Time For Plan B
Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer. The cover photo is from http://th03.deviantart.net/fs70/PRE/i/2010/106/f/7/Bella_Volturi_2_by_Liliah.jpg
Chapter One: Time for Plan B
"We're leaving, Bella," Edward announced.
"Great!" I replied. "Just give me a few minutes to pack and write a note for Charlie, and I'll be ready to go."
"No, Bella," Edward sighed. "Not you. You're not coming. I don't want you to come with us."
"You . . . don't . . . want me?"
He shook his head, scowling.
"Oh. Well, this changes things," I replied calmly, mentally processing his words. So much for the future I'd planned. I guess there's no longer any need to tell him my little secret. My time was running out fast, and he was no longer the answer to my future. I had to find a new future before time was up completely.
"Of course, I'll always love you . . . in a way, but I'm tired of pretending to be something I'm not, Bella. I'm not human. I've let this go on much too long, and I'm sorry for that."
I looked at him in confusion. "You haven't been pretending to be human around me for months, Edward. You don't have to pretend with me. Besides, I'm tired of being human too. Carlisle can change me, since it's too hard for you, and then none of us will have to worry about endangering me again."
He just stared at me. "You're not good for me, Bella."
I just stared back. I'm glad I got to see this selfish, self-centered side of him before things went any further with our relationship. Thank heavens I didn't marry the prick before finding out how he really felt.
"If you say so," I murmured, ready for our conversation to be over, so I could make alternate plans.
"I would like to ask one favor, though, if that's not too much," he said.
"A favor?" I asked in disbelief. He's dumping me and telling me I'm not good enough for him, but he expects me to do him a favor?
He assumed I was agreeing and continued. "Don't do anything reckless or stupid," he ordered. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
The prick thinks I'd commit suicide over him? If I wanted to die, I wouldn't have to do anything reckless or stupid. I'd just let nature take its course. Seriously, if I wasn't so opposed to the finality of death I never would've bothered asking him to change me in the first place.
I simply nodded, not wanting to get into it with him anymore.
"I'm thinking of Charlie, of course. He needs you. Take care of yourself – for him."
Whatever, asshole. Like you really give a shit.
"Oh, I will," I confirmed confidently, swallowing a smirk. I'll be taking care of myself alright, for my own sake. Charlie knows the score. If he knew the options I had, he'd be the first to encourage me to take advantage of the opportunity. Drinking blood can't possibly be worse than taking chemo.
"And I'll make you a promise in return," he said. "I promise this will be the last time you'll see me. I won't come back. You can go on with your life without any more interference from me. It will be as if I'd never existed."
I snorted. That last line has to be some of the worst bullshit I've ever heard. He looked at me questioningly. I rolled my eyes, deliberately calling attention to my scar from James. "No matter what, you can't erase my knowledge of your existence, Edward. I wear the proof on my skin as a permanent reminder."
He winced and then smiled gently. "Don't worry. You're human – your memory is no more than a sieve. Time heals all wounds for your kind."
I ignored that statement. I wasn't remaining human for long, one way or another. He is seriously delusional if he believes the shit he's spouting. Can vampires go insane? I need to ask Carlisle. Perhaps he drank some contaminated blood or something? When I didn't respond to his nonsense, he took a step away from me. "That's everything, I suppose. We won't bother you again."
The plural caught my attention.
"Alice? Emmett? Esme? They weren't planning to even say goodbye to me?"
He shook his head slowly, watching my face. "No, they're all gone. They wanted to say goodbye, but I convinced them a clean break would be better for you."
I stared at him in mute disbelief. Better for me? How the hell was it supposed to be better for me? Bloody prick! And they were convinced he was right? Did they all come down with the 'stupid' virus? Were they victims of mind control? They seriously thought it would be a good idea to abandon me without a word? Did they really not care about me at all? Were they lying about loving me, just as he had been?
"Goodbye, Bella," he said in a quiet, peaceful voice.
"Wait!" I choked out, struggling not to give in to my utter rage.
"Take care of yourself," he called and then disappeared at vampire speed.
I stared at the place where he had been for a few moments before letting the rage consume me. That bloody asshole! How dare he show me a way out and then take it away from me? How dare he give me hope for a future and then tear it away? I would make him pay for toying with my emotions like this. Stupid jerk. I didn't need him. I had paid careful attention to everything he told me, my natural caution always working on a Plan B, C, and D. Well, Alice, Emmett, Esme, and Carlisle may no longer be options, but they weren't the only vampires in existence. If the Cullens don't want anything else to do with me, if they could so easily walk away from me without even a simple goodbye, then they obviously never cared about me in the first place. In the face of this unexpected betrayal, I figured the Denali clan weren't a viable option either. They probably wouldn't help me now that the Cullens had deserted me.
