For those of you who haven't read my notes from Thrill Seeker, heads up- I like to play around with the concept of mating in every Twilight story I write. It changes from fic to fic.
This will be the last one from Peter's POV for a while. I didn't want to split Bella's hunt between two chapters, so it's basically two in one. After this, we'll either hear from Bella or Jasper next.
Disclaimer: The Twilight Saga belongs to Stephanie Meyer. I just wanted to strand Bella back in time.
Bella Swan was a strange human. Peter thought she made an even stranger vampire.
He kept expecting her to snap, to suddenly start reacting like the countless newborns he'd encountered over the years. His gut told him that she never would, but that didn't stop him from expecting it. The longer she remained calm and collected, the more unnerved he grew. It was downright eerie how controlled she was.
There were moments, of course, when she behaved in a way that reminded him that she wasn't really the fully matured vampire she appeared to be, like the moment he finally coaxed her out of the barn. The girl's vision had improved so drastically that she was startled to learn that it was night out. What she previously thought were rays of sunlight filtering through the cracks of the barn's roof had actually belonged to the moon. Fascinated by the discovery, she'd gazed up at the starry night sky with so much pure wonder and awe on her face that it was a genuine shame Jasper wasn't there to sense it.
Those moments, however, were few and far between. For the most part, Bella took to her new state of being like a duck to water.
Peter took her to the far edge of a nearby town to feed, fully expecting her to snap and lunge for the closest human long before they got there. She never did, though, and he was more than a bit stunned when they neared the outskirts of town without incident. It wasn't until he deliberately took her down the street of a crowded saloon and she didn't so much as twitch that he realized the clever girl had been holding her breath the entire time.
Just what he needed, a damn newborn with cunning on her side.
Rethinking his plans, he led her down a narrow alleyway and rounded on her, using a burst of speed to forcefully pin her to the wall. Bella snarled on reflex, quieting immediately when Peter sternly commanded, "Breathe." When she hesitated, he nearly snarled himself. "Damn it, Bella! Inhale through your nose." Pressing his forearm pointedly into her collarbone, he promised, "I ain't gonna let ya drain just anyone."
Finally giving in, Bella inhaled deeply. He could feel her muscles tensing beneath his arm as the scents of the nearby humans assaulted her. The bright red hue of her eyes immediately darkened to black, the color he'd expected to see miles ago.
Nodding in satisfaction, Peter informed her, "A couple drifters are gonna cut through here in a moment. Think ya can ignore that thirst long enough to wait for 'em?" Brow furrowed, Bella nodded tightly. "Then find a dark corner to hide in. I'm gonna block their escape from the other side."
He released her slowly and took a cautious step back. Any other newborn her age would've taken off the second he released her, but it appeared Bella had a great deal more restraint than most. Satisfied she wouldn't bolt, he turned to leave.
"That's it?" Bella asked in concern. "You're not going to teach me the best way to drink from them?"
Eyebrows shooting heavenward, Peter gave the newborn a scrutinizing look. While there was a certain rigid tension in the way she held herself, she was still able to focus on something other than the blood headed her way. That was something he hadn't anticipated.
"Ain't really a wrong way to feed," he said slowly, secretly awed by her self-control, "but if ya really want pointers, watch your strength. Humans are more fragile than we are. A gentle touch means there'll be less to clean up. The neck and wrists are easiest, but make sure ya seal your mouth around the wound or you're just wastin' blood."
Bella nodded stiffly and Peter tipped his hat to her before walking away. A bit bemused by the interaction, he found a dark spot near the mouth of the alley and waited for the drifters. The men he'd mentioned had been marked for death the second they arrived in town a few days back. They were serial rapists, a fact he hoped he could use to ease Bella's conscience later if he needed to.
It wasn't long before the scoundrels drunkenly stumbled past, failing to notice Peter as they turned down the alleyway. Staying a few feet back, he stuck to the shadows as he followed them in Bella's direction.
To his surprise, she didn't immediately pounce on her prey. Surreally, he found himself actually whispering encouragement, "Now, Bella."
Peter was certain he would never forget that first kill. There was something about the way her limber body arced through the air as she launched herself at her prey that he found downright hypnotic. Silky, dark hair billowing out around her, she swiftly pinned her first meal of the night gently against the wall of a darkened building before carefully sinking her teeth into his jugular. She'd bitten the man with an accuracy that was astonishing, sealing her mouth over the wound so quickly that not a single drop was wasted. It was such a clean bite that Peter felt messy in comparison.
He couldn't get over how much her behavior differed from that of her peers. Even the way she walked was more reminiscent of a vampire like Maria than anyone Bella's age. The girl moved with all the sinewy grace of a panther, her lithe stride so utterly different from the clumsy gait she possessed as a human that it was a shock to his senses. The fluid motions of her body had such a polished sleekness to them that it set his teeth on edge.
And watching her hunt... it was like watching poetry in motion.
Peter had never seen anything like it. Newborns were naturally lethal creatures, but Bella gave a whole new meaning to the word. Most newborns were impulsive and impatient. They reacted without thought and often crushed their kills in their haste to feed, but they were easy to manage because that wild bloodlust of theirs made them predictable. There was a deliberateness in Bella's movements that displayed none of those qualities. It was unnatural for newborns to act so restrained and it only heightened the aura of danger that radiated from her skin.
Her eerie self-control meant that she was unpredictable.
Peter had often wished the newborns he dealt with would be calmer and more rational. Now that he'd gotten a taste of what he'd so naively desired, however, he could honestly say that he preferred them wild.
Alarmed shouts exploded out of the two remaining men as they scrambled away from Bella. Blindly heading back the way they came, they didn't see Peter standing there until they nearly ran right into him.
"Sorry, boys," he chuckled darkly as they skidded to a stop in front of him, "but the girl's gotta eat."
He swiftly knocked one out with a tap to the head while flinging the other at Bella, who had just released the body of the first. Clasping her hand over the drifter's mouth to keep him quiet, the newborn sank her teeth into his neck from behind. She kept her gaze warily trained on Peter as she drank, her instincts screaming at her to protect her meal. Peter was genuinely surprised she'd allowed him as close as she had. He'd been expecting her to growl at him for his proximity before she started in on the second man.
When she was finished, he offered her the third man, only for Bella to refuse. Flabbergasted, he stared at her in incomprehension; he'd never known a newborn to turn down fresh blood. Gently lowering the body in her arms to the ground, she said quietly, "I'm sated, Peter. Besides, weren't you hunting the night you found me? That was three days ago. You're probably really thirsty."
