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Pain.

It’s such a small word that encompasses so many emotions, thoughts, and feelings. 

How can a word bring back memories?

How can a word make you feel things? 

It’s all-consuming… pain is. Parent’s try to avoid it, try to shelter their children from it for as long as they can. Well, the good one’s do, anyway. 

But that’s the thing about pain, isn’t it? It’s unavoidable. 

A bleeding knee after a fall to the concrete sidewalk, the loss of a childhood pet, a debilitating headache that seems to last forever, that first heartbreak.

Your sister getting married and not telling you. 

That last one was more disappointment, but Elizabeth supposed she couldn’t expect much from someone she barely saw anymore.

Bella was a model big sister her whole life. She mothered when it was needed, she was a friend, a tutor, a free ride, and a confidant. Bella always did what was best for others, while Ellie was given the luxury of getting to choose herself. 

The ivory invitation came in the mail on an average Tuesday, something so extravagant looking on such a bland day. Ellie opened it up, trying to find a semblance of happiness or joy for her eighteen year old sister, but all she could catch onto was disappointment. And a touch of anger.

She turned, walking back into her Florida home, and dropped the invitation onto the kitchen table before taking her seat and finishing her breakfast. Phil picked it up, still finishing his morning coffee, and called out to her mom, which Ellie barely heard. A sign of another headache coming on. 

Brain tumors were no joke. 

Elizabeth supposed she was being petty about her morals. Not telling your sister about your impending death was way worse than not telling your sister about getting engaged. But Ellie knew she would be ruining her sister’s life. Her overprotective older sister would drop everything to come save her, but there was nothing left to save, and she had come to terms with that. And besides, she guessed the moment Edward walked through those doors a few months prior that an engagement was on the horizon. 

Renee fought hard for a while, and Ellie let her, she supposed she didn’t want to accept the facts at the time, but after a dozen doctors and countless road trips and phone calls, Elizabeth and her family were forced to accept her fate, death was imminent. 

Death came around eventually, for everyone, it would wrap its boney fingers around everyone’s string of fate and pull you to the depths. Some just sooner than others. And there was nothing anybody could do about it. Ellie had accepted that, she found a strange calm in death, a peacefulness that she had never experienced before. Everyone thought she was nuts. 

Maybe it was the tumor talking. 

Her family had not accepted her choices at all, and she was still a minor so the constant doctor’s trips lasted for a long time until she finally put her stubborn foot down, demanding that she did not want any more extreme measures taken. Her mom fought her, hard , but Ellie fought back, insisting that it was her life and she was allowed to live it how she wanted. Renee’s “hippie” way of mothering bit her on the ass on that one. 

“Ell?” Elizabeth’s eyes focused on her mothers worried face. “You okay?” Ellie could tell she was concerned, but her mom tried to hide it as best she could. Ellie took a deep breath, smiling at her mom to let her know she was okay.

“How long was I out?” She asked. 

“Only a few seconds, but it seems to be happening more often.” Renee rubbed her daughter’s cheeks with her thumbs, soothing any residual worry away. 

Ellie started getting absence seizures about a month ago, - a side effect of the mass currently renting out space in her cranium - she would zone out but not remember anything while they were happening. 

“You need to tell her,” Renee chastised, standing up from her crouching position in front of her daughter, making her way into the kitchen for another fill up. 

“I’ll do it after the wedding.” Ellie responded. The two of them have had this conversation multiple times, Ellie didn’t want to ruin her sister’s life, her sister who had just gotten her shit together, found someone she loves, and is now getting married. She would move back to Florida to take care of her helpless little sister, and throw her life away. Ellie couldn’t live with that on her conscience, not along with all the other baggage she was carrying. 

“She’s leaving for her honeymoon right after, you won’t get a chance.” Renee was now angrily washing dishes, throwing things in the sudsy water, sending bubbles up in the air around her.

“I’m not going to ruin her wedding, mom.” Elizabeth answered, annoyed now. 

“Well, I’m buying you a plane ticket to go early so you can spend some time with her, you’re not going to be able to keep it a secret… and your dad is certainly not going to be able to keep it quiet.” 