The problem with the 'vegetarian' vampires was that they really had no incentive to change a human. They didn't like being vampires, didn't accept themselves for what they were. Thus, they thought it was a bad thing to grant the gift of immortality to another, believing it was better to die than to live forever as a vampire. Idiots! It's easy for them to say. You don't see them throwing themselves into the fire to rid themselves of their cursed existence, do you? Well, I'm not ready to die. I don't intend to give up so easily on my own existence. I don't really give a shit whether my heart beats or not, as long as I'm still walking, talking, and thinking. Since they didn't drink human blood, I couldn't even tempt them with the promise of the supposedly superior taste of my life source. I should have known I was wasting my time when Edward sucked out James's venom instead of allowing the change. I could've saved myself so much pain and suffering if I went through the change months ago, but no, I foolishly believed Edward loved me as a mate and would eventually be willing to change me himself. After all, I didn't really want James's venom coursing through my body for all eternity. I was a fool back then, but not anymore.
No, I needed human drinkers to do my change for me, but not the sadistic, barbaric kind like James. I needed the civilized kind, that could be rationalized with, and thanks to Edward, I knew just where to find them. I needed the Volturi in Italy to grant me my future.
My mind made up, I headed back to my house and began packing a bag with all the irreplaceable mementos I wanted to bring with me into eternity. With that done, I cleaned up the house and made a few meals for Charlie, placing them into the freezer for later. As I finished with the last batch and dinner for that night, Charlie came home.
"I'm in the kitchen," I answered. He strolled in, after hanging up his jacket and gun.
"Something smells good," he murmured appreciatively.
I smiled and placed dinner on the table, taking a seat and waiting for him to join me.
"Dad, I've made a choice. I'm going to leave, to travel."
He looked at me in surprise, feeling a bit hurt. "You're going back to your mom?"
I shook my head. "You know she can't handle this." He nodded in agreement. "No, I want to go to Europe and see the sights. To see as much as I can, before it's too late."
He looked at me in concern. "But what about . . ."
I shook my head and interrupted, "Dad, you and I both knew if the cancer came back there would be no hope. The doctors made it pretty clear last time that if all the treatments failed, they had nothing left to offer. At least we've had this much time together, right? You heard the specialist's report yesterday. The cancer is back and stronger than ever. He only gave me two weeks – a month at the most. I don't want to waste away in a hospital bed, or even my own bed. I've got these wonderful pain pills keeping me from really feeling the effects. I want to go out with a bang. I want to live for my last couple of weeks. Experience the best this world has to offer. Like that movie The Bucket List. Please understand, Dad. I know you don't want to let me go, but you're going to have to do it soon anyway. I'd rather leave you with the memory of me standing strong and excited about heading off to fun and adventure, than have you watch the last of my life drain away."
Charlie sighed and rubbed his temples. "I understand where you're coming from, Bells, and I won't deny your last request. Look, you might as well splurge with your college fund, seeing as you won't be needing it. Go out in style. Just, please, call me every day, okay? So I know you're all right. And you can always change your mind and come back if it gets to be too much. I'm glad you had a chance to experience love before the end, even if I never really trusted that boy. I won't even object if you decide to take him with you. Just don't tell me any details of your wild shenanigans, okay? I'm still your old man, and there are plenty of things I just don't want or need to know."
He coughed and blushed, and we both chuckled awkwardly. I got up and gave him a hug.
"Thanks, Dad. I'll love you forever. Thanks so much for letting me spend this time with you, getting to know you. It's meant the world to me. I'm starting my journey to see the sights tomorrow."
He hugged me back and gruffly shared, "I love you too, Bella, and I wouldn't have missed this for the world. Thanks for giving me the chance to spend this time with you. I'll drive you to the airport tomorrow."
I made my way upstairs and took an extra pill to help me sleep. I needed the rest to be able to cope with my busy day tomorrow.
My trip to Italy was uneventful. I had been secretly studying Italian, with the help of a computer program, ever since I returned from Phoenix. Edward had told me Carlisle's story the day I met his family and had mentioned Aro and his brothers then. I had been impressed that Carlisle felt highly enough about the Volturi to live with them for eighty years. Carlisle had learned a lot from these civilized vampires, though in the end he had chosen to leave them when he realized he couldn't convince them to change to his diet. What a surprise! Not.