Peter couldn't decide what shocked him more, that a newborn was sharing her prey or showing concern for his welfare. "You, sugar, have gotta be the strangest damn newborn I've ever met. You really offerin' me your prey?"
"Go for it," Bella replied distractedly, wiping a bead of blood from the corner of her mouth. Peter kept his gaze cautiously fastened on Bella as he feasted on the drifter, but the newborn didn't even glance his way. She rummaged through the drifters' pockets while he fed, quickly retrieving their wallets.
Releasing the body in his hands, Peter licked his lips and asked roughly, "What are ya doin'?"
"I want to know who they are," Bella murmured sadly, searching their wallets for something with their names on it. She looked crestfallen when she couldn't find anything. "I killed them," she stated, her voice breaking, "the least I could do is remember their names."
Peter stilled in surprise, taken aback by the remorse in her voice. Even though he knew she would've preferred feeding on animals, he'd honestly thought her reluctance would disappear with her first taste of human blood.
"Knowin' their names won't tell ya who they are," Peter commented eventually, earning a confused look from the pretty brunette. "They're rapists, sweetheart. All three of 'em. They normally roll into town just long enough to ruin the life of some perdy, young thing before they roll back out. That's who they are."
"How do you know?" Bella wondered softly, a veritable storm of emotions in her bright, red eyes. Peter was pleasantly surprised to discover that he could still read them. He'd honestly expected his venom to burn that trait away.
"I just do," he shrugged, hoping she would drop it. When Bella merely stared at him, clearly unsatisfied by that response, he admitted, "I was a Texas Ranger before the Major got his teeth in me. Can't tell ya my rank or my last name, but I remember that much. It's a dangerous profession. You gotta have good instincts or you'll get yourself killed right quick. The venom enhanced those instincts. Now I just seem to know things I ain't got any business knowin'."
"The gift of intuition," Bella realized, looking thoughtful. Peter nodded, privately amused. His sire had made the same suggestion. "Jasper really changed a Texas Ranger?"
"Yes, ma'am," he said with a grin. "Didn't give him much of a choice, really. I was lookin' into a bunch of disappearances in the town he'd just claimed. Got a li'l too close, I suppose. In truth, I thought a nearby tribe was responsible. Turns out most the disappearances we blamed on 'em Indians were newborns."
"Native Americans," Bella absently corrected, fiddling with the wallet in her hands. Peter threw her a look of pure bewilderment and the ghost of a small, amused smile tugged at her lips. "It's what they're called in the future. We only called them Indians in the first place because Columbus thought he was in India when he landed in the New World. It's politically incorrect."
Peter didn't give a damn if it was politically incorrect, but apparently Bella did. He couldn't help but wonder if that meant she'd made friends with a few in the future.
"How in the Sam hell do ya remember somethin' like that?" he asked in astonishment. "Small details like that usually get burned away by the venom."
"I remember most of my life," Bella confessed, stunning him into silence. "The vampires I knew told me they'd lost a lot of their human memories during the change, so I made sure to replay them all after you bit me. I ran through them over and over again."
"The Major will wanna know that," Peter remarked, his thoughts racing. The fact that Bella retained so much of her memory might explain why she was so calm. It was incredibly rare for a newborn to come out of the change with his or her memory intact. To his knowledge, Bella was the first.
Bella's expression darkened at the mention of Jasper and Peter chuckled at her, "Already regrettin' your decision to stay, sugar? The Major can be a real... what did ya call me when I bit ya? An asshole? He can be a real asshole when he wanna be."
To his relief, Bella let out a startled giggle, "People not using that insult yet?"
Peter shook his head slowly, "Nope, can't say we do." He grinned, "But I like it. I'm gonna use it."
He already was, really. He'd called the newborns undisciplined assholes a couple nights back.
Bella smiled toothily for a moment before she sobered. Glancing at the bodies she drained, she sighed, "I don't regret staying, no. It was a dick move-"
"A dick move?" Peter choked out, laughter clogging his throat. He was beginning to look forward to this future of hers. She said the most entertaining things.
"Not a thing yet either?"
"No," he chortled, his eyes welling with venom. He was storing that one away for later.
"Forcing me to feed on humans was a dick move," Bella tried again, deciding to ignore his laughter, "but he's not wrong. I honestly don't know if there are any side effects to drinking animal blood. I never thought to ask."
All of his amusement fled the second she turned her gaze to the bodies again. He could tell just by looking at her that she couldn't decide whether she should feel guilty or not. On the one hand, she'd taken the lives of two men and that didn't sit well with her. On the other, the men she killed got their jollies by raping innocent, young women. She'd saved a lot of women future trauma by ending their lives.
Tossing the wallet aside, Bella backed away from the bodies with a deeply perturbed expression on her face. In the end, knowing the drifters were raping innocent girls didn't make them any less human. She still felt guilty for preying on them and that honestly surprised Peter. He'd thought that knowing they were dirty, rotten scoundrels would be the key to easing her conscience. While he had a feeling the knowledge did help her on some level, she was still having a hard time reconciling with what she'd just done.
Bella clearly felt very guilty over killing humans at all, regardless of their crimes, and he suspected that guilt played a key role in how controlled she was during her meal. Were she not hyperaware of all the pain she was inflicting on those she drank from, quenching her thirst would've been a much more vicious and messy affair.
Deciding the best course of action would be getting her away from the bodies as soon as possible, Peter took out a knife and began staging the scene to resemble a robbery gone wrong. He kept an eye on Bella as he worked, which was why he noticed when she started to pace, her eyes glued to the corpses he was adjusting.
By the time he was finished, she wasn't the same eerily calm newborn he was familiar with. He tucked his knife away as he stared at her in fascination, a bit perplexed by the strange and sudden change. Running a jerky hand through her hair, she bared her teeth in frustration and Peter took a thoughtful step back. By some weird twist of fate, sating her thirst had done nothing to calm her. She was behaving more like an agitated newborn now than she did while she was hunting. She wasn't worked up enough to snap, but that meant little in Bella's case. Acting in a manner even faintly reminiscent of a typical newborn meant she was more distraught than he was comfortable with.
"I don't believe it," Peter muttered, crossing his arms over his chest. Leveling Bella with a disapproving look, he accused, "If it were up to you, you would'a let those animals live!"
Bella snapped her head towards him, her expression fierce, "You don't understand."
"You're right 'bout that," Peter agreed, mildly disgusted by this newest revelation. "I will never understand how ya could'a let those filthy dogs live. Men who force themselves upon helpless women deserve a fate far worse than the one ya gave them."
