Title: Burn, baby, burn
Author: lost_in_a_story or Jill!
Rating: T now, M later for violence
Summary: "Sometimes it's easier to go down in flames than smolder in the ashes forever." Edward and the Cullens have been threatened, the Volturi are at Bella's throat, the world is burning down around them and the future is veiled in darkness as Bella Swan comes face to face with everything she's ever wanted and everything she's ever feared.
Bella’s Point of View
How we had gotten to where we were was still a pretty big mystery to me. Everything that had happened over the past forty eight hours was, ultimately, one gigantic blur. Yet here I was standing with who I considered to be my family, on the brink of what could inevitably be the end of us all.
And I was in the middle of it all.
I didn’t remember much of our journey to where we now found ourselves, only frantic phone calls and rash decisions on the part of my vampire boyfriend, Edward. Several times he had yelled at his siblings, in particular Alice who in turn had just stood there, as poised as she could have possibly been taking the brunt of his anger. It was during those arguments, in those most crucial and interesting moments, that I wished I could have been the one that read minds. Alice’s face had been so calm and eerily blank as she stood listening to Edward’s every word. It was something about the way her eyes were trained on his face, something about the way she barely blinked as Edward stood furiously, and irrationally angry with his favorite sister that made long to know exactly what she had been thinking. None of this was Alice’s fault, she was simply the unwilling bearer of bad news.
Of course Edward’s uncalled anger towards Alice would lead Jasper to react and soon Jasper and Edward were locked in an argument all their own,
Flashback to 48 hours prior
“It isn’t her fault Edward and you know it!” The Texan had yelled. I didn’t know Jasper’s voice was capable of reaching the volume that it had and it terrified me a little.
“I’m sorry Japser, I’m sorry! But you can’t blame me for being upset! Do you have any idea what this could mean?!” Edward had retaliated.
“Boys! Calm down this instant, there is no reason for this. We cannot allow this to tear us apart so easily. There has never been a more crucial time for us to act as a family, we must remain calm or we will never get anything accomplished!” Carlisle had stepped in, trying his best to prevent any sort of further confrontation between his sons. Jasper had pushed against Carlisle’s hand, obviously still upset with Edward for the way he had treated his mate,
“I said enough, son.” Carlisle said calmly yet firmly. Jasper’s shoulders relaxed and he retreated, grabbing Alice by the hand and pulling her to his chest without saying another word,
“I’m afraid.” I heard Alice whisper into Jasper’s chest. I had never known Alice Cullen to be afraid of anything and the fact that she was terrified me to no end.
“Carlisle what are we going to do?” Edward asked. His voice seemed so young, like he was actually seventeen turning to his father for advice. Carlisle looked aged, I had never seen him look so old or so unsure before. His face seemed to be more lined, and his normally sparkling golden eyes were dull and fading to black. He lifted his eyes to stare at his son,
“We’ll have to go.” He said simply. Edward said nothing. I knew he understood that his father was correct, Edward respected Carlisle more than anyone. Their relationship differed from Carlisle’s relationship with his other children mainly because Edward had been the first one that Carlisle had changed. Edward had mainly many mistakes, he had killed people, he had strayed far, but Carlisle had always welcomed him back with open arms. Carlisle knew what was best for his family, and Edward knew that.
“I’m coming with you!” I said. Edward rounded on me, obviously angry with the words that had just tumbled carelessly from my mouth.
“No, you are not.” He said quietly yet the tone of his voice scared me. Still, my eyes narrowed as I tried to look as determined as possible,
“Yes, I am.” I countered. Edward’s jaw tightened,
“Edward, she’s right…she’ll have to come. They asked for our entire family, and there is no way you would leave Bella here right now. You know that they’d kill her, and Charlie, and any other humans they saw as threats in a heartbeat. She will have to come.” Carlisle said. I felt a sudden rush of even more respect of Dr. Cullen as he backed me up. Edward looked from me to Edward,
“Fine.” He growled. We stared at each other for a moment, silently exchanging worries and apologies…then, Alice had screamed loudly as a flood of visions hit her. Edward whirled around quickly to read his sister’s thoughts.
“Alice?!” Jasper was terrified and his emotions hit us all. Edward crushed me to his chest,
“I love you Bella, I love you, please remember that I love you.” He whispered to me as his chest heaved with unneeded breath.
“What’s going on? Why are they doing this? What did she see?” I asked frantically. But I would never get my answer for the next minutes and the next hours were spent in a frenzy and before I knew it I was being hurried onto a red eye flight bound for Volterra, Italy…
And now here we were, surrounded by an enemy that had yet to show it‘s face, unable to run. Alice’s hands were fisted in her short, inky, hair as visions of what would inevitably happen taunted her.
“It’s alright darling, it’s alright. Just relax Mary Alice, think of the snow…try to forget.” Jasper was trying his hardest to soothe her, to make it all alright but he was failing. Alice whimpered, which was a small improvement from the blood curdling screaming she had been doing at random intervals a few hours before.
“They’re laughing, they’re mocking us, it’s so awful Jasper, it’s so hot there.” She mumbled to her one true love.
