Disclaimer: I have ZERO claim or creative control in official Twilight Saga content. All rights for the original content go to Stephanie Meyer. I'm just playing in this sandbox and only own my ideas and characters.

Word count: 8405

December 29, 2004: 6:30 AM

"Hey, come on, we're supposed to be leaving soon!" Bella urged as I continued tightening the charge pipe going from the turbo to the intercooler on my car.

"Reee-lax! I'm almost done. All that's left is this piping and the wheels, then we're good to go." I reassured her as the music continued playing in the background. She huffed somewhat indignantly as she loaded our day bags into the back seat through the open door of the car while mom was loading the last three boxes into the enclosed Uhaul trailer we were renting for the move.

"It better be, you've had it apart all week!" Mom teased as I finished my work in the engine bay and closed the hood.

"Yeah? And what of it? We're taking a road trip in a custom "home-built" sports car, and it's going to be towing a literal combined TON of trailer and stuff. I'm protecting my baby as any responsible father would." I countered, moving on to torque the wheel lugs down after having rotated the tires a few minutes ago. "Besides, most of this stuff was actually close to the regular maintenance interval, anyway. I'd rather be ahead of that curve than behind. You are the one who told me to take good care of it, mom." I finished, moving to the next wheel.

Over the last few years, things had gone pretty smoothly. After 2001 I got my act together and started journaling everything about anything that I could remember of the future. By now I had five journals worth of notes. One was strictly for world events, one was for financial gain, one was for entertainment releases, one was a personal history of my previous life, and the last one was for "canon events".

Yeah, that one was the one I was most intent on hiding. After writing it, I sterilized it and kept it in a vacuum-sealed bag that I washed with anti-scent soap. The kind you use when you go hunting. Then put THAT in another zip lock bag that was sterilized further, followed by wrapping it in cotton and hiding it in the furthest pit of my least used luggage covered with what I was least likely to wear in Forks: Swim trunks.

"I recall saying "good luck" actually, and ever since then, I'm still not sure if that was a good idea or a bad one…" She jested good-naturedly as Bella helped her close up the trailer while I finished the last wheel.

She kinda had a point, too. You see, after our summer vacation on '03 where we convinced Dad to renovate his house (and spend our college fund to do so), Mom announced that she was getting a new car and since she couldn't get much for selling her 79 Corolla that I'd been keeping on life support since '99, it was bequeathed to Bella and I, provided we kept it in good shape.

I'd already been planning on a project car for several years at that point, but to have one just drop into my lap like that still blew me away. Having everything ELSE about it come together so conveniently and perfectly (and cheaply!) ALSO blew me away, but that's a story for another time. Suffice to say, though, if you have any idea what a turbo or charge pipe is, well…. Yeah, despite being a literally 24-year-old shit-box with less than 200 horsepower to start with, and ancient technology, I'd turned that "dog" of a car into my magnum opus.

It was not only my most triumphant personal project but also my high school shop class project that landed me a fairly lucrative welding apprenticeship that helped fund the build, as well as some other endeavors, like my savings, account that I'd use starting next year on "Project: Set for Life"

That is, assuming the Cullens don't work out.

"It's definitely a good thing because now we only have to have HALF our stuff shipped, AND we already have a ride of our own for purposes, AND we get to sibling bond on a solo road-trip, AANNDD we don't have to take a plane!" I said, noticing Phil coming out the front door of the house with two large suitcases in hand.

"AND, your mother and I don't have to go through the airport rigamarole or make two trips before we can get on the road, either." The man added, much to everyone's agreement.

THAT was another thing. I'd expected Phil to come, I'd already known his name and background, and sure as shit, I even looked him up BEFORE he and Mom met. He was a straight-shooter if I've ever met one, and despite being young enough to be a cousin or (much) older brother of ours or something, he had this weird mix of chill where he could either be almost our peer, or a really cool uncle. Dude even busted out a bit of sage advice once or twice. It was easy to understand why Mom was smitten, and his own quirks worked well with Mom's neuroses.

Of course, he and I particularly got along in an almost symbiotic way as he dragged back out my lingering ADHD from my past life once again. Plus, it just felt good to have another guy in the house. The girls outnumbering me kinda sucked sometimes, I'll admit. But I feel like I'm getting off track, and Bella's not-so-subtle nudging me towards the car before jumping in and closing the door was as good a sign as any that it was time to hit the road.

I hugged Mom and fist-bumped Phil, telling them to drive safely and getting a couple of raised eyebrows in return. "Yeah yeah, whatever. I'm gonna be towing, the worst I'll do is hit the two-step. Now git!" I said defensively, pushing them towards the Outback and hopping into the driver's seat of the Corolla.

"So. You ready to trade sun, fun, and a fuckload of people for Forks?" I asked after I'd closed the door and fastened my seatbelt.