Bella finally stopped pacing and closed the distance between them. Gazing intently into his eyes, she attempted to defend herself, "You know, there's a saying in my time, 'Kill off my demons and my angels might die too.'" Pointing at the bodies, she explained forcefully, "You may not want to acknowledge it, but cretins like that serve a purpose. They inspire people to do better and be better than they were."
Peter snorted hard and gave her a patronizing look, "You really think them drifters inspired anybody? Sorry, sweet pea. 'Fraid I only know 'bout the ones they destroyed. In fact, I ain't never met a human that was better off for encounterin' a rapist."
"You sure about that?" Bella shot back. "With all of the trauma those drifters caused, there has to be at least one person who decided the world was a terrible place and set about trying to change it."
Peter immediately fell quiet, finally beginning to understand where she was going with this. She wasn't condoning rape, merely pointing out that some humans dealt with the aftermath of tragedy by trying to create something positive from it. The long term consequences of killing them was what concerned her, not their actual deaths.
"It could've even been one of their children," Bella argued, determined to make her point. "What if one of the girls they raped fell pregnant, Peter, and decided to do right by the baby, then raised him to be a good man? What if he grew up and decided to become a sheriff? To protect women like his mother from rapists like his father?" Jabbing Peter in the chest, she challenged, "How many more women will suffer if that future sheriff's never born? Because that might be exactly what I ensured tonight by severing their bloodlines. I might've destroyed a future sheriff."
"You really believe that, sugar?" Peter asked carefully, privately astonished by just how advanced Bella's mind was. She was thinking years down line, anticipating factors Peter had never considered before.
He pitied her for it. Though her unique perspective on feeding was refreshing, it meant that every human death she caused would haunt her for the rest of her existence.
Taking a step back, Bella sighed heavily, "Why wouldn't I? It's how this world works, Peter. Yeah, they destroyed a lot of lives, but everyone reacts to trauma differently. Some people are fighters. The strongest take all their shame and their hurt and use it to drive themselves to improve the world around them. It's called progress."
"Kill off my demons and my angels might die too," he repeated, silently marveling over the newborn before him. She had a very logical reason for abstaining from human blood, but it wasn't going to do her any favors in the South. Still hoping he could find a way for her to make peace with it, he suggested, "Others would argue that this was always meant to be their fate, that crossin' paths with a vampire means their lines were destined to be severed."
"Maybe that could be said about the average vampire like you and Jasper, but not me," Bella said stubbornly, guiltily glancing at the bodies again. "I'm not any more impressed with their sins than you are, Peter, but you forget that I'm not from this time. These men would not have died by a vampire's hand in the original timeline. I dread to think about the possible consequences of my actions tonight. What if I just killed the ancestor of a future president?"
Peter desperately wanted to laugh, but managed to suppress the urge when he saw just how much the idea genuinely upset her. "I highly doubt we'd want any descendant of theirs runnin' the country one day, brown eyes."
"Yeah?" Bella questioned, her expression grim. "And what about the descendant of a sheriff?"
Peter had nothing to say to that. They both knew the descendant of a sheriff could easily rise through the ranks. With the right political contacts, contacts a sheriff would have at his disposal, it was entirely possible that one of his children or grandchildren could become a politician.
"For what it's worth, I think it's wrong to assume you're an exception," he said eventually. "You make it sound like it wasn't fate that brought ya here, Bella, but how can ya really believe that? What if you are exactly where you're meant to be? You're so concerned that your actions might effect the world negatively, but what if the opposite holds true? What if that future you're frettin' over is a brighter place because of what ya do in the present?"
"I genuinely hope it will be," Bella said thoughtfully, walking over to look at the bodies once more, "but I can't honestly believe killing humans will help me accomplish that."
Recognizing a losing battle when he saw one, Peter found himself at a loss. As long as she intended to fight by the Major's side, she'd be sporting red eyes. Jasper made it pretty damned clear that he wouldn't have it any other way.
"Is it worth it?" he asked quietly, his voice low. Tearing her gaze away from the corpses at her feet, she looked at him questioningly. "Stayin' with us, sweet pea. I can see how much killin' humans bothers ya. You're gonna have to kill every three to four days if ya stick around. Is stayin' really worth it? Is the Major?"
Bella flinched and gave him a stricken look, "What did you just say?"
"I asked if he's worth it," Peter repeated carefully, sensing he'd struck a nerve. He was immediately on alert, worried he'd pushed her too far. As calm as she acted, the girl was still a newborn. Newborns didn't handle strong emotions very well.
Bella was in front of him in a flash. Though Peter would never admit to it, her sudden proximity made him flinch.
If Bella noticed his uneasiness, she chose to ignore it, "Don't you dare imply that Jasper isn't worth it, Peter. He absolutely is. I would kill a hundred humans before I'd ever abandon him."
Relieved to hear it, Peter studied her for a moment before nodding succinctly, "Good. You may very well have ta." Not giving her long to absorb that, he changed the subject, "We need to get back to camp. Ya ready?"
Bella glanced over her shoulder at the bodies one last time before following him out of the alleyway. Unfortunately, they only made it about three miles before she suddenly came to an abrupt stop. Peter quickly backtracked when he realized he'd lost her, trying to decide if she was stalling. After Jasper's less than welcoming reaction to her, he wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if she wasn't eager to return to camp.
Peter found her standing on the side of the road with a puzzled look on her face. Inhaling deeply through her nose, she wondered, "What is that?"
"What's what?" Peter questioned, scenting the air for anything that stood out. He couldn't smell a damn thing.
"You don't smell it?" Bella checked. "It's like... candied apples and ink, but there's a sharpness to it." She fixed him with a calculating look and observed, "Like you. There's a sharpness to your scent too."
Peter fell quiet, staring at Bella in surprise. The sharpness she'd mentioned meant she'd caught the scent of a vampire, one he couldn't smell, which could only mean one thing. "You've caught the scent of a masker."
"What's a masker?"
"Someone with a gift for maskin' his scent," Peter explained thoughtfully, wondering why it didn't work on her. The ability to sniff out a masker would be useful. They were usually impossible to catch. "Either someone escaped from one of the other warlords by runnin' through our territory or it's an enemy scout." Frowning at the thought of the latter, he urged, "Can ya track it?"
Bella gave him an unsure look and shrugged, "I can try."
He'd secretly hoped she'd track the scent to a messy kill in town, but it appeared gaining a controlled recruit meant he'd hit his limit on luck for the night. Instead, she led him to a creek about half a mile west of town, where she promptly lost the trail. The vampire in question had obviously used the water to leave their territory.