When Edward had refused to allow my change to progress, going so far as to suck James's venom out of my body, I had begun making a contingency plan that didn't involve the Cullens, though I had never really expected to use it. Now I was more than grateful for my paranoid preparations. My 'women's intuition' had kicked in at the time, finding it odd that Edward would be willing to risk my life by drinking the blood of his singer, rather than have me become a vampire. If it was only about James's venom, he could have added his own venom to my bloodstream. Instead, I had spent weeks in the hospital and months in a cast recovering from my injuries, enduring a lot more pain and suffering than I would have burning for a mere three days. Especially considering I still need to go through those three days of burning. I would have preferred to just get the three days over with back then, rather than suffering the pain of my injuries and then the pain of the cancer, only to now have to face those same three days of torture.
Coming home from Phoenix unable to shower by myself, some gut instinct had warned me not to rely solely upon the Cullens for my salvation. So, not only had I learned Italian, but I had invested in the stock market with Alice's help. Utilizing her visions, my meager college fund, which wouldn't have even paid for one semester's tuition, had subsequently grown into a small fortune. Charlie wasn't aware of it, of course, but I really could afford to go out in style. Initially, I had just wanted to be able to pay for things myself and not be dependent on the Cullens' money for everything, but that little bit of foresight was sure paying dividends now that the Cullens weren't around anymore.
I rented a car and made my way to Volterra. Once there, I wandered around until I spotted a cloaked figure lurking in the shadows. I deliberately stood within a crowd of people nearby.
"I need to speak with the Volturi," I muttered under my breath. "I need to talk to Aro, Marcus, and Caius, please."
As I spoke, the figure's head popped up and red eyes met mine. His eyes were narrowed in surprise and suspicion, but as I finished my request, he nodded. He gestured with his hand that I should follow him. I nodded and quietly joined him in the shadows. He watched me approach him in amazement, likely wondering why I was willingly walking to my death.
He led me through the alleyways and to a storm drain. He jumped down into the blackness, and I froze.
"Okay, umm, yeah. I don't think I can do this. I can't see the bottom," I protested nervously.
He chuckled a bit. "So, you want to go before the brothers, but you're scared of the dark?"
I rolled my eyes. "I'm not scared of the dark, dipwad. I'm scared of breaking my legs when I hit the ground."
He growled when I called him a dipwad, but quieted as I admitted my real fear. "I'll catch you."
I raised an eyebrow. "Okay, well, just keep in mind that Aro would probably really like to hear my story about how I know all about you guys, which he'll never know if I die before he meets me. Also, catching a human without seriously damaging her isn't as easy as it sounds. Think about trying to catch an egg. You have to relax and give with the downward motion of my body. Otherwise, it'll be like me landing on two steel bars. Ouch. Broken bones, spilled blood, thirsty vampire, not a good combination. Got it?"
He was quiet a moment. "You are one strange human," he admitted, sounding slightly awed. "Fine, I've got it. I'll do my best to catch you without causing bodily harm, okay?"
I sighed. "Okay, here I come."
I took a deep breath to calm my nerves, sat down on my bottom, then lowered myself into the hole slowly. Once I was hanging by my hands, I let go. I only fell a few feet before landing in the vampire's arms. True to his word, he allowed himself to absorb the impact, so I wouldn't be absorbing the shock and force into my own body. He set me down gently onto my feet.
"Thanks," I offered. I glanced around, but couldn't see anything. "Alright, friend, I don't have vampire vision, so I can't see a doggone thing. If you want to get anywhere in a hurry, I'd better hop on your back."
He coughed. "Seriously? You are by far the freakiest human I've ever encountered. By all means, hop on and hold on tight. We'll be inside the castle in a few seconds."
"Great. Just hold your breath if my scent will be too much for you."
He laughed outright as I climbed on his back. "It's a little late to be worried about me eating you, isn't it? Seeing as how you followed me down here . . . into the dark . . . all alone."
I snickered. "I'm counting on Aro's curiosity and your fear of him to keep me safe for the time being."
He shook his head. "You really know way, way too much for your own good. You do know you won't be leaving here alive, don't you?"
I shrugged. "Yeah, though I'm hoping I'll still be walking and talking, if you know what I mean."
"You want to become a vampire?"
I shrugged. "Beats being dead."
He laughed. "Yeah, I guess you're right. I'm Demetri, by the way."
"Bella, Bella Swan."
"Nice to meet you."