"Only because it's for them." Bella replied with a small smile, causing me to grin widely as I turned the key and my baby growled to life. A few switches under the dash and a button press on the radio and our "Roadtrip Mixtape" CD began playing at karaoke volume, subwoofers engaged to provide the baseline to "Life is a Highway" as the intro broke into the first verse. It was our personal cover of the song, as were quite a few songs on this CD and the other four that were in the radio's changer deck.

Ten minutes later and we were no longer driving side by side with Mom and Phil as our exits diverged. I gave them one last parting hurrah in the form of rolling anti-lag, my car revving up and popping away for a few seconds before a fireball blew out the exhaust and I dropped the clutch, rolling all the way out to 110 mph before letting it coast back down to 80 and settling in for the long haul.

We decided a week ago to make minimal stops, packing water and snacks with us and deigning to only stop for gas and bathroom breaks. We even had a drinking schedule so we wouldn't have to pee at an inopportune time. One bottle of water every two hours. It was fun. It was everything I dreamed it would be, and an overwhelming sense of freedom enveloped me. I was charging forward toward destiny with my Sister, my new life having a bright future ahead of it, even if the next two years or so would be in rainy Forks with us facing the trials and tribulations of "Twilight"

Speaking of which, I hadn't told her anything about, well, anything yet, but that would change by tomorrow. If today was the normal day of our trip, tomorrow would be the day of truth, and Friday would be the day of acceptance. As I organized my thoughts and what I was going to say, I sang along to the tunes and joked back and forth with Bella. We reminisced the times we had up to this point and made predictions for the future. I gave a mischievous grin when she mentioned something outlandish that was actually not too far from the truth.

All was good. Our first 500 miles were done in eight hours including stops and traffic. About an hour faster than I'd experienced on similar lengths and driving speeds in my past life, but then again, this was the holiday season. If people were traveling, they were doing so by plane, and if they weren't, they were already where they needed or wanted to be and were settled in for the New Year. The absolute best day of the year to drive anywhere was Christmas Day. NOBODY on the roads, and you could drive 100mph for hours with zero resistance.

Towing a trailer and being a few days before New Year's Day, we weren't quite that well off, but still, 500 miles in eight hours was solid, and the car ate it up like I used to eat up food at a buffet once upon a lifetime. We found a reasonable motel, checked in, checked for bedbugs (not that I seriously thought there would be any, we weren't cheaping all the way out), and then unhooked and locked the hitch of the trailer. Making sure there weren't any looky-Lous, I ended up using my "kaio-ken" to pick up the tongue and maneuver it frontways into the parking spot to further deter theft before we took off in the car for a bite to eat.

Hey, it's a road trip. I'm not eating snacks the whole time, and if there's any time to have "cheat meals" it was now. Besides, we were both in agreeance to wanting BURGERS. BAD. The best news was that there was a local burger spot that wasn't a chain store and I CAN confirm that they made some badass grill food. I wished we could stay longer, but between Mom's wedding being on Christmas, and all the other scheduling being tight, we couldn't waste even a day. Not even half a day, really, and it usually took a FEW days to properly explore a place.

Either way. We caught a bite and then walked around the downtown area, went to an arcade for a couple of hours, then booked it back to the motel to shower, check in with mom, dad, and a couple of our friends over the phone, and then crash.

Dec 30, 2004

A bronze-haired boy with a look of death and hatred stood over me while my brother tried and was slowly failing to fight off three others in the background. A small girl stood off to the side with a dazed look of despair as she watched the horrifying events unfold. Everyone aside from myself and my brother was deathly pale, and the bronze-haired boy, with his missing arm and oddly fractal crystalline stump seemed to be struggling with a decision before finally succumbing to his battle and sinking his teeth into my neck!

I awoke with a start and a life-giving gasp of breath, my heart pounding in my ears and my forehead matted with sweat. Already some of the details of the nightmare were starting to fade as I collected myself and flung the covers off to get up.

Bronze hair.
Pale skin.
A decision.
A struggle.

I didn't know what it meant, but… It felt vaguely like a premonition of sorts. Either that or someone's deepest fears made manifest. I shook my head violently and slapped both of my cheeks in an effort to reset my perspective. "Get ahold of yourself, Bella…" I muttered, looking over at the other bed in the motel room to spot my brother sprawled out with the covers half off of him, and oddly enough, a similar sheen of sweat on his forehead.

"No…. get off…" He grumbled sleepily, rolling over to his side and exhaling as a pinched expression overtook his face for a short time. I wondered for a moment if he had or was having the same dream. It wouldn't have been the first time we either shared or mirrored them, or so we thought. Dreams like that faded quickly from our memories after we awoke as far as fine details went.

Sighing in resignation and catching the time on the clock -4:39 AM- I knew I wouldn't be getting back to sleep, and if I could, that it would be useless what with being less than an hour before we set the alarm. So I got up and headed to the bathroom to start the morning routine. Face washed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, deodorant applied and clothes changed, I packed my pajamas back in our day bag and pulled out our "reading copy" of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to pick up where I left off on my 3rd reread.

