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Turning Back (7/?)

Title: Turning Back (7/?)
Author: songforevela
Rating: M for sexual content
Genre:
Drama, Romance, Angst (heavy on the angst)
Characters/Pairings:
Edward/Bella, other Cullens
Short summary:
Our lives never remain normal for long. My blood can potentially turn vampires back to their human selves, and I live in a house with six vampires now facing a choice they never expected to make.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns them. If they were my characters, I would give them all a happy ending post-angst.

A/N: Whew! This one was a long time coming...Sorry about that. I'm getting into some heavy plot, which takes a lot of planning. I'm on vacation for the week, so I should have some time to do some writing...The next chapters should come faster. Especially if I want them done before August 2!
___________________________________


Somehow I knew this day would come. I only thought that when it finally did arrive, they would be coming for me, not him.

Oh, God, not him.

Alice is outside, speed-talking into the small black phone, and I huddle on the couch, knees pulled to my chest as if they can hold my heart in. I fight the desire to dash upstairs, wrap Edward in my arms and pretend all of this isn't happening. Only I know we can only pretend for so long until danger catches up with us. It always catches up with us.

I feel a bitterness rising, too, but it's weary and I push it back into the dark place from which it leaked. For a fleeting moment, though, it escapes, and I wish things had gone the way they were supposed to. Edward and I could have faced the Volturi together, as husband and wife, vampire and newborn vampire.

I shake my head, trying desperately to clear these thoughts. They take us nowhere, only to a place where I still can't protect Edward, and worse than that, he can't protect himself.

"Bella?" a groggy voice calls from the stairs.

I turn on the couch to see a very tired Edward leaning on the banister, fists digging into his eyes in an effort to clear away sleep. His copper hair is beyond tousled, deciding to stick up in every direction. Shirtless, his hip bones peak above the top of his pajama bottoms. He is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen, vulnerable, sweet and completely ignorant of our worst nightmare, now stalking us with mysterious intentions.

I slowly rise from the couch. I feel an onslaught of tears at the back of my throat, but I fight them back as if fighting them equals stopping the unwelcome visitors from harassing our home. Working against me is a lack of sleep and enough bottled up tension to cause an explosion. I know these tears falling will signal the end of our normal life. I expected it would end, and I'm not even remotely surprised, so why does the loss of it level me in an instant?

Edward watches me approach with a bewildered, confused expression.

"Bella, honey, what is it?" He pulls me to him, wrapping me in a warmth that pulls gently on the tears, coaxing them from their ducts. "Did you have trouble sleeping?" My grip around his waist tightens, and I continue to fight them. 

His hands still at my back. "Bella, I'm serious, are you alright?"

I try and remain silent but a rebellious sob breaks free. "Love, please tell me. You're frightening me, Bella."

"The Volturi." I've lost. The tears pour down me in waves. 

"What about them?" When I don't answer immediately, he grips my shoulders, shaking me roughly, just once, but it frightens me. "Bella, I'm sorry, but you need to tell me. Now, please."

"They're coming here."

"How soon?"

"Three days."

Edward releases my shoulders, grabs my hand and begins pulling me with him up the stairs. I don't say a word, don't mention the loss of feeling in my fingers from his hand squeezing mine. I trip on the stairs, and he quickly helps me up without saying a word, then continues to haul both of us further up towards our bedroom. He throws open the door, the wood crashing into the wall behind it as it flies open.

"Bella, pack some clothes." He grabs my backpack from the corner next to the desk and shoves it into my hands. I take it but stand immobile in the middle of the room, Edward a whirlwind of activity as he darts around, shoving items into a larger hiking pack.

"I need you to hurry, please." He blurts out angrily, face focused on stuffing his bag as quickly as possible.

I can't move, and I can't do what he asks.

"Edward, we can't run from them." I whisper.

"The hell we can..." His voice is soft, but livid with a smoldering anger. He grabs the backpack out of my hands, pulls open a drawer of my T shirts and starts stuffing them inside.

"It's not just a few of them. Alice says...there's more, maybe close to twenty. What about our family? What about..." my voice catches with another weak sob, and I internally curse myself. This is not the time for weakness. "What about you?"

