Renesmee touched my neck, repeating the scene of departure right back, like an instant replay. I could feel the question in her thought, an echo of mine.
I was already over the shock of her odd little gift. It seemed an entirely natural part of her, almost to be
expected. Maybe now that I was part of the supernatural myself, I would never be a skeptic again.
But what was wrong with Jasper?
"He'll be back," Edward said, whether to me or Renesmee, I wasn't sure. "He just needs a moment alone to readjust his perspective on life." There was a grin threatening at the corners of his mouth.
Another human memory - Edward telling me that Jasper would feel better about himself if I "had a hard time adjusting" to being a vampire. This was in the context of a discussion about how many people I would kill my first newborn year.
"Is he mad at me?" I asked quietly.
Edward's eyes widened. "No. Why would he be?"
"What's the matter with him, then?"
"He's upset with himself, not you, Bella. He's worrying about... self-fulfilling prophecy, I suppose you could say."
"How so?" Carlisle asked before I could.
"He's wondering if the newborn madness is really as difficult as we've always thought, or if, with the right focus and attitude, anyone could do as well as Bella. Even now - perhaps he only has such difficulty because he believes it's natural and unavoidable. Maybe if he expected more of himself, he would rise to those expectations. You're making him question a lot of deep-rooted assumptions, Bella."
"But that's unfair," Carlisle said. "Everyone is different; everyone has their own challenges. Perhaps what Bella is doing goes beyond the natural. Maybe this is her gift, so to speak."
I froze with surprise. Renesmee felt the change, and touched me. She remembered the last second of time and wondered why.
"That's an interesting theory, and quite plausible," Edward said.
For a tiny space, I was disappointed. What? No magic visions, no formidable offensive abilities like, oh, shooting lightning bolts from my eyes or something? Nothing helpful or cool at all?
And then I realized what that might mean, if my "superpower" was no more than exceptional self-control.
For one thing, at least I had a gift. It could have been nothing.
But, much more than that, if Edward was right, then I could skip right over the part I'd feared the very most.
What if I didn't have to be a newborn? Not in the crazed killing-machine sense, anyway. What if I could fit right in with the Cullens from my first day? What if we didn't have to hide out somewhere remote for a year while I "grew up"? What if, like Carlisle, I never killed a single person? What if I could be a good vampire right away?
I could see Charlie.
I sighed as soon as reality filtered through hope. I couldn't see Charlie right away. The eyes, the voice, the perfected face. What could I possibly say to him; how could I even begin? I was furtively glad that I had some excuses for putting things off for a while; as much as I wanted to find some way to keep Charlie in my life, I was terrified of that first meeting. Seeing his eyes pop as he took in my new face, my new skin. Knowing that he was frightened. Wondering what dark explanation would form in his head.
I was chicken enough to wait for a year while my eyes cooled. And here I'd thought I would be so fearless when I was indestructible.
"Have you ever seen an equivalent to self-control as a talent?" Edward asked Carlisle. "Do you really think that's a gift, or just a product of all her preparation?"
Carlisle shrugged, 'it's slightly similar to what Siobhan has always been able to do, though she wouldn't call it a
"Siobhan, your friend in that Irish coven?" Rosalie asked. 1 wasn't aware that she did anything special. I thought
it was Maggie who was talented in that bunch."
"Yes, Siobhan thinks the same. But she has this way of deciding her goals and then almost... willing them into reality. She considers it good planning, but I've always wondered if it was something more. When she included Maggie, for instance. Liam was very territorial, but Siobhan wanted it to work out, and so it did."
Edward, Carlisle, and Rosalie settled into chairs as they continued with the discussion. Jacob sat next to Seth protectively, looking bored. From the way his eyelids drooped, I was sure he'd be unconscious momentarily.
I listened, but my attention was divided. Renesmee was still telling me about her day. I held her by the window wall, my arms rocking her automatically as we stared into each other's eyes.
I realized that the others had no reason for sitting down. I was perfectly comfortable standing. It was just as restful as stretching out on a bed would be. I knew I would be able to stand like this for a week without moving and I would feel just as relaxed at the end of the seven days as I did at the beginning.
They must sit out of habit. Humans would notice someone standing for hours without ever shifting her weight to a different foot. Even now, I saw Rosalie brush her fingers against her hair and Carlisle cross his legs. Little motions to keep from being too still, too much a vampire. I would have to pay attention to what they did and start practicing.
I rolled my weight back to my left leg. It felt kind of silly.
Maybe they were just trying to give me a little alone time with my baby - as alone as was safe.
Renesmee told me about every minute happening of the day, and I got the feeling from the tenor of her little stories that she wanted me to know her every bit as much I wanted the same thing. It worried her that I had missed things - like the sparrows that had hopped closer and closer when Jacob had held her, both of them very still beside one of the big hemlocks; the birds wouldn't come close to Rosalie. Or the outrageously icky white stuff - baby formula - that Carlisle had put in her cup; it smelled like sour dirt. Or the song Edward had crooned to her that was so perfect Renesmee played it for me twice; I was surprised that I was in the background of that memory, perfectly motionless but looking fairly battered still. I shuddered, remembering that time from my own perspective. The hideous fire...