The Harry Potter series might not have been my absolute favorite, but it was definitely in the top five. The movies were good, too, though missing details that the books did better, and wasn't that a disappointment given they were all over two hours long so far, each. But… David and I always DID go see the movies (and watch the shows) more for the cinematic experience than the storytelling one. Books were infinitely better when you wanted a good story. Manga… I begrudgingly admit were better as well. Mostly because Anime had filler, but I digress.

Putting the light on the bedside table to the lowest setting and turning on the TV to have something quiet for background noise, I snuggled up in the blankets with my back to the headboard and began reading. It would be a while before my brother got up -I didn't want to bother him and wasn't hungry yet, anyway-, then he'd go get us breakfast and hook up the car. With anyone else, I'd be worried about the light and TV waking them up, but after so many sleep-overs, campouts, and reassurances, I understood that once David got to sleep, it actually took something purposeful to wake him up.

About a half-hour later, that purposeful thing was the alarm clock between our beds. It startled both of us with its loud blaring -a contrast to either of our own alarms being adjustable- and with a sigh, my brother swung his legs over the bed, sat up, and slapped the off button on the thing. "Morning…" He half yawed with a tired voice as he rubbed his face.

"Morning." I mumbled, pursing my lips as I thought to ask the question at hand. "Sleep well?" I queried, studying his expression and posture as he scoffed and continued to get gather his wits.

"Bad dream. You?" He asked, no doubt noticing that I was more or less ready to go and had been up for a while.

"Same." I replied, trying to go back to reading but curious once again. "What was yours?" I asked, stuck on the same sentence in chapter seven as he got to his feet and shuffled around my bed to get to the bathroom.

"Got in a fight. Had to save you." He muttered getting to the mini-fridge and pulling out a bottle of water, which he chugged.

"Who'd you fight?" I asked as he crushed the empty water, tossed it in the can, and then made his way to the bathroom door to stretch. As always his morning routine, which was more involved than mine, was like clockwork if only a little overboard as far as I was concerned. I mean we were 17, not 75, why does he have to hang from the doorway for two minutes?

He seemed to hesitate for a moment, considering what he should say -did he… remember better than I did?- before finally relenting "Two dudes and a chick. But another dude got past me and some other girl just watched." He explained, reminding me of a few details that seemed… blurry, but somehow plausible in my own dream.

"Did…. one of them have bronze hair?" I asked, probing for more and feeling satisfied -but also confused- at his suddenly surprised and worried look as he stared at me, once again contemplating what to say before saying it.

"Yeah… Guess that one was mutual…" He trailed, rubbing the back of his head. "What else do you remember?"

"Uhhh… The guy with bronze hair only had one arm? But… It looked like he was born without it?" I tried. Honestly, anything past bronze hair, pale skin, and a struggle was difficult to recall, but my brother nodded anyway and said "Yeah, I saw that too… Weird…" in a distant voice before ducking into the bathroom to do his thing.

I went back to the book and finished the chapter and another one before he came back out. He took a little longer than I did despite me having long hair but, then again, he usually had to go when he first woke up, too, so. In any case, he packed up his toiletries in his day bag and made to finally put on some damn pants and a shirt. "About time…" I commented with a smirk and only a little snark.

"Fuck off. I usually sleep naked." He shot back playfully.

"Not like I haven't seen it before." I bantered.

"Well then. I'll remember that tonight. Full nudity is twice as comfortable than even having boxers on." David joked, making the bed in spite of the fact that we were at a motel and housekeeping would be stripping the sheets entirely once we left.

"I still don't know how or why you do that…" I trailed off, shaking my head in mirth.

"Don't knock it till you try it, Belly. Besides, "It's not like I haven't seen it before!"" He mocked, chuckling as I folded the book closed and smacked him with it.

"STOP it, it is too. Early." I pointed out half-heartedly as he continued to chuckle and grabbed "the essentials" as he called them. You know "phone, wallet, keys?" Yeah, my brother even made a comedic song about it, escalating it into "phone, wallet, passport, keys" and then adding "laptop" and a bunch of other stuff, too.

Once his pockets were stuffed, he then grabbed his day bag and pointed at mine. "You good?" He asked, to which I nodded and continued reading. David grabbed my bag and his before walking out the door. I heard the car fire up and drive off a minute later.

Sighing as the inevitability of the day hit me, I bookmarked Order of the Phoenix and set to doing the morning exercises my brother "forced" me to keep doing as "maintenance". Bodyweight squats, pushups, dips using the bed frame, situps, and planking. I would do pullups, but the pullup bar was packed and so were the assistance bands, so he'd just have to deal with it. David came back with glorious McDonald's breakfast just as I was getting done, complete with a frappe and everything. I groaned in appreciation and he chuckled at my antics, reminding me to drink water, too, while he went and turned the trailer around to hook it back up to the car.

Another 30 minutes later, and after returning the key and checking out of the motel, we were back on the road once again, our mapquest printout clipped to the steering wheel and some electronic music softly playing in the background. Today was quiet, but comfortably so. I read more Harry Potter while David just drove. I was barely paying attention when he suddenly sighed and muttered a faint "shit" about an hour into our second leg of the journey to Forks.