"My family can take care of themselves." The bags are stuffed to capacity, and Edward turns to a pile of clothes left in his wake, pulling on jeans and a long sleeved-T shirt. I wrap my arms around myself as I shiver in my thin silk pants and tank top.

Edward finally raises his head to look at me, meeting my eyes for the first time since our last moment of normalcy downstairs. "Let me take care of you, Bella," he says with determination, eyes piercing and angry. But then something in him breaks, like wind suddenly abandoning sails. He sinks to the bed and lets his head fall into his hands.

I kneel in front of him, and Edward reluctantly lets me pry his fingers away from his face. "You do take care of me. We take care of each other."

"But I can't protect you," he blurts out, frustrated, rising from the bed and stepping around me in order to resume his frantic pacing around the room. I rise too.

"No, you can't," I say gently, trying to calm him. "I'm sorry. I know that's hard for you."

"Hard for me? Yes, unbearably so. But there are other ways...I will not let them touch you, Bella." He's shaking a little. "I have to keep you safe. Please let me."

"Edward, what are you saying?" He's put some distance between us, but I erase it with determination, gripping his arms in an effort to stop Edward from pacing. "This isn't just about me anymore. Your safety is just as important as mine. I'm not going anywhere without you, and I'm not blindly running without a plan."

"I have a plan." He grits his teeth and fixes me with a gaze that clearly conveys he has no intention of backing down.

"And let me guess, this plan revolves around keeping me safe. But Edward, they're not coming for me." As much as it drives a knife through me to say, he needs to hear it. "They're coming for you." 

I expect shock from Edward, but if this news surprises him, he doesn't show it.

"I cannot let you do what you're planning, Edward." Carlisle's gentle voice at our door startles me. I steal a glance at Edward, and he's fixing his father with the same glare I received moments ago.

"I won't let them find her, Carlisle. They can't discover what she's capable of. If they do, Aro will never stand for it." He casts me a tentative look out the corner of his eye. "He will see Bella as a threat to them, and we both know what that means for Bella's life."

"They would kill her, I know."

I'm taken aback by Carlisle's bluntness. Usually our family skirts around the edges of my vulnerability, sugar-coating the real danger to make me feel safe. Not anymore, apparently, and somehow that seems so much better than the facade. Let's just put it all out there, I think.

"But they will kill you, too, Edward," Carlisle continues.

"No!" I shout, surprising both men with my volume. I shift my body to stand between my husband and Carlisle. "This has nothing to do with Edward. I'm the dangerous one. I'm the one they should come for."

Edward grasps me from behind, spinning me to face him. "Bella, don't be ridiculous. There is no way I'm letting you anywhere near them."

"I'm not being ridiculous. What makes you think I would let them anywhere near you, if there was something I could do to stop it?"

Carlisle interrupts Edward's chance to argue back. "No one is going to face the Volturi alone, Bella." He pointedly looks at Edward although he addresses me. "We are a family now, and we'll face them together."

Edward holds Carlisle's gaze for one defiant moment before letting his shoulders relax, forfeiting at least temporary acceptance.

"Everyone is downstairs. We have a lot to discuss."

___________________________________________


The Cullen living room is so quiet as we approach that I'm not convinced anyone is actually in it. Not until I see everyone assembled--Jasper and Alice on the couch, Esme sitting on its armrest, Rosalie in the big leather armchair and Emmett on the floor, leaning back against her knees--do I believe our family has actually returned. Edward pulls me to the second couch, across from Jasper and Alice as Carlisle moves to stand next to his wife.

There are no greetings, and Carlisle gets right to the point.

"Explain your vision one more time, Alice. Edward still needs to hear it."

She takes a deep breath, and Jasper's arm tightens around her shoulders. "Demetri has lost the ability to track you, Edward. We think it's because of your change, that somehow becoming human has altered the tenor of your mind, and he can't find it."

"Does he know I'm human?" Edward asks.

"No, it's like you've fallen off the face of the earth to him. Demetri thinks you're dead, and Aro agrees but wants to investigate. You remember how intrigued Aro was by you and Bella. He thinks Bella died, and you decided to go all Romeo again, is his theory."

