Evening's Light

22. Fate

Charlie sat in a large wooden chair, his wrists bound, lying in his lap, several tight circles of rope wrapping his torso, and ankles shackled by thick, cutting binds. The immediate sight made me want to scream the walls down in vengeance. Deep, purple indents pattern his flesh at his wrists, showing the blood trapped by the squeezing, his circulation slowed. His right hand was bandaged in a white cloth, making it clear he had a large wound underneath were blood left its mark—some parts dried, and some still seeping. His face appeared dark and shadowed on one side, and I couldn't tell if he was hurt, or if it was the low lighting of the room that shadowed him. And if he was hurt, what had they done to him?

A vicious snarl hovered in my throat as I held back an intense need to rip off a few Volturi heads. I'd made a promise though…that was hanging by a slight thread.

My father eyed us the second we ran in. His expression showing relief at our arrival, yet terror, as Sulpicia stood behind, gripping his shoulder, a large knife held against his neck.

I let lose my snarl—it was unavoidable—bearing my teeth at her.

Charlie leaned as far away as the ropes would allow from the knife, and the suffering object that sat closely facing him. Alice.

He didn't speak a word. I wasn't sure if he was ordered not to, or if fear had taken him over so much he couldn't find any. But his eyes told me everything I needed to know. He was beyond scared.

"Dad!" I yelled, partly in excitement to see him alive, and also in worry and fury at his current condition. I wanted to run to him, but Edward still had a hold of me. It took all I had to fight against the rage, resentment and the frustration of seeing him sitting before me, not being able to help…not yet.

"Bella…" he chocked in sounds of fear, apprehension and exhaustion. My heart ached and I didn't know how long I could just stand here and wait for something to happen.

I took a step, but stopped when Sulpicia grabbed his hair and yanked his head more to the side, moving the knife in closer to his neck. A warning for me not to move.

"Bella…stop!" Edward whispered as he tightened his grip on my arm.

I froze, forgetting for a split second my promise not to make any sudden movements once inside.

Alice sat in a large, wooden chair as well, only a foot from Charlie, Athenodora holding her heavily, chained wrists firmly behind her, shoving her head towards Charlie by the back of her hair. Further down, more thick chains bound her ankles to the legs of the chair she sat in. The pain in her face was not difficult to read, even if I were human. Her eyes, tightly closed, showed dark, weak circles that had formed themselves under each closed lid. She wasn't breathing either. She was trying to cut off every sense of body she had…hearing being the only one left she had no control over.

"Alice…" Jasper spoke softly, his voice ringing with sorrow. I could tell he was desperate to be next to her, to save her. But Edward had just as tight a grip on him as he did me—neither one of us going anywhere right now. And it was killing us.

"Jasper…" she whispered back, taking only a slight breath when she spoke, her face suddenly heightened with desire from the smell of Charlie. His sweet scent was tormenting her as she fought against its pull. How long had it been since her thirst had been quenched? She hadn't fed in the last two weeks that I knew.

Rosalie buried her face in the middle of Emmett's back, which was unusual. She was always the first one to bark out in a situation like this. But I could tell seeing Charlie and Alice held captive the way they were, was too hard for her to bear.

Emmett though, was ready to fight.

"Edward," I muttered quietly. "If Alice gets a hold of him…we can suck the venom out. We should go…" I suggested, ready to charge.

"No, Bella," he replied, looking back at me. "They've been starving her to use in this situation." He pursed his lips as my eyes widened. Jasper growled in fury. "Her thirst is too great. She'd have him drained before we took them down," Edward continued. "And if not, how much blood would we have to take from him afterwards, to get all the venom out? He won't reproduce like the wolves."

I nodded my understanding.

Edward glanced quickly at Charlie before returning his eyes to me. "And Sulpicia is holding that knife dangerously close. We don't want to provoke her into cutting or stabbing him. We need to try and talk Marcus out of this before we do anything rash."

I hadn't thought about any of those things. I would have had Charlie killed by now if I'd been running the show. I definitely didn't want him to go through the pain of our venom, I really didn't want to have to suck his blood, and I certainly didn't want him cut or stabbed.

"Alright," I settled down, thankful he was the one in charge.

And then Marcus spoke.

"Ahhh, Edward and family," he said disgustingly at us. "I must say, I am truly surprised to see you here. And just in time, too." He faked a sympathetic expression upon Alice growling, fighting her instinctive urge to drink, and Athenodora's restrictive hold.