I looked over at the seemingly sudden turn of mood and realized he was looking at me with this… Concentrated and determined expression. What?

"What?" I asked uncertainly, having no idea what it could be, but… If that look said anything it had to be serious. He seemed to dither, licking his lips, checking the road ahead for a second, and then glancing back at me.

"Bella… There's… Something I have to tell you…" He trailed off cryptically. Okay, what? What the heck brought this on? Why does he seem… pained about this? I wanted to crack a joke like we usually would, but something stopped me, and instead, I bookmarked where I was and turned my body to face him, showing my brother he had my full attention.

"You might wanna put that away, actually… This could take a while…" He warned, looking away for a second to change lanes as I tossed Harry Potter into the back seat where four other books that I've… never seen before laid…

'What? Why would you have four books in the car when I already have one AND you're gonna be driving?'

"Caught those, huh?" David asked, looking back at me again with a bit of trepidation and startling me out of my reverie.

"What are they? They…" I trailed off, realizing that I actually HAVE seen them before, a few times. Once in 2001 after the towers fell… And then a few times a year since then… Though progressively less often as time went on. The last time was….

"They're proof. Or, well… Evidence… I hope. But we'll get to that later." David informed me, pausing again to inhale, clearly nervous and I seriously couldn't figure out WHY. What on earth could four journals from years ago have to do with this and what made it so frightening?

"What do you believe in, Bella?" He asked, seemingly changing the subject in an act I was very familiar with when he had to explain something particularly complex. Though, I wasn't sure of his particular meaning with this, which he seemed to pick up on as I frowned.

"I mean like, religiously. God, death, hell, heaven… Afterlife… We know our grandparents were Catholic, and mom went through several phases, but… What about you?"

Understanding the question, I pulled back to mull it over for a bit. What DID I believe in? Science told us of the Big Bang, random chances that were so infinitesimal that one couldn't begin to fathom it, and of evolution. Not to mention we were likely the only life in the universe.

Religion was extremely complex and diverse on the surface, but if you dug deep enough you could draw an awful lot of similarities between them all. Even Atheism was technically a religion, a belief in nothing; You live and then you die and cease to exist.

And then there was generalized spiritualism. Things like agnosticism, astrology, fate, destiny, self-determination, and things people wanted to believe in even if they didn't actually believe in it; like the Isekai thing David explained to me, though he said the concept hadn't "matured" yet, which seems… weird now that I think about it…

For me, there were simply too many coincidences and variables to believe in Atheism or Scientology entirely. Science was an excellent way to understand things, don't get me wrong, but… "There HAS to be something out there to explain all of this. I don't know what… Or how deep the rabbit hole goes, but there's something…" I finally replied.

"So Agnostic, then." David summarized, to which I tentatively nodded. "Okay, what about fate and destiny vs choice… Or the afterlife? What do you think happens when we die?" He added.

"I… Don't know. It hurts to believe fully in fate; that everything is predetermined, so it's probably a mix, or maybe even a battle between fate and choice…" I said. "And for the afterlife… I don't know… Maybe there's a mixture of choice and fate in that, too. Like, if you were good and had nothing left to learn, you would go to a peaceful place to either wait for or reunite with loved ones, but if you were bad or still had things to do, you'd either receive punishment or be reborn?" I added. It was really more of a question, though. Being put on the spot to suddenly question the meaning of life was… Just a bit taxing. Also…

"What does this have to do with those books you wrote or what you have to tell me?" I asked adamantly, not wanting to be sidetracked on this tangent anymore. Although, now I was kinda curious…

"I think there's a big difference between belief, feelings, and facts. You could believe I would come save you if you were in trouble, and this could be backed up by either blind faith, or the fact that I've done it before. But at the same time, you could still feel the fear of death or that maybe, THIS time, I won't be there… And sometimes what you feel can certainly overwhelm what you know as a fact, and therefore affect what you believe…" David explained, once again dodging the question, but inciting my curiosity even further.

'I really wish he wasn't so good at that and would just give me a straight answer, instead.' I thought to myself, remembering The Matrix and the parallels Mom and I drew between David and both Morpheus and The Oracle.

I sighed, resigned to finally ask the question his cryptic reply dragged out of me. "What do you believe?" I pondered quietly. David huffed a single snicker with a mirthless crooked grin and finally gave me more answers AND questions than I'd ever considered before.

"I've been asking myself that question for the last 25 years, Bella…"


He just… He really said 25 years with a perfect deadpan. The kind of seriousness that someone uses when they tell you a loved one died, or that your parents are getting a divorce, or that you got their daughter pregnant.

My mind spluttered and stalled to a stop, trying to restart itself in broken tangents of realization mixed with disbelief. Was he… is he saying…? But HOW!? WHY!?

"What do you mean?" I asked, nearly begging, desperate to know, but also so so quiet that I was afraid he didn't hear me for a second.