"So the Volturi aren't blocking their decisions from Alice." Edward addresses his family, his eyes narrowing as a scheme begins forming in his head. "That can certainly be used to our advantage."

Jasper continues. "Well, they've abandoned stealth in favor of a full-out, aggressive tactic. Aro is bringing at least twenty Volturi with him here to Forks. And not just your average Volturi guard but an elite force. Aro's making his intentions pretty obvious."

Carlisle nods at Jasper and continues. "He expects compliance, and by bringing a small army, Aro knows we'll think twice about running. Demetri can still track Alice and I, since he knows our minds. And as much as Emmett would like to try," at this Emmett, lets out a short, barked laugh, "we can't best twenty of Aro's vampires, not even with the help of the werewolves."

"But, I don't understand," I venture, "if Aro thinks Edward and I are dead, what's the big deal? Why come halfway across the world to find out for sure?"

"He suspects that you're dead, Bella," Alice answers, "but a part of him hopes Edward turned you, and you're flexing your new vampire abilities. If you can prevent those around you from being tracked, you would certainly be quite the little asset to his empire. Bringing an army makes sure we know who's still in charge." She says this last bit with a snarl. 

"Well, I say he's in charge only if we let him be," Emmett argues. "He can't just waltz in here and dictate our lives. We've done nothing to threaten him..."

"If you don't count Bella being an antidote to vampirism..." Edward interjects.

"Ok, so there's that minor detail," Emmett shrugs. "So we hide Bella. You suggested that yourself, Edward, when the Volturi first got wind of her. Only this time you hide too. We'll stay behind and distract Aro, set up some elaborate scheme for how the two of you bit the dust, and voila, they leave us alone."

Silence meets Emmett's suggestion.

"Except Aro could touch any one of us and immediately know what had actually happened," Alice counters.

"Right. Ok, scratch that," Emmett admits. "How about we make the Volturi bite Bella, and they all become human and we kill them?"

"Be serious, Emmett," Edward growls at his brother.

"Sorry, I'm just throwing things out there."

"It's not such a bad plan, actually," I mumble. In my peripheral vision, I see Edward turn to glare at me as he grips my hand even tighter. 

"Please, enlighten us, Bella," he says through clenched teeth. 

"Well, not all of the Volturi would need to bite me. Just Aro. Once they lost their leader, maybe the others would back off?" I end with a question rather than sounding sure of my idea. I don't really know how the Volturi hierarchy works.

"And you think Aro would actually stop drinking your blood before it killed you?" Edward asks.

"You did..."

"Because I love you," Edward interrupts. "And I was screaming at myself to stop. I doubt Aro loves you or would have any intention of stopping."

"Maybe the antidote would kick in before he killed me. Edward, you certainly knew something was wrong after you bit me."

"I don't think we can count on that, Bella," Carlisle says, the gears turning in his brain, "We know practically nothing about how the antidote actually works, let alone whether it will work the same way with another vampire. The timing could be very unpredictable as far as we know."

"It's too dangerous, Bella. He may not feel the change, and it could be too late to save you. No way," Edward says as if the discussion is closed.

"Besides, Bella," Esme says in an effort to comfort me, "Aro is probably not the best vampire to try it out on. He's already stronger than any of us. How could we restrain him as the antidote begins to work, simultaneously keeping twenty of his guards at bay?"

"That's a good point," I concede, reluctantly. "But we can't run because Aro will find us, and we can't stay because Aro will kill us, so..."

"Everyone is avoiding the obvious plan," Rosalie finally says quietly from her chair.

"What's that, Rose?" Alice says, failing to hide her contempt.

"Demetri can't track us when we're human, so obviously...if we were to become human..."

No one speaks.

<><><><><><><><><><><>

Continue...Chapter 8.

Comments

( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
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train_lindz
Jul. 21st, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
I'm really enjoying this story :)

One little thing, I think you have the word anecdote and antidote mixed up ;)
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! And thanks for catching my word mistake...I feel so silly for not catching it myself...