"Marcus," Edward greeted him coldly.

He gazed rather calmly upon Edward, then made a statement everyone one our side of the room already knew the answer to. "I take it that since I'm looking upon your five faces and not Aro's…things did not go as well as Alice had foreseen."

"No Marcus, they did not," Edward replied soberly, straight-faced with a small amount of smugness in his tone. "Well, not for Aro, that is…" he snuck in a jab.

Marcus fumed as his eyes narrowed upon each one of us, irritated at Edward's last words.

Emmett laughed through his nose, trying to cover it up quickly with a cough, not helping. Edward glared at him.

"No Carlisle or Esme?" Marcus said in a way that made him seem pleased we were two family members short. My husband growled, echoed by Jasper, and I knew I was right.

"We are not without our own casualties," Edward gritted his teeth, allowing Marcus to make his own assumptions, keeping the details to a minimum. He didn't want Marcus to know just yet how outnumbered he truly was.

"Hmmm." Marcus noised as he began pacing a few steps up on the staircase, behind the wives, thinking. "What to do then?" he questioned to himself almost humorously as if he already knew the answer, but wanted to create a dramatic effect.

If so, it was working.

"I suggest letting Alice and Charlie go, Marcus," Edward said in a condescending manner.

"Let them go?" Marcus played along. "But of course, now why didn't I think of that?" He laughed viciously. "So you can destroy us then, right?" Marcus paused and shook his head, scowling. "No, Edward. I don't believe that is an option here tonight."

"Where is, Caius?" Athenodora asked callously, nervously, her eyes full of wondering.

None of us said anything. How would we tell her serenely that her husband lie dead up in the mountains, burned and buried?

Complete silence filled the room as she gazed up on us, anxiously waiting for word.

"I'm sorry…" Edward answered somewhat apologetic, not wanting to anger her, meeting her eyes, and not saying anymore.

She realized what that meant when she closed her eyes and hung her head. "Oh…Caius…" she sounded like she wanted to cry.

A part of me felt pity for her, because I had almost lost my husband tonight, too. And regardless of how evil her husband was…it still pained her.

Sulpicia's reaction…was not the same.

I jerked my head in her direction when she let out a heated, snarling scream—her expression full of fire, her eyes dark as coals and her body shivering in anger. She knew if Caius was gone, then the chances were, so was Aro. And she was the one who held the knife.

"No!" Edward yelled, letting go of only me, holding a hand out in her direction, then grabbed me again.

She didn't listen, or pause.

Instead, she dipped the small point at the top of the knife into Charlie's neck and moved the blade down his skin, slicing deep and nearly to the collar of his shirt.

Charlie cried in pain as the metal tore his human flesh, trying to be strong, and struggling. His face tightened as he took heavy breaths to get through the agony she'd inflicted on him.

Thick, red blood oozed immediately.

We crouched out of instinct, ready to attack her, with growling festering in our lungs.

Sulpicia pulled back lips back and placed her razored teeth close to Charlie's dripping blood, daring us to rush her. We didn't. We wouldn't force her to bite him. We had to wait. Edward could hear her true intentions, her thoughts, her feelings…and her next move.

I shook inside; it was hard to stay put.

"What do you want, Marcus?" Edward growled. "Name it!"

Marcus stopped pacing and turned to stare at Edward, a sneering smile widening across his face. "Edward, please…" He paused. "You do make things fun don't you?" He found it somewhat comical Edward would ask a question he already knew the answer to. "You already know what I want…" he trailed off, staring, the smile leaving his face.

"Yes, Marcus, I do." He nodded.

I watched in horror as Alice took an accidental breath when Athenodora unexpectedly pushed her head closer to Charlie and she jolted almost uncontrollably in her chair. Alice kept her eyes tightly closed. The fresh blood from Charlie was running down his neck, catching on his collar bone, and forming a single trail down the inside front of his uniform shirt. She was burning with thirst.

"Jasper…" she cried out. "I can't..." She then screamed, "It hurts! It hurts!" And the more she sobbed, the more she breathed. Her head thrashing back and forth in Athenodora's clutches. She gritted her teeth together between agonizing cries and growls, trying to control herself and the pain.

Edward jumped in Jasper's path, yanking me with him, after Jasper pulled his arm from Edward's grip to help her.

"Emmett, stay!" Edward yelled at the same time Jasper tried to break through then go around him.

Emmett had taken a step forward, then backed up at Edward's command. I gripped my throat in sympathy for Alice. I could smell Charlie's blood easily from here.