"I mean, this isn't my first rodeo, Bella. Being born, being a kid, growing up… Reading, learning, getting my license, driving, road trips, jobs, money, friends… Family…" He shook his head, his eyes distant and glassy as he laid himself bare at my proverbial feet… It was impossible, and yet… It was impossibly real in the way he spoke about it. I knew my brother, he was terrible at hiding his feelings once the gates were opened. He was also chronically incapable of holding his laughter in for the long haul on some joke, prank, or story.

This… This was real, at the very least, it was real to him. His deep, centering sigh as he tried to avoid my gaze solidified that thought, but also brought to question why was he so upset about it?

'So many why's…' I thought, among the hows, whens, and whats, too…

"Okay… So what?" I blanched, blurting out the first thing I could to buy time and scrunching my eyes at the verbal gaff.

"What do you mean "so what"?" He responded incredulously, his eyes narrowing a bit as he minutely shook his head in confusion.

"Why tell me? Why tell me, now?" I shot back, barely able to order my thoughts in time and trying desperately to do so faster. He sighed at that, seeming to calm down, almost as if he was prepared for questions, but not the blind dismissal I initially had.

"A few reasons… One: I'm tired of hiding it… Honestly, I feel kinda lonely being the only one to know. Two: Because shit's going to ramp up in the next few years for us personally, then go slap-fuckin-crazy in the next fifteen or so, generally, and Three: Because I can't lie to you. I don't want to, either. You and I are probably the two closest humans on earth, and in a way, well… We deserve better than harbored secrets from one another…" He trailed off, a contemplating and resigned expression on his face as he seemed to think more on what he had to "reveal" to me.

A pregnant pause existed between us for a time as we both allowed each other to think. After the third time he glanced at me for my reaction, I finally broke down and asked "What?" again, to which he replied: "Nothing… Just waiting for either more questions or a total dismissal… Or screaming as you realize certain implications of things…" He trailed off again, side nodding and sighing to calm himself down some more.

"Don't hold your breath on those last two… Crazy person, reincarnated person, or whatever; You're still my brother." I told him, socking his arm gently as he grinned and chuckled fondly, shaking his head in mirth and seemingly thinking of something ironic. I was actually rather curious about that as the four journals came back to the forefront of my mind. I saw David's head turn again in my peripheral vision as I looked behind us at the stack of black journals in the seat.

'If what he says is true… "Crazy for us personally, for the next few years…" Does that mean he knew me, before?' I wondered, hesitantly reaching out for the left stack of two and bringing them to the front. "Biography" and "World Events 2002-2022" were written on paper cards slid into clear plastic holders on the fronts of either of them, respectively. They were both an inch-and-a-half thick or so, and perhaps five-and-a-half wide by eight-and-a-half tall? Opening the cover of the biography, I was told it was a 500-page A5 notebook. Rifling the pages, I saw that nearly every page had content on it with very few left over. Setting it down and checking the "World Events" one, I saw that it was equally full and sighed in resignation. "Proof, huh?" I asked half-heartedly. A part of me wanting to just believe him -And believe me, I did- But another part noted that when people were really crazy, they also tended to do things in excess just as much as someone hellbent on proving their point -or the truth I suppose- would.

"Yeah. Not really sure which one would be best to start on…" He trailed off apologetically. "The other two are "entertainment" and "financial gain", though I suppose some of that one crosses over with World Events… I just wanted a specific place to put all my insider trading tips." David half-joked, quirking a crooked smile as he moved over and took the interchange to stay on course towards Portland.

"Entertainment?" I asked, reluctantly reaching back and grabbing that one to add to the other two I held in my lap. Opening that one showed that it was split into two parts, one being "what exists" and the other being details like summaries and plot points.

"Yeah. Massive spoilers for, well, everything, in there… I know how Naruto ends. Also, part two will be called "Shippuden" and will also get an Anime adaptation. I also know every major blockbuster that will come out in the 2010s, I know the ending to the Harry Potter series and when the movies will come out… It's all in there." He rambled before forcefully cutting himself off.

Maybe…. I shouldn't read that one then. My curiosity would get the better of me and I'd spoil myself. I set that one gingerly aside, which caused my brother to chuckle knowingly. I half-heartedly glared at him, to which he shook his head and explained. "Just stick to the first half of "what exists and when" and give it back to me when you're done. I'll keep you from the spoilers if you want." He offered, thawing out some more as our typical dynamic began to reform.

I nodded my assent as I picked up his biography and began reading. It was going to be a long seven hours, but… With any luck, I would start to understand things by then.

Nine hours later and I was left with just as many questions as answers. David's biography of his past life was filled with not only the facts, but the explanations behind things he thought were questionable, and the feelings behind everything else. I was beginning to understand what he meant by "screaming in realization" but I stood by my nearly subconscious promise to try to be as objective as possible.

I asked my brother for clarification on some things, as well as his thoughts currently and in his own spoken words. I'd analyzed and compared what he told me with what I'd read and what I'd known of who he was now and found myself incapable of demonizing him. It became increasingly clear that he wasn't an intentionally harmful person despite his faults, and that his past attitude was due to a number of reasons, and aside from that, it was exactly what it was; his past.