Crouching down next to a boot print left behind in the muddy bank, he cursed under his breath and nodded, "Scout it is, then. Only an older newborn would have the presence of mind to cover his tracks." He looked up at Bella, whose gaze was trained on a cluster of tiny lights in the distance. "Them older ones don't normally run. No point when they think they'll be released at the end of their newborn year. It's why they make the best scouts."
"Is that a city?" Bella interrupted, tearing her eyes away from the lights to look at him. "Cities in Texas have electricity?"
Peter briefly paused to glance at the lights that had caught her attention. It was the city to the north of them that had piqued her interest. "In San Antonio, at least. Most the smaller towns don't have the fundin' for it." He could practically feel the relief the information brought her. "Why's it matter?"
"I wasn't sure if I'd been dumped in the Wild West or not," she said ruefully. "I didn't study the 1890s all that closely. Electricity means civilization, that much I know."
Peter made an amused noise, "Trust me, sugar, plenty of Texas is still wild. They don't call El Paso the Six Shooter Capital for nothin'."
The expression that took hold of her face was an amusing mix between pleasure and consternation. "I don't know how to feel about that," she admitted. "Excited I might get to see a real showdown one day or disappointed because I thought those days were over." She tilted her head pensively before asking in concern, "Jesse James is dead, right? I haven't gone that far back."
"Killed back in '82," Peter confirmed, immensely entertained by the turn their conversation had taken. "Think his brother's still alive and kickin', though."
Bella suddenly looked very fragile, the fierce, predatory newborn he knew swallowed by the lost, little girl who'd had her life ripped away from her. Peter looked away guiltily, feeling lower than dirt for being the one to drag her into this world.
"Is Washington a state yet?" she asked quietly and his gaze snapped back to her in surprise.
Nodding, he asked, "That where ya from, Bella? Washington?"
She did kind of sound like a girl from out west. The Northwest, if he was hearing her right. When she nodded, he couldn't help but tease, "You, sugar, are a long way from home."
"You don't say," she deadpanned and Peter smirked at her cheek.
Dipping his hands in the creek, he nodded towards the water, "Wash your hands and face while we're here. The run back will take care of the scents on our clothes, but blood's a different story. We don't want to agitate the other newborns."
Bella did as he instructed and they finally resumed their trip back to camp when she was done. Peter glanced at her worriedly a few times on the run back, disliking how quiet she was. Without the mystery of that scent to distract her, she'd retreated inside herself and the last thing he wanted was for Bella to get lost in her guilt.
He understood why she was keeping to herself, though. He hardly needed the benefit of his gift to realize she was still struggling with her new feeding habits. She was a killer now and that was an idea that was difficult for her to grasp.
Peter wisely decided not to point out that she would've become a killer anyway on the battlefield. He doubted it would've eased her guilt any and he certainly didn't want to add to it.
It was new for him, feeling concern for a newborn's emotional wellbeing. Normally, he would've been ecstatic over a hunt like the one that just took place. A newborn's first meal was never that simple. Bella was so easy to teach and she never ignored an order. He had a feeling she would end up having less scars in the long run because she never needed to be disciplined. If Bella kept that behavior up, the only scars she'd ever get would be earned on the battlefield or during a sparring match.
Unlike the wild and instinct driven newborns they were used to, Bella didn't need submission beaten into her. She had no issues with doing what she was told... as long as she understood the reasoning behind her orders. In that respect, it was like doing the opposite of what they did to train the other newborns.
When it came to their soldiers, they demanded blind obedience, but that was only because most of them couldn't focus long enough to understand why they were being given certain orders. With Bella, not only could she focus, she was constantly trying to work out the reasoning behind every command Peter gave her. His gut told him that she would only refuse to follow the orders she couldn't understand, which hadn't happened yet, thanks to her new ability to think several different things simultaneously at astonishing speeds.
Blind obedience was not something she was comfortable with, but Peter knew she would still follow his and Jasper's commands if it came down to it. She wouldn't do it because she submitted to them, though, like the rest of their forces. No, she would only follow an order blindly because she trusted them. It was a new concept to Peter, having someone follow his lead out of trust, but he liked it and he had a feeling that Jasper would too.
Most of their newborns couldn't be trusted to go on hunts until they were around eight or nine months old. They were gluttonous things that would drain an entire town without a second thought, trying to satiate an insatiable appetite. Taking them hunting was a risk they just couldn't afford. Jasper often sent out a couple of the older newborns to bring meals back to camp when it was time to feed instead. They'd fed just two nights ago and wouldn't need fed again for another night or two, which was why Peter had taken her away from camp to hunt.
Jasper had known, of course. His orders were to take her to hunt, not to bring her a meal, and Jasper always said what he meant. Bella's small outburst earlier about how she wouldn't leave without him must've earned her the man's tentative trust, and that... well, that was no easy feat.
"When we get back to camp, try to stay close to me at all times," Peter said seriously, his deep voice shattering the tense silence that had risen between them. Bella threw him a questioning look and he quickly explained, "Newborns typically run on bloodlust and instinct. They're impulsive and uncontrolled. It takes a few months for most to start thinkin' around their thirst and learn to control their primal urges. We have to keep 'em in line through violence."
In truth, Peter didn't want to talk about camp. He didn't want to talk about fighting or newborns either. What he really wanted to discuss was the future and what vampire life was like up north. There were so many questions he wanted to ask her, but he knew that talk would have to wait. It was more important to get her training started and inform her about the kind of life he'd dragged her into. Jasper's primary concern was making sure she was equipped to survive the present and Peter fully intended to help him prepare her for it.
Bella frowned at him, looking understandably skeptical. He couldn't blame her for doubting him, not when her own experience didn't seem to coincide with anything he just said. Chuckling darkly, he promised, "You're not typical, sugar. You're much calmer than our other newborns and I ain't sure you've even experienced any of the normal, primal urges that drive 'em. Most newborns are constantly strugglin' with bloodlust and good ol' fashioned lust. They're gonna take one look at your perdy face and wanna sate that lust with you.
"Never leave my line of sight. If I ain't around, then ya stick close to the Major. Try to make some friends with the older newborns. If they'll watch your back? Great. Until then, act like you're our fuckin' shadows, ya got it? You're so damned calm that the newborns old enough to notice will just assume we're groomin' ya for a leadership position."
"Okay," Bella quickly agreed. Startled, Peter eyed her suspiciously, thinking her acceptance had come just a little too easily. He feared it meant she'd encountered a ruffian or two in the future, which was an idea he wasn't too keen on.
Ultimately, he decided not to question her on it, because he didn't really want to know. There was nothing he could do about it if she had, so that was a can of worms not worth opening.
