A/N: On to the next one.
I was re-reading the last chapter and there were mentions of Seattle PD, and Captain Matt Sung…I'm not changing that aspect of the story but I do remember a reviewer telling me once that Seattle PD wouldn't have jurisdiction in Forks. I sincerely didn't think of that when I wrote in the SPD and Sung, and I had a 'drats! Can't believe I missed that!' moment but I have plans involving the SPD that wouldn't work as well if I just used the couple of deputies a small town like Forks must have. I hope no one minds this fiction faux pas…
Disclaimer: SM owns it all.
POVs: 3rd person
3rd person POV
Two weeks into the search for James Hunter and SPD were still coming up short. It seemed like he had simply disappeared.
The past fourteen days had been incredibly difficult for the Cullens. Not only did they have to deal with the constant worry about James Hunter – whose decisions were still blurry to Alice – they also had to deal with the police surveillance detail outside their house.
Due to James' current obsession with Bella, Captain Sung believed that if James were to make an appearance, it would be to meet up with Bella. Therefore, there was a squad car sitting outside of their property every day and every night for the past fortnight.
However, with no word from James or any sightings of him, Captain Sung had been forced to take off the surveillance detail. He'd offered to keep a squad car watching over the Cullens' house if Carlisle was worried but the vampire patriarch had convinced his friend that they were fine – they'd 'installed security cameras' and would be able to catch James' entrance into their land if such a thing were to occur. Of course, what Carlisle's human friend didn't know was that they hadn't installed any cameras and had merely begun paying more attention to their surroundings, anticipating James' arrival.
As a result of the police detail that had staked out the house for two weeks, none of the Cullens were able to act like their true selves. This meant no blurring at lightning speed to get one from place to another, no wrestling vampire style and no hanging around outside whenever even a slight bit of sunlight showed. Bella, who was more used to them acting like vampires than humans, found it pretty funny that they had to limit themselves in their own house.
Now the search had definitely cooled, the squad car was gone and the Cullens were taking advantage of that.
Edward, Alice, Carlisle and Esme were leaving for a hunt – they hadn't gone the longest out of the family – while Emmett, Jasper and Rosalie were staying behind to protect Bella if need be. She was a little torn between being insulted that he didn't think she was capable of taking care of herself for a day, and relieved that she wouldn't be alone. As long as James was still out there, she was unnerved and afraid that he might return.
Frankly, she thought all the police investigations and plans made by her family (they'd considered three options: they could either help the cops, find James themselves or flee Forks the moment attention was lifted from their family) were making her more paranoid than necessary. She kept thinking of all the horrible possibilities, her fear and paranoia fuelled by theirs.
She had a feeling that James was long gone – after all, he had been gone for two weeks, his apartment abandoned and not a single thing sent to her from him since – and all she wanted was to forget about all of this and move on. But Alice was obsessed considering she still couldn't see James' future which meant she couldn't rule out the wearisome possibility that James might just be biding his time until he could return for Bella.
"Edward, really, I'll be fine," Bella said for what felt like the hundredth time in the past fifteen minutes, her exasperation showing in her voice. "Your eyes are pitch black – you need to hunt."
Despite the fact that he was clearly straining for control, standing almost on the other side of the living room from her and holding his breath in an effort not to breathe in her tempting scent, he was still reluctant. "I don't want you to be alone," he murmured, as quietly as he could without being inaudible to Bella.
"I won't be alone," she insisted. "I've got Rose and my brothers here…" She made a move to step towards him, but his tense posture stiffened even more and she stopped. "Baby, look at you…You should go, Edward. You'll have your cell with you. I'll be able to reach you if anything were to happen – not that it will," she added hastily. The last thing she wanted was for him to get strange ideas about what horrible things that might happen to her while she was gone.
He sighed. "I'll be gone the whole weekend," he reminded her. "I'm not even staying in Washington."
She nodded. "And though I'm not crazy about you being a hundred miles near Tanya Denali," she joked, causing him to almost smile. "I still think you should go…"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," she said firmly. "Alice will be going, too. If Tanya decides to show, Alice can protect you."
He rolled his eyes. "I meant...I know you're still jumpy about James…"
She tried not to show how startled she was by his comment. Time and time again, he proved to her that he didn't need to be able to read her mind to know what she was thinking and feeling.
"Edward, please," she sighed. "You're not doing me any favors by staying back."
"I don't have to go to Alaska," he bargained. "I could just hunt here…I'd be back by tomorrow morning. Earlier, if I hurry."
She shook her head. "You deserve some time with mom, dad and Alice," she assured him. "Go, and come back to me by Monday morning, okay?"
"Sunday night," he argued, a small smile flickering on his lips.
She gave him a loving look from across the room – a stand-in for a kiss for now. "I'll miss you," she whispered.
He blew her a kiss then flew out the front door to join Alice, Carlisle and Esme. They made their way to the woods surrounding the house, intending to run to Alaska since it would be faster for them traveling by foot instead of by car.