Poor Charlie. Ellie loved her dad, he really was the best, and she loved going up to spend summers with him, but she had friends and a life down in Arizona - and now Florida -, and when Bella went to live with their dad full time, Ellie chose to stay home, her best friend at the time lived next door and her mom was content on checking in and letting El stay with them while her and Phil traveled around. When they picked a more permanent spot in Florida, Ellie was happy to make the move to the sunshine state.

It took Charlie a bit of time to understand why she didn’t want to move up north, but he came around eventually and they talked on the phone constantly, especially when Bella was going through her depression after Edward left. The bastard.

“Why am I going early!?” She was yelling now, something she never used to do to her mother. 

“So you can spend your birthday with your dad, he’s really excited about it so you can’t cancel.” Renee responded, matter-of-factly. She threw the dish towel down and stormed out of the room, not willing to finish this argument. 

Elizabeth took a few deep breaths, closing her eyes and trying to calm the rage building inside of her.

“She’s right you know.” Phil said from over the newspaper in his hands. Ellie combed both hands through her dirty blonde hair, calming her rage. She always found it hard to be mad at Phil, he was just always so nice and calm. 

“I know.” She replied plainly. She knew it was the right thing to do, everyone knew about her tumor except Bella. She asked her own father to keep it a secret and she knew her older sister was going to be mad at everyone else for not telling her instead of being angry at Ellie for making them keep the secret in the first place. 

 

----

 

Ellie begrudgingly made her way through the airport, the flight she just got off of was way too long and stuffy and her mom had tipped off the flight attendants somehow so they checked on her every 15 minutes like clockwork. 

She didn’t have any issues on the flight, her episodes only really occurred when she was tired - which was pretty much all the time now - but she felt strangely refreshed today.

She made her way outside, looking for the familiar red truck in the waiting docks, but when no such truck was spotted, Ellie got a little worried - her sister was never late. She dug her phone out and began dialing her sister’s phone number when a horn honked, startling her slightly and drawing her attention to a few feet in front of where she stood, where a familiar figure was getting out of a black Mercedes.

Bella? ” Ellie slowly made her way over to the car, where her sister was opening the trunk for her to put her bag into. When Ellie reached the car she heaved her bag into it and turned to her sister, who looked uncomfortable, but otherwise exactly the same as a year ago. Bella went in for a hug, noticing that her little sister felt skinnier, but didn’t want to comment on the fact for fear of bringing up an unnecessary fight. 

“It’s weird, right?” Bella asked, still hugging her sister. 

“So weird,” Ellie laughed. The younger of the two pulled back first, avoiding eye contact and making her way over to the passenger’s side door. The door was heavy, and Ellie really had to put her body weight behind it to get it open. 

“It was an engagement gift from Edward.” Bella stated, putting the car in drive and taking off towards home. 

“A brand new car as an engagement gift?” Ellie questioned, looking around at the expensive interior. There was no way this car costs less than $100k. “Is Emmett still single?” They laughed at her joke - though, both knew it was a more serious question than the younger one wanted to admit -, and El noted that even in a car that was meant to go fast, her sister still obeyed all traffic laws. Elizabeth was sure that if she got behind the wheel she would waste no time getting to 100mph. “So… got anything planned for the week before the big day?” She asked after a few minutes of silence. She was used to her sister’s quiet demeanor, but her nerves were on edge. 

“Um, no, not really, Edward’s going camping with his brothers but I don’t have anything planned.” She admitted. Ellie really shouldn’t have been shocked by this, her sister was a homebody by nature, but last time she was here Bella had friends and seemed to be branching out a bit, even if it was just Alice. 

“No Bachelorette party?” Ellie asked, now fidgeting with the buttons on the center console. 

“God no,” her older sister laughed, clearly uncomfortable with the idea. “Alice tried to plan something but I told her no.”

