July 21, 2013
“You want to what?”
I cringed internally as I heard the tone of Nahuel’s words over the phone. I had expected a little surprise, but the blatant shock that I was met with was, truthfully, a little defeating.
“I’m sorry, Edward, I didn’t mean to say it that way. It just came out. Forgive me. So, you were saying?” He corrected himself immediately, and I wished I had the power to read minds over the phone, not that it would have worked with Katherine around.
“Yes, Nahuel, I was saying that Bella and I . . . have been thinking about adopting a baby: a hybrid, to be precise.” I reiterated my words while pacing in the backyard of our cottage. Bella and Renesmee were currently at the main house, now that our daughter had gotten over her aversion to being ‘ignored’ as she had put it.
“Yes, I got that . . . but . . . why do you need my help?” Nahuel asked me with uncertainty in his voice, and I debated whether to bring up the topic of his father with him. At last, I took the shot.
“Um . . . well, you said—the last time you were here—that your father had created a lot of hybrids . . . for his own purpose? I was—”
“Okay, Edward, I’m gonna stop you here. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you do not want a hybrid created by my father. And besides, I’m sure you’re looking for a baby; my sisters and brothers are all grown up, you know? They’re all almost of age.”
“Oh, I thought—”
“Trust me, I want to help you. I do. But the fact is that the Volturi obliterated my father years ago. In fact, they went straight to him after they paid a visit to you people. Caius wanted to destroy my brothers and sisters, but it would have ensured retaliation, since we’d already proven that hybrids are harmless. And anyways, my father practically brainwashed all my siblings. I have a hard enough time with them as it is.” I could almost hear the condescension in his voice.
“It’s okay, Nahuel, I understand.” I nodded, a little despondently I might add.
He was quiet for some time—I could hear his breaths—and then he asked, very timidly, “If you don’t mind . . . why . . . why do you want another baby?”
I would have answered Nahuel in the right way, if I could.
Why did Bella and I want another baby?
It wasn’t one of those things that we had planned ahead for; neither was it a talked about matter. It had just come up, impulsively, and it had felt . . . right. It had held the same fervor, the same zeal that I had felt when I had realized for the first time that I loved Bella, or when I had touched her belly and known that my daughter was in there. It was just . . . meant to be, I guess. It was something we never would have thought about, but something we wanted to happen deep down.
“It’s . . . It cannot be explained, Nahuel. It just . . . happened. I guess we both decided we were ready . . .?” It wasn’t exactly what I had planned to say, but it sufficed . . . barely.
“Oh, I understand . . . its okay . . . I would have helped if I could, Edward, but it’s out of my control. I just . . . hybrids are not common. Vampires don’t go around impregnating women. And most of them who’re alive live in hiding. They know that the Volturi would not let them live. Yes, your altercation with the Volturi might have changed things, but . . . it’s still sort of under . . . you know. I mean, I don’t want to dissuade you or something, but . . . getting another baby is going to be hard, Edward.”
I don’t know if Nahuel heard my sighs from this end of the phone, but I didn’t care either way. It was hard to hear all of our problems being laid down in concrete words by him. It made adopting another baby seem impossible, which—I hated to think—it was, perhaps.
“I understand, Nahuel. Thanks for your help anyway.” I nodded, not wanting to prolong the conversation and give away my despair.
“Anytime Edward. Give my regards to your family.”
As soon as I disconnected the call I was faced with a dilemma.
How was I going to relay my conversation with Nahuel to Bella? She knew I was here; she knew I was trying. I could not even imagine the look on her face when I told her that the conversation had been a dead end: a moot point. She would be devastated, and I hated to think that. She had promised that she would be patient, but I knew how hard it was for her. In her mind, Bella had already taken to our new boy like a fish to water, and was already planning on what his room would look like. She had been positive that Nahuel could do something.
I almost didn’t want to go back.
Maybe I could distract her. Everyone was stressed enough with Alistair’s pending arrival, which was due today. No one, especially Carlisle, had been able to forget his betrayal at our time of need, though he’d had his reasons. I didn’t know what his presence would do to the family, as we knew he was here to stay for a few days. Apparently, he and Mark were ‘buddies’: a fact which Katherine surprisingly disapproved of.
I started walking back to the house with a plan forming. I knew Bella would never bring up the matter in front of the family, and we really didn’t have any choice but to be there until dinner. That gave me some—if not a lot—of time.
Now I just needed to think of how I would break the news to her.
My mind was almost fried with half cooked plans by the time the backyard came into my line of vision. I heard a murmur of voices from inside: there was some hassle going on. I sped up and entered the house just as Katherine left her seat on the couch and advanced towards Mark.
“Why does he want to come here? I don’t even know why you’re friends with him!”
“What do you want me to do, Katherine? Tell him to go back? He’s going to be here any minute!” Mark grimaced at her.
“Do you know how hard it is for the Cullens? Do you know what he did? He betrayed them! Isn’t something new with him, is it?!” Katherine narrowed her eyes at Mark, and the expression on his face faded a little. He was reminded of a time long gone: I could tell. I ran my gaze over everyone. They all looked uncomfortable, and I felt that all of them were siding with the wife. My eyes met Bella’s for a short moment, and she smiled at me hopefully, and for the first time I was thankful to be cut off by someone.