She sighed, making her way towards the kitchen to fix herself a breakfast sandwich. Rosalie was already in the room, sitting on the kitchen isle and flipping through a magazine. "You done with your little love fest with Edward?" she asked, smirking at Bella as she entered.
Bella rolled her eyes. "We were standing fifteen feet away from one another," she pointed out.
"That's a good thing," Rosalie immediately retorted. "Whenever the two of you are within two feet of one another, you tend to get a little too mushy…It's barf-worthy, really."
Bella gave her a look – which didn't do anything except make Rosalie smirk a little wider – and made her way to the fridge.
"Hey," Emmett called out as he entered the kitchen. Seeing Bella pulling out ingredients from the fridge, he groaned. "You're not about to cook, are you? It always stinks to high heaven for an hour whenever you do that."
"I'm in the kitchen…It's what this room is for," Bella pointed out.
Emmett ignored her, switching topics instantly. "Jazz and I are gonna have a wrestling match. Who wants to watch?" Throwing Rosalie a leering look, he added in a deepened voice Bella recognized as his 'call-me-sexy' voice (she shuddered just remembering how she knew that), "If you come, I can promise toplessness within the first twenty-eight seconds."
Rosalie put down her magazine, her eyes and smile turning sultry as she leaned towards him. "I don't know," she said coyly. "Will there be nudity involved at some point?"
"Between you and me? Sure, yeah," he nodded. "Me and Jazz…Not so much."
Bella threw them a disgusted look as she slammed the fridge door closed, jolting their attention to her. "You two realize I'm still within hearing distance, right?" she asked. "I mean, that was disgusting."
Rosalie laughed. "Sorry, kiddo."
Bella frowned. "I hate it when you call me that," she sighed.
Emmett held up his hand. "Enough chit-chat," he said loudly. "It's time for us men to adjourn to the backyard, tear our shirts off and impress the ladies with our impressive, manly battle…And you ladies to sit back, relax and enjoy the show…"
Rosalie giggled but Bella rolled her eyes. "No, thanks," she said dryly. "I have a feeling I'm not actually going to enjoy watching my two brothers play fighting. You two go ahead."
Bella nodded. "I'm just gonna make a sandwich and go up to my room to read," she assured Rosalie who took Emmett's hand, kissed him wildly and followed him out the backdoor.
Bella shook her head at the two of them, wondering if she and Edward were ever going to be that gross once they'd taken the final step in their relationship. God, I hope so, she sighed to herself.
Smiling at the thought of her future with the love of her existence, Bella took her plate of sandwich and ascended the stairs to head for her room. I'm going to eat my sandwich, read Romeo and Juliet and watch some Vampire Diaries, she thought to herself. I'm not going to let myself think of anything but good things.
The past two weeks had been pure hell.
That frizzy-haired, loud-mouthed gossip queen from the high school had blabbed to 'a few' people from town about Kayla Hendricks' call to her. Now the town was suspicious of him and the police were going in for his arrest. He had overheard, of course, and he'd fled with some of his possessions.
He had far too little time to rid his apartment of all evidence of his relationship with Bella. Grabbing what he could – some of his surveillance equipment and a few of her belongings to tide him over until they could be reunited – he ran.
He couldn't be around Forks for a while until the whole thing had cooled slightly. He still needed a way to keep an eye on his beloved and make sure she was alright, so he'd employed the help of one of his pals to watch her and the situation.
The moment his buddy had contacted him to inform him that the police had called off any active searches for him, and gave him the all clear to come back since Bella was no longer kept under lock and key, he'd rushed back to Forks.
He made it by Saturday afternoon.
Because of how everything had gone down these past few weeks, James needed to be more careful with his actions. He knew that because of the police getting involved, the Cullens would be on edge. No doubt they had filled Bella's head with lies about how he was the bad guy when Cullen was the one who had been keeping her locked up tight as though she was his prisoner. He had to move carefully to free Bella and win her over.
There was this huge tree almost a hundred miles away from the Cullens' property. It was mostly hidden from view from the house unless he climbed up all the way to the top and used his binoculars or the magnifications on his camera. This was a plus for him. Not only was he out of sight from any of the Cullens, he also had easy access to view Bella – most of the house was made up of glass and windows. It was far too easy to get a good look at her.
Thankful that he had grabbed some of his best equipment from his old apartment before he'd been forced to flee (and don't think he wouldn't be paying Miss Jessica a little visit soon, either), James sat on his perch at the very top of the tree.
He figured out that Edward Cullen wasn't in the house within his first hour of watching Bella, and neither were Bella's adoptive parents or that weird, crazy short chick who was always looking at James as though he was irritating her with his very presence.
He considered just going up to the house to see Bella (that blonde chick might be a bitch but she didn't look like she could fight well) but there were two other guys in the house: Bella's adoptive brothers. The big burly guy James wasn't crazy enough to go up against even on his best day and the blonde's twin who might look like he was wiry but scared James just the same each time he saw him.