Ellie laughed at that, “How in the world did you tell Alice no? That’s like asking a shark to walk on land.” They both laughed at the statement, Alice was a force to be reckoned with, which is one of the reasons Ellie liked her so much. She had always liked the Cullens, she met Edward after Bella’s accident last year, and decided pretty quickly that she was not the biggest fan of her big sister’s boyfriend. Edward was always nice and polite, sure, but he seemed to always be hurting her more than helping her - at least from the stories that Ellie was being told. 

“I had to compromise, she’s planning the entire wedding.” Bella explained. 

“That makes sense.” Ellie responded, nodding her head. 

“We do have to go there before we go home, Alice needs to fit you for your dress.” Bella said, keeping her eyes on the road ahead of her, hands always at a solid 10 and 2. The idea of going to the Cullen’s house before going to Charlie’s made her a little uneasy, she thought about how she was going to tell her sister about her tumor and wanted to have her dad there as backup - but she also wanted to do it as soon as possible, because the guilt was eating at her a lot quicker than she thought it would be. 

“Oh, fun.” Ellie hoped Bella couldn’t sense the anxiety and hesitation in her voice.

 

----

 

When they finally arrived at the Cullen’s McMansion in the woods, Ellie was feeling the tolls of travel. Her vision was blurring a little around the edges and she was tired from being up so early that morning to catch her flight. She did a mental check when she saw the time, she would have to take her meds soon, which was going to raise questions from her sister. It wasn’t even like it was one pill either, it was a good handful. 

They walked up to the front door together, where Alice was already waiting for them, with a welcoming smile. Ellie smiled back, forgetting about her fatigue and becoming excited to see the Cullen’s again. 

“Ellie! It’s so good to see you again.” Alice said, pulling the younger Swan in for a brief hug, Ellie flinched for a second, always forgetting how cold and solid she was. “I can’t wait for you to see your dress!” Alice immediately started pulling Ellie into the house, never letting go of her one hand, not even giving her a chance to get reacquainted with her surroundings, making her a little dizzy, but Alice kept on moving, probably not even noticing her slight wobble. 

They made it to one of the rooms adjacent to the kitchen where Alice had a pedestal, a coat rack, and mirrors for her fitting. Alice quickly moved to the rack, immediately pulling out a dress and putting it in Ellie’s hands. “Bathroom’s right through that door, go get changed, oh and make sure you take everything off.” Alice winked a little, her golden eyes sparkling a little more than usual. 

“Everything?” Ellie questioned, wondering why on earth she would need to take her underwear off for a dress fitting. 

“Yes, everything.” Alice rolled her eyes a little, shoving her towards the bathroom door. Elizabeth rolled her eyes right back, but walked into the bathroom anyway. 

When she got into the spacious room, she took a second to gather herself, taking a deep breath, steadying her hands on the counter, and looking at herself in the ornate mirror. Her dark blue eyes were sunken, and dull, her skin was paler than it had ever been, even though she spent most of her spare time laying in the sun trying to regain some color. Her hair lacked the luster it normally had, now just laid like a flat mop on her head no matter how much extra product she put in it. The small amount of chemo that she tried to get through thinned out her body and her hair and Ellie was still attempting to regrow it. She looked in the mirror and didn’t see herself anymore. She saw a shell of a human, a leech who latched onto anything alive and took dragging pulls just to live another day. 

She stripped down, noting how her rib cage was starting to show through her skin. Her appetite had taken a hard turn once she started taking all the medications, and the amount of weight she lost from the chemo would probably never get a chance to come back. She took off her bra and then grabbed the dress off the toilet, turning away from the mirror so she didn’t have to look at her body anymore. Once she had the dress on she turned again, admiring the low cut, form fitted lilac dress. The back was completely open, held together only by a set of strings that would need to be laced through like a corset. She quickly realized why underwear would be a problem in this, it’s thin silk fabric would not allow any secrets to be hidden. Her heart raced slightly at the thought of everyone at Bella’s wedding being able to see how skinny she was getting.

Ellie thought briefly about ditching the whole thing. Dropping the dress, getting dressed, and just walking out the door. Bella was with Edward somewhere - she had ditched her as soon as they walked through the door - so it would take her a while to even realize she was gone. And maybe she could stop Alice from saying anything, she could just lie and say she needed some fresh air. The way to Charlie’s is just a straight walk down one road, albeit a long road and someone would probably find her before she reached her final destination but she could come up with a different excuse by the time someone reached her. 