“He helped us, Katherine,” Mark mumbled, though I could see that whatever memory had been triggered was not pleasant for him either.
“Yes, after he accused you of betraying your kind with me. What was it that he called me? Oh yes, “a low life, good for nothing piece of flesh”! You’re going to put up with a man like that? What kind of a friend is he? What kind of a man are you, Mark?! How can you even consider having him here after what he said to me?!” Katherine glared at her husband, who—as all good husbands do—cowered under her gaze.
“You don’t know what he’s done for me. He’s . . . different, I understand. I can’t . . . I can’t turn on him.” Mark shook his head, almost as if he was warring inside. He was caught up in a maelstrom between his lover and his best friend.
Not a foreign feeling for someone among us.
Katherine was close to bursting at this point, but something in Mark’s words must have hit her, because, at last, she huffed, and stormed out of the house and into the woods, “Fine. Do as you wish. But I am not letting him near my kids, Mark. I’m telling you! He can go to hell for all I care!”
Mark looked prostrate at how things were turning out, and the rest of looked, well, uneasy. I felt Bella’s hand beside me, and I took it, gripping it like my life depended on it.
At last, Mark sighed and turned to Carlisle. “I’m sorry to put you through this, Carlisle. Really, I am. We can go somewhere else—”
“There’s no need for that, Mark, really. You don’t have anything to apologize for.” Carlisle nodded soberly, “but . . . I can’t make any guarantees for my behavior during his presence. I’m sorry, but he and I had been friends for very long. His betrayal is too grave to forget.”
With that, Carlisle left the room, followed by Esme. The rest of us just stood around, shuffling on our feet, thinking of anything to say. My eyes met Bella’s, and she just nodded, having got the message. She and Alice left to talk to Katherine, and right after them, Lucy, who had, by now, started walking, came into the room, looking for her father. Following in her foot steps was our cat, Poseidon, who had all but refused to leave her side from the moment she’d been born. Some loyalty.
Lucy’s eyes lit up when she saw her father, and she hopped to where he was, frowning and shaking his head. She caught on, apparently, for the skip in her gait had faded by the time she spoke.
“Daddy sad?” she asked in the sweetest voice possible and even Mark gave her a small smile as he picked her up. Poseidon was not too happy with that.
“No, honey, Daddy’s just a little tired.”
“I kiss it better?” she continued.
“No, honey, it’s okay.”
“But I kiss it! It will be all good!” she protested, and Mark gave in, albeit unwillingly.
I saw that everyone in the family had crept back into the room by this time—save for Carlisle—and I knew why.
Lucy’s power was nothing like we had seen. She was much like Jasper: quiet and perceptive, only her connection with emotions was on a level beyond human or vampire realms. Lucy could, by touch, actually influence a person’s emotions. While Jasper’s powers were limited to only when he was around, Lucy could cause tangible physical reactions in people with a touch. Her powers were not delusional: they were real, perceptive and powerful. They stayed with people.
We all watched in wonder as she leaned into Mark and placed a slight kiss on his cheek, and immediately, he relaxed. His sagged shoulders straightened, and the frown on his face disappeared. His eyes brightened, and soon, there was a slight smile on his face.
Lucy however, was looking very different than she had been earlier. The resplendent glow of infancy faded from her face, and her eyes grew dark, heavy, and drowsy. Her shoulders, too, sagged. She let out a tired sigh and leaned against her father. And where there had been wonder on our faces a moment ago, there was now concern.
Lucy’s power came with a serious drawback, which could be fatal for her if it wanted to. Her connection with human understanding was so strong that she was able to literally exchange emotions with people. She could actually take away another person’s suffering for herself in exchange for happiness. We had discovered that only a few weeks ago on the night Nessie had been feeling down about being ignored. Lucy had touched her and taken away all her troubles, but she had cried throughout the night after that. She had even refused to eat, and had clung to Katherine like her life depended on it.
That had her parents worried: because we had no way of knowing when the emotions she took on from people would get too much for her to handle, even if the effects faded after some time. She was a mental, spiritual healer of sorts, with a potentially fatal catch.
“Lucy tired, Dadda,” she mumbled against Mark’s neck, who shifted her in his arms so he was cradling her, even if she was looking almost a year old.
“It’s okay, baby. It’ll go away. Daddy’s going to put you to sleep, okay?”
And sure enough, she was fast asleep not minutes later.
“Are you sure this will be good for her?” Jacob had been watching the whole scene quietly, and his concern for her as her second Godfather was endearing, “I mean, with the way she’s connected to all of our emotions. It’s going to be a stressful couple of days.”
Once again, Mark looked incredibly sorry. “I know. I’ll try to keep her away for as long as possible.” He looked at all of us. “I really am sorry, for everything. What Alistair did to you people . . . and Katherine . . . it’s just . . .” He trailed off, shaking his head.
“What I don’t understand is how you’re friends with that loser.” Rosalie clicked her tongue and her heels on the floor. “He’s a good for nothing hypocrite.”
