"I won't lie to you. This is going to hurt."
When Bella opened her eyes, it was to possibly the most wondrous thing she'd ever seen. She laid still for a long moment, just watching - the air. What she was seeing was the air. Dust motes spun and swirled in a slow dance over her head, moving with soft currents of wind that she could see. The surface beyond them - the ceiling - was a warm white, though maybe it was more pale cream. Little bumps and long-dried brush strokes covered it, tiny imperfections that absolutely captivated her. She'd no more than thought of touching them than she was standing up, arms stretched to the ceiling, fingers gently tracing the near-imperceptible grooves in the paint.
"Please...don't break the ceiling. It isn't mine."
The voice had her spinning around in surprise, but not alarm. She knew that voice - knew that scent. He'd sat beside her through the entire change, anxious, having never sired a new vampire before, and she'd done her best to reassure him in her rare moments of lucidness. She'd anchored herself through the change knowing that someone was with her, someone was staying. Someone cared enough to stay.
Laurent hovered in the doorway, his red eyes from changing her already dimming to orange again. He was tense, watching her carefully, as though afraid she might attack him. The thought brought a wide grin to Bella's face. She was a threat now. She wasn't something precious and fragile to be guarded by stronger beings.
Laurent was looking less sure of himself, more anxious, the longer Bella stood still. His eyes darted around the room, seemingly unwilling to hold her gaze. Bella couldn't be bothered - she let out a laugh and barreled towards him, arms out to wrap him in a hug. Instead, an alarmed hiss met her ears halfway to him and she was flying. A layer of drywall - then two - three - possibly a couch - and then she was outside, carving a furrow in the ground from the sheer force she'd been thrown with. She stood up immediately, not feeling even the slightest bit of discomfort, and looked through the ragged holes her body had torn through the walls, and saw Laurent, guarded and even a little frightened. Her mouth gaped for a moment, unable to grasp that she'd briefly been an undead wrecking ball, and then her grin was back.
"Can you throw me again?!" She zipped back through the walls in an instant, stopping just short of where Laurent stood.
"Throw you...again." Laurent said slowly, looking at her as though she was crazy. Bella nodded enthusiastically.
"That was amazing," she enthused. "Come on, one more time!"
"Don't you, ah..." Laurent seemed to be struggling for words, still acting as though Bella might decide to murder him in cold blood at any given moment. "I think you should hunt."
Bella frowned. Now that it had been brought up, she did feel a bit thirsty. Also... "Are we in the Cullens' house?...Did I just break Esme's couch?!"
Bella as a vampire frightened Laurent, like nothing else had for centuries. He hadn't sired newborns before, but he had seen them, interacted with them. They were largely fueled by their thirst, disinterested in non-edible beings at the very best. They were stronger, faster, and could never control themselves.
Except that Bella could.
Bella the Vampire was much like Bella the Human, simply sturdier. And happier. It had taken her three tries to move fast enough to hug him, and he'd felt his entire five centuries of existence flashing before his eyes at the feeling of arms wrapped firmly around him. He'd never thought of Bella as a hugger, but now it seemed like every handful of minutes she would bump into him, offer a hug, or some other form of touching. It made him uncomfortable, to say the least, fearing that at any moment her new instincts would overwhelm her and he would end up reattaching one of his arms - or his head. But she never even faltered. After he'd pointed out the scent of a deer, she'd hunted it down and, though it was a messy affair, leaving her covered in blood, she'd had no problem drinking it.
Not even when he'd clearly been able to tell they'd come close to a human's scent near the end of their chase.
Bella had always imagined the bond between sire and newborn to be something traditional and clear cut - stern parent and child, or master and servant, or a tragic labor of love between a couple. If Laurent was a parent to her now, then he definitely wasn't a traditional one. He'd slowly gone from fearing her, to talking with her more in-depth about how she was not acting like a normal newborn, to effortlessly joking with her about anything and everything and throwing furniture at her when she forgot to get re-dressed after a hunt.
