I was sick with dread. Every moment of contact we had had with Aro and his group represented our cumulatively worst moments. Whatever reason could have brought Aro here, I could bet that it wasn't going to be something pleasant. He stood there, long black hair hanging around his papery skin, cast in an unflattering grey light by the Washington skies.
"Bella." Always, he spoke to me with the tone of someone who was addressing a long lost friend. "You are as magnificent as ever, though I can't deny I'm disappointed to note that Edward hasn't chosen to follow my advice from our last meeting. Your blood smells just as sweet, though not so sweet as it does to Edward, and I can feel your heat from here. Lovely. You do not appear to be as pleased to see me though." Despite his words, the smile of welcome remained on his face.
"Bella's memories of your last meeting may not be as warm as they are for you, Aro." Jasper said. His voice had a different quality to it. One I didn't recognize. I imagined it must have been the tone he'd learned for use when negotiating with the other side, during the battles of his human life.
Aro declined his head in Jasper's direction in agreement. "I am sure you are correct Jasper. And how are your lovely mates? You know I favor Edward and Alice above many of my own guard." I felt Jasper tense next to me. I laid a hand on his arm hoping it might bring him some level of calm. We looked at each other, and Jasper made a visible effort to relax once again. Aro seemed delighted at this.
"Ah! This is beyond my expectations Cantante. You have asserted yourself as a part of the strange Cullen family phenomena. Carlisle has exceeding all my hopes. I am sorry I won't be able to see him this trip."
Seth had begun squirming behind us, so I hadn't heard much of what Aro had said. His movement brought me back to the questions I'd had before Aro had come. "Did you tie Seth up?" I asked.
"Indeed, yes, the werewolf; we had to trick him, most unfortunate, but he's been a wonderful help. I learned of Alice's difficulties with werewolves from some mutual friends. For our plan, it was necessary that Alice remain ignorant of our approach. This young werewolf has been a perfect acquirement towards that effort. You may have wondered why he did not just change himself and escape. Felix had the foresight to consider this problem and as you can see," as Aro said this, he made his way over to where Seth stood against the tree. He lifted Seth's shirt, and beneath it was what looked like explosives set around his waist. "Here, there is the trigger, had he expanded it would have in effect, pulled the pin."
Seth was noticeably trying to lean as far away from Aro as he could. I worried he might accidentally set it off by moving and clenching my teeth together snapped at him. "Seth! Hold still, I don't want you hurt." Aro smiled and stepped back. "I'm afraid my young friend prefers my absence. Alas." Aro stepped away from him and turned back to me.
"I'm sorry to do this Bella, but we have decided it is imperative that we have Edward and Alice as part of our family. As Edward has expressed no interest in doing this of his own accord, we have decided a little persuasion might be necessary." As he said this, Jane stepped out of the trees behind Aro. "My little love." Aro said lovingly to her, and gestured in Jasper's direction. She smiled, and Jasper was suddenly on the forest floor screaming.
I lunged forward yelling stop, as I felt two cold hands take hold of me. I struggled in vain for a moment, but realized quickly that it was useless. I was trying to scream at Jane to leave Jasper alone, Aro was explaining his plan, and Seth screamed from behind us. My heart bled for Seth, he didn't deserve this treatment. I realized others were surrounding us, and suddenly Jasper was being placed on a stretcher of sorts. Jane never released him, only smiling benignly at him as she hung to his side. Jasper never stopped screaming, I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever lose the memory of that sound.
We walked deeper into the forest, I looked back behind my captor and saw that they had Seth tied to a stretcher like Jasper's. We walked human speed for several minutes before I began to realize I could hear a loud sound building around me. It grew and grew until I began to recognize it for what it was. It was a helicopter. We stepped into a meadow, not unlike the one Edward had taken to me, though no beauty blessed this place.
We were placed inside. Jane was already inside, and Aro stepped in directly after her. My captor climbed in, as we sat, I realized it was Felix. He pulled Seth behind him and pushed him into the seat next to me. Another voice came from the cockpit. I shivered as I recognized it. "Why did it take so long?" Caius, so they were all here. Aro was looking at Jasper who was sitting up.
"You understand Jane will be with us every moment. It is inadvisable to fight this, you do understand." Jasper looked terrifying and mutinous, but he nodded and leaned in closer to me. He slid a hand on my shoulder, and I realized he was trying to calm me. I felt an overwhelming feeling of tenderness for Jasper, and he must have felt it, because he turned to me and smiled weakly.
We flew for what seemed like ages. Seth was quiet and obviously frustrated throughout the entire flight. I had to shift countless times trying to stay somewhat comfortable during our flight. Eventually Jasper realized what I was trying to do and broke out of his statue impression, so that I could lean against him. I was horrified for what Edward must be feeling. As I thought this, I looked at Seth, and realized he might not even know we were gone yet.
So long as Seth was with us, Alice would be blind. Still, she always said that I disappeared completely whenever I spent time with Jacob. I was hopeful that realizing both Jasper and I had completely disappeared would alert her to something. Even if it couldn't lead them anywhere just now, the idea they might be aware there was a problem was oddly comforting to me.
After ages of varying terrain, nearly all of it crossing dense green below us, we began to fly over water. I could see a city rising slowly in the distance. A small flicker of hope began to grow in me. Perhaps in the city, we could lose them.
My hope was crushed when the helicopter came down on a private section of the airfield at SeaTac International. Across from where we landed was a private jet.
Aro released Seth, removing the pin's connection to the rest of the explosive pack and removing the entire belt from him, but leaving the bindings on his arms. "I am afraid my young friend, that here our paths must part. You will have to wait until the representative from the company arrives to pick up his helicopter to be set free. You have been a great help to us. I apologize for its being necessary to do so by force."
His voice had a note of intense curiosity in it, and it annoyed me to hear the tone of curiosity in him. Playthings, toys, were all the interest we were to him.
Felix led us onto the plane, while Caius and Jane followed just behind us. The extra guards who'd carried Seth and Jasper flew with us. As the door closed on the plane, and we lifted off I finally lost control. I had no way to warn Edward. I knew without a doubt Aro's plan would work and that Edward would follow us as soon as he was able.
Jasper sensed my anguish even before my tears began, and he turned to me with great sadness and wrapping an arm around me, pulled me in close to him. Whatever happened, apparently Jasper and I were in it together. I was grateful for his presence, though I would have given anything for him to be back with Alice, safe. The thought brought fresh strength to my tears, and though Jasper did calm me, he couldn't stop them completely.
I fell asleep against Jasper's shoulder. I woke each time we landed, when I was brought food. I couldn't understand so many stops, but then remembered it wasn't a large plane. They must be refueling. Night fell and we still flew on. Sometime the following day I awoke to the plane shuddering, and shaking.
At some point, Jasper had lain me down in a forward section of seats away from Aro's group, and we sat in relative darkness. He sat in front of me, until I awoke and sat up. Then he joined me in the seat and sent his waves of calm to me. It was all I could ask for as the plane pitched and dropped in the turbulence.