“Please don’t . . . talk about him like that. He’s crass, and mean, but he’s got his reasons. He’s a good man.” Mark was sorry for defending him, but I could read in his mind that he genuinely cared for Alistair. However, since Katherine wasn’t anywhere near us in a five mile radius—her shield had expanded from two to five since her transformation—he knew my telepathy was back in full force. Therefore, he was careful of not thinking anything too revealing. I could honestly say I was curious about Alistair with the way Mark was behaving.
“I kind of have a hard time believing that,” Rose huffed and went off in the direction which the girls had earlier taken, and we guys were left in an awkward position.
“I’ll just . . . put her in bed.” Mark broke the silence and scuttled off into the basement. He and Katherine had decided some weeks ago that they would live with us permanently. They weren’t going to become Cullens per se, but would accompany us from now on. Vegetarian vampires were not so frequent in Europe, what with the Volturi breathing down everyone’s necks. Plus, the family was so talented that they would soon be on their trails. With Katherine and Mark’s exceptional powers, it was but inevitable for all of their children to be born with powers of their own.
Abraham’s and Mark’s powers were very similar, with the only difference being in their states. Mark was, as I had said earlier, a shape shifter. He could easily transform into me, or Jasper or Carlisle, or even Esme. Abraham was a mental impersonator of sorts. Any powers that he came in contact with left a permanent mark on him, like a pencil leaves traces on a paper even after being erased. He could take on any power that he saw and use it for his own. Consequently, by now, he could read minds, see the future, shift forms, had a mental shield, could influence emotions and could negate any power in his vicinity. Naturally, Abraham was the only person who could pierce Katherine’s shield, like Renesmee was the only person who could pierce Bella’s. His were the only powers that worked even if Katherine was around. Pretty soon, he would be a tracker too. The only drawback with him was that he too would take on emotions like Lucy and would have to bear the after effects. It wore him out, like his sister.
Ewan’s power was the most unique and unusual we had ever seen. It worked on a level beyond physical, mental or emotional conception. It had been only by accident that we had found it out when Mark and I had decided to take him out for hunting one day.
As he had been very little that time, he had perched on a boulder and watched as we trained him. When I had handed him his rabbit, dead and immobile, he had watched it very curiously. Then, slowly, he stood and held it in his hands, and I was about to tell him not “to play with his food” (I’m sure he has Emmett’s genes in there somewhere), when the rabbit in his hand flinched. And mind you, I have seen a lot of dead people (and animals) in my life, but not one of them has ever even moved when I am done with them. But here the rabbit was! It had flinched after I had killed it with the most sure shot way in the world (vampire venom)!
What happened after that was even more incredulous. A light—soft, slithery and hued light blue—started emanating from the center of the rabbit’s body, right where the heart should have been. It looked almost like a different person—it was moving frantically, and its soft, silky threads looked reluctant to leave. The last of them had held on for a few moments before detaching themselves. The entire graceful blob hovered in the air for a few moments, and then slowly faded away into nothingness.
I tried reading Ewan’s mind, since we were out of Katherine’s shield, but it was blank. I couldn’t hear even a sliver of thought going through his mind. It was . . . just blank.
“Astral bodies,” Mark stated once Ewan was done and was enjoying his delicacy.
“What?” I asked, not having a clue as to what he meant.
“I read about them from time to time. It’s a subtle body between the intelligent soul and the physical body, only it’s much more real. It exists as an aura of sorts . . . in wonderful colors It’s widely linked with out-of-body experiences, or astral projections. What Ewan did was separate the astral body from the physical. That would mean he can, literally, provide salvation, or cruel death. This rabbit’s astral body proceeded to the afterlife.”
“Salvation for the kill?” I asked, dumbfounded as to where this power could have originated.
“Quite literally,” Mark chuckled.
“Uh . . . wow.”
Since then, we had been experimenting with Ewan’s power (albeit in Katherine’s absence), trying to find out what else he could do. So far, we had found out that he could control any astral body, be it one of a living or a non living entity. He could render people dead without actually killing them. Carlisle had been toying with the idea of trying his powers out on one of us, but it seemed dangerous. Consequently, because of Abraham’s powers, we had two people in the household with such a precious power.
It was a given as to why Mark wanted to settle as far away from the Volturi as possible.
Their new house was under construction right now, and all of us (Alice, Bella, Jasper and I, that is) had begged them to settle more than five miles away, since we were tired of not being able to use our powers.
Katherine came in sometime later; still fuming (I didn’t need telepathy to tell that).
We sat around uncomfortably after that. Everyone wanted to avoid everyone, but it wasn’t possible. I could hear Nessie playing house with Lucy inside, and Seth trying to settle a dispute between the two brothers Wellington. Their voices were the only things keeping us distracted from the oppressive silence that had befallen us.
I heard a slow rumble, and then a slight screech. There were some crunches in the drive way. Each step brought him closer to us. It could be felt. Carlisle had come into the room at some point: we were all too stressed to know when. Katherine huffed every two seconds, and Rosalie’s heels provided background music. Mark actually looked torn between joy and sorrow. Even Bella looked wrought with anticipation.
Then, the doorbell rang.
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