Disconnected, by Marri

We never learned how to be alone, Jane and I. It was never even something we could comprehend. The idea of "aloneness" was for the people unlucky enough to be born by themselves. We were sometimes apart, but it was not the same as being alone. We were not alone; we had each other. And then we didn't, and now I am alone. What do I do now?

I don't remember much from when we were human. What I do remember all involves her. I can remember that our father had other children, but we always played by ourselves, without them. I'm not even sure how many half siblings we had, or what genders they were. I know we didn't get along, but only because I remember Jane protecting me from them. She protected me from everyone- from our stepmother, then from our half siblings, then other children, then the older villagers. She was our champion, and I loved her for it. She did her best to keep us safe, and I did my best to keep her happy in return, and we were content.

But then finally she couldn't keep them away any more. We were only fourteen, and they attacked us, calling us evil, witches and demon worshippers. They beat us and tied us up and burned us at the stake. Even when the Volturi saved us from the fire, our burns were too severe, and they had to turn us. So badly burned I should have died, and yet I lay there for days, on fire inside and out, and throughout it all I could hear the screams. Her screams. Jane, strong Jane, Jane who always knew what to do, Jane was screaming and screaming and I had to make it stop. She had always protected us and then she was screaming and she needed me. I would have given anything to make the pain stop, to make my pain stop and Jane's pain stop. And finally, when it was over, when it was too late to mean anything, I could.

She was so pleased by what we had become. We were immortal, and beautiful, and powerful. No one would touch us ever again, she said. We would be safe forever, if we helped Master Aro with his plans. "This is so much better than being human," she would sigh happily. "Now we will be together forever." And she would talk to Master Aro and relay his instructions, and we did what we were told. And Jane would smile and everything was all right.

Eventually, keeping Jane happy became the only thing I cared about. It was a habit, from when we were human, and I kept it when I turned. She had always been my guardian, and I had always trusted her, followed her lead and known on a gut level what she did was for the best. They say vampires don't change much, unless they mate; I certainly never did. Where she led, I would follow.

People said we were monsters, but hadn't they always? They called us monsters when we were human, too. And we were monsters, truly, if you look at what we did for the Volturi. But back when we were human, we were still vulnerable. As vampires, we were extraordinary. As Volturi, we were untouchable. Everyone feared us and did whatever what we said. And if they didn't obey? We made them. What did I care if people hated us? Jane knew how to keep us safe. And so I helped her, to make her happy. Little by little, we took over the world. And Jane smiled.

In some ways it was better, before Addy. I never cared much about anyone in particular in the guard- I had Jane, and it was good enough. At least, when I missed her, I knew what to do when she was gone. But not missing her was the only way I could stay alive. So I let Addy snip the thread, and I didn't miss Jane any more. But I didn't know what to do instead.

I try to fill the time. I work for the Empress, but I don't actually do very much. At first I read while people turned. Later, I tried video games, but they didn't seem worth the time I'd have to spend learning how to play. Nowadays I get university degrees, just to have something to do. Last time I counted, I had six or seven. Simplistic things, engineering degrees mostly, like math or statistics. Nothing where I have to analyze or interpret or convince anyone that somehow, my ideas are better than theirs, even though neither of us can know for certain. Better to stick to the sciences. Sit down, solve the problem, right or wrong.

I know the Empress still keeps an eye on me. Addy sometimes tells me things like that if we're tending a batch at the same time. She likes it when people react to what she tells them, I think, so she throws out tidbits to see if I'll respond. "Bella has Edward and I listen to you sometimes. You mope just like Pera did." She sulks when I ignore her, which I've always found strange. Why would I be surprised they're checking my thoughts? I was a Volturi. Of course they watch me. Why would I be upset? Aro did it for centuries, if only out of habit. I don't care that they spy. Or maybe I'm supposed to be upset that I sound like a girl?

It wouldn't surprise me, I guess, if I sound like Pera. We both lost the one person we relied on. Jane wasn't my mate any more than Brady was Pera's, but it still felt like she was the center of my world. Chelsea's power took that away from us. Only... now Pera has Razi. I'm not likely to ever find a mate. I can't fill the void it left when Addy made me be just Alec, instead of Jane's twin.

I don't know how to be Alec.