Rosalie held Emmett's arms tightly behind his back, keeping him close to her while I grabbed Jasper's arm to help.

Marcus laughed.

"You can have your freedom, Marcus, I don't care," Edward roared. "But I ask for theirs in return…or no deal!"

What? He was going to let Marcus and the wives go? Well, if it was the price to pay for Alice and Charlie leaving without any more harm tonight, then I was on board, too. It turned my stomach to see them both suffering while we stood here under Marcus's playful control.

"Well, let's see then…" Marcus glared, testing Edward's words. "Sulpicia, give me the knife," he instructed as he stuck his hand out.

She turned and looked at him warily.

"Come now." He waved his fingers for it. "Edward says you're free to go. And I suggest you go while the offer stands." He eyed her.

She contemplated his words for a moment, then slowly handed the knife over to Marcus, while remaining cautious, glaring at us.

"Emmett, Rosalie, back up, give her room to get by," Edward demanded, waving his hand for them to scoot back. He backed me and Jasper up on our side with him while still holding us both tightly. "You're free to go, I give you my word." He nodded to her.

Sulpicia slowly made her way around the outside of Charlie, watching Marcus and Athenodora as she took the few remaining steps to meet up with the ground floor.

I tried to remain calm. I couldn't believe Edward was going to let her go. After what she did to Charlie, after what she inflicted in Alice. It wasn't fair.

She took a few more reluctant steps towards the door, knowing she'd have to pass between us first to get through them. I wanted to lunge at her. Take her down right here, right now. But I didn't.

Swiftly, she ran past us and out the double, wooden doors that stood wide open and partially shattered. I watched her towards run in the direction we'd come, forgetting for the moment, what we'd left behind in the darkness. And I smiled.

No sooner did she disappear from my view, pass through the stone arch, and I heard the sharp crack of lightening.

Kate.

Yes, Sulpicia was free to go, but Edward didn't promise she'd get far.

I turned quickly back to Marcus, curious if he'd heard what we had. But his expression showed no clue. He had no idea what Kate could do to identify the sound with her talent. No shadows or light flickered off the walls, either, for as soon Sulpicia went up in flames; I'm sure she was moved out of sight.

Edward turned back at Marcus. "Next?" He glared, keeping all emotions hidden from what he knew he was doing. He'd just watched what had happened through Kate and the others.

I growled at Athenodora, making sure to keep the charade going. I didn't want to seem relaxed, happy, or enthralled as one by one Edward would send them into the courtyard. I had to stay angry. I glanced at Alice. Her torture would be my motivation. And I definitely didn't like it.

Marcus held the knife back at Charlie's neck, tracing the veins, causing Charlie to flinch each time the steel blade lightly touched him.

"Athenodora," Marcus said as he continued to outline Charlie, not looking at her. "Would you care to go, as well?"

Her expression was confused, sad, and distraught. I wondered if she would know where to go, what to do, or where to run. I hoped it would be towards a welcoming archway.

"You'll be here alone," she hesitated, worried to Marcus. "I, I don't know…"

"It's go, or stay," he muttered, with no emotion in his tone, just like the old Marcus. And I noticed his demeanor from a minute ago had slightly changed. Then he took the knife away from Charlie's neck, as if he was suddenly confused by what he was doing.

"Go!" he turned and barked at her.

She nodded quickly then let go of the tight grip she had on Alice's hair and hands.

When she turned to face us, she straightened her dress, then took one graceful step at a time, holding her head high, acting the wife of royalty. She moved slowly passed us, not in the same hurried pace Sulpicia took.

We remained still, leaving her plenty of room to get by. She glared at Edward as she passed, and I picked up on the reading in her eyes of how much she loathed him. But I didn't snarl. I would have given the same look to someone who may or may not have killed my husband. But I did relish in the thought of what awaited her.

Marcus caught my attention when he unexpectedly sat down on a step behind him, burying his face in his hands, the knife leaning close to his pale, pasty forehead.

I looked back towards the doors to see Athenodora turn left instead of right—not in the direction we needed her to go.

I was getting ready to chase her myself, until Benjamin, Kate and Tanya ran silently, yet swiftly across the overhang of the doors. Marcus, luckily, was too caught up in his own thoughts to notice their scents and the taking down of Aro's late wife. I, on the other hand, breathed a sigh of relief. That was dangerously close.