Emmett and Rosalie were clutching each other’s hands, a rare emotional state for the two of them.
“I love you, you big ridiculous bear of a man.” I heard Rosalie confess. Emmett had been silent for most of the trip…which, in a way, scared me the most. Emmett, who had been a constant comical figure since I had first met the Cullens, who had played practical jokes and loved with all of his heart, had been forced into a quiet, submissive, state by the evil that now threatened our very lives.
“We aren’t going down without a fight.” Emmett said. I was glad to hear him finally speak,
“That’s right Emmett, we fight for our family.” Esme said. Esme looked so small standing in between her husband and her largest son. She was so loving, so motherly to every child in her family and to me. I had only heard her raise her voice once in the entire time I had known her and that was when Emmett, Jasper, and Edward had broken some extremely valuable vase while playing a game of indoor football. Esme loved with all of her heart, she was never harsh and it was heartbreaking to think of her in the midst of battle and I could hardly bare the thought of some sadistic vampire trying to claim her life.
Carlisle stood beside her, at the front of our group, doing his best to shield his entire family from view. I had never seen his expression so serious in all the time I had known him. He was watching the darkness with anticipation. He was the family’s patriarch, and I saw it in his eyes in that moment that he would gladly lay down his own life so that the rest of his family could live.
“I’ve had a good run.“ He whispered, and I was more than certain that he was wanting that statement to be for no one’s ears but his own. Esme squeezed his hand and inched a bit closer to his side. I almost became sick at the thought of any of my vampires being killed, it just couldn’t happen. They were my family as far as I was concerned they were my brothers and my sisters and my parents…
…and then there was Edward.
He stood in front of my shielding me from what was to come. His hand was clutching mine in an attempt to get as close to me as possibly while still protecting me. I couldn’t imagine life without him, it just simply wouldn’t be life. Edward had become a wonderful constant in my life and I was in no way willing to give that up. Then again, this had been all my fault. Stupid mortality, stupid heart, stupid existence. If I hadn’t moved to Forks then I wouldn’t have endangered the Cullens lives.
But if I hadn’t moved to Forks I would never have met Edward.
I loved him and he loved me. It was there in his eyes every moment of every day. It was in the way he kissed me gently and it was in the way he listened intently to my stupid human stories. Edward Cullen loved me and he would die for me…I just had never imagined he would have to.
“Bella, did you know that you throw the covers off of you at least three times a night?” He asked me. His question caught me off guard, why in the world would he be telling me nonsensical things at a time like this?
“…No, I guess I didn’t.” I said blankly. Emmett let out a chuckle,
“Silly human.” He laughed. The corners of my mouth twitched up just a bit. Edward was trying to calm me, he was trying to calm everyone.
“I’m sorry Edward.” Jasper whispered from beside his spot beside his brother. He knew that his own emotional state was being projected onto the rest of us. He couldn’t help it, Alice was a wreck which, in turn, caused him emotional stress.
“Hey, you are doing your best. I’m just trying to help. We fight four our brothers…” Edward said,
“We fight for our sisters…” Jasper answered,
“We fight for love…” Edward responded,
“We fight for family.” Jasper concluded. Edward smiled just a touch, just so it didn’t reach his eyes.
“I love you Bella. I love the way your eyes sparkle during the holidays when we go and look at all the decorations. I love the way you get scared during horror movies. I love your silly human mannerisms, and I adore your heart and the way you love with every ounce of it. No matter what happens remember that I love you and that…that maybe Carlisle is right.” He said. I was curious,
“Right about what?” I asked quietly. Edward swallowed and he chewed on his bottom lip for the smallest of moments before placing his lips at my ear,
“Just believe that he’s right, please?” He whispered pleadingly.
“Right about what Edward?” I asked. But, again, I would never get my answer,
“They’re coming.” Alice said, her voice thick with panic. I had heard nothing but silence for quite awhile where we had been hiding. Though Alice had said it was inevitable that we would be caught, she had said that we would have to fight…there was no way around any of it. And, even in the darkest of times, no one bet against Alice.
“I’m so sorry for all of this.” I whispered as frightening, unfamiliar, sounds began to fill the air around us. It would have been so much easier if Edward would have just agreed to the terms presented to him when we had reached Volterra, it would have been so much easier if he would have just killed me…
“What are you saying Bella? Do you think this is all your fault?” He asked me. I nodded, because it was. If I hadn’t of been so careless, if I hadn’t picked up the phone, if I hadn’t opened my mouth then none of this would have happened.
“It is isn’t it? It could have been so easily avoided.” I said. Edward bent his head down so that we were nose to nose.
“Bella my life was nothing before you. I was a shell of an existence, I had no meaning. I simply was. Then you happened across my path and I felt like my life had purpose again. Don’t you ever, ever, believe that was your fault, we protect the ones we love. Do not believe that this was all for nothing.” He then placed a heartbreaking kiss against my forehead.
“Boys, I know you’ll want to protect your sisters and your wives and your loves but you must remember that they are just as strong and just as quick as you are so please, try your hardest not to make this a mate for mate fight.” Carlisle said.