"There are a few other things ya gotta know before we return," Peter continued after a moment, keeping to a moderate pace for the run back to camp. It was only a little past midnight. As such, there weren't many people out and the darkness cloaking the land kept them hidden from the few that were. "Jasper don't seem to mind it when ya use his first name, but you should really watch that around the others. It's not a rule, per se, but everyone back at camp calls him 'Major.' You might draw the wrong kind of attention if ya don't. Same goes for me. Try to call me 'Captain' when we're not alone-"
"Can I ask you about that?" Bella interrupted and he glanced at her questioningly. "Were you and Jasper ever in the military? Before your change, I mean."
"Jasper was," Peter admitted, a bit surprised that she didn't already know. "He was actually the youngest major in the Texas Calvary. My rank was given to me by Maria, so it's more of an honorary title. The Major runs our company a lot like he ran his unit in the Civil War. He keeps us on a tight schedule and drills us daily. Understand?"
Bella nodded thoughtfully, looking mildly impressed by Jasper's military record. She gestured for him to continue and Peter steered them back on track.
"Speakin' of which, if we ask you a question, say 'yes, sir' or 'no, sir.' It's what the other newborns do. When ya meet Maria, be respectful and call her 'Mistress.' That one," he cautioned, "is most definitely a rule. Disrespectin' Maria or gettin' her angry will only earn ya unnecessary pain and a slow death. And don't argue with us in front of the others neither. If ya disagree with somethin', keep it to yourself until ya get a chance to talk to us in private.
"I like ya, Bella, and I think the Major does too. We don't wanna have to punish you, but we won't have a choice if ya disobey any of the rules. Just do what we say when we tell ya to and you'll do fine. Think ya can handle that?"
"Yes, sir," Bella said with a mocking salute and Peter made a face at her. "How would you, uh," she hesitated, her voice full of uncertainty, "how would you punish me?"
Peter glanced at her, taking in her anxious expression, and soberly explained, "With a show of dominance. One of us would publicly force ya to your knees and bite ya. Other times, we withhold blood. It depends on how serious the infraction is. If you ever did somethin' really out of line or offensive, like insult Maria or attack one of us without provocation, we'd tear off a limb and force ya to train without it for a few days."
Though she was doing a pretty good job of keeping the horror off her face, Peter knew she was frightened. He could taste it in the air. The scent of her fear bothered him more than he wanted to admit. He hadn't scented fear on her even once since the moment he'd met her and had even admired her for that fearlessness. The last thing he wanted was for her to start getting scared of him now.
"Like I said, I really don't wanna punish you and neither does the Major," Peter stressed, attempting to reassure her. "He'll never admit it, but we both got a bit of a soft spot for ya-"
Bella scoffed and Peter paused to look at her. "He's got a soft spot for me? Really, Peter?" she asked in an incredulous tone, her voice laden with doubt. "Didn't look that way to me. In fact, I'm pretty sure Jasper couldn't wait to get away from me!"
Peter slowed their pace before stopping entirely, turning to stare at her in disbelief. He couldn't believe how badly she'd misinterpreted Jasper's earlier reaction to her. Yes, he made a quick escape, but it wasn't because he wanted to get away from her. It was because he needed time to wrap his head around everything she told them.
Bella obviously didn't understand just how disposable newborns were yet. If Jasper really wanted to get away from her, he would've just killed her. And he truly did have a soft spot for her or he would've shut her down the first time she used his name. He hadn't, though. In fact, he hadn't once corrected her and told her to call him Major. That fact alone had Peter convinced that Jasper had just as big a soft spot for the girl as he did. Probably a bigger one. Peter even had a sneaking suspicion that the man actually enjoyed it every time Bella said his name.
Hell, he wouldn't be surprised if Jasper started finding reasons to follow her around camp or decided to train her personally, just to get closer to her. Bella's emotions already drew him like a moth to the flame and Peter would bet his left arm that the draw would only grow now that her change was complete, especially since Bella had admitted that she still loved the members of that coven she mentioned. A coven Jasper was a part of.
It might only be familial love, but love was a powerful emotion, regardless of the type. He imagined that an emotion like love was probably something intoxicating to an empath, even more so to an empath who was constantly surrounded by fear, hate, rage, bloodlust, and despair. And to feel that love directed at him? It'd be a pull too tempting to ignore. Jasper wouldn't be able to avoid her forever for that reason alone. Peter was sure of it.
Even if he dismissed the emotional draw Jasper had to her, he knew the man still wouldn't be able stay away from Bella for long. He didn't know what man could when a woman that pretty declared he was someone literally worth fighting for. Peter sincerely hoped that Bella could handle him once Jasper finally got his head on straight, because Bella might've felt that he was family, but he highly doubted that Jasper was entertaining brotherly thoughts whenever he looked at her.
He just prayed Maria never caught wind of any of this- Jasper's attraction to her or Bella's loyalty and connection to the man.
"You don't even realize what you've done, do ya, sugar?" Peter asked in astonishment. "Can't ya see how much you've just changed things?" Stepping closer to her, he searched her eyes for a sign that she knew, that she really knew, what kind of impact her earlier words would've had on the man that sired him. "Don't ya understand that you've gone and turned his whole world on its head?" he breathed, seeing no hint of that understanding in her eyes.
Confirming his thoughts, Bella frowned in confusion and Peter let out an incredulous chuckle. Taking another step towards her, he asked, "What do ya think our lives have been like since Maria had us changed, Bella? Ya think we've been given any peace? Any compassion? Do you think we've known any affection, comfort, or kindness? It's been nothin' but pain and death for decades now. That's what war is."
Even Jasper's relationship with Maria hadn't been a positive one. It'd been dominated by the darker side of their nature, twisted by blood and lust. Maria had used it to control him and ensure his loyalty. Genuine affection and kindness had no place in that farce of a relationship. Sadly, Peter knew for a fact that Jasper didn't remember enough about his human life to know the relationship wasn't a healthy one.
Bella's confusion melted away and a look of sad understanding took its place, "Peter-"
"It's even worse for the Major," Peter continued, cutting her off. "It ain't just that he can feel the destructive, poisonous emotions of everyone around him, he's also been fightin' longer than the rest of us. He was changed durin' the Civil War, which means he's been at this for over thirty damn years. And in all that time," he stressed, "he's never met a newborn like you, Bella. Neither of us have.
"Most newborns either try to run or kill us the second they open their eyes and they don't exactly grow any fonder after we beat 'em into submission. They definitely don't pledge us their loyalty, vow to never abandon us, or claim us as family. Hell, we've been fightin' for so damned long that we don't even know what family is anymore."