Charlie continued to bleed while Alice was able to hold her breath again, getting her urges under control, leaning far back in her chair, still chained. I heard her whimper from time to time as the ache continued in her throat; an ache that wouldn't go away without being relieved.

"Hold on, dad!" I encouraged, reaching a palm out to him.

He gazed back at Marcus, then out to us and barely nodded. He was turning pale and had been through so much in the last few days, I wondered if shock was setting in, or if he'd even had time to process all of this.

Edward let go of Jasper and I as I watched his head tilt to the side suddenly. He was listening.

"Stay," he whispered to us, and then motioned Emmett and Rosalie to do the same.

All this waiting was making me crazy. It was Marcus against us five inside. We could take him. What did we need to 'stay' for? And then I looked up to see the knife flashing in his hands as the low lights that burned softly on the walls flickered gently off of it.

Right, that's why.

Don't back him in a corner.

Edward took a few cautious steps towards him, towards the three of them. Slowly he crept, being quiet as possible.

When he placed one foot on the first step of the stairs, just a few feet from Alice and Charlie, Marcus jolted his head up. "That's close enough, Edward!" he warned as he stood back up to Charlie, holding the knife to him again.

Crap!

Edward froze.

Charlie panicked again, and Alice made her first eye contact with Edward, with Charlie, with us. They were so dark it was hard to believe that was her. The purple circles were larger than they appeared earlier, reaching down to the tops of her cheeks. I'd never seen her this bad before.

She gave a slight smile when she saw Jasper for the first time. He made an attempt to move towards her, but I grabbed his arm, stopping him.

He eyed me furiously.

"Edward said to stay."

He huffed a growl at me, and then backed up by my side.

I wondered what Edward heard that allowed him let go of Jasper and I. What caused him to move towards Marcus?

The same Marcus who still held a knife in his hands.

"You wanted to leave a long time ago, didn't you?" Edward asked him.

Marcus's eyes widened in surprise.

"You and Didyme," Edward continued. "You were unhappy with Aro and tried to leave…"

Marcus didn't respond, still shocked by the words Edward was saying, then subconsciously backed the knife slightly away from Charlie.

"But he wouldn't let you go, would he?" Edward's voice was soft, sympathetic, soothing.

Marcus took the knife and held it down by his side, stunned by the reality of his own thoughts being presented before him. He stared at Edward.

"What's going on, Edward?" Rosalie barked out a concerned whisper. "What are you doing?"

"Chelsea is wearing off of him," Edward answered while looking at Marcus. "She's been gone long enough for him to be able to think clearly. His feelings from a very long time ago, that she'd hidden, are flooding his mind," Edward, too, sounded overwhelmed by Marcus's thoughts and emotions.

And Marcus seemed to understand, his eyes growing tortured.

"And when Sulpicia left," Edward continued, "she took the last bit of Aro's wickedness with her. He's torn, and somewhat clouded now between his feelings, his loyalty …and his instructions."

Chelsea was one of Aro's guards, able to make or break bondings. Had she been bonding Marcus to Aro all this time? Making him overlook things he'd once known and felt? Was that why he'd always seemed so aloof, so uninterested in anything the Volturi did? Has he been in a trance-like state for all these years?

Edward told me once that Marcus's wife, and Aro's sister, Didyme, had the gift of happiness. But she'd been killed many years ago. How it happened, I didn't know. And when she died, all of Marcus's happiness died with her.

"Yes," Marcus replied faintly. "We wanted to leave…" His eyes softened and he sat back down, holding the knife out in front of him while his elbows rested on his knees.

Edward continued to inch closer.

Marcus didn't move. He just stared at the blood-marked knife as he flipped it back and forth slowly in his hand.

"Aro's gone now," Edward said, taking another step towards Alice and Charlie. Two more and he'd be right in between them.

Marcus sighed heavily and closed his eyes. Then with a whispered breath he replied, "…Thank you."

Charlie and Alice watched eagerly as Edward took the third step, then the fourth, up the staircase to where they were, not saying anything.

I kept my eyes on the knife.

Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie stirred, anxious for this to be over. What would Edward do with Marcus? What was my husband now thinking, now planning?

He made his way to the large step where the three were that began the first curving of the staircase. Bit by bit he reached down and touched the base of the knife Marcus held on to, curving his fingers around it, and gently pulling it from his grasp. Marcus didn't fight. And when the knife was freed from his hands, he let out a sigh of release and buried his face in his hands again.