“Everything okay?” Alice knocked on the door, startling Ellie. “Don’t worry about tying up the back, I’ll do it when you get out here.” Well, there goes her plan. Ellie took a half a second to compose herself and dropped her thong before she could second guess herself, then gathered up the bottom of the dress and made her way out of the lavish bathroom. She stepped out of the room, and went straight to the podium.

Alice started working immediately and Ellie tried not to look at herself in the mirrors in front of her. Alice was talking a million miles a minute, but Ellie wasn’t listening. She felt a pressure behind her eyes and closed them for a second to try and push the pain down, and the sinking feeling that what she knew was about to happen, would happen. 

Elizabeth heard someone call her name before she passed out. 

 

-----

 

Ellie knew exactly where she was when she woke up. She could hear the beeping of the monitors before she opened her eyes and the unmistakable smell of the hospital immediately dried out her throat. She opened her eyes, looking around to hopefully see her dad, but all she saw was Bella standing at her doorway, talking to someone she couldn’t see. 

“Bells?” Her voice was coarse and she could feel the oxygen tubes in her nostrils, drying out her throat and nose more. She ripped them out, attempting to sit up, but Bella reached her before she could, placing the oxygen back in her nose and pushing her back down to the bed. “Where’s dad?” 

“He’s on his way.” She paused for a second, taking a seat at the chair next to her bed. “How long have you known?” Bella whispered, not looking at her little sister. 

“Since May.” Elizabeth replied, also not looking at her big sister. 

“That’s why you didn’t come to visit this summer.” It wasn’t a question, Ellie knew Bella was just putting the pieces together now. 

“I didn’t know how to tell you.” She was crying now, the guilt and pressure finally releasing and removing a small amount of the weight on her shoulders. Bella sniffled, and took a breath, trying to compose herself. The last thing she wanted to do was yell at her little sister for something so out of anyone’s control, but she felt so confused and hurt that her sister and mom would keep such a secret from her. 

“Does dad know?” Ellie just nodded in response, not trusting her voice enough to actually answer. “Does everyone but me know?” Bella was getting a little louder now, the tone in her voice shifted quickly and Ellie flinched unwillingly. 

“Bella-“

“Hey,” Charlie walked in then, interrupting Ellie’s train of thought that honestly wasn’t going anywhere to begin with. “Sorry I got here as fast as I could.” 

“It’s okay dad, can you just get me out of here?” Ellie asked, her saving grace finally arriving to set her free from this hell hole. 

“Get out of here?” Bella asked, looking to Charlie for some confirmation that her little sister hadn’t just completely lost her marbles.

“Yeah, Bella I’m not staying here I’m going home.” Ellie explained, getting agitated. 

“You can’t go home you need help, Carlisle said if you go home you’ll die-”

“I’m not staying here!” Ellie exploded, cutting off her older sister. She didn’t look to see the hurt that she knew was in Bella’s or her dad’s eyes, that was too much to bear. It was then that Carlisle walked in, clipboard in hand, looking as handsome as ever.

“I’m sure you already know what I’m about to tell you.” He said, looking right at her.

“Grade four gliosarcoma, extremely rare and even more rare in people my age, inoperable, a 12 to 18 month life expectancy depending on how fast the tumor grows. If it grows outside of my skull - which with how fast my symptoms are progressing it most likely will - then I’ve got maybe four months. Even with surgery. Did I get all that right Doc?” Ellie looked at Carlisle while she talked but she was really talking to Bella. And maybe even her dad, he had never heard all this from her before - only from Renee and she’s a bit scatterbrained on a good day. “If you want I can have my mom call my doctor in Arizona and have them send over all my files and scans, but it’s probably pointless. I know I’m getting worse, sometimes I can’t hold a fork anymore.” Ellie hated how blunt she was being but she couldn’t find it in her to actually stop. She had heard the same shit over and over again from every doctor who claimed they knew what they were doing and that they were the best there’s ever been but none of them are and none of them will be. 

