort that out, OK?”

“But it’s a Sunday”

“There’s a place open in Seattle right now, I checked.” I raised one eyebrow. The man had been scheming, but I hadn’t realised how much until he dropped that the same place did appointments over the phone. On Monday a young, female voice ran me through all the options and I went with whatever it was she seemed to most strongly recommend.

 

On Tuesday I picked up and filled a script she had faxed to the pharmacy and made my way to the clinic inside Carlisle’s hospital, thanking the stars that today was both sunny and marked two weeks since half the Cullen’s had hunted. One conversation regarding birth control with a father figure was already enough for a lifetime. I surprised myself by hardly even squirming as the doctor injected local anaesthetic into my left arm and wondered silently if the violence I’d experienced these last couple of years had functioned as a bit of exposure therapy. I eyed the faint bite mark on my right forearm suspiciously when the doctor announced I was all done. Shocked, I looked down at my left bicep to see but she’d already wrapped the little incision winking at me. You faint once in biology and you’re known hemophobic for life in this town. She showed me how to feel the little rod, to make sure it hasn’t moved every now and then and sent me on my way.

When I got home and showed Charlie, I thought I might have seen some of the tension leave his body and decided that the fuss might’ve been worth it- just for that. As I crawled into bed, freshly showered I giggled out loud at silliness of it all.

“What’s so funny?” Edward spoke softly, as he climbed through my window with practised motions. Unwilling to discuss another word on the matter, I reached for him silently and planted a kiss on each of his cheeks which he sunk into, eyes closed, lips curved up.

“None of your business” I told him, before placing a much less chaste kiss on his mouth, closing my own eyes, but not before glimpsing his- now perfectly bright and gold, widen in surprise. Frustrated I was certain, that he couldn’t read my mind in that moment.

Life after turning was night and day. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Edward oscillate between pride and a frustrated sort of envy at what Jasper described as my “bone chilling” degree of self-control. A year after my turning, absolutely no one could argue I wasn’t practised enough to safely start my first year of college, so that was exactly what I did. In the first few months I felt as if I was walking on air. Last year I had delighted in really participating in our family’s life. Hunting, wrestling and even just basking in each other’s company was supremely pleasant in my newly strong and graceful body. Learning in it was even better. I could, and often did, stay fixed like stone to a desk in the library or at home, letting my brain soak up all that it could for full days. I supposed that I found learning addictive in the beginning. I would smell and hear Edward keeping me company nearby, sometimes doing his own college work, but mostly just observing me fondly. It was after he’d interrupted one of these states of mine that we found ourselves, bellies full and on our backs enjoying a rare patch of sun in a meadow which reminded me of the one from my now foggy human memory, that I experienced what felt like a tickle from the back of my skull to the base of my spine. I heard Edward snap his own head towards me in the same moment. I didn’t turn to meet his gaze but lifted a hand which he met with the lightest touch I suspected a vampire could ever make. Eyes still open, but now without really seeing the clouds drifting above us, I focused on the little prickle and imagined that it was a knock on the door or a tug of a pant leg. Then I imagined opening the door and picking it up. Choosing two mental analogies seemed like a safe bet and it paid off when I heard Edward gasp beside me, hearing my thoughts for the first time. In our excitement, we made love right there on the grass.

Barely a week had passed when I got a call from Alice. My shield had been down at the time so when she explained that I “really, really need to see Charlie right now- if you don’t go- Bella you don’t want to know. And don’t let Edward come either” he had a front row seat to my stubborn resolve and hardly bothered arguing to come with me.

I swung into the gravel driveway in the fastest car that Rosalie has keys to when I’d crashed into her and Emmett’s room. I slammed open the door with a crunch and as much self-restraint as I could muster, barely leaving it attached. I crashed into my old home screaming for Charlie, not caring a whit how deranged I would have looked to him if he’d seen me with my hair windswept, eyes wide and discoloured, skin glowing and with more strength than anyone my size and species had any right to. But he wasn’t at the kitchen table, and I couldn’t hear a pulse or catch a sent anywhere in the house. For the first time since changing, I felt my supposedly infallible self-control slipping and there wasn’t even any blood around. Instead, I felt like a little girl who had once lost her mum in a Walmart for half an hour. Or maybe I felt like Renee when she’d thought she’d lost me at Ballet. My big brain felt useless, providing me with all the awful things that might’ve happened to him at a thousand miles a second. I found myself resorting to a very human method of calming down by taking a handful of exaggerated breaths, timing myself, hands balled into fists at my sides. I was swallowed up by a cloud of Charlie’s scent which seemed impossible to distinguish until, on my 10th inhale, I finally identified a string that felt like it could have been the newest and strongest and followed it right out the back door at speed. He hadn’t been that far at all really. I sobbed so loud that birds scattered from the trees around us when I saw him on the ground in a pool of blood so large, I wasn’t sure where it was coming from at first. I was at his side in an instant and our eyes met. He didn’t even seem surprised at my new appearance.

“Bells-”

“Daddy” I choked, hands at his face first and then flitting about all over as I took in the deep rips and tears in his flesh. After all these years, an actual animal attack. No vampires, no shape shifters. Nothing supernatural about it. I could even smell the beast’s fur on him. A corner of my mind clinically wondered why I’d chosen now to drop his Christian name for his relation to me- or why I hadn’t felt the burn at the back of my throat- there was so much blood. I supposed my heart has frozen with so much love for Charlie that my ‘monster’ as Edward has once put it, was too busy roaring in panic.