"You're free to go, Marcus," Edward said as he stood protectively in between Alice and Charlie. Alice leaned into him, and he cradled her head in his arms, the knife in hand. He closed his eyes and breathed in deep, relieved.

"Free to go…" Marcus repeated, not caring, no emotion. In his world, there was nothing left to live for now. Everything he'd known for the last fifteen hundred years didn't seem to matter.

"Choose your exit, Marcus," Edward told him, giving him a choice. "You can take the hallway to the right," he motioned the way that actually lead to freedom, "or the doors that stand open before you." He motioned his other hand straight ahead.

He was really going to let him go—but would leave it to fate to choose Marcus's destiny. Edward wouldn't decide for him.

We waited. Would he choose the hallway that lead to freedom, to live alone, or would he choose the doors before him, leading to the end of the life he'd known for so long.

Edward motioned slightly for Emmett to come get Charlie while Marcus gazed back and forth between the hallway and the doors. I could only stare in wonder of what he would do, while anxious for Emmett to return with my father.

Emmett picked up the chair with Charlie in it and brought him back, still bound. I could hardly breathe. He was finally safe.

Edward motioned for Jasper to get Alice.

He ran up willingly, wrapped her in his arms and held her tight before bringing her, the chair and chains our way.

"I missed you…" she whispered into his chest, still in pain.

"Not nearly as much as I missed you," he replied when he set her down, grabbed her face, and then kissed her more fervently than I had ever seen those two do.

I looked away, giving them their privacy.

Emmett was chewing through the ropes that bound my father, while Rosalie unraveled the thick thread as he went.

"What's it going to be?" Edward asked as Marcus continued to contemplate his exit.

Marcus stood, sighed, and patted Edward on his shoulder as he eyed the doors. Sadly, he made his way towards them.

He stopped before exiting and turned to face Charlie who was now free and standing on his own. "My apologies, Charlie," he said as he bent towards him, humbling himself and appearing regretful. "I would not have treated you so, had I been myself. I know you do not understand, but Edward can explain in due time."

Charlie, looking a little stunned, replied, "Uh, sure…thank you," not knowing what else to say to a once very powerful vampire who'd just held his life in his hands.

"Alice," Marcus turned to her. "I'm so sorry for what you've been through. I hope you can find it within yourself to forgive me one day."

She stared at him in pain and her usual compassion. "I forgive you already, Marcus." Then she looked away to Jasper as he attempted to break apart the thick steel chains that bound her hands and feet.

Marcus straightened, swallowed, then bowed slightly. "Knowing that, shall make my rest easier." Then he reached his hand inside his cape's front, chest pocket and called to Jasper. When Jasper turned, Marcus tossed a key at him.

Jasper snatched it promptly, nodded to him, and began to undo the locks on Alice's wrists and ankles.

Edward made his way down the stairs and over to me, after setting the knife down. He grabbed my hand and held it tightly.

"Goodbye, Marcus," he said somewhat regretful.

"Farewell Cullens." He gave us each a nod before he turned and made his way out the doors, following in the footsteps as Athenodora.

I winced when a few breaths later I heard the sudden current, then watched as a bright flash of light bounced off the large wooden doors. Marcus, the last surviving member of the Volturi, closed the chapter of evil rule. And I hoped he was with his wife now.

"He knew what exit he was picking, didn't he?" I asked Edward softly.

"Yes," he said. "Marcus knew we'd come with backup. He may have been confused, in a fog of sorts...be he is no fool, Bella. And believe it or not-since it never happens to a vampire-he was tired. Freedom...was not the true outcome he wanted."

I didn't have time to be saddened further before Alice's, "Hold me, Jasper," follwed by a sharp whimper, caught my attention. Her voice was thirsty and strained between light groans and quick breaths.

She was still desperately craving Charlie.

Jasper held her tightly around the waist, his shoulder pressed against her stomach as he undid the final lock on her leg. Once the last chain fell, Alice lunged out of instinct. Jasper blocked her before she got very far. Edward moved in closer when I, too, jumped in front of her, helping block her path. She barred her teeth when I shook my head, and Jasper locked his arms firmer around her waist. Alice growled loudly, clearly wanting me out of the way.

"I have to get her out of here," Jasper said, both of their eyes now locked on Charlie's trickling blood, and the large trail that made a tempting, delicious mess on him.

Edward put a hand on Jasper's chest to keep him from moving forward. "Meet us in the clearing," he told him.

Neither moved.

"Jasper!" Edward said tightly.

