Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns it all, but she lets us play in her garden. No copyright infringement is intended.
Hi everyone! Though I've been reading fan fiction for years, this is my first time writing it. I am totally blind, and the opinions expressed by Bella in this story, as well as the alternative techniques she uses in her life, are all my opinions and the techniques I use everyday. From time to time, I will provide links to sites where the readers can learn more. In the meantime, I truly hope you enjoy my take on things. Feel free to ask questions in reviews or PM's, and I'll answer, provided it won't give away future plot elements.
I want to say a special, heart felt thank you to my beta, Dooba. She has talked me through so much, and it's thanks to her, that I'm posting this at all! I love you my dear friend! Thanks also to my pre-reader, d_inspiration, who has helped me with a couple tough spots. Both these amazing ladies have stories here, please check them out!
Enough chatter! On with the show.
Alice Cullen was sitting at the computer in the room she shared with her husband Jasper. She was making plans to visit Paris over spring break, in order to see the new spring fashions. Maybe she could talk Rose into going with her. Alice loved Rose as a sister, but they'd never achieved the best friend status Alice wanted so desperately. She was the one Cullen who truly disliked their forced separation from the world of humans, even as they participated in that world through their many times through various levels of school and through Carlisle's work as a doctor. Alice longed to have a close friend, someone with whom she could talk endlessly, share fashion ideas and just gossip. She didn't know why she felt such a need, maybe just the fact that she could remember nothing from her human life. Alice accepted that keeping separated was just part of the life of a vampire choosing to live in and interact with the world of humanity. But she longed for more. She never spoke of this need for a friend to anyone but her husband Jasper. Rose would scoff; Emmett would laugh; Carlisle and Esme would understand, and Edward would sulk. So, she looked at hotels and airline schedules, planning how to convince rose to come on the trip.
The Cullen family was unique among their kind. For one thing, they called themselves a family, not a coven. There was only one other such family of vampires. Carlisle felt it was their choice to drink from animals, not humans that strengthened their bonds to those of a family. Carlisle had been on his own over 200 years, before he changed Edward, the first in his family. Then he found Esme, someone he had met several years before. He found her left for dead in the morgue, after she had thrown herself off a cliff, following the death of her child. Carlisle and Esme were married, as were Rose and Emmett, Alice and jasper. Alice and Jasper had not been made by Carlisle. Alice had no idea who had changed her into a vampire. But she had woken to this life with nobody to teach her the way. She first had visions of Jasper, then of Carlisle and his family. She found Jasper years later, and gradually they found their way to the Cullens, never to leave again. Edward was the only one among them not mated. Alice, Jasper and Edward all had special gifts, Alice could see the future, based on decisions made. Jasper could feel and manipulate the emotions of those around him. Edward could read minds, could read the mind of anyone around him. Outside of her relationship with Jasper, Alice was closest to Edward. Their gifts had drawn them close, a true feeling of brother and sister binding them. Alice's dearest hope for Edward was that someday he would find his mate.
As Alice looked up flight schedules, suddenly, she was flooded by a barrage of visions. A girl with long brown hair and brown eyes, walking with a white cane in her hand. The visions came hard and fast: Alice walking with the girl talking excitedly; Carlisle talking to her in an examination room at the hospital; Esme cooking with the girl in the kitchen. And Edward: Edward walking hand-in-hand with the girl, sitting in his meadow with the girl; visions flashing by of Edward and the brown-eyed girl smiling, dancing, kissing. There was a terrible vision of the girl beaten and bleeding in an alley. The last visions were the clearest, the girl—whoever she was—running through the forest with Edward, both of them smiling; she with red eyes and vampire beauty; Edward happy as Alice had never seen him before. The worst vision came last, Edward sitting in his meadow, hunched and broken looking, his eyes red from having drunk human blood, with the girl's dead body at his feet.
Alice gasped, clinging to the desk, as the onslaught continued. Once they passed, she immediately began to translate the Seattle phone book into Latin. She could not let Edward see these visions in her mind, not until she'd had time to figure them out and talk to Carlisle. But one thing she knew already, this girl, whoever she was, would be vitally important to them all, particularly to Edward. She would either bring him joy as he'd never known in this life, or she would destroy him with his destruction of her. Alice needed to discover who this mystery girl was, and then to figure out what to do to make this all go the way it should. Alice could tell, by the visions, that she and this girl would become friends, the girl would be that best friend Alice had longed to find for so many years. But what to do to make this happen and come together as it should? She wanted that friendship, and she wanted her brother Edward to find the happiness he had been missing all his long life.