He studied the house for hours, ignoring the pain in his legs or the numbing feeling in his arms as he held his camera up too long. He only lowered the camera after Bella had completed her evening shower and changed into a pair of red sweats that fitted her perfectly – both of which were activities he'd managed to capture perfectly with his camera thanks to her decision not to close the blinds in her bathroom and the curtains in her room. He supposed she didn't expect anyone to be able to see her considering her house was covered by trees and forestry for miles, but he had a feeling she left the windows uncovered just for him, in case he'd come back for her.
I know you miss me, too, lovely Bella, he thought, a certain haze coming over his mind for a moment as he thought about her. Affection coursed through his body as he thought about the bond between them. That's right, Cullen. Nothing could break us apart, he smiled smugly.
Lowering the camera to his lap, he flipped through the newer pictures he had snapped of Bella. The anger he could feel pounding in his heart at having to abandon her and start all over due to that frizzy haired bitch seemed to subside slightly as he gazed at the photos. He had been so incredibly outraged that he'd have to leave everything behind. He'd felt as though he had nothing tangible of Bella's to hold onto. Nothing except a few mementos like a tube of lip gloss and a hairbrush he'd swiped from her bedroom that one time he'd visited, and a picture of her he'd cut out of the school magazine once.
Now, though, with these new pictures of her looking so radiant and beautiful, taken by James himself…He felt like he was getting back to their old routine. It felt good.
Satisfied with what he'd captured so far, James sighed as he considered leaving the house for the day. He'd return tomorrow, of course, but it was late enough at night for him to go into town and pay a visit to Jessica Stanley. They needed to have a little chat about what she'd done in her efforts to pull him apart from Bella.
Jealous bitch, he grumbled to himself. I knew I shouldn't have given her the time of day. One shag and suddenly skank thinks I'm hers. Stay away from the crazy ones, James.
He was about to climb down from his perch when he heard a loud crash. What the hell? James thought to himself, his head automatically snapping to the sky. Though it was dark and he could barely see anything in the skies, James was sure that it wasn't a sign of rain. For one, it didn't sound like thunder but more like two boulders clashing together.
Again, the strange sound boomed, ringing in his ears, and James' head spun towards the direction it had come from – the Cullens' house.
Bella, he thought in panic. Nothing bad could happen to her. Not now. Not when he was so close to getting her.
Fumbling for his binoculars, he zoomed in on the house, searching up and down and left and right until he'd found the source.
No. It can't be possible…I mean…How can it?
Wide-eyed and slack-jawed, James watched as the two Cullen brothers, Emmett and Jasper, crashed into one another in the living room, just a few feet away from the couch area. He could see the video game controllers scattered on the floor by their feet, one broken as it lay near an opposite wall. The room itself looked as though a tornado had ripped through it, pillows torn and scattered everywhere, picture frames crooked on the wall, broken glass and cracked TV screen…
As Emmett and Jasper collided with one another – Jasper with a playful smirk on his face, Emmett with an annoyed scowl – the loud sound was heard yet again.
They were interrupted, by an irate looking Rosalie. Bella, an amused smile on her face, trailed behind her. James couldn't see what Rosalie was saying, but she gestured wildly with her hands and her mouth moved at rapid speed – she was obviously yelling at them.
James watched, yet again, as the Cullen brothers showed off more of their abnormalities: moving at lightning speed, they went about the room, clearing the mess they'd made. James swiped his camera quickly and, using the video function on it, he taped Emmett and Jasper's quick movements.
All thoughts of Jessica Stanley left him as he stayed on his perch on the tree. For once, his attention wasn't on Bella at all, even if she was right there in front of him. Instead, he focused his attention on getting video footage of the Cullens. Rosalie seemed as abnormal as her boyfriend and twin brother (he'd gotten some great footage of her with Bella on her back as she scaled the side of the house all the way up to the roof) but Bella seemed completely normal.
Don't worry, my sweet, he cooed to her in his mind. I'll protect you even if you're as freaky as your siblings.
He stayed for hours, and though he didn't get much more on the three Cullens after that, he was glad he'd stuck around for daybreak. As the sun rose into the sky, Bella, Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper sat out on the deck overlooking the river. James noticed that Bella was the only one with breakfast in front of her. The sun glittered up in the cloudy morning sky, and the Cullens glittered supernaturally down below.
He knew for a fact now that they weren't human. At first, when he'd caught Emmett and Jasper moving so fast, he'd thought maybe he was exaggerating just how fast they were moving in his mind, and maybe they were just on steroids or something. Emmett certainly fit the bill and James had always had his suspicions about him, anyway. But glittering skin under the sun wasn't a side-effect of steroids or any kind of drugs that he knew of.
Which begged the question: what were they?
Bella clearly knew and had no qualms about it. She hadn't panicked when Rosalie picked her up as easily as though she was a ragdoll and climbed the wall of the house to the roof, and she hadn't panicked sitting next to her brothers and sister as they sparkled in the sun. In fact, she looked pretty calm, eating her eggs as though it was a perfectly normal day for her.