Bella flinched as if he'd physically struck her, his words hit her that hard. Even though she knew what she was getting into by deciding to stay, it was obvious to Peter that she hadn't yet given any real thought to what their lives had been like before she came along. He was beginning to wonder if the Jasper she knew told her anything about his life in Maria's army at all. She said she knew him the least and Peter was starting to wonder exactly what that meant.
Softening his voice, Peter asked, "Do ya understand what I'm sayin', sugar? Do ya get it yet? Can ya see what you've done now, what you're still doin', just by being here, Bella? Just by promisin' him you'll stay?"
He was honestly still amazed that she'd made that promise. Given her initial reluctance to accompany him back to camp, her decision to stay was the last thing he'd expected from her. Hell, if she really wanted to leave, Peter doubted they'd be able to stop her. They'd never had any difficulty retrieving fleeing newborns in the past, but that was only because they always left a trail of bodies in their wake. Tracking someone as rational and calm as Bella would be a much more frustrating task. She wouldn't make the same messy mistakes the average newborn would.
In hindsight, he probably shouldn't have shown her how to disguise their kills. It'd only make it easier for her to leave if she ultimately decided war was something she couldn't handle.
He just hoped she took him with her if that day ever came. Now that he knew it was possible to live a peaceful life up north, she and Jasper were the only reasons he hadn't walked away already.
Peter chuckled sadly at her and shook his head in amusement, "Of course he's got a soft spot for ya, sweetheart. How in the hell could he not? You're willin' to kill for him, sugar. That's the kinda thing that makes an impression on a man."
Eyes wide, Bella abruptly looked away and Peter tried not to laugh at her expense. She obviously hadn't realized how her actions could be interpreted by someone who didn't know what her relationship with that coven was like. Peter knew that Bella genuinely meant that she thought of Jasper as family, but the lengths she was willing to go to in order to remain at his side and ensure his safety looked like so much more than just a familial obligation. She was aware of that now and he thought her reaction was hilarious. He didn't doubt that she'd be blushing if she could.
"Now, maybe it didn't look like anythin' ya said earlier mattered to him, but I guarantee ya that ain't true. It damn well mattered, Bella," he said seriously. "He just needs time to sort through everythin' you've thrown at him. The Major's been livin' in the dark for so long that he no longer knows how to handle any kind of light. Thirty years of nonstop war will do that to a person."
Bella stared at him sadly, genuinely pained by what she'd just learned, and finally lowered her gaze, looking down at her feet. Peter shook his head a little in disbelief, thrown by the submissive gesture. She wasn't a submissive vampire and he knew it, but she certainly looked like one in that moment.
It was a defense mechanism, he suddenly realized. Any time she felt emotionally threatened or hurt, her behavior changed and she made herself look weaker. And it worked, too. Jasper had immediately softened earlier and Peter could feel himself softening now.
"I'm sorry, Peter," Bella whispered and shifted uncomfortably.
Peter frowned and asked in confusion, "What on earth could ya possibly be sorry for?"
"What you've both been through," Bella explained, lifting her eyes to his. "You've suffered immensely. It doesn't matter if you're in command, Peter, you're still suffering. Nobody's life should be full of so much darkness, so much pain and death, and I'm sorry that yours is."
Peter shook his head at her, smiling reluctantly, "You see? That's why I got such a soft spot for ya. Cut that out." He started back towards camp, laughing to himself, "Compassionate newborns. The hell?" Genuinely baffled, he muttered under his breath, "Never heard of such a thing."
Of course, Bella still heard him and giggled as she caught up to him.
"Now, what were we talkin' about?" Peter wondered, getting them back on track. "Oh, that's right. Punishments. You think rationally, so I'm hopin' that by just talkin' to ya about it ahead of time, we can avoid all that shit. Normally, you'd already have a bite mark or two by now, but ya calmed yourself down earlier instead of attackin' us or tryin' to escape." He grinned at her, giving her a proud look. "Which was amazin', by the way. Never seen a newborn overrule her instincts like that before. The Major and I honestly didn't know what to do with ya for a second there."
Bella smiled at that. The smell of her fear had long since faded, which was something he was grateful for. It was a scent he'd prefer not to encounter again anytime soon. Bella's human scent had been flowery. The venom had deepened it, making it both more seductive and wholesome at the same time. Now she smelled of desert wildflowers laced with a hint of strawberry. Her fear gave it a bitterness that left a bad taste in his mouth.
"Any other rules I should know about?"
"Besides the obvious 'don't go anywhere without tellin' us' rule?" he joked. "Yeah, there's one more. Don't take a mate. Maria has us destroy mated pairs. They're a liability on the battlefield and always cause us problems. It's instinct to protect your mate above all else, so mates tend to turn our missions into pure chaos the second they realize their partners are in danger. Sex ain't a big deal, you can have as many lovers as ya want, but do not take a mate."
"I don't know what that means, Peter," Bella quietly pointed out, unknowingly throwing her innocence in his face. It made him a bit ill to realize just how innocent she actually was. "How does a vampire take a mate?"
Peter swallowed a curse. He'd honestly been hoping the coven she told him about would've explained that awkward subject to her, but he could see now that he wasn't that lucky. With a heavy sigh, he rubbed the back of his neck before uncomfortably explaining, "It's usually pretty instinctive. You establish a matin' bond by bitin' each other durin' sex. It's called a claimin' mark. Usually, it's on the left side of the neck, but we've dealt with a couple of mated pairs that tried hidin' their marks beneath their clothin'.
"The thing is, sometimes we bite our lovers on instinct anyway. We're vampires, sugar, it's what we do, so it's not really about the bite itself. It's the intention behind it. You have to love the person you're markin' and let 'im mark ya in return. They're possessive bites rather than ones of dominance. We mark the ones we love because we want everyone to know that they're ours, but claimin' our loved ones like that binds us to 'em as mates. Don't take a lover you have genuine feelings for and ya'll be just fine."
Even as he said the words, Peter felt wrong, like he shouldn't be telling her not to claim a man she loved. The more he thought about it, the more he started to realize that it felt so wrong because Bella was his responsibility and he wanted her to be happy. A mate was a rare gift and it went against all of his instincts to tell her she could have lovers, but never a mate.
Peter was honestly confused by just how much her happiness meant to him. Bella was quickly becoming a baby sister to him and he was still struggling to figure out why. He'd never felt so responsible for someone he sired until now. Then again, he'd also never formed a personal connection with any of the people he changed before and that was the moment realization struck him. They'd bonded before he changed her. He had such a soft spot for her because he'd established a sire's bond.
