Me: Hey, Jane, may I steal you? Because your author won't give you to me.

Jane: Um, no.

Me: Oh, come on.

Jane: *Starts to smile*

Me: *backing away* OK, OK, I get it! I'll be… going now.

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. Esau and the center are mine. No one else is.

Three Days Later

I've always wondered which urban designer it was who first came up with the idea of making city streets look like canyons. Whoever they were, it's a shame that they are most certainly long since dead, because that means I can never read their mind and find out what exactly they were thinking. Did they enjoy cornering and chasing people through alleyways at night, and get frustrated when their prey ducked between houses? Did they want the streets to double as aqueducts? I didn't know, and didn't suppose I ever would.

It was mid-dusk, and Emmett Jasper and I were walking through just such a street, uninterrupted brick walls rising several stories up on either side of us. In addition to this I, unlike my brothers, I was also surrounded by the thoughts of the humans behind the walls. As usual, they were utterly boring and commonplace, and I let them fade to background noise.

Why are we watching this channel, it's so stupid.

If she's not back in 10 minutes-

I hope we're not having that for dinner.

There they are!

I snapped suddenly to full attention. That last mental voice had not sounded like humans playing hide and seek or anything else so innocent. It had sounded like… hunters. And even worse, I was almost sure that the image that had gone with the words was that of us. Ignoring Jasper, who was wondering at my sudden shift in emotions, I threw my head up, searching the windows, trying to see where the thought had come from, and then abruptly my vision was obscured by something black that glided over my head and landed on the road in front of us. All three of us whirled around to see four more black-cloaked figures landing beside the first. They moved, swift and coordinated as a dance, spreading out to half-surround us against the wall. I started in shock. Without a doubt, these people were vampires. And I had no idea who they were.

The same surprise I felt was coming from my brothers' thoughts, while mine only increased as I began to hear the minds of the newcomers in full.


Oh, Jane is going to be so pleased

Look at them, not even trying to hide

This should be good, I hope Jane won't mind if we watch

To my left, Emmett was still staring, trying to figure out what could be going on. To my right, meanwhile, Jasper began leaning into a crouch, and I could hear him mentally analyzing the situation, planning the best course of action, the best course of… attack. I wasn't surprised- he had spent part of his human life and the first half of his vampire life in situations where a confrontation meant a fight, and for that matter, it was hard even for me to imagine what else this could mean- but I didn't think it would be a good idea to be the initiators. I put my hand on Jasper's shoulder and moved my mouth so close to his ear that I could hope the figures surrounding us wouldn't hear me.

"We shouldn't start anything until they do; maybe they're not trying to be hostile." As I'd imagined, he found that rather hard to believe.

Trust me, Edward, they're hostile all right. I could see his sense of their emotions in his mind, and I had to agree with his conclusion. I was trying to marshal some argument that would convince Jasper to wait, when suddenly, the vampire in the middle of the formation threw off her hood. Long, glistening red hair spilled out to hang straight down to her waist, and her crimson eyes surveyed us intently. I caught her thoughts again.

So, to be sure… Without breaking her gaze, she addressed two of her companions out loud.

"Esau, Demetri, is it them?" The one on her right nodded, while the one on the far left replied aloud, a man's voice.

"It is." His voice was perfectly composed; his thoughts were not.

Of course it's them. What did you think, that I would be wrong? I am never wrong. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, but I couldn't focus on that, because beside me, Jasper was getting ready to spring in earnest. The only way I could think of to stop him was to get more information, so, clenching my fists hard enough to crush steel- I was trying to preserve the peace, yes, but I was far from calm- I raised my eyes to meet the woman's, making both them and my voice as flat as possible.

"Who's them?" She, in contrast to me, smiled, and her voice was almost casual, even amused.

"Oh, I would say 'them' is the three little vampires who trespassed on our area three days ago, despite the very clear mark we left to avoid exactly that occurrence." In her mind, I suddenly saw the symbol that had been such a mystery then. Except that this time, I recognized exactly what it was, and suddenly felt sick to my stomach in a way that, as a vampire, I never would have expected. Oh, damn. Beside me, Jasper stiffened as he also realized what was happening, while Emmett swung his head back and forth along the line before us as he did not. This time, I addressed my whisper to him.