Jasper snapped his head from Charlie to meet Edwards's eyes.

Edward motioned his head to the open doors.

"Yes, we'll…uh…see you there," Jasper's aching voice replied before he rushed out the doors with Alice in tow.

I would have time for a reunion with her later. Right now, she needed her thirst quenched more than anything.

"Umm…Edward," Emmett chocked.

We both turned to stare, noticing how dark his eyes were, and Rosalie's too as they stood there, struggling not to move, glaring at Charlie. They were used to Charlie's scent, but seeing physical blood was a whole different story for a vampire. My father took three, large nervous steps back when he saw their obvious hunger.

"Yes, Emmett, go," Edward answered the bloodthirsty thoughts. "Take the others outside with you, too. We'll meet you in the clearing with Alice and Jasper."

Emmett nodded, grabbed Rosalie's hand and rushed out as quickly as Jasper had, to gather Kate, Garrett, Tanya, Benjamin and Zafrina.

I looked at Edward, then at Charlie, wanting to run to him and finally hold him. He let go of my hand and nodded an 'okay'. It was just the three of us left.

"You did good." I hugged Edward tightly before I moved.

"No, Bella, you did good," he corrected, stroking his hand across my cheek. "I know how hard it was for you to wait."

I quivered at his touch, even after what we'd just been through, smiled, then ran to Charlie.

"Dad! Thank goodness…I'm, so sorry!" I threw myself at him, apologizing over and over.

Charlie wrapped his arms around me and patted me softly on my back. "It's okay, Bella, I'm okay," he said, slightly trembling.

And before I could say anything, I swiftly backed away from him, out of his hands, and clenched my throat. A low growl instinctually left my lips. I'd made the mistake of focusing on the blood that dripped from him and the large pool that built up under the front of his shirt, just over his heart.

Charlie stepped back in horror and shock when he made contact with my dark, hungry eyes. "What the…" he shrieked, throwing his hands up in a defensive manner. He'd never seen me like this and it frightened him. It frightened me, too. Daughter or not, I was the fifth vampire tonight who held a cold, thirsty desire for him. Instinct told me to 'drink'...

Edward rushed to my side and put his arms me to prevent me from doing anything I'd regret. Charlie's blood pressure spiked, beating faster, calling me even louder. I swallowed my mouthful of venom before opening my mouth slightly, leaning in.

"No, Bella," Edward whispered firmly in my ear.

I gazed into my father's expression at my behavior, and began pushing against my impulses. No was right. I should not want this. I should not want this.

I want this…

I closed my eyes and breathed in deep, channeling my super control, absorbing Charlie's familiar, non-touchable scent. But there wasn't much relief when I noticed how strong it was under my nose still, and the burn that ripped at me.

I opened my eyes and looked down. On the front of my shirt was a blood stain that matched Charlie's. His blood transferring to me when I'd hugged him. I held my fingers to it, touched it, then looked at my wet finger tips. My throat ruptured further into flames.

"Edward…" I heard my father call to him nervously. "Is…she alright?"

"She will be," he said as he took the bottom of his shirt and wiped my fingers off. "It's still hard for her at times, but very rarely," he explained gently.

"I don't know if I'll ever get used to this." Charlie wiped a shaky blood-bandaged hand across his forehead, trying to understand it all.

"Your hand!" I shouted, pulling myself from my trance and grabbing it.

Edward gripped my torso tighter as Charlie backed up again, his bandaged hand still in mine. "I don't think that's a good idea, love," he muttered.

"No," I protested, then looked at him and grinned. "I'm okay. I promise, Edward." And I was. Charlie's injury had taken the place of my desire. The pain I could deal with.

Edward stared into my eyes, looking for danger. I danced them around a little in annoyance when his stare become too long, so he could see I was in control.

He rolled his eyes at me.

"Charlie's hurt. We need to get him taken care of," I said in a perfectly even voice.

"Alright." Edward unwrapped his arms from me.

I cringed when I got a better look at my father's face, and the bruises he had all down the right side and under his eye. They weren't shadows.

Charlie flinched when I raised my hand to trace along the outlines of them, then down to the crust of dried blood in the corner of his mouth. "Your face…" I questioned sorrowfully.

He shrugged, then said with disgust, "Yeah, some vampire named Felix pulled me from my car, doing this to my hand." He moved it in mine. "I guess he thought I'd make a good punching bag every now and then on the way here, too."