She decided to talk to Carlisle about the visions, and as she made the decision, the vision came to her, showing Carlisle would support her and could keep Edward out of his head for the time being.
"Alice, why are you translating the Seattle phone book into Latin?" Edward asked from the living room.
"None of your business, dear brother," Alice laughed and danced out of her room and down the stairs, "some things are meant to be private, you know."
Alice felt she might burst apart from the joy she felt over the coming of this mystery girl into their lives. She knew Jasper would feel her joy and be curious, but he would not press her. She and Carlisle were the best at keeping Edward out of their heads, so if there was something she needed to keep from Edward, Jasper would not try to find out what it was.
"I'm going into town to see Carlisle," Alice called over her shoulder. She grabbed her keys and ran to the garage. She could hardly wait to share her vision with Carlisle.
Carlisle was in his office doing paperwork when Alice arrived. He welcomed her with a warm smile.
"Alice? Is anything wrong?" Carlisle felt concern over the visit, as Alice did not usually come to the hospital just to say hello.
"I've had a vision, Carlisle," she explained rapidly. If she had needed to breathe, Alice would have felt breathless with the anticipation of all that was to come. She explained all the visions to him, knowing he could keep this private and knowing his opinions would be invaluable.
"So, Carlisle," she said, "I think this girl will be the saving of Edward, saving him from his life of lonely brooding. But at this point, it could go either way with them, either he will resist her blood and they will find happiness and love together, or he will give into the temptation and drain her. It will kill him Carlisle, if he does drain her, and it will most likely tear our family apart. What can we do?"
Carlisle was silent for a few seconds, as he contemplated all Alice had told him. Edward, his first-born, in all the ways that mattered in his heart. How he longed for Edward to find happiness in this life. He dearly hoped for Edward to find his mate. He knew about Tanya's attempts, but he also knew that she was not the right match for Edward. Carlisle often grieved for his son, wondering if he'd changed him too young, wondering if he'd been mistaken in changing Edward in the first place. But when he looked at his son, he could never regret anything that had led them to where they were now. He sighed and returned his focus to Alice.
"Alice, you know it is not good for us to become involved with humans." Carlisle began.
"I know, I know, but she will be Edward's mate, his very life," Alice began to pace the office, moving too fast for a human to see her, "And without our intervention she will die anyway. Either way, we have to become involved in her life. Do you know who she is, Carlisle?"
"I believe she is Bella Swan, Chief swan's daughter," Carlisle said. "The chief was in here the other evening, bringing in one of his deputies who'd been injured in the woods. He mentioned that his daughter is moving here to Forks to finish high school. Charlie is as excited as I've ever seen him."
"Bella Swan," Alice stopped her pacing and thought for a moment, "Do you know anything about her?"
"Only the little Charlie has told me, and the gossip going around the hospital. Apparently, Charlie's wife left him, taking Bella, when she was a small child. They've been living in Phoenix all these years. But Renée Swan has remarried and will be traveling with her husband. She felt Bella needed more stability and should finish her high school years with her father. She doesn't feel the life on the road would be best for her child. I don't know how well equipped Forks High will be to deal with a student who is blind, but Charlie seems to think it will be okay. He says she's very competent, though shy about meeting new people. Charlie says Bella is well able to take care of herself. But Alice, have you really thought this out?"
"Hmmm," Alice mused, flipping through different scenarios in her mind, trying to determine which course of action would bring the most positive outcome.
"Alice, what are you thinking?" Carlisle smiled tenderly at his youngest daughter. He was feeling concerned about the what-ifs of letting a human girl into their world. This could go so badly. Rose would be furious. Jasper would be concerned about exposure. Emmett would love the chance to have a new sister. Esme would be overjoyed to have a new daughter. But Edward, Edward would have the most to gain and to lose. Should he stop this now? If he did stop it, would Edward ever find the happiness Alice saw in his future if Bella came into his life? He felt torn. The risks of letting a human into their secret were many, but the risk of letting her pass out of Edward's life seemed even greater to Carlisle. His son was moody, lonely, hated what he was. Could Bella change all this? He focused back on Alice.
"Well, Bella might need someone at the high school to be her friend, teach her the way around, help her get to her classes, you know, that kind of thing. I thought of trying to make Edward do that, but everything I decide to do shows Edward leaving us for a while. But maybe I could be her friend."
"You would be a good friend, Alice. I can talk to Charlie, to see what kind of assistance, if any, Bella might need."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Alice was bouncing up and down. She rushed to Carlisle, hugged him fiercely and began to make her way to the door. "I see you need to make your rounds, so I'm going now. Please try to keep this from Edward for now. If he sees this before he meets Bella, he'll leave and he'll miss the greatest thing that will ever happen to him."