“Dad, you can’t let her do this.” Bella pleaded, looking for any way to save her baby sister from making a mistake. 

“She’s made up her mind Bells, we’ve been through this with her already.” The chief sighed, hands on his hips with a seasoned cop face that meant business. 

“This is insane, Carlisle tell me there’s something you can do.” Bella looked to the doctor now, but Ellie swore she saw a little more in her eyes, like she was really asking for something else. Carlisle only shook his head, solidifying what Ellie already knew. 

“I’ll go get your discharge papers.” Dr. Cullen walked out and Bella took off quickly after him, probably to berate him into doing what she asked.  Charlie paused for a second, walking over to his daughter and giving her a kiss on the head before following the doctor out of the room and down the hall. 

Ellie was only alone for a few seconds when a broad shouldered giant walked into her room. 

“Hey stranger,” Emmett greeted, walking in and going straight for the chair Bella had just occupied. 

“Hey Em,” Ellie smiled, suddenly very conscious of the cannula still stuck in her nose and about how terrible her hair must look right now. She pulled the cannula out, tired of how it was drying out her nose and throat. Emmett reached over her, helping her so the tubes wouldn’t get caught in her now short honey hair. 

“You cut your hair.” Emmett commented, and Ellie was just grateful that he wasn’t talking about where they were right now. 

“Yeah, it started thinning out so I decided to go a little shorter.” She had actually cut about half of it off, and since then it had grown out right past her shoulders. Emmett stared at her for a few more seconds before making up his mind and standing up. “Where are you going?” She asked, alerted that he was leaving after just getting here. 

“You don’t wanna be here, and I hate the smell of hospitals so let’s go,” he walked over to her left side, where he gingerly pulled the IV needle out of her arm, barely leaving a drop of blood in its wake. She smiled up at him and took his outstretched hand, where he carefully pulled her out of the hospital bed. “Bella brought your clothes, they’re in the bathroom.” He winked and she scurried off to the door nearest to her - making sure to pinch off the back of her gown - grinning ear to ear and finding all the clothes she was wearing earlier neatly folded on the nurses cart next to the sink. Bra and underwear included. 

Ellie quickly got changed, slipping on her shoes as she stumbled out the door. 

“Come on.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the room, she honestly had no idea where she was going but also knew that Emmett would guide her if she went the wrong way. It always shocked her how cold Emmett was, even after encountering Alice earlier that day, it still made her worry about their circulation - she also supposed that the fact that they always had open windows in their house didn’t help. 

When they arrived outside Ellie immediately spotted Emmett’s jeep, in all its glory and headed straight for it, opening the passenger door that was always unlocked. She climbed in and Emmett shut her door behind her once she was settled before walking over to the drivers side. 

They didn’t talk and Emmett just drove. 

Ellie had no idea where he was driving, and she didn’t care. 

Emmett was always her favorite Cullen. They always seemed to have some kind of unspoken bond, always comfortable around each other and he never treated her like Bella’s little sister. Ell loved Alice and Jasper - when he wasn’t being so painfully quiet - and Carlisle and Esme always treated her like a part of the family, but underneath it all she always felt like she was just Bella’s annoying little sister who was tolerated, not wanted. Especially surrounding her relationship with Edward. 

He was always cordial and never rude or disrespectful to her but there was something off about him - really the whole family, she just couldn’t put her finger on it - but around him it was all Bella all the time. 

That’s how Emmett made her feel. Like he cared about her and only her. She thought about moving up to Forks but Emmett had graduated high school and was going off to college so he was only home for the summers, just like her. 

He was adventurous which she craved and funny in a way that she always had a smile on her face when he was around. He didn’t like going to the beach though, and that always bummed her out. Any time the weather got good he and his brothers would go out camping, a trip she was desperate to join in on one day but was always denied. 

But he would come swing by Charlie’s as soon as he got back and would pick her up to go driving around. 