I growled at the name and Charlie shot me a nervous look. He wasn't used to my noises. And he should have to be. He was human. He didn't belong in this world. A world that could hurt him so easily, as Edward had always warned me of before.

"He's gone now," Edward said, just as disgusted, gritting his teeth.

Charlie hung his head and nodded. He didn't look up for a bit, then took what sounded like a relived breath and blew it out.

"We need to get you cleaned up, dad," I reminded as I put my arm around him, to guide him to a bathroom.

"Hold on…" he said, raising his hand, still staring at the ground.

"What is it?"

Charlie's breath was shaky and I wondered if the shock was setting in. I held on to him, incase his legs should all of a sudden decided to give out. I didn't want him to fall to the ground and hurt anything else. He was exhausted, and I knew his adrenaline would fizzle in one big drain soon.

I concentrated on my father's changing expressions before I looked at Edward and raised my eyebrows at the continued silence.

He winked back at me.

What the heck did that mean?

Charlie lifted his head, eyed Edward, and slowly raised his hand out to him. Edward raised his hand to meet Charlie's, aware of what was coming.

My father cleared his throat. "Umm, Edward…son…I want to, to…thank you for coming for me," he humbly declared, gripping Edward's hand with all his might, shaking it up and down.

Chills ran throughout my body. Did my father just call him 'son'? He must be in shock. I don't recall him ever saying that before. Well, not without 'in-law' snarled behind it.

"It was the least we could all do, Charlie. I'm truly sorry you were brought into this."

"I met Aro and a few vampires that resided here," Charlie said. "Not an easy group to go against. Yet you and your family…and my daughter…managed to get past them. I don't know how you did it, or if I'll ever be able to thank you enough, but…I'm glad you're here," he said with gratitude.

And before Edward could respond, Charlie pulled him in, hugging him. I expected them to pat each other roughly on the back, like men do, then separated, but not this time. My father was truly thankful, holding his 'son' tight.

"I'm glad we are here too, Charlie." Edward grinned, hiding everything behind his expression of what it took to get us here tonight, relishing in the moment of the embrace before they separated.

I put my hand to my mouth and giggled a little when I looked at Edward.

"What?" he snapped. I was ruining their moment.

"Sorry," I smiled, then pointed to his shirt, "but, we all match."

Edward looked down to see the same familiar circle of blood on his shirt that Charlie and I both wore on ours.

"We need to get you cleaned up, Charlie," he said as he pulled his shirt out and tightened his lips, "this isn't going to work."

I tucked my smile away when Edward looked back at me. He hadn't found anything funny about having blood on him and obviously disapproved of my giggling. But I disregarded his intended glare. I thought it was humorous.

"Bella, why don't you get Charlie washed up while I clean up down here and…find some new shirts for us."

"Alright," I agreed, still hiding a smile.

"There's a washroom upstairs," Charlie pointed before he turned around to direct me upstairs. Edward headed down the hall to find clothes, I assumed, before starting on the entry room.

Charlie and I had been in the washroom for about ten minutes before we had his neck, chest and hand cleaned up and re-bandaged. When we exited the room, Edward was standing in front of us, holding two shirts, and a jacket for Charlie. He'd already changed into a light blue t-shirt that looked rather dashing.

"I'm gonna use this real quick, before we go," Charlie said as he pointed his thumb back towards the washroom, taking the shirt that Edward handed to him and closing the door.

"Of course," Edward replied.

I turned to him when the door closed.

"Blue looks nice on you," I teased seductively as I ran my fingers back and forth along the collar then zigzagged slowly down the middle of his chest to his stomach before wrapping my arms around his waist.

He grabbed my shoulders and held me away from him, so only our stomachs were touching. "Bella," he looked down at my shirt, "you haven't changed yet…"

"Oh! You're right. Oops, sorry."

Edward grabbed my face, keeping the top part of me held out with his elbows and kissed me. I kept my hands almost uncontrollably at my side, remembering I still had traces of Charlie's blood on my fingers. I liked this blue on him, and didn't want him to have to change again on my account.

"Do I get to trace you-after you change?" he whispered against my mouth, grinned, and then kissed me again.

"Uh, sure." I quivered, trying to think clearly and not to fall over at the thought of his fingers touching me.

We quickly let go of each other and stood with our backs to the railing, side by side, when we heard Charlie walking towards the inside of the bathroom door. I watched the knob turn and my father exit in a nice grey t-shirt. Edward had also found a good size bandage for Charlie to put over his neck. Carlisle would be able to doctor it up better, later.