There was a lot that he wanted to forget, and honestly, having read some of it, I wish I could forget, too, but… His bravery, including his admittance that he intended to take half of that stuff to his grave, gave me the closure needed to let it all go. Of course, having nothing else to do but accept his choice now, he joked that since he already died once, it was fair game to tell at least one person, now. Me.

"What was it like?" I asked, regarding his death and subsequent rebirth as we walked down a secluded little waterfront spot off of an industrial lot in Portland.

"One minute I was working out, next minute my body just seemed to… Not hold back anymore. My heart freaked out, my vision went blurry, I felt really hot just under the skin, and just when I started to hyperventilate… I lost the ability to stay upright and fell over, blacking out…" He told me in a far-off voice, looking down at the stones that made up the "beach" and seemingly recalling the event as if it were etched in stone.

"Next thing I remember… What seems like an Angel was holding me. Then several instances of being fed, held, changed… You crying and getting the same… Mom and Dad arguing… Mom taking us with her… I became lucid more frequently and for longer periods over the years until I was about four; That's when it became permanent. Though, if I thought too hard, or well, too much like an adult I'd get headaches…" He trailed off, his exposition causing some of my own memories to resurface.

"You been thinking too much!" My six-year-old self once said so innocently.

And stuff like that had been happening ALL DAY as old memories and sayings slotted into place beside my new perspective. Between the ludicrously, unreasonably detailed biography, his own recount and explanations of it, the way he acted about this whole ordeal, and all of the little details of the past lining up with what I knew now… It was impossible to deny it. David really had lived a life before this one.

It's good to know your brother isn't crazy, but wow is the truth crazier sometimes… I scoffed as I came back to a point of contention between us once again.

"Were you seriously worried you were "grooming" me?" I asked incredulously with a chuckle, causing him to clam up frustratedly with embarrassment and ire.

"NO, I was worried you would see it that way." He defended, causing me to chuckle again and shake my head.

"Bruh." I said.

"Did you seriously just "bruh" me?" He asked, a single eyebrow skeptically raised to his hairline.

"Yup." I popped the P on that, too.

"No. No using future slang anymore. It is forbidden." He proclaims with a double hand movement signaling finality.

"Okay, boomer." I shot back, causing him to have a mini-meltdown and go into a tirade where he unironically used the term "young lady" on me.

'Wait a minute…'

"Hey, are you older than Dad?" I asked quickly, doing the math in my head based on the information from the book.

"If you're talking pure chronology, then we've existed for the same amount of time, yes…" He started. "But I don't count what I can't remember, so I'm calling three years worth of non-lucidity off for this time, and a solid five years off for last time, making me… 34. Technically."

"Wow… You're older than Phil, then…" I commented offhandedly, realizing a second later that his "eight years off" put him at "technically" 42, which was older than dad.

"Though I really don't feel like I'm either age. I feel more or less like I used to, now; A young adult 20-something. Though with a much healthier perspective, heh…" My brother added, shrugging at the end.

"So, what, age is arbitrary?" I raised an eyebrow at the thought.

"For me, it kinda IS. Growing up this time, even with memories of the past and predispositions, my body and my physical brain are all different, fresh, so while I could connect to what I had before, I most of the time feel whatever age I am until I think about it or notice something off that I would think or say or do differently than my first instinct."

I tried to wrap my brain around that, thinking back to when we more closely qualified as "kids" and how… he would just trail off in whatever he was doing to stare at space with a thoughtful, but look on his face for a few minutes until either I or one of our friends dragged him back into things.

I huffed a single laugh, a small grin playing at the corners of my mouth again. After all, neither one of us were really "normal" kids what with how Mom was… I feel like I would've been worse off if David wasn't here, though… Almost like, well no, exactly like he knew the value of childhood beforehand and sought to uphold it as best as he could for the both of us.

It was… heartwarming actually. I suddenly hugged him as I was overwhelmed with emotion from realizing all that he's done for me using his knowledge. After that first epiphany, it was starting to all click and hit me at once. The childhood, him taking responsibilities -or at least trying to- before I did or could, that night when we were ten and the months of "preparedness training" beforehand, making me stick with and find my passion in music, introducing me to Manga and Anime, too, the dozens of life lessons and bits advice I didn't even know or understand I was being taught at the time…

"Don't you EVER think anything you did for me was wrong!" I suddenly cried, holding his arms tightly to his side with my face buried in his chest. "I could be dead, or kidnapped, or soulless, or worse without you having been my brother… So thank you, okay? And don't ever bring up yourself and "grooming me" in the same sentence ever again…" I professed, hearing him begin to break up at my admission and loosening my hold just enough so he could hug me back and then standing there like that with David for several minutes.

Finally, we both pulled away and I socked him lightly in the side.



We both laughed for a second, then he said "Oh, I can't wait to see that show again…" and walked off towards the car, leaving me reeling.