He provided a comfort, a sense of calm she only ever experienced from her dad. But he was also light and jovial in a child-like way and she loved that he didn’t take life so seriously. 

When the Jeep stopped Ellie looked up and realized they were in a large open field, which might have been pretty if everything wasn’t the same shade of green and the sun was out. 

Emmett put the car in park and looked over to Ellie. 

“You wanna talk about it?” He asked. 

“Are you gonna try and change my mind?” Ellie asked, looking ahead and not at him. 

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Man, she had a crush on him. 

“I wanted to do so much.” She began, still looking straight ahead out of the windshield. “I wanted to go to other countries and explore more than three states my entire life, and learn about new cultures, get married, have kids… and it all got taken away from me, Em.” Emmett didn’t respond, he just reached over and placed a large hand over her smaller one. “I accepted it though, you know? I guess that’s part of the reason why I didn’t want to tell Bella, because I knew she would try and fix it, instead of just enjoying whatever amount of time together that we have left.” 

“It’s hard.” He finally said after what felt like an hour of silence. 

“I feel so morbid about it.” Ellie laughed a little, “I’ve completely accepted my death, and now I’m asking everyone who loves me to do the same.” She paused again, collecting her thoughts and feelings for a second longer. “I get it, I shouldn’t be asking people to accept my death and move on with their lives… it feels like I’m planning my own suicide and telling everyone about it… but I can’t go through all of that pain for a couple extra months just so everyone can be more comfortable… just because it’s what everyone else does, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”

Emmett didn’t respond for a while, clearly having some kind of internal debate that Ellie was sure she didn’t want to hear. Everyone had to come to terms with her decisions on their own time, but she was not about to compromise her comfort and her life just so everyone around her could be more comfortable. She’s the one dying, nobody gets to make decisions for her anymore.

“What if I could fix it?” He finally said.

“Em-”

“No, really, what if I could fix it?” 

“How?” Ellie asked, feeling a little hurt by the tiny ping of hopefulness she felt in her chest at his confident tone. He hesitated again, and Ellie could tell he wasn’t sure what to say exactly. 

Before he could respond, though, his phone started ringing in his pocket, Ellie couldn’t see who it was but by the look on Emmett’s face it was probably a sibling of his. He removed his cold hand from the top of hers, and Ell felt a strange moment of detachment. 

“Yeah?” His voice was quiet, and irritated and she could tell that he didn’t really want her to hear what was about to be said. “I need to.” was the next thing she heard him say - a strange thing to say if you asked her. “What did Alice say?” Okay, so he wasn’t talking to Alice. Ellie didn’t hear the ending of their conversation because even though they were in such close proximity he talked too low and too quick for her apparently slow brain to understand. Without another word Emmett put the Jeep in drive and started driving into the woods, presumably in the direction they came from but Ellie couldn’t remember. 

“Where are we going?” A question Ellie normally wouldn’t ask him, but she was getting a little concerned.

“Have you ever noticed something different about us?” He asked, completely ignoring her question and instead posing his own. 

“Different how?” She asked. She grabbed onto the oh shit handles when Emmett hit a particularly big rock at a not safe speed, and almost had to yell to hear herself talking over the loud engine. 

“Me, my family, have you ever noticed anything about us that feels different?” Ellie thought about it for a minute. Of course she noticed stuff about them. They were cold, and their skin was hard as a rock, and she often thought about how she’s never seen any of them in sunlight, and they either had very strict beauty routines or they all looked exactly the same every time she saw them. Even over the years they never changed, they all looked the same and never seemed to age. And their eyes, such a strange shade of gold that they all seemed to share despite not being related. 

But she would never say any of that. None of that was alarming or life changing information. It was just how they were. She had asked Bella about it after the first summer she was there, and her big sister explained all of these questions away, so Ellie never felt the need to bring them up again. 

“You know.” Emmett said, breaking her out of her thought bubble. 

“Why did you leave?” Was the only thing she could think to ask. Her sister’s depression was one of the hardest times in her life - and they never offered an explanation. They were just here one day and gone the next, and after all the drama of Bella traveling to Italy to retrieve her lover, everything just went back to normal - everyone just acted like nothing ever happened. 