If he was a parent to her now, then he was a "cool" dad, and bringing it up had made him preen for a split second before Bella burst out laughing. Then they'd devolved into a playfight that became a sparring match, Laurent insisting she needed to learn to fight. Victoria was still trying to kill her, after all. That had sobered her up pretty quickly.
Of course, Chief Swan had put up missing posters for his daughter - especially in the wake of the recent deaths and disappearances. He'd been working himself to death, day and night, as Bella had overheard while lounging in a tree just out of sight by the post office. And that had destroyed her.
Bella wasn't about to just let her father suffer. Not while she could do something about it.
After three weeks of her new life, her eyes had already become a deep orange, just as Laurent's were back to gold. Not a single slip up, even though she was often around humans the past week. She felt fairly confident passing them off as brown, especially as Charlie would likely be too preoccupied just having her back. So, just before dusk, she stood in the creek behind the Cullens' house, splattering herself with mud, sticking leaves in her hair, and rolling in the dirt to try and make herself look travelworn. Laurent stood on the back porch, clearly wondering just what had gotten into his offspring as he watched her vigorously scrub clay over her face.
After nearly an hour, she threw him a grin and took off towards Forks. Laurent gaped after her for a moment - surely she wouldn't be that stupid - then growled and took off after her. She absolutely would be that stupid.
Bella was faster than her sire, though, and he resigned himself to watching through his fingers as Charlie hugged Bella as though his life depended on it. The man's crying got to Laurent, of course it did, but he dreaded the possibility of the Volturi finding out his sireling had just returned to her human life. He just hoped she would keep this to only Charlie, instead of embroiling the entire town in her sudden return.
That was a hopeless cause, it seemed. Despite climbing in through Bella's window as she seemed entirely too content to lay on her old bed with a goofy grin and pleading with her to be sensible, two days later she donned a jacket, long pants, and a pair of sunglasses to go to school. And within one day was far more social and outgoing than she'd ever been in her life. Laurent felt as though he'd never be free of his internal screams.
On the other side of the country, Alice pauses halfway through trying on a shirt. A vision flashes through her mind, unbelievably vivid, of a sunglasses-wearing Bella eating what appears to be glass while Charlie glares at her over a coffee cup. She puts the shirt away, confused and unwilling to look further into it than that.
It didn't take Charlie long to figure it out, in the end. He'd known something about Bella had changed, of course, but had been content to take a "not my business" approach as she seemed happier than he'd ever seen her. It took exactly one visit from Billy, who'd overturned his wheelchair in shock upon seeing Bella, for him to look deeper into the issue, and find out the Cold Ones weren't just myths after all. That had led to questions from both of them for her, getting less aggressive the more she answered. Which of course led to the issue of Victoria and her newborns, and exactly what Bella and Laurent's plan was. And explaining who Laurent was.
Charlie decided it would be much better to let Laurent stay in the house, rather than hovering anxiously around the treeline and potentially being reported by a concerned neighbor. Especially since, knowing a vampire army was afoot, he felt much safer with two vampiric bodyguards of his own nearby.
Billy told the pack. The pack was not happy. Jacob was not about to let his old friend fight an army alone, at least. He also became a semi-permanent fixture in Charlie's house.
It caught the town's attention that an uncommonly attractive man had moved into the Swan residence. It was just easier to let them believe Charlie and Laurent were an item. Bella only fed the fire by constantly talking about her dads.
When it becomes obvious Victoria is growing her newborn army to ungodly new heights, it finally seems real to the Swan household that they are going to be at war shortly, with the threat of annihilation by the Volturi hanging over their heads if they can't mitigate the army's damage. Charlie keeps an extra sharp eye out at the station, feeding information on missing persons back to Bella, Laurent, and Jacob to help them get a grasp on how many newborns to expect. Eventually, an unused side room in Charlie's house becomes their center of operations, with detailed maps with locations of disappearances, found bodies (if any), and a running list, constantly updated with the names of Victoria's potential soldiers and basic descriptions.