For the first time in his life, Peter had changed someone not because he had orders to bolster the ranks, but because he genuinely liked her and didn't want to kill her. Like he'd just told Bella, intention was everything. He'd inadvertently tied himself to her and now they had a bond sealed in venom, one that would only continue to grow.
Pausing, Peter realized she hadn't said anything and eyed her in concern. Bella looked lost in thought, a small frown on her face and her brow puckered in confusion.
"What's that look for?" he prodded, startling her.
"I just didn't know that was how the whole mating thing worked," she said, trailing off.
Peter shook his head, "No, there's somethin' else. We're close to the farm, so tell me now or ya might not get a chance to for a while."
Bella glanced at him uncertainly before letting out a resigned sigh, "Jasper was married when I met him in my time. I thought his wife was his mate. All I knew was what they told me and all they told me was that vampires mated for life."
There was more bothering her than just that, but Peter didn't call her on it. Whatever it was, he knew it was personal. He had a feeling someone from that coven might've led her to believe they were mates back in 2005. It obviously wasn't Jasper, not if he was married at the time, and he was oddly grateful for that. Things would've gotten a heck of a lot messier if their newest recruit had been under the false impression that Jasper was her mate. Just imagining how that situation would've played out amused him to no end.
Jasper was already struggling to comprehend Bella's fondness for him. He hadn't the slightest idea what to do with the girl. If he couldn't even handle a girl claiming him as family, watching him react to a newborn who was madly in love with him would've been an entertaining sight to see.
"And you don't think they were mated now?" he wondered, curious about the woman Jasper was married to in her time. For some reason, he just couldn't picture it. To be honest, he couldn't see the man with anyone but... well, with anyone but Bella, the only girl Jasper had taken an interest in besides Maria. He wondered if that meant her presence was already changing the course their lives would've taken.
Oblivious to his thoughts, she shrugged, "It's not like I stripped them and searched them for claiming marks, but his wife was my best friend and I never noticed a mark on her neck. Not even in the sun." He gave her a puzzled look and she clarified, "It's hard for humans to see our scars unless we're standing in direct sunlight. I've never seen Jasper in the sunlight. Didn't know he had any scars at all until the other night when Victoria, the petty redhead, broke into my house. She wanted me to know what I was in for."
That was useful to know. He'd never realized that humans couldn't see their scars. Idly, he wondered whether Jasper knew or was just as ignorant as he was. It wasn't like they'd ever thought to ask a human what they could see when they looked at them.
"Yeah, that redhead... the more ya mention her, the more I seem to hate her," Peter grumbled. "I didn't realize I was helpin' her by recruitin' ya, sugar. I honestly thought her goal was to get ya drained by a vicious newborn. They're usually very rough on their prey. I'm sorry for that."
Bella's face tightened. Shaking her head, she disagreed, "You didn't, Peter. Being changed was my choice. Staying here is my choice. Victoria may have gotten what she thought she wanted, but sending me here was the biggest mistake she's ever made. This is the best place to learn how to track and kill her. And when I finally get back to 2005, that's exactly what I'm going to do."
Peter nodded slowly, deciding to let it go. She was right, after all. He and Jasper would teach her everything she needed to know to take that redhead down. And Bella was certainly driven enough to see it through. Hell, he'd even help her do it, if she wanted the backup. He just had to survive long enough to see that day come.
Eventually, Peter's mind drifted back to Jasper's mystery wife. Unfortunately, he didn't get the chance to give Bella his theories on the subject. They were within sight of the farm by then and he was hesitant to mention anything of the future so close to camp.
Jasper was talking to Maria out on the porch of the farmhouse when they finally returned to the property. Catching Peter's eye, he gestured towards the canyon with a subtle nod.
Understanding immediately, Peter said, "C'mon, recruit. Time to show ya the rest of camp."
He was immensely relieved when Bella replied with a respectful, "Yes, sir."
The back of his neck itched as they started heading towards the canyon and Peter knew without looking that Maria's eyes were trailing them until they disappeared around the barn. He nearly groaned out loud when he got the sudden feeling that Maria was paying extra attention to Bella. The girl was just too calm and poised. She acted and moved like a vampire a century old and it was going to get her put on all the most dangerous assignments.
Shaking his head, Peter guided her to the back end of the property, idly filling the silence by describing the types of drills Jasper liked to put their men through. He stopped at the edge of the canyon to let Bella look around before showing her the well worn path leading down into the heart of it. Many of them often bypassed the path and just stepped off the ledge instead, letting gravity do the work for them.
"We train in the canyon for the shade it gives us from the sun," Peter explained and Bella nodded in understanding. "Our newborns fight better than most 'cause we spend more time trainin' 'em. Most warlords only train 'em after the sun sets. For obvious reasons, most battles also happen at night."
"Does the canyon have another exit?" Bella asked and Peter looked at her interestedly, shaking his head. "We should consider making one. It'd be bad to be ambushed down there."
Peter smirked, "We're excellent fighters, Bella."
"I wasn't worried about fighting, Captain," Bella said quietly, putting a taunting emphasis on his rank. "I'm more concerned about someone dumping a few gallons of gasoline over the edge and tossing in a lit match. From what I remember, vampires are extremely flammable."
Peter stilled and looked at her hard, "Gasoline?"
Bella nodded, "It's an accelerant, highly flammable and hard to extinguish." When he threw her a blank look, she tried again, "An accelerant makes things easier to burn. If I remember right, they're going to start manufacturing cars soon, if they haven't already. Basically, they're carriages powered by an engine instead of a horse and that engine runs on gasoline. Only the rich can afford them at first, but gasoline's going to be available to the public soon." She paused thoughtfully and glanced at the canyon again before looking up at Peter, "Doesn't have to be gasoline, either. A couple gallons of alcohol or venom would do the trick too. You should really have a lookout posted up here. You're fish in a barrel down there." Bella smiled and finished with a pointed, "Sir."
Peter wasn't sure whether to smile proudly or shove her over the edge. Deciding on something in between, he grabbed her hand and leapt into the canyon, pulling a yelping Bella along with him. They landed in a cloud of dust at the bottom and he dropped her hand the second he was sure her legs were steady. Aware that he'd caught her off guard and that she needed a moment to process their jump, he waited patiently for her reaction.
When her face broke out in a delighted grin and she looked up to see just how far they'd dropped, he gave himself a mental pat on the back. The little smart-ass was a secret thrill seeker. She was going to adjust to vampire life just fine.
Lowering his voice to a level only she could hear, he warned, "No more talk 'bout things you're not s'posed to know. If somethin' comes to you that's so important ya can't wait to tell me, give me a sign. Tug on your left ear. Whatever it is, I'll take credit for it, make it sound like it's a part of my gift."