"Wait, WHAT!?" I called, running after him as he broke into a jog with devious laughter reaching my ears.

Two hours later and we were standing in line at a place called "Chipotle" in downtown Portland. Apparently, it was a newly opened restaurant and their shtick was "Mexican" grill food. Meaning burritos or "bowls" as David explained. I didn't quite understand his hyperactive enthusiasm over the place since there were plenty of family-owned restaurants of this type in Phoenix, so…

"Come on, why are we here again?" I begged.

"Trust me, you'll love it. The food here tastes really clean since it's all fresh, and it's also almost all "organic" so it's really healthy, too. PLUS, I literally haven't had Chipotle in close to two decades and the only way this day could get better was if we were at a Zaxby's." He explained.

"And what's "Zaxby's"?" I asked.

"Chicken joint. It was the first place I discovered genuinely spicy food at a chain restaurant. Sadly, it's a Southern-only place… Ooh, maybe if we go visit mom, we'll find one!" He mused happily, causing me to grin and shake my head fondly at his antics.

"Okay, but if it sucks, I drive tomorrow." I proclaimed, getting a dubious and defiant raised eyebrow from him for a second before he shook his head and said "Guess I'll be driving, then."

As the line shortened and we were up next, I spotted just how BIG the burritos they made here were. I doubted I'd be able to finish the whole thing, especially if it involved a side of chips as my brother explained they had while we were in line. When the line worker took our order, my brother had to get TWO wraps to close up his burrito, which consisted of steak AND chorizo, brown rice, pinto beans, and the works aside from Guac and Queso. Meanwhile, I opted for a chicken bowl with white rice, pinto beans, sour cream, lettuce, corn, and mild salsa. We both got a side of chips, but David also opted for a dipping cup FULL of their hot salsa for said chips.

There was a lot of head shaking lately, though I'll admit his proclivity for capsaicin wasn't new by any stretch of the imagination. Honestly, it was a wonder he had any taste buds at all… In any case, we sat down in the restaurant to eat and I'll admit, the quality and freshness of the food WAS superb. It tasted natural, for lack of a better word, and not at all like any fast food that I'd had before. Subway came close, but still, this "Chipotle" place had a unique edge to it. I didn't feel guilty about eating so much since it wasn't greasy like the Mexican grill food places back home.

"MAN, that's gonna be a brick tomorrow morning…" David suddenly let out, followed by an unholy belch which he tempered with several gulps of his odd root beer/ginger ale mashup that he called "Moxy". Apparently, it was a New England thing that actually existed as a standalone bottled product, though he didn't see it when he took a vacation there with his previous family in his last life, so he wasn't sure.

"Dude, gross. I was JUST eating…" I protested, which only garnered a snicker out of him.

"Not my fault I was born with the brains, brawn, beauty, backbone, AND iron stomach… pussy." He jeered maliciously, which only made me narrow my eyes before I jabbed two fingers right below his ribs into his ticklish spot which folded him over like origami.

"AH, shit! Fuck, Bells, I was KIDDING, geez.." He barked, scooting away as he added "Ya didn't have to go for the kill like that, damn girl…" with an increasingly southern/"urban" sounding accent.

" "Talk shit, get hit," isn't that one of your sayings?" I shot back, earning a very "displeased father" like glare from him before he dropped it with yet more head shaking as he finished his drink and gathered our trash up.

"Maybe I tried too hard…" I heard him mutter as I grabbed my hoodie and headed towards the door.

"Wouldn't trade an ounce of it." I reassured as we walked towards the car and lapsed into a comfortable silence. Of course, that silence didn't last long as my brother started the growling beast of a project car he called "transportation".

And it got even worse when he pulled onto the main street sideways at 30 miles per hour with the wheels spinning and the engine screaming its head off and spitting gunshots out of the exhaust. Continuing that into second gear and all the way down the block didn't help, and of course, we just HAD to go drifting RIGHT BY a cop in the middle of downtown Portland. A whole THOUSAND miles away from one home, and five HUNDRED miles out from the other.

If it weren't for the traffic, I gave my brother about a 35% chance of running. Despite my grievances with it, it was fast, and the police cars of today were relatively quite slow. I DEFINITELY wouldn't condone such a decision, though, and luckily as he pulled over with a frown on his face, he proved to be more mature than that, too.

And what an odd contradiction THAT thought was. Were all men like this?

In any case, as the officer approached, David calmly cranked the window down and kept his hands on the wheel. I did my best to not exist and halfheartedly prayed our Dad wouldn't hear of this.

"Officer Nick Burkhardt, Portland PD; Do you have any idea why I pulled you over tonight?" The man asked, shining a flashlight in at us as he stood slightly behind the front door.

"Uhm… Car might've gotten a little sideways…?" David hesitated. It was clear he didn't want to lie, but he also probably didn't want to admit guilt or piss him off by sounding dismissive and disrespectful.