He taped an impromptu wrestling match between Emmett and Jasper, where they used their super speed once more and fought like pros instead of two brothers goofing around, then shut off his camera, climbing down from the tree. He would've stayed longer but his camera's battery was dying and needed to be recharged.
He made his way towards his buddy Stan's place; his newest hideout. Stan had inherited the house when his old man had finally croaked (he was an only child so it wasn't like it could've been passed down to anyone else) and had reluctantly allowed James to hang out for a while. He knew about the police chasing after James but the only reason he had let a wanted man live with him for the time being and not call him out on it was because James had helped him out of a tough spot once and he owed the guy.
Using Stan's computer, James viewed the material he'd gotten on Emmett, Jasper and Rosalie. Footage of her joining in on the wrestling match told James that she was a much better fighter than he'd given her credit for. In fact, if they were to go up against one another, James wasn't sure he'd win at all.
He made several copies of the video. Marking the clear plastic cases with the words 'The C's, evidence', he hid them in several hard-to-find places; just in case.
"Hey!" he heard a gruff voice call out and jumped. He turned to see an irate Stan walking into the living room, red-faced and grease-covered. "You used my computer? Man, I told you not to do that."
James rolled his eyes as Stan, paranoid freak that he was, went to close the shades on the window. "Would you relax?" he snapped. "I didn't do anything that could be traced back to me. Just made some copies of a video I took today."
"Look, I don't wanna know about what you did or whatever," Stan held up his hand. "I don't wanna know anything about this chick you're obsessing over."
"It's not an obsession," James growled, glaring at Stan. "She loves me, too."
"Yea, whatever," Stan rolled his eyes. "Like I said – I don't wanna know. And I don't care. James, cops came by my shop again. They keep asking about you. They're lookin' at me now because I told 'em you had an alibi that night that other chick disappeared. Man, I knew this is gonna go south, I just know it is. I shouldn't have gotten involved!"
James stood up, arms crossed over his chest as he glowered at Stan. Whiny, no good weasel, he thought. I've gotta do something about him before he wimps out and rats me out or something.
"They'll leave you alone soon," James promised.
"Yeah – not soon enough," Stan retorted sharply. "I can't go back to jail, kid. I know I owe you but I'm already in enough trouble on my own. If it gets out that I'm helping you, it's the third strike and I'm gonna get thrown back in. I can't have that. Got my own honey now. I've gotta think about her, too, y'know?"
James stayed silent.
"Look, man, I'm cool with you hanging out here a couple more days but then you've gotta go," Stan said apologetically, holding his hands up as though he was defending himself. When James started to protest, Stan said, "It's not just me. I know I said the cops are coolin' off on the search but you're still a wanted man. That Bella chick has a pretty powerful dad, dude, and the cops aren't gonna let this one go. You need to leave town – for good this time."
James stared at Stan. "No," he said firmly. "They can look all they want, but they don't have any proof that I'm here. They don't know where I am."
"They already know I'm involved somehow," Stan pointed out, his voice growing louder. "Look, I don't know if you're gonna leave Washington or not but you can't stay here for much longer, okay? Cops aren't believing anything I'm saying these days and they keep coming back, asking me all sorts of questions…" Stan shook his head, his voice breaking at the end. "I'm sorry, man, I really am. But you gotta go."
James was almost trembling in blind rage and panic. He didn't know anyone else in Washington; at least, no one he knew well enough to help him. In New York, he'd had plenty of friends. It was how he'd gotten away scot free for so long there. Here, everything was different. Even Stan wasn't as reliable as James would've liked.
Now the cops were on his trail, Stan was kicking him out and, if James didn't find another place and a new ally within the next few days, he'd have to leave Washington.
I can't leave her, he thought frantically, raking his hands through his hair. I can't do it again. It was torture last time and it had only been for two weeks then. If I'm forced to leave again, who knows how long I'd have to stay away, or if I could ever return in the first place?
Remembering Bella's conversation with her friend Angela about thinking of sunny places she'd like to go to for college with Edward, James panicked even more – if she were to move away and he couldn't trace her whereabouts, he could lose her forever. That was just unacceptable.
I have to move and I have to move now, he thought decidedly.
"Okay," he sniffed. "Okay. Here's what we're gonna do…"
"We?" Stan questioned, throwing James an incredulous look. "Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. I'm not doing anything more for you. I've already let you crash here for a couple days and I gave you an alibi. I've been lying to the cops about not knowing where you've gone. I can't do anything else."
"It won't cost you much," James insisted. "Trust me, it's gonna be okay."
"No. No, I'm sorry, dude, I just can't. I mean, what if something goes wrong? What if something else happens and-"
"Shut up!" James yelled, his voice growing pitchy as he raised it in anger.