Bella gave him a puzzled look, "You think people will target me for what I know?"
"I don't just think they will, I know they will. Knowledge is power, Bella, and you know too much," he cautioned, waiting until she nodded tentatively to continue their tour. Walking towards the heart of the canyon, where most of their newborns were training, he barked, "Let's go, Swan!"
Bella caught up to him quickly, following him towards the sound of clashing thunder. The second they stepped into view of the others, though, Peter wished they'd already made that secondary exit.
He swore every male head in the vicinity snapped in Bella's direction simultaneously. Peter knew she still smelled pretty good, even without the scent of human blood running through her veins, but he hadn't thought the male newborns would be that tempted by it. More than one predatory growl echoed through the canyon and a couple of the more unruly ones started to edge closer. He was just about to let out a warning growl of his own, telling them to back the hell off, when one of the deadliest sounding hisses he'd ever heard sliced through the air.
Peter snapped his head towards Bella in surprise, trying to ignore the chill sliding down his spine. She looked almost feral as her darkened eyes jumped from newborn to newborn in warning, her muscles coiled to spring. Not getting the message, one of the males took another step in her direction and she whirled on him, slamming her palm into his chest. The newborn flew backwards from the force, crashing into a few others who'd been standing behind him.
Amazed by her own strength, she briefly glanced at her hand before warning the other males in a voice so deadly calm that it made him shiver, "You even think about touching me and I will tear your balls off and introduce them to a lit match. Understand?"
Did he mention how much he was really starting to love little Bella Swan?
It was a hard thing to do, but Peter forced himself not to outright laugh when the rowdiest of the newborns froze in their tracks, nervously absorbing the threat she just delivered. As the newest of the bunch, Bella was the strongest and that made her more than capable of following through on that threat. It was the look on everyone's faces that Peter found downright comical, though. Women must've been more vocal in 2005, because the men from this time period definitely weren't used to hearing ladies speak the way Bella did. Especially ones who were as petite and beautiful as she was. She might've looked like easy pickings because of her small frame, but she'd just made it pretty damned clear that trying to act on that false impression would be a fatal error.
"Y'all heard her," Peter barked, "now return to your duties!"
A chorus of yessir's rang out before they all got back to work and Peter finally turned his attention back to Bella, grinning like a fool. Bella shot him an unamused look and glanced around at the different sparring matches and drills taking place. Eyes lingering on a particularly brutal looking fight, Bella asked, "Captain? Think we could finish this tour later?" She tore her eyes away from the sparring match and looked up at Peter, her expression serious, "I think it might be best if you taught me a few moves first."
"Took the words right out of my mouth, sugar," Peter agreed. "Follow me."
"Kill off my demons and my angels might die too." -Tennessee Williams
If anyone has any ideas for gifts for our newborn soldiers (both for Maria's army and the opposing armies), feel free to share them with me. Either PM me or leave them in a review.
***Update as of 7/19***
So, the next chapter may take a while. Unfortunately, my house has been hit by COVID. My dad was briefly hospitalized last week, where he tested positive. My mom and I are still waiting for our test results, but it's starting to look like I may be asymptomatic (a genuine miracle, since I have the worst lungs in the family).
Since my mom's showing symptoms too, I'm suddenly the healthiest person in the house, which is downright hilarious since I have serious mobility issues. I'm normally on bedrest, but now I'm the only one healthy enough to do the things they normally help me with, like make them dinner, get their prescriptions, etc. For someone with serious medical issues, becoming the caretaker for two others is incredibly draining.
I'm sorry, guys, but right now posting the next chapter is the least of my concerns. Hopefully that will change in a few weeks.
Stay safe. Wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your social distance.
***Update as of 8/26***
First off, thank you everyone for the well wishes. My parents both tested positive, but they're doing well. I'm negative, thankfully, but I did catch pneumonia from my dad and I'm still recovering from it. I don't know when I'm gonna update next, so I just wanted to get this out there in response to a couple reviews I've read.
Bella does not condone rape. I thought I made that pretty clear, but apparently I've gotta say it again. Her moral dilemma has nothing to do with the act of rape itself- rape is a terrible crime and she agrees with that. She's also not encouraging rapists to continue raping people 'in hopes it'll make their victims or someone they know a better person.' That's not what she's saying.
What she's saying is that she's afraid that killing someone before they were supposed to die in the original timeline will have long term effects. It doesn't matter what they've done- they could've turned out to be cannibalistic serial killers and it would still be a genuine concern of hers. The whole sheriff thing was just ONE example of how there could be unforeseen consequences to her actions. It doesn't mean she thinks that everyone will react to trauma that way or that rapists should be allowed free reign. She was just using the possibility to illustrate a point.
Personally, she actually agrees with Peter- that rapists are horrible, despicable men and would prefer a world without them, but that doesn't change the fact that they played a role in history and Bella just interfered with it. And that's what her reluctance to kill them boils down to, the effect on the timeline. She's just beginning to realize her appearance in the past can wreak havoc on the course of history.
Please keep in mind that Bella is looking at everything with the eye of someone from the future. She didn't kill someone in the present, where the future's still unwritten, she killed someone in the 1890s, and she doesn't know what that means for her. She doesn't know how it will effect the world she grew up in.
Remember, she's now in a position where she could do untold damage to the world as we know it. She has to decide whether it's okay to kill humans or not, because her dilemma doesn't end with nameless drifters. Hitler and other dark figures from history now stand between her and the time period she came from. She could save millions of lives by ending Hitler before he ever rises to power, but should she? What if WWII and seeing the devastation of the atomic bomb in Japan kept us from starting a nuclear holocaust later on? What if certain things happened the way they did to save our world from an even darker fate?
She's thinking in hypotheticals right now, but there are very real risks and consequences to playing God. On a smaller scale, let's say she starts feeding from rapists and one day crosses paths with Royce King. She kills him, unknowingly keeping Rosalie from being changed. While Rose herself would probably prefer that, it means that Emmett will die in Tennessee. By killing Rose's demon, she's stealing Emmett's angel. That's a very severe consequence, because Bella loves Emmett like a brother.
Better yet, what if Bella kills a rapist who turns out to be one of her own ancestors? Then it's game over and she'll never be born.
Please don't get so hung up on the fact that Bella suggested some people use trauma to motivate them to do something positive that you lose sight of the bigger picture. We could argue all day over whether or not people do; some do and some don't. That's not what matters here. The point is that she just realized killing people in the past will have an impact on the course of history, big or small.