My father smiled when Edward grabbed the jacket from the railing and handed it to him; his police one from work. We definitely wouldn't want to leave that here, not with his name on it.

"Here," Edward said smugly as he threw the shirt he found for me into my waiting hands.

"Thanks," I said, questioning his look.

I went into the bathroom, closed the door, removed the blood stained shirt, and groaned when I put the new one on. Edward thought he would be funny, too, I see.

He'd very graciously picked out a very tight-fitting black top, with a v-neckline that came all the way down to the middle of my chest, half-capped sleeves and criss-cross strings that weaved their way up both sides, leaving an inch of fleshly skin showing. I imagined he'd found this in Heidi's stuff, for it was very flattering for someone who would be going out fishing for human attention.

And that…I was not.

I sighed and frowned as I took one last look in the mirror. I can't believe he actually handed this to me and expected me to wear it. But I had no other choice right now.

I turned the knob and opened the door, making sure giving Edward a dirty look was the first thing I did. He stood across from me, leaning against the railing still with one leg crossed over the other, his arms crossed in front of his chest and a big smirk on his face. My father's eyes popped wide opened, and I'd hoped he would send Edward down to retrieve a new shirt for me.

He didn't.

Instead, Charlie closed his eyes and shook his head as he started to walk past us. He patted Edward on the shoulder and said, "She's all yours…" when he recognized the irritation on my face and went to stand at the end of the hall railing where the stairs began, staying clear.

"That's a nice shirt on you," Edward teased in the same manner I'd just done with him a few minutes ago. Then he stuck his finger out to trace me, but I caught his hand.

He frowned.

"Not funny," I barked. "You expect me to show up around Esme and everyone else with this on? It's hardly appropriate."

"Hmmm, I guess you're right." He looked disappointed. "You should probably wear this one then." He smiled as he pulled a t-shirt out from his back pocket that he'd had hidden.

I glared at him then yanked it from his hand. "Real cute, Edward..."

"Sorry," he tried to be friendly. "I just couldn't resist seeing you in that when I saw it."

I sighed and looked into his beautiful eyes, trying not to be mesmerized by their childishly testosterone-filled wildness. I threw the new t-shirt under my arm and began walking towards the stairs.

"Aren't you going to change?" he asked, a little confused after all my ranting.

"No," I replied coldly with a devilish grin. "I think I'm going to let you suffer a little more." I knew it would drive him crazy if I kept it on.

He smiled as he ran up to me, whispering in my ear, "I'll take that punishment gladly…"

Charlie rolled his eyes when we met him at the stairs. We were close enough for him to hear Edward's whisper. I grinned, embarrassed.

"Wait!" Edward held up a finger for us to hold on, then turned around. He headed back into the bathroom, returning after a second with mine and Charlie's bloody shirts. "No evidence." He eyed us. "Well burn them later."

"Where's yours?" I asked.

He reached his arm around and pulled out his stained shirt that was tucked in his other back pocket, showing it to me. How many shirts did he have back there?

He balled ours together with Charlie's so no blood was showing and threw them under his arm. Now we were ready to go.

As we walked down the stairs, Charlie and I noticed Edward had the whole entryway completely cleaned up, with no proof of us even being there. No chairs, no blood, no chains, no rope and no splinters all over the place. It was in perfect condition.

"Wow." Charlie raised his eyebrows.

"We're quick, dad, remember?" I reminded him.

"Well, where to from here?" Charlie asked.

Edward thought for a moment.

"Stay here," he said, handing me our shirts. "I'll be back in just a few minutes."

"Where are you going?"

"You'll see…" he replied to me as he ran down the stone walkway towards the castle's entrance, and disappeared into the shadows.

*** For those who don't know, when I researched Aro's sister at Twilight Lexicon, this is what I found: ***

Personal history: Hoping that his sister would have a special talent, Aro changes Didyme to a vampire. However, her talent is not what he had hoped for. Marcus and Didyme fall in love and are "tremendously happy." Marcus is so happy that he is no longer interested in "Aro's plans for domination." After a few centuries, Marcus and Didyme consider leaving the Volturi. Aro pretends to be happy and gives his blessing. However, he does not want to lose Marcus' talent. When he knows that he cannot be discovered, Aro murders his sister even though he truly loves her. Marcus becomes an "empty man" with Didyme's death.

*** I don't know if Marcus ever knew what Aro did? It didn's say. So I had to leave that part above open with no real closure to discuss from Edward… ***



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