Stan grew quiet. Even though he was older than James by a few solid years, James was capable of darker, more dangerous things than he was. Age wasn't something that deterred James and age didn't dictate Stan's fear. He had to admit, if only to himself, that his fear of James did play a part in his decision to allow James to stay with him for a while.
Lowering his voice, James adopted a voice that would've been soothing had his words not come out sounding so rushed and desperate. "Look, you don't have to do much, okay?" James assured Stan hurriedly. "Remember what I said about copies of the video?"
Stan's eyebrows furrowed together as he stared confusedly at James. "What does a video of the chick you're obsessing over have to do with anything?"
Glaring at Stan, James said, "It's not of her. It's of her family. They were doing some…Things," he said vaguely.
"Things? What things?"
"Things they wouldn't want other people to find out about," James said snappishly, annoyed at Stan's questions.
Stan, assuming what anyone would, looked stunned. "The doc and his family are dirty?" he asked. Whistling, he shook his head. "Even the good guys are crooked these days. Gotta love that."
James rolled his eyes. "Yeah, whatever," he stalked forwards towards his backpack he'd thrown on the couch. Rummaging through it, he pulled out his Glock. He checked to see if he had a full clip inside. "If things go the way I plan it to, I'm gonna text you. If you don't receive word from me in an hour, here's what I need you to do. I need you to do me a favor and send those videos out."
"Send them out to who?" Stan asked confusedly.
James shrugged. "The media," he said. "Post it on the internet. Heck, mail it to the cops, whatever. I don't care. As long as people see it, I'm good."
James tucked his gun into the back of his jeans. Stuffing his camera and binoculars into his backpack once more, he informed Stan of where he'd hidden the copies of the video. He'd taken the original with him in case he couldn't rely on Stan and needed to do things himself. "I'm gonna do this now," he said to Stan. "Better now than when the cops come knocking here."
Swinging the straps of the backpack onto his shoulders, James said a final goodbye to Stan. He had spent hours in front of Stan's computer, reviewing the footage he had taken of the three Cullens, printing out photos of Bella (which was stashed in his backpack as well) and trying to do research online on what the Cullens were. He hadn't been able to find anything, but the time wasted had done him good: it was now night time, which meant James didn't have to worry much about being seen out and about. The small town of Forks went to sleep at nine thirty and by the time James reached the Cullens, it was almost midnight.
He stopped by the huge tree he'd been perched in just that morning. Pacing, he muttered to himself, wondering what he should do now. "I could just storm the place," James thought aloud. "I have a gun. I've got twenty rounds in here – more than enough to take out three of them. They can't do anything…"
He was about to step towards the looming house when he halted. "But wait, wait, wait, wait…" he murmured. "What if they use their super powers on me? My gun's not faster than their speed, is it? What if they dodge the bullets?"
After all, when he'd caught them using their super speed earlier, he hadn't been able to catch most of the things they did until he'd gotten back to Stan's place and slowed down their movements on the computer. He couldn't match their abilities.
He shook his head. Even if they try to outrun me, I have leverage, he thought to himself.
His jaw set, James headed towards the house, determined. He only had a few hours left before sunrise and he really needed to be as far away from Washington by then, Bella at his side. I hope she's not going to make this hard on me, he thought, as though threatening her in his mind.
Reaching the big house, James hurried up the front steps and moved to bang on the front door. His gun in hand, he raised his free hand, curled it into a fist and rapped it almost angrily on the wooden door.
It swung open not three seconds later, a confused Rosalie on the other end. When she saw James, her eyes widened. Seriously? She thought, annoyed. He came back? Idiot.
"You wanna let me in?" James asked, pointing the gun at her.
Her gold eyes flickered to the metal weapon for a brief second before drifting back up to his face. "Not really," she sneered.
They all have the same colored eyes, James thought to himself. All of them but Bella. Maybe it's a part of their freak nature.
"Not afraid of my gun, bitch?" he sneered right back. "Gonna dodge my bullet with your super speed before it hits ya?"
She blinked at him in surprise, the cool mask she wore slipping for a fraction, long enough for him to catch it.
Nodding, he smirked at her. "Yeah, we need to talk," he said. It wasn't difficult to push past her in her shocked state.
He made his way into the living room, where he found that not only were Emmett and Jasper standing with their eyes fixed on the doorway as though waiting for him, but Edward, Alice and Carlisle were already back from wherever they'd gone the entire day yesterday and this morning.
"Where's Bella?" he asked, his eyes roving across the room quickly to find her.
"None of your business," Edward replied on an almost inhuman growl, staring at James with slowly darkening honey eyes. He hadn't expected this to be how his night would be. He'd pictured a blissful reunion with his Bella and the fact that James had ruined it made him angrier than he already was at the obsessive human.
He had just gotten back from his hunting trip with Alice and his parents barely an hour ago. They were supposed to be on their way back already when Alice had a hazy vision. She'd seen a cloud of darkness enveloping Bella's, Rosalie's, Emmett's and Jasper's future and had come to a conclusion – James was back. They'd rushed home, Esme had taken Bella upstairs so she wouldn't have to witness her stalker's return, and they'd waited for James to make a reappearance.