This is probably a hint that I need a beta :)
sassybtsweet11
Jul. 21st, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
Become human or die...oh. my. GOD.

i didn't see that coming.

OH MY GOD! what are they going to do about Alice when she doesnt want to change back!? :O

Nooooooo alice :(
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:33 am (UTC)
What is Alice going to do! It's a really hard decision, but we'll get some answers in the next chapter.

Thank you so much for reading!
mana1023
Jul. 21st, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
Aaw, I was hoping they would make Edward a vampire again instead. Hm. That would still leave Bella human though for when they come. Excited to see what's next.
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
Sorry to disappoint you! :( Unfortunately, Edward can't turn back into a vampire, the way I set up the whole Bella as an antidote/now Edward is immune to vampirism thing. Similarly, Bella can never be turned into a vampire.

Glad to hear you're still excited to see what comes next.
(Deleted comment)
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)
Thanks! Got it changed. I feel really silly for not catching it myself...
(Deleted comment)
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
Hmmm...Do you mean the Volturi initially put pressure on Edward to turn Bella, and now they're pressuring the Cullens to make a decision about their humanity?
xxlov3ly
Jul. 21st, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
I definietly didn't see that coming.
Can't wait until your next chapter :)
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:41 am (UTC)
I guess I surprised you! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
jasmynstote_bag
Jul. 21st, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
omg.
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:41 am (UTC)
Haha! Thanks!
wm_law2003
Jul. 21st, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Oh crap! I didn't see that coming!!
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:42 am (UTC)
Yeah, it seemed like I surprised a couple other people with the ending to this chapter!

Thanks so much for reading!
gimpy_krista
Jul. 21st, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
Oh Rosalie, dear. You have three days to change six vampires to humans, how is that going to work? ):
Can't wait to see what's going to happen~
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, the logistics are a little complicated, but hopefully, with the next chapter, you'll see how it will all work out.

Thanks for reading!
elleblum
Jul. 21st, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
Oohh. The drama. Love it. Looking forward to reading more. I <3 Human!Edward.
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 11:55 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!

I secretly love human Edward too :)
jennlynnfs
Jul. 21st, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
What a fantastic twist! But I don't think logistically it's possible as someone already mentioned. But they would still be able to track them tho as humans, right? By their scent?

I'm really nervous for them. I'm hoping they come up with something that will save them fromt he Volturi.
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 12:01 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...You bring up an interesting point with the tracking. Edward says in New Moon that basically Demetri would be blind in his ability to track Bella because he can't track her mind, so I'm counting on the idea that this skill is pretty critical to the Volturi's ability to track people or vampires. Yes, they'll smell like humans, but human scent is everywhere. How could the Volturi pin the Cullens down?

Hopefully I can explain the logistics of the whole plan better in the next chapter, and it will make a little more sense. It does take three days for the full transition of vampire to human.
amjebro
Jul. 21st, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
gahhh i love this story so much! i'm adding you so i don't miss any updates :)
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you're enjoying this story!
hmrpotter
Jul. 21st, 2008 03:49 am (UTC)
I'm one of the extreme few who would love for this scenario to play out (Edward becoming human again) so I'm really loving this fic...waiting for the next chapter!!
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
I know, I would love for SM to do something like this, too. I guess we'll see in two weeks!

Gah! Two weeks!

Thank you so much for reading :)
4evr_twilight
Jul. 21st, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
"Only I know we can only pretend for so long until danger catches up with us. It always catches up with us. "

Poor Bella...I don't think she will ever truely be out of danger....

GREAT STORY....
keep writing!
songforevela
Jul. 21st, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC)
Danger does have a nasty habit of catching up with our girl.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting; I'll definitely keep writing!
lovinlifehard
Jul. 21st, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
uggg.
Volturi are annoying!!

i could totally SEE the life they could have had!!

it was right there for like a few chapters and it was so blissful...but then dumn VOLTURI had to go stick their noses where it ain't belong!!
songforevela
Jul. 24th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
They are annoying aren't they!! Always meddling...Well, they'll get what's coming for them.

Thanks for reading!

I should have another chapter up later today!
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