“Edward didn’t think it was safe for Bella.” Safe? Why would Bella be unsafe with Edward? None of this was adding up or making sense and her head hurt and all she wanted to do now was take a nap. 

Emmett always drove fast but they arrived at Charlie's house in record time. Bella’s fancy new car wasn’t in the driveway and neither was her dad’s cruiser, which made Ellie believe they weren’t gone as long as she thought. 

They sat in silence for a minute longer, and she tried to gather her thoughts. “What’s going on Em?” She asked quietly, keeping her eyes forward. Everything that just happened confused her more than she wanted to think about right now. What was he talking about? Why would he ask her something to get her hopes up and then completely change the subject? 

“Talk to Bella when she gets home,” He reached his hand over again, finding her’s in the small space and she looked over at him, meeting his golden eyes. She trusted him, she never had a reason not to - and she would be lying if she said she wasn’t slightly in love with him. But she knew he didn’t feel the same way, he only viewed her as a friend, because who would go years without saying something to someone you liked? 

“Fine.” She sighed, pulling away from him, opening up the car door and dropping out, but stayed holding onto the door until she gained her own balance. 

She walked inside without a second thought, or a glance behind her. Her emotions were all over the place and she felt like crap. She often forgot she had a brain tumor - as hard as that was - but it reminded her of its presence any time she forgot. She went straight upstairs, and into her room that her 12-year-old self had decorated what felt like forever ago. The walls were a light shade of pink that matched the comforter on her twin bed, which looked like the most inviting surface on the planet right now. She plopped face down into her pillows, noting that her backpack and suitcase had made their way into her room. 

Ell rolled over onto her side so she could breathe, and started thinking about what Emmett said. The whole conversation was weird - and Emmett never made her feel weird or uncomfortable before. They had also never talked about such a morbid topic before. But why would he get her hopes up like that? Ellie knew there was no hope, she had been living the past couple months of her life like there was no hope, because that’s what she had come to accept. And now he was going to act like he could just fix everything? Just like that. 

What made it worse was that Emmett had never lied to her before - not that she knew of anyway - so why would he lie to her about something like this? Why would he say he could fix the unfixable with such certainty and then all in the same breath change the subject to his family and just drop her off at home to figure out her life for herself. It all made no sense and Ellie was almost 99% certain that she was going crazy and this wasn’t her real life at all - maybe she was just in some kind of fever dream that the tumor had put her in. 

Dumbass tumor. Ruining everything. 

Hell, maybe if this was a fever dream she could finally just live her life. Disappear to another country and live out the rest of her days exploring places she’s always wanted to see. Live a life she’s always wanted to live. 

But she wasn’t fully convinced she was living a coma dream right now. Not yet anyway. 

And what the hell was Emmett talking about? Did she notice anything different about him and his family? Yeah, of course, where does one even start on that topic? Gold eyes that get lighter and darker, pale white almost identical skin tones, cold lifeless skin. Emmett could drive without even looking at the road, she had seen him do it multiple times and it freaked her the fuck out, but he also seemed like he was so in control nothing could possibly ever happen to him. 

Emmett was also very… careful around her especially. He took almost a gentle approach if he ever touched her, like he was afraid he could break her. 

Ellie was intuitive, she could pick up on people’s emotions fairly quickly, and thought herself to be somewhat of an emotional chameleon. She could match people’s moods, and often fed off of them, so of course she noticed something off about all the Cullen’s when she met them, but she chalked it up to the fact that they were all adopted, which she figured came with it’s fair share of emotional baggage that could make people seem a bit weird and off-putting. 

Then there was another part of them that seemed… inhuman . The thought made her second guess everything. There was no way they could be anything but human, what the hell else could they possibly be. 

That old story of the wolves and cold ones that she heard as a child came to the forefront of her mind just then. Billy Black would tell scary campfire stories at the beach over the summers about men who could transform into wolves to protect their tribe from the cold ones who threatened their way of life. 

But they were just that. Stories. Childhood fables meant to keep the kids out of the woods. 

Right?