Carlisle had wanted them to handle things in the most human way possible. This meant that he wanted them to 'overtake' James in a way another human might be able to do, then call the cops and turn James in. He hadn't called them yet since a human wouldn't be able to know that James was going to show up.
Edward couldn't help but think that not calling the cops first was a pretty good move considering they might have to dispose of James now that he seemed to know something wasn't quite right with them.
What does he mean by that? Emmett wondered silently.
Edward, Jasper called to him through his mind. Is his mind still blank to you?
To be discreet, Edward rolled his eyes upward then down in a subtle confirmation.
Damn, Jasper cursed.
"I want her to come with me," James said, his hand shaking slightly as he pointed the gun at Edward. "She's gonna come with me and we're gonna leave – right now."
Rosalie, who had joined her family in the living room with James noticing, snorted. "Yeah – that's not gonna happen," she said icily.
"I could start shooting, you know?" James threatened, waving the gun once. "You can move as fast as you want but I've got twenty rounds in here and one shot's all I need to take you down, bitch."
"Go ahead," Emmett taunted, causing both Rosalie and Carlisle to give him warning looks. "I'd like to see you try."
Carlisle, moving forward a step to draw James' attention to him, held up both his hands and tried to speak reassuringly to him. "Now, James, I don't know what you think you know but I can assure you my family and I are completely normal…" he said soothingly. "Maybe you have been imagining some things-"
James shook his head. "Don't try to screw with me!" he yelled. "I know what I saw – and I've got proof."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Rosalie asked through gritted teeth.
Seeing her anger – and the flash of panic in her eyes – made James feel slightly smug. "I caught you on video," he gestured towards Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper. "You were moving faster than humanly possible. Every time you collided with one another, you sounded like thunder. You destroyed a room and cracked a wall without any effort at all…She scaled the side of the house," he nodded at Rosalie. "You glittered in the sun…"
Giving them disgusted looks, he spat out, "You're not human, are you? None of you are."
Carlisle shared a brief, worried look with Edward and Alice.
"Except for Bella," James nodded, a small calm settling over his anger at the thought of Bella. "She doesn't belong with you. She belongs with me."
"You're right – she totally belongs the raving psychopath," Rosalie muttered.
"She can help you pop your pills and when you're inevitably thrown into the psych ward, she'll visit you daily…"
"Rose," Alice warned in a low voice. "Now is not the time for this…"
Rosalie ignored her. "Now, I can't promise conjugal visits but at least the sight of her could tide you over for the time being," Rosalie continued on mockingly.
James yelled out once in frustration, glowering at her. "Shut up!" he screamed once more. His finger pressed the trigger, the shot ringing loud and ominous in the too-quiet room. There was a loud scream of fear that sounded far away, as though it was coming from upstairs. He panicked for a nanosecond but looking up at Rosalie, he realized he didn't have to worry about killing off all the Cullens.
Rosalie stood completely unharmed, an irritated expression on her face as she stared at the burnt hole in her shirt.
Alice seemed just as upset as she was. "Okay, that was new and expensive," she said, throwing him a glare. "You've just ruined a five thousand dollar top. Hope you got your sick jolly out of it."
James stared at her disbelievingly. His eyes trailed to her feet where a small, crushed piece of metal lay unmoving. That was the bullet I'd shot her with, he thought incredulously.
"You can't be killed…?"
Emmett chuckled, and the sound seemed dangerous despite Emmett's dimpled grin. "Oh, sure we can," he dismissed. "Just not by you."
James shook his head. "Doesn't matter," he insisted. "I've got copies of that video and it's hidden somewhere you'll never find. If I don't text him to tell him I got out of here fine, my friend's gonna make sure the whole world sees that video and when they do, your secret will be exposed."
Sneering at them, James continued, "I don't know what the hell you are nor do I wanna know. All I need is Bella. Give her to me and let us walk away and I'll consider not showing anyone the video."
I know she's upstairs, James thought confidently. That scream had to be hers.
Before James could blink, Jasper had blurred in front of him, snatch the gun from his hand, twisted his arm behind his back and knocked him out on the head.
As James crumpled to the floor, unconscious, Jasper turned towards his adoptive 'father'. "What do we do now?" he asked.
Carlisle frowned, thinking for a moment. "Check his bag," he said finally. "Maybe there's information he's carrying around in there."
Edward glanced down at the unconscious boy for a moment before turning to rush up the stairs. He didn't need to have Jasper's ability to know that his mate was upset and worried about what was going on downstairs. Though she knew that none of them could get hurt by a gun, that wouldn't make her any less anxious until she knew what had happened and that everything was fine.
Bella was sitting on the edge of her bed, a worried frown marring her face as she stayed curled in Esme's arms. The moment she saw Edward, she jumped up and rushed towards him. "Edward," she breathed, throwing her arms around his neck and pulling his head down for a kiss. "Is everything okay? I heard…I thought it was a gunshot…? Esme said everything's fine now…Is James…?"