"I've had nearly 100 years practice keeping Edward out of my head. I'll have no trouble. But you will have to tell him eventually, Alice."
"I know. But after he meets Bella." Alice laughed over her shoulder at Carlisle and danced her way out of the office and back to her car.
Carlisle's thoughts were all on the arrival of Bella Swan, and all the implications of what this would mean to his family. He had long feared Edward would never find happiness and worried that he had made the wrong decision in changing Edward. Elizabeth Mason had pleaded with him, and Carlisle was almost positive she had known exactly what she was asking. Carlisle's many years of aching loneliness had played a part in the decision as well. But had it been right for Edward? Maybe this girl, this Bella Swan, could bring meaning into his son's life at last. Carlisle loved Edward deeply, his first son, as true a son in his heart, as if he'd actually helped conceive him. He could not turn away from the chance to let Edward find love and peace. He vowed within himself to do whatever he could to help, to make it work for Edward and Bella, to combat Edward's knee-jerk reactions. He knew Edward would try to flee, to avoid the inevitable. Carlisle began to plan how he might help Edward understand and accept the role Bella would play in his life. His decision firmly made, he thought he could almost hear Alice squealing with delight.
At the Port Angeles airport, Forks Police Chief, Charlie Swan, waited eagerly for his daughter to arrive. Charlie was a man of few words and found it hard to show the depth of his emotion. But he had loved his Bella since the moment he first saw her, loved her with every ounce of his soul. There was nothing he would not do or give for her happiness. When Renée had left him, taking Bella with her, it had broken Charlie deep inside. Bella had come to visit every summer, but it was not the same as being able to see her everyday. Inside his heart was full of the joy that he would have her with him now. Just a year and a half left of high school for her, but Charlie hoped they could make up for all their years apart. As her flight was announced, Charlie felt a small smile cross his face. They had arranged to meet by the baggage claim, so he stood, quietly watching, waiting for the joy of his life to appear.
The plane landed in Port Angeles with a bump, and Bella sighed with relief. She didn't really enjoy flying, and riding on this small plane from Seattle to Port Angeles made her stomach feel queasy. Bad enough that I'm nervous as hell going to live with Charlie, starting a new school, getting to know new people, she thought. She knew this was the right decision, moving to Forks. Renée and Phil needed time to themselves. She wanted to graduate from high school, go to college and beyond, and she couldn't do that traveling all over with her mom and stepfather. But Bella was always nervous about meeting new people, so she was worried about the new school, new neighbors, just new everything. She was arriving on a Wednesday, but she wouldn't start school till the following Monday. In this way, she could get oriented to Charlie's neighborhood again, go to the school in advance to meet her teachers and learn the routes she'd need in order to get around the school independently.
The plane stopped. Bella unfolded her white cane and reached for her laptop bag under the seat in front of her.
"Is someone meeting you here?" the flight attendant asked as Bella stepped into the aisle with the rest of the throng, anxious to get off the plane.
"Yes, my dad is meeting me at baggage claim," she answered, "But there should be someone here from ground assistance to show me the way there."
"Oh yes, she's waiting for you at the door of the aircraft. Enjoy your time here."
Bella smiled and nodded and began to make her way down the aisle.
"Hello, I'm here to assist you," a quiet voice said, "I've got a wheelchair ready—"
Bella interrupted her quickly.
"I'm sorry, I am blind; I can walk. I don't need a wheelchair," she tried to speak calmly, keeping the angry outburst at bay. But she felt a desire to scream at the woman, "Just walk in front of me and speak to me and I can follow you with my cane. Or let me take your arm."
Ugh. All the times she'd flown, and almost every time, she had to insist that she was perfectly capable of using her legs and walking. It was only her eyes that didn't work. It got old, always insisting on her ability, trying to get people not to focus on the disability.
Bella forced a pleasant, insincere smile on her face and turned back to the woman. The assistant started to grab her arm, and Bella gently removed it from her grasp, reaching to take her upper arm to follow her through the airport.
"Hey Bells!" It was Charlie's voice, and Bella turned to put her arm around her dad in a brief hug.
"Hey Dad," she smiled. She was so nervous about this move, but she didn't want Charlie to know how she felt. She didn't want to worry him.
Bella and Charlie stood in awkward silence, waiting for her bags to arrive. She didn't have too much, and Renée was shipping her braille and audio books and other items to Charlie's. When her bags arrived, Bella took Charlie's arm and they walked out of the airport.