“How long?”

“Can’t be sure- it was sunnier before though” It was dusk now. If Charlie was going to live, he needed to be at hospital at least an hour ago, the same clinical voice told me. I didn’t even have to think about it to be honest. I thought about how turning me had crippled Edward with guilt, but I felt none as I made my choice. I did lean down to apologise, to say that this was going to hurt and that I’d be right here the whole time. In fact, I did a whole lot of apologising that year: to Charlie, for keeping this life secret; to my new family for uprooting them from our new haunt in dreary Scotland to handle another newborn back in Forks; to Renee and old friends (and flames) in Forks, for never seeing them till the day of the service (or ever again). But in that moment, as I bit into Charlie’s wrist, getting my first ever taste of human blood I was completely and utterly sure of myself.

It was less of a shock when Charlie presented the same unexplainable self-control I had. If we could cry, Jasper would have which Charlie appreciated. The next year I functionally speed-ran the rest of my degree so I could spend more time with him and the others, which is exactly what I did for the next six years. I never stopped delighting in this new body and life- Charlie was running high on it too. Slowly but surely however, an ache creeped in. At first I thought it was just us two and maybe Edward getting nostalgic. But between the mind-reader, empath and seer, it became clear that everyone was becoming prone to ruminating on our old stomping grounds more and more often. It all came to a head when Alice who, in an utterly transparent strategic move, wrapped her arms behind an unsuspecting Rosalie who had been lounging on the couch, foot to foot with Charlie with a copy of his Field and Stream and declared “ugh I miss it too Rose”, chin on her head. I’d never seen one of us so still, with eyes so wide for quite so long.

Returning to Forks was out of the question of course. After many family meetings and much, much discussion we did eventually compromise on moving to Alaska for our next decade staying put. Living so close to the Denali Coven was a nice thought and the state had a few colleges to choose from. So it happened that we stayed with the sisters for a year while Esme oversaw the construction of our new home, which was to be much more isolated and mountainous than the last. We were welcomed of course, but it truly was a strange year. We were introduced to Irina in a sorry state and left her just the same. The sisters explained to us grimly, how following the death of her mate Laurent, she had been found under miles of snow in 2007, too miserable to move an inch- even to hunt, black eyes unseeing.

They asked Carlisle for advice, but he could only reference his own period of starvation and suggest there was nothing to be done for it but wait it out.

Edward could probably have stood to have been more sympathetic even if her mate was killed after trying to eat me. But with only muddy human memories my heart could only ache for poor Irena. I remembered my hysteria at the thought of losing Charlie and shuddered internally. The thought of loosing Edward had seemed impossible in immortality, but confronted with Irena, the ugly thought lingered. I hardly let him out of my sight for the rest of the year which he found amusing, especially as we spent almost every hour together regardless, and if I tagged along for all his hunts now, he didn’t seem to mind.

By December, Esme’s new house was built. It was even grander and more remote than the last- purely for its location. Boxy and modern like the one before, the new house now sat firmly on an enormous cliff, peaking out of dense forest daring anyone who saw to question what it was doing so close to the edge. It looked most spectacular at twilight with its lights on, twinkling warmly from its perch. Esme had made a point to stay away from too much wood on the inside, as we were now more surrounded by it than ever, prioritising high ceilings and wall-sized windows much like before. There was more colour though- on the furniture or in fun wallpaper which could now be found throughout the place in different communal rooms. We officially ‘moved into town’ in January. Everything had been organised- Carlisle and Esme were to fall into their traditional roles of doctor and wife and pose as the mother and father of their unrelated-as-needed adoptive children. Charlie was to be our adoptive Grand Father which he was already doing spectacularly well at in his own right much to everyone’s delight. A week prior to enrolling as undergraduates again, we found ourselves in the compony of the Denali Sisters once more. This time, they had sought us out, which a much healthier Irena in tow. The reason for her startling recovery was immediately obvious- a female vampire with burgundy eyes now shadowed her every move, clearly unwilling to leave her side. She didn’t even let us ask. Indeed, before Emmett could even blurt the words out Irena explained she had more than a single mate. While not unheard of, to take more than one was exceedingly uncommon for vampires- Carlisle only recalling one other instance in his memory and Alice relaying a few rare futures to include them.

Whose?” Demanded Emmett, Charlie and myself in unison.

“None of your business” she responded primly. Jasper looked elsewhere; lips sealed. Both, I assumed counting backwards from 1 million in French or something to keep Edward from hearing.  

“Not to be rude” Edward had begun, but are you absolutel-”

“I’m certain” Irena finished for him.

“She does project… a unique emotional energy” Jasper volunteered. Under our curious gaze he continued, with a nod of permission from Irena “there’s still profound grief to be sure” he winced “but it’s almost congruent with- well the elation we feel to discover our partners.”

After that nobody questioned it. After all, we were all mostly relieved to have Irena back. Much fuss was made over her and her new mate. But as the rest carried on, I found myself unabashedly fascinated with the phenomenon. It wandered into my thoughts so often that Edward took note. It was purely intellectual back then, so I doubt it bothered him although at one point I do believe he pulled me into a kiss and out of my train of thought muttering something about a ‘minx’.

Truly- I had never expected it to come up again, filing the idea neatly away in my cavernous mind as term begun. Silly, to think now- considering I can’t recall a moment my expectations had ever panned-out accurately.