"He's not dead, Bella," he interrupted her panicked ramblings. "He's just unconscious. He brought a gun but he wasn't hurt. He tried shooting Rose."
Bella looked incredulous at that.
"Wait…Are you telling me…He knows?" her voice was a pitch higher than usual. "I mean, if he shot at her then he had to have known she's not…I mean, the bullet would have bounced off of her…"
He nodded, a grim expression on his face as he shared a look with his mother. "It appears he knew before he came here that we weren't normal humans," he admitted to Bella. "He caught Rose, Em and Jazz on tape yesterday doing some highly abnormal things."
Bella gasped. "What are you going to do?" she whispered worriedly. "He could tell anyone."
"Worse - he could show them."
"He caught it on video?"
Edward nodded. "You should stay up here, Bella," he told her. "Just in case James wakes up. I don't want you around him."
Bella scowled. "But I want to be there for you and the others…"
He shook his head. "No, I don't think that's wise," he said. When Bella looked like she was about to argue, he interrupted her before she could. "Bella, if he wakes up and sees you, he might get violent in an attempt to reach you. He could injure himself - or you. Please?"
Bella sighed, nodding.
He smiled, cupping her face in his hands and pressing his lips to her forehead. "I love you, sweet Bella," he murmured. "Mother…Would you stay with her?"
"Yes, of course," Esme replied, stepping forward to wrap her arms around Bella's shoulders once more. "I'll keep her updated on what's going on," Esme winked at Bella who smiled slightly at that.
Edward rolled his eyes good-naturedly before speeding out of the room and down the stairs towards the rest of their family.
Back in the living room, Rosalie had found the video footage of herself, Emmett and Jasper inside James' camera and was watching it with Alice, grim expressions on both their faces. "Well, he really got us," Rose commented dryly. "What are we supposed to do if he really has copies?" she asked, deleting the video from the camera once and for all.
"We have to find the copies," Jasper said, scrolling through the cell phone he'd found in James' jacket pocket. "Dammit, I can't find any information on where he's staying now…That's our best bet so far on where he's hidden them."
"Why would he hide them at his place?" Emmett asked as he rummaged through the things in James' backpack. "Wouldn't that where the police would look first?"
"Either he thinks the police won't find out where he's staying at now," Jasper said, slipping the cell phone back inside James' jacket pocket. "Or he thinks the police finding the video and learning that we're not human isn't a bad thing for him after all."
Rosalie growled out in anger. I hate this pathetic scumbag, she thought as she glared at the unconscious James. "I say we take him out now," she suggested, looking around at the others. "No one even knew he was back in town. We could dispose of him without anyone the wiser."
Carlisle stepped back into the living room, cordless phone in hand. "We won't be doing that, Rosalie," he clucked his tongue disapprovingly. "I've already called Sung. He's on his way here. James will be taken care of the way any other normal human criminal would be."
"Any other normal human criminal doesn't have incriminating evidence that we're not human, Carlisle," Rosalie argued.
Edward sighed, running a hand down his face. "I can't believe I'm saying this – but Rosalie's right," he said, looking imploringly at his father. "We have to handle this our way."
Carlisle shook his head. "It's too late. I've already called the police…Besides, it's not in me to condone murder, Edward, you know that," he said heavily.
"Ay, pops," Emmett called out. "I know Rose already deleted that stupid video but do I leave these in here?" he waved a photo of Bella half-naked as she slipped into a pair of sweatpants.
Edward's eyes widened and he snatched the photo from Emmett's grip. "Emmett!" he hissed. "What's the matter with you! Don't go waving these about!"
Emmett gave him a look. "What? There's no one here but us and we've all seen Bella naked…Remember when she was seven and we went to Isle Esme? She thought it was so hot there, she couldn't bear to put on any clothes. Spent most her days naked in the water."
Edward rolled his eyes as Alice giggled, relieved for some humor during a time of distress. "She was a child back then, Emmett, it's not the same thing," he said hastily.
"Leave those in the backpack," Carlisle said to Emmett, interrupting what was sure to turn out into a brotherly squabble if allowed to continue. "But check to make sure there's nothing in there concerning our…Abnormalities."
Emmett flipped through the photos quickly. "Nope, nothin'…Oh, wait, here's one," he lifted a picture of himself, Rose and Jasper sitting on the deck with Bella, the three of them glowing and looking incredibly out of place next to a human Bella. "Wow, kinda hard to look manly in this light…I think I pull it off quite nicely, though."
Jasper, who had been thinking of ways to find James' new place of residence, paused as he passed James' body. There's a scent there, he thought, growing excited at the prospect. It's not his, no, definitely not…It's second-hand. Maybe I can trace that scent instead?
"That could work," Edward encouraged Jasper.
Jasper turned to Carlisle. "How long do you think we have before SPD comes bursting in?" he questioned.
"About half an hour – an hour, tops," Carlisle replied. "Why?"