“Yes Carlisle.” All three boys said. Edward stood in front of me, his fists clenching and unclenching. Suddenly, he froze and I saw his jaw tighten as he seemed to deeply contemplate something. His eyes shot up and he searched the darkness for any sort of bright spot. Then, Alice gasped as something in the future changed.
“Edward…do it.” She said quickly.
“Are you sure Alice?” Edward asked.
“It’s shaky but…you know what the alternative is…you know what happens if she stays.” She said. What was happening? I didn’t want to be separated, I didn’t want to leave.
“Bella, I love you.” Edward said. The noises were getting louder and my fear was intensifying by the second.
“Edward what are you doing?” I asked as he led me by the arm away from the family,
“Bella run, run quickly.” His eyes shot up as a round of growls ripped through his family as they crouched ready for a fight,
“No! I’m not leaving you here to fight for me! No, please Edward, don’t make me leave you!” Tears sprung into my eyes and I suddenly couldn’t breathe.
“Bella trust me it’s for the best, you have to go. Run as fast as you can…” He said hurriedly.
“Come with me!” I begged, “Why can’t we all run?” I was babbling, trying my hardest to get him to come with me.
“If we all go they will follow.” He said,
“But they want me! They’re after me! Won’t they follow my scent?” I asked. I knew I was right about something and I needed him to listen to reason.
“There are seven of us…” He began,
“And you don’t know how many of them there are!” I countered,
“They’ll rush us and we’ll take them down. Alice is crafty, Emmett is big, Rosalie is…well…terrifying and Carlisle and Esme are vicious when their children are threatened. We are a smart family and we’ll take them down before they even register that you are missing. Leave your jacket, that will distract them long enough.” He said. I peeled off my jacket quickly and handed it to him,
“Come with me. I don’t want to leave you! I’ll fight, please…” I was sobbing now, I didn’t want my last image of him to be this sad, I didn’t want my last image of Alice to be that of her looking frightened and confused,
“I can’t love.” Was all he could say,
“Please.” I begged one last time,
“Edward! They’re here!” Alice said frantically,
“I love you. Believe that Carlisle is right, believe that he is right, and I will wait for you.” He said,
“Edward?” I questioned,
“I love you.” He kissed me roughly, without abandon, he kissed me as if I weren’t the fragile human that I was,
“Run.” he said. And I did, I turned and I ran into the darkness, away from my family, away from my love.
And the sounds that I heard next would haunt me for an eternity.
Deep snarls flooded the space, and I distinctly heard Emmett yell several obscenities.
“I love you all.“ I heard Carlisle yell above the sounds of the coming fight. Then, it sounded like a thunderstorm was raging and I knew vampire to vampire combat involving my family was happening at that very moment…and there was nothing I could do to help. I could only run as I had been instructed to do.
“ROSALIE!!” I heard Emmett’s thunderous yells first and my heart began to break. My sobbing was becoming uncontrollable as I fled the scene. Then more screams filled the air, voices I recognized and ones I did not.
“EMMETT!” Jasper’s voice followed as he, no doubt, fought for his brother’s life. I choked on my tears and I couldn’t escape the sounds fast enough. I suddenly felt a rush of heat from behind me and knew that flames now consumed the space that I had been standing in just a few minutes prior.
Then, I heard the one phrase, the one name, that would make me turn around.
“EDWARD NO!” I heard Esme scream next. “EDWARD!!! EDWARD!!!!” Her scream was like a knife through my heart and I stopped dead in my tracks. I whirled around and began to propel myself back towards the scene.
That’s when Alice let out a shattering scream. Only it wasn’t out of pain, and it wasn’t out of fear for her one life,
“ALICE!!” Jasper roared,
“BELLA NO!!!!!!!” Alice screamed, she was obviously aware that I was running back towards the fight. “NO!!!!!!!!” She continued to scream but I didn’t care, I needed Edward, I needed my family.
There was nothing Alice could have done, the fire and the other vampires were in the way. She couldn’t have prevented it, and I couldn’t have possibly seen him coming, but, suddenly, I was face to face with a menacing pair of red eyes. I let out a shriek that almost matched Alice’s frantic screams. I was unable to locate my family as the smoke filled the space.
He grabbed me like a rag doll and slammed me hard against a nearby wall.
“WHERE’S EDWARD?!” I screamed. My own voice was the only one I heard now.
“Hell.” The vampire hissed.
“NO!” I began to sob again. He couldn’t be dead, they couldn’t be dead, they were strong and smart. My family couldn’t be dead.
“I’m going to make your dreams come true.” He said, his voice thick with malice.
“What are you talking about?” I whimpered. I wanted to break free, I wanted to punch him in the face and run. I wanted this all to be just some hellish nightmare.
“Tag, you’re it.” He said just before he sunk his teeth into the side of my neck. The pain was instant and unbearable. I screamed as the searing venom began to course through my veins.
“EDWARD!” I cried out as I tried to fight through the pain. But it was no use, I couldn’t see Edward, I couldn’t see Alice, I didn’t hear anyone anymore. All seemed lost as everything burned around me and my world began to fall away into darkness. . .