Even as a teenaged vampire herself, Bella feels an ache in her chest at the ages of some of the missing persons. They didn't ask for this. They especially didn't ask to be cannon fodder in a madwoman's war.
Bella herself follows Laurent's lead for once, walking the streets and forest paths for miles in every direction with him every night, silently attempting to catch some kind of scent that would give away the presence of another vampire. Every scent they find, they document. A few times, their silent patrols turn into chases, Bella easily outstripping Laurent as they chased what was undeniably a vampire intruding on what Laurent and Bella had deemed their territory.
If there was one thing Bella had in common with normal newborns, it was that she was fiercely territorial. Laurent had had to drag her away from a chase more than once as she threatened to keep on running straight into what they believed was Victoria's territory.
"It's not hers," Bella muttered every time. "None of it is hers."
"I know," Laurent would reply, not sure what response Bella was looking for. It always seemed to placate her a bit, though.
Their information was in turn shared with Charlie and Jacob, so Charlie could apply their discoveries to his investigations, and Jacob could relay the newborns' movements beyond the treaty line to the pack.
Jacob was potentially the only thing keeping the pack from outright condemning Bella and Laurent. He served as a liaison between their two groups, keeping the pack up to date on the newborn army situation, and Bella and Laurent on any altercations on the reservation. He also made no secret about which side he would be on, should anyone from the pack try and harm Bella. Or Laurent. Either one of them, but it was Bella he was friends with, so his focus tended to be there.
The weeks stretched into months, and then almost a year. Bella graduated and committed herself to scouting almost full time, a sense of urgency taking hold as her newborn strength waned. More and more people vanished. Laurent slipped up on their diet once, in Port Angeles. Bella considered "slipping up" to stay stronger as her eyes turned entirely gold and stone didn't crumble as easily in her grip. She never actually committed to the act.
The day came when Sam called Charlie, asking if Bella and Laurent could help train the pack. Attacks had picked up recently, he explained, and the risk of injury was too high as the newborns seemed more organized than before. An opportunity to spar with friendly vampires could save lives.
Bella perhaps took a little too much joy in throwing the wolves around three times a week. Jacob perhaps found it a little too funny. Both Laurent and Charlie definitely felt a sort of pride for the daughter they only hesitantly agreed they shared.
Eventually, Bella begrudgingly brought up to Sam that, since she wasn't a Cullen, the pack could come into her territory without repercussions, and she would still stay off the pack's land if they wanted. That ended up being a lost cause - she went cliff jumping with Jacob and several other wolves later that same week.
She missed the water once. The rock she'd landed on bore a decidedly Bella-shaped imprint afterwards, and it had been the pack's entertainment for the evening to watch Bella tear the offending stone to shreds, hiding her embarrassing miscalculation.
Almost two years after Bella had been turned, the Denali coven gave up on waiting for Laurent to come home. One night, a planning session in their "war room," as most of their impromptu group had taken to calling it, was interrupted by Irina careening in, backing Laurent against a wall and keeping him there while she demanded to know why he'd been gone so long.
Her near-tearful interrogation went on even while Charlie was demanding to know if she'd just broken down his door, with Jacob on the other side of the room on the edge of phasing from the sheer shock of an unknown vampire appearing in one of the few places he felt genuinely safe. The rest of the coven following them in definitely didn't help, and Bella decided to intervene, letting loose a growl loud enough to shock them into letting her by. She scooped Jacob into her arms and darted outside, depositing him on the grass and sitting beside him until his trembling ceased. Laurent came out to join them then, introducing his mate and her sisters, who were bewildered that Laurent had gone south to turn the Cullens' human friend and fight a newborn army with the help of said friend and a pack of werewolves.
By the time the Denali coven decided to stay and help them fight Victoria, Charlie was sitting slumped over at the kitchen table, wondering why he couldn't just have a normal life.