"That symbol last week- remember, the one we were confused about- it was the Volturi crest." I expected Emmett's mind to flood with curses, but instead, for a moment there was completely nothing. Then:

That's not good. I gritted my teeth. No, it certainly wasn't good. Carlisle had told us all about the Volturi, about why we must never violate the order that they guarded. And this also prompted another question, one I wasn't very sure I wanted to ask, or more specifically, to know the answer to. I didn't see much of a choice, though. I turned back to the woman and tried to control my voice again.

"Are you going to kill us?" I knew that the penalty for breaking Volturi law was always death, but I couldn't remember any law like this. So maybe, just maybe, it wasn't a law. Just a Volturi rule or something. And then maybe, just maybe, we had a chance of getting out of this alive, Did we?. Next to me, my brothers were both thinking this same thing, also thinking, predictably, of their mates. Briefly, my mind flicked back to Carlisle and Esme. How would it be for them, to loose all their sons at once just because the sons in question couldn't use their brains long enough to remember something every vampire knew? The woman's smile, meanwhile, widened.

"Why of course we aren't. At least, not unless you provoke us. By attacking us, say-" her eyes flicked to Jasper, whose crouching stance she had not missed "-or trying to run-" they moved to me. Great, did I really look that pathetic? "-or using your power on us…" Jasper again, and I saw a memory in the woman's mind, another vampire, black eyes wide with fear, babbling even faster than vampire speed at her, tripping over his words, even "-no, no, feelings, the feeling is what he does, making, making yours what he wants, whatever he wants, he-" One of Jasper's old Southern enemies, it seemed. Or maybe even allies… Well, they did not seem to know about my talent, at least, the talent I immediately focused on them. I had to know if they were telling the truth.

We ought to kill them. We make a few examples, maybe everyone will stop tramping all over our land and then we won't have to go to all this trouble tracking them down.

Naïve idiots, do they really think they'd still be alive if we were going to kill them?

I hope they do try something, I'd love to tear them to pieces. That blond one thinks he can take us. Ha!

They might wish we were, when Jane's done with them. This Jane again. Was that the woman's name? And what did she do that was so terrifying?

Edward, is she lying? Jasper's thoughts were directly sharp. I shook my head slightly, knowing that he would see. Well, either that or they did know of my ability and were so disciplined they were all controlling their thoughts completely. Which, considering that they were Volturi, wasn't fully implausible, but I saw no need to share that idea with my brothers. Jasper straightened up then, an army major suddenly instead of a combatant vampire, and also met the woman's gaze.

"What are your intentions, then?"

"Why to punish you, of course. To- what's that phrase? Ah, of course, to teach you a lesson about exactly what happens to those who… cross the line. So, if you'd be so good as to come with us- and by come, I hope you understand I mean come quietly- then we can get this done without any unnecessary complications." She finished talking, and there was silence, silence that went on because it was our move and we weren't making it. I cursed in my head. stupid…With those conditions and the numbers we were facing, any and all prudence would suggest obeying, but submitting to the enemy wasn't in Jasper's nature any more than going without a fight was in Emmett's, and to be honest, I didn't find the idea of coming quietly too appealing myself. The moment stretched out, and finally the leader lost patience.

"Right, that's enough," she snapped, voice hard now instead of sugary. "You have two options, vampire boys. Either you come with us, we deal with you, and you can go home to your coven and your mates, or you don't, we kill you, and if we're nice, we may drop by and tell them what happened. Decide, now." Well, when she put it that way… My brothers had come to the same conclusion I had, which was that we had no choice at all, so I spoke for all three of us,

"We'll come" The leader smiled, not in the least bit sweetly.

"Then come on." She turned and began walking away. We followed, passing through the hole she left in the line. As we walked past, two guards fell into step beside us, and I could hear the footsteps and the thoughts of the last two, who followed after. I tried to get some clue as to our fate from the Volturi's minds, but there was nothing, so we walked on, surrounded, toward our unknown sentence.

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