"There's a second-hand scent on James," Jasper pointed out. "It's a cheap shot but I'm going to try and track it. Maybe he had a friend he was staying with. If I'm not back by the time they arrive, just stall."
"We could just say you're at a friend's," Rosalie pointed out.
Jasper shook his head. "James will say that I was the one who knocked him out cold," he reminded her. "I'll say I struggled for the gun. We need to make him sound crazy so they won't believe him when he blabs."
Rosalie snorted derisively. "He is crazy."
Edward gave Jasper a questioning look. "Do you want some help?"
Jasper shook his head. "No, I'm good at tracking," he assured his brother. "You stay here with the others. When the cops show, you'd know best what to say to alleviate their suspicions if they have any."
"I see you arriving at your destination within forty-five minutes," Alice informed him helpfully. He smiled at her, sending a wave of gratitude her way.
Jasper kissed Alice goodbye then ran off, his senses on a particular high as he tracked the faint scent that had lingered on James Hunter's clothes and body. He tracked it to the forest near their house – it was strongest near a huge, tall tree – then out of Forks and straight into Port Angeles. This was where it got tricky considering Port Angeles was much more populated than Forks. Jasper caught a break when he caught the scent, stronger this time, at a closed mechanic's garage.
The trail stronger, Jasper found the plain, one-story house pretty easily. Slipping inside soundlessly, he snuck around without waking the snoozing young man on the couch. The first stop was the computer but he couldn't find anything on it except a few searches James had probably made on the web concerning 'glitter people'. All that search had managed to uncover were articles on that Mariah Carey movie released a few years back.
He snooped through obvious hiding places – behind heavy furniture, underneath the couch cushions, behind the toilet – and found eight unmarked CDs in clear casings. The words 'The C's, evidence' on each clear casing told him he'd found what he was looking for.
As he slipped back into the living room, the young man on the couch shifted in his sleep. Mumbling something incoherent, he didn't even wake up when the notepad he was holding to his chest slipped from his grasp and fell to the floor with a loud 'plop'.
Jasper caught a few words on the notepad and darted forward. Snatching the notepad from the floor, he read the words the young man must've written earlier. "Places to look," Jasper murmured. Reading the list written below those words, he quirked an eyebrow. More than half of the placed he'd written had been 'hiding spots' for the CDs. There were three more hiding places Jasper hadn't found.
That was easy, Jasper thought to himself. Grabbing the three other copies, he tore the piece of paper from the notepad, crumpled it up and threw it in a trashcan twenty miles from the house, along with the CDs he'd broken into ten tiny pieces each.
He ran home, just in time as a squad car pulled up in front of the Cullens' estate, a grim-looking Sung stepping out of the vehicle.
Jasper slipped into the house, unnoticed by the human cops, and joined the rest of his family inside, his place next to Alice as usual. James was awake now, but tied up to a chair – no doubt Rosalie's doing. His belongings were by his feet.
As the police swarmed their house, taking James into custody, ignoring his desperate yells that the Cullens were supernatural and taking statements from the family, Edward wrapped Bella in his arms in a comforting embrace.
Finally, she thought to herself. It's over.
Yeah…It's not over. We haven't seen the last of human James and he's about to get even more psychotic.
First of – I know this chapter is shorter than usual. It's about 4000 words shorter than a usual Bella Hale chapter, and I'm so sorry about that but this is a good place for this chapter to end. The next part is very long and flows very well with the next 'Crazy James' incident (which I'm WAY excited about...It's one of those things you wish you could see play out on TV or something) so I really can't add that in here unless I want it to be twice as long as a usual Bella Hale chapter. Once again, I'm sorry.
Now, I'm very sorry for having all of you wait months for the next installation of this story so I'm not going to make any promises for the next chapter. It's better that way…I think.
Already re-working the next one (my Bella Hale muse came running back to me, thanks to countless hours of watching Psych…Shawn Spencer, I love you).
To tide you over, I'm posting the first 6 chapters of a Twilight/Charmed crossover story entitled 'Charmed: Redux'.
It's an idea I have that, admittedly, isn't very original. It's what the show 'Charmed' would've been like had Bella been one of the Charmed Ones, and there were four instead of three sisters. I have the story planned out until mid-way season 3 but I've only written the first episode (which are the 6 chapters I'm posting; I separated it into 6 parts because one episode's 73 pages long in one go) because I want to know if the story's good enough to continue. Don't worry, I won't post more for 'Charmed: Redux' until Bella Hale's completed in a few weeks (yes, I've said it. It will be over in a month).
So, please, if you could be so kind as to drop on over when I post and tell me how you like bitchy, witchy Bella, that would be SO awesome.
Thank you so much for reading this. Please, feel free to leave a line or two to tell me what you thought…
P.S. Yes, I know technically, in 2005 (which is when this would've taken place), the Vampire Diaries TV show wouldn't have even existed for four more years…It's fiction. Bear with me here, ladies and gentlemen…