As they drove in Charlie's police cruiser, they made small talk. Yes, Renée and Phil would be traveling around the country. Yes, she had everything she needed. Yes, she was looking forward to starting school next week. That last was a small lie but important for Charlie's peace of mind. She could not tell him she was terrified. Part of seeming confident to the outside world was acting confident, and she was a brilliant actress when it came to that! Besides, pretending that confidence actually helped her find it in herself.
At last Bella felt the familiar turns of the streets leading to Charlie's house, her home now. As the car stopped, she grabbed her cane, stepped out of the car and headed to the front door. Charlie came behind her with the bags. One thing Bella loved and appreciated about her dad was that he did not hover. He would not be over protective. He knew she knew her way to the door, and he didn't offer unnecessary help getting there. Her room was the same she'd had since birth; the house was the same, never changing. There was nothing to learn about getting around Charlie's home. Together, they took her belongings upstairs and she began to feel this could possibly work out.
"I'll leave you to get unpacked," Charlie said, "I'll order pizza tonight, and we can figure out about meals tomorrow. I'm taking the next two days off, to help get you settled and to take you to the appointments at the school."
"Oh, Char—Dad, you didn't have to do that," Bella protested weakly. Seriously, he did have to do it. Forks was not a large metropolis, and she was resigned to the fact that she'd be riding everywhere in the cruiser. No city buses in Forks.
They had a quiet dinner, and then they sat in the living room, making plans for the next couple of days. When Charlie turned on ESPN, Bella said goodnight and headed up to her room. She needed to set up her laptop and email Renée of her safe arrival. Then she could sit down and try to figure out her life for the next 18 months.
She pulled the laptop out of her bag and plugged it in, but somehow, she didn't feel like doing email right then. She sighed and stretched out on her bed, thinking. Her thoughts rushed around in maddening circles. What would her new school be like? Would she make any close friends? Would she have to battle for equal access to the things she needed for school? How would she and Charlie get along? Where would the next year and a half take her? She felt a sense of anticipation, almost a feeling of good things to come. New adventures, she'd always kind of liked them, even though she was nervous and shy at the beginning. Could she do this? She must do it. She could do it. Having found her confidence again, she got up, found her bag of toiletries and headed for the shower. It had been a long day, and tomorrow would be busy.
Edward Cullen lounged on his black leather sofa, listening to the CD playing quietly in the background. Edward was bored, his life a tedious routine of high school—repeated multiple times—hunting, playing video games with his brothers, talks with Carlisle, his father for all intents and purposes. Nothing ever seemed to change. Year after year, the family went through the same old routines. The only thing that ever changed was the location. When people began to notice that the Cullens never seemed to age, they would move on, a new place, but the same old thing. What was the point of it all, he wondered sometimes.
He was also lonely, though Edward hated to admit that to himself. He lived in a house with three pairs of mated vampires. He often felt like an outsider, even though he was the first in Carlisle's family. He knew Carlisle and Esme hated to think that he felt that way, and they tried everything they could to make him know how much they loved him. But he wanted something else, something more. He just didn't know if he'd ever find it. Carlisle had waited much longer to find companionship, and eventually the kind of love he had found in Esme. Edward hoped he wouldn't have to wait that long, but in that secret place where he hid his feelings, he had almost come to accept that love, a mate, was not to be for him. There had been offers. Tanya, their "cousin" up in Alaska, had made her desire too well known. But Edward knew that Tanya only wanted a physical fling, that it was his denial of her that made her want him so much. For Edward, hearing the thoughts of any female who expressed interest in him, was enough to turn him off every time. It was always about how he looked, how they imagined his body would feel, what they imagined doing to him. There was never an original thought, never someone who wanted to talk and share, laugh together, experience more than the physical with him. If he ever found that—
He sighed. Enough of that thinking. He remembered Alice's strange behavior earlier in the day. What was his sister up to now? He listened for her thoughts, but finding her with Jasper in their bedroom, he quickly tuned her out. He decided to take a run and leapt out his window. Running was one thing about his life as a vampire that he loved. He could run faster than anyone he knew, and he thrilled to the feel of the wind rushing by, the scents and sounds of the forests. In those moments he felt like the 17-year-old boy he had been when Carlisle had changed him. He felt the joy of moving fast, for the sheer fun of it all. In those moments, Edward didn't feel like a brooding lonely vampire; he just felt alive. Maybe, someday, he would find someone with whom he could share this feeling, but till then, he ran on alone.
A/N: Please review, if you feel so inclined.