Forks was a very small town, and soon it seemed like everyone knew that Charlie had five more strangers living with him. This time, with the end of this whole mess seemingly careening closer, they didn't bother with a particularly convincing cover story. Laurent's relatives, despite them looking nothing like him at all. After a couple of weeks, however, the town warmed up to them considerably. Even if most people acted a bit strange. Both Irina and Tanya attributed it to them knowing, on some level, that all but one person in the Swan residence was some flavor of supernatural.
More than once, someone had to physically stop Mike from saying everyone knew the truth when Bella spun another story about how she'd damaged her good hiking clothes while buying replacements at Newton Outfitters. Some things just weren't meant to be said.
Through the combined info Charlie, the wolves, and the vampires gathered the next few months, they could see that there were far more newborns in Victoria's army than they'd expected. The Denalis confirmed that, from the bodies and vampiric ash piles they'd found, Victoria had at least twenty newborns at her beck and call. Sam was chomping at the bit to take the fight to them, especially as Victoria seemed to know Bella's circumstances had changed, and was reacting to the small army arrayed against her own appropriately. More and more people on the reservation were phasing - and boys as young as eight had wolf forms now, and four women had phased as well, something so entirely unheard of that the pack was beginning to question their beliefs about themselves.
With so much uncertainty, Bella made what she liked to call an executive decision. By which she meant snatching Carlisle's number off of Eleazar's cellphone and dialing it while her father's overstuffed house loudly voiced either their approval, disapproval, or in Charlie's case, yelled "You'd better not be calling Edward, young lady!"
Carlisle picked up his phone to a plethora of familiar voices yelling over each other, many of them that he hadn't expected to hear together, and many of them seeming to be talking about Edward.
"...Hello?" He said at length. Immediately the yelling turned into a wave of hush and shut up and dear God just be quiet.
"Uh...hey, Carlisle," a voice he'd never thought to hear again near-whispered over the line. "So, we've got...a bit of an issue."
"Bella?" Carlisle hissed, and on his end of the line his family's eyes snapped to him in open shock. "What-"
A voice he dimly recognized as Eleazar's cut Bella off as she went to speak again. "A bit of an issue is a drastic understatement. There's a newborn army assembled near Forks and we need help."
On Bella's end of the line, a shout of "There's a what?!" could be heard before Carlisle muttered a quick "We'll be there soon," and hung up.
There were a lot of ways they could have greeted their reinforcements, once the Cullens arrived in Forks. Unfortunately, they didn't have an Alice on their hands, so the Cullens arrived to the mildly alarming sight of Chief Swan sitting on a werewolf's back, loudly insisting that he could absolutely help with the battle, he had a flamethrower, the bastards would never know what hit them. Laurent was vocally disagreeing, most of the Denalis backing him up, though Tanya seemed intrigued to see what would happen. A crowd of over twenty wolves milled about them, some in their wolf forms and some still human, occasionally chiming in with their own arguments.
"What if one grabs you from behind, Charlie?" Laurent demanded, arms crossed. "You'll be dead before you can blink."
Charlie shrugged. "I trust you guys to keep them off me. You saying you can't?"
"Yes," Irina stressed from beside Laurent. "We still don't even know how many there will be."
"Well, a flamethrower takes care of a lot of problems-" at that point, Charlie spotted the Cullens, hovering on the edges of their former yard, and deflated. "Like those."
Before any of the Cullens could think of how to react, Bella melted out of the crowd of wolves and vampires, smiling though her eyes were guarded. There were approximately five seconds before the newly arrived coven erupted into chaos.
The battle passed swiftly. Victoria unfortunately found that her quarry was far from vulnerable, and as large as her newborn army had been, they were no match for nearly thirty wolves and fourteen relatively experienced vampires. At Charlie's request, he was allowed to bring his flamethrower to the battlefield after the fighting was done, gleefully torching every shredded newborn he could get to. It was the most vengeance he was likely to get after one of them had torn Bella's arm off halfway through the fight, and several had managed to get their teeth into her before being ripped away by wolves or other vampires.
Charlie maybe laughed a little too much while he reduced close to thirty supernatural beings to ash.