"Reckless driving, Speeding, Exhibition of speed, Failure to signal, Improper left turn thankfully not resulting in a collision-"

"I'm sorry, did you say your name was Nick Burkhardt, sir?" David interrupted him, causing the blood to chill in my veins and my heart to pause. I slowly turned to face the man as I wondered why the hell David would ask that the way he did and noticed that Officer Burkhardt was young -maybe only 5 years older than us?- and rather handsome, too…

"Yes, I did. Why?" Officer Burkhardt asked.

"No reason.. sorr-" It was now the cop's turn to interrupt my brother.

"Why on earth were you driving like that?" He half asked, half demanded.

"I uh… I'm not sure I can give a respectful, honest, AND reasonable answer, sir." David responded hesitantly, causing the officer to narrow his lips and not expectantly.

"License, Registration, and proof of insurance, please." Officer Burkhardt said, my brother complying by informing the man where everything was and then casually retrieving it.

"I'll be right back." The cop announced, leaving with the documents as my brother hung his head in embarrassment.

"Are you fucking crazy!?" I scolded in a stage whisper, slapping the shit out of his arm and then following it up with a punch when I decided that was enough. "If Dad hears about this, or this Burkhardt guy takes you to jail, we're SCREWED!"

"I know! SHIT! How the heck did this happen, I have the perfect sixth sense for those fuckers, great eyes, and a lucky streak a mile long!" He complained, making my eye twitch in fury.

"You… fucking! If you didn't drive like a madman in the first place with this stupid, LOUD ass car, you wouldn't have to worry about any of that!" I barked, punctuating it with another shoulder slap as the Officer's return saved my brother from further scolding by me.

34, 42, or 17 this was his fault, not to mention fucking stupid!

"So, did you think of an excuse while I ran your information?" Burkhardt asked, causing my brother to sigh.

"No excuses, sir… I saw the road was clear, and I was… exuberant because of the new year, our road trip, Chipotle well… existing… It won't happen again." He dejectedly muttered as the cop handed him back the documents.

"It better NOT happen again, especially if you're just passing through. I also expect better from the son of a cop. So if you ever pull a stunt like that again in Portland, I won't only write you a ticket instead of a warning, I'll also be calling the Forks Chief of Police." David and I were both stunned silent at this revelation, to which Officer Burkhardt chuckled and continued.

"What, you don't remember me from two years ago? My aunt Marie and I took a vacation to Forks right before I was old enough to join the police academy. We met you guys and your Dad at the diner when he overheard me talking about wanting to be a Detective." The man explained, my memory hazy on the subject since we were mostly focused on our own endeavors at the time, but my brother seemed to put the pieces together immediately.

"Holy SHIT, that was YOU!?" And of course, Officer Burkhardt -Or, I guess, Nick- guffawed at that.

"Yeah that was me. So stop with the "sir" stuff, and start driving like a normal person, kid. Save the showing off for at least a parking lot, abandoned area, or better yet, the race track." Nick confirmed and then warned.

"Yeah!" My brother agreed breathlessly. "I think you've convinced me." He added enthusiastically, turning in his seat to watch Nick retreat to his cruiser with an astounded expression on his face after the guy bid us farewell with an added "Have a safe trip!"

As the cruiser took off around us, David ran a hand through his hair and heaved out a sigh, eyeballing the written warning for "speeding" and handing the paperwork to me to put in the glovebox. "What was that about?" I pondered, my brother shaking his head and whooshing out a sigh once more.

"I'm 99% certain we just met a fictional character." He explained, starting the car as I blanched at the statement, demanded answers, and then settled in for his explanation on a TV show called "Grimm" as we drove back to the motel.


And there we are, folks. A 6 weeks late and uhhhh at least 3 more chapters short, BUT we have officially passed all of the pre-canon material.

I'll be real with you, I didn't even start on this chapter until two weeks ago, writing about half of it then, and another 2k on the 21st, then the rest on the 23rd. Stalled out wondering what to do for the middle of the reveal, but then I reevaluated the characters and it sorted itself out.

Didn't put day 3 of the road trip here because A. nothing "new" would happen except towards the end, and B. chapter bloat. I wanna keep things around a readable 7-8k ish. So next chapter will be the homecoming scene and the couple days before the first day of school. Back to David's POV, of course.

Oh, that reminds me! Be sure to review and tell me what you think of AU!Bella and her POV. I tried to be faithful to canon Bella but also account for the changes in personality that are bound to happen in some regard given the outside influence of A. Having a sibling in the first place and B. Having a sibling that functionally has an adult perspective the whole time.

OH OH OH, and what did you guys think of the little Grimm cameo? Too crazy? Also, are you guys picking up anything sus yet? Let me know in REVIEEEWWWWWSS! :-)

Also, join me on KLL'S DISCORD for discussion. I have my own channel there for all things Destiny Saga, including FACE CLAIMS for the characters, car pics, explanations for any changes you might see to canon lore, and so on.

Link: gg/CBHnaEPTn7 ((sorry, but on FF you'll have to add the rest. Story's a better read on Ao3, anyway as I'll eventually have music links IN the fic when they become relevant))

Thanks for reading!