Please forgive any spelling and/or grammar errors. I planned this story out almost six years ago and I'm finally getting around to actually writing it. I hope you enjoy, please let me know what you think! Also, I'm trying to write this in third person, but my last two stories have been in first. That said, occasionally I'm finding it hard to not slip back into my old habit - please let me know if you catch me doing it!
I should also mention that I don't hate Edward. I think his character can be very controlling at times, and occasionally condescending and patronizing, but I don't hate him by any means. No one is perfect and those are just some of his personality flaws. He will have him moments in this story where you'll probably assume I don't actually like him and have used him to be the bad guy. Really it's more that his actions will have consequences that result in new developments for the other characters. Eventually everyone, including Edward, will end up happy and better off. I hope you stick around long enough to see that happen.
This will alternate between Alice, Jasper, and Bella's perspectives throughout the story, and be told in three nine chapter parts with each character getting three chapters centered around that person.
Also, if you aren't a fan of the Bella/Jasper pairing and know you'll hate seeing them end up together don't bother reading, or if you do anyways, please don't complain to me when they get together - that's sort of the point of this story…
PS I'm not Stephenie Meyer, so I don't own anything :(
Part 1: Enigma
One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.
Chapter 1 - Alice
"So, Alice, is Eddie-boy gonna to kill her?" Emmett casually asked from the couch where he'd been watching a football game. The question had him abandoning the game in favor of turning to look at his sister on the back of the sofa, curiosity making his dark, curly head tilt slightly.
"Emmett! That's not something to joke about," Esme scolded motherly, a worried frown carved into her beautiful face. She'd been finishing up a design for a new kitchen that a client from Seattle had commissioned ever since Bella and Edward left for their honeymoon, but now she too paused and waited anxiously for Alice to relieve her fears.
"Yeah, but is he?" Emmett asked more seriously.
"Serves her right if he does," Rosalie muttered vindictively from upstairs. Everyone ignored the comment. Rose's feelings were already well known and didn't deserve a rebuke when everyone was equally aware that it would do no good.
"I've put off looking since they left," Alice admitted quietly, turning from the computer to take in Esme and Emmett both watching her intently.
The family had decided to fix up the little cottage on the property for Edward and Bella to live in when they returned, and Alice was shopping for some personal touches to add to it. Esme would likely do the majority of the decorating, but Alice's sight kept prompting her to seek out extras she knew would be absolutely perfect for the place. Though she had to admit that a number of her recent purchases didn't make much sense. They were all too dark. Nearly everyone in the family preferred lighter colors. Jasper was really the only one that sought out things in navy, forest green, burgundy, and black. Maybe transitioning into a vampire would alter Bella's tastes. Anything would be better than her current preferences.
"Don't want to see Edward's first -" Emmett began teasing, but stopped when Alice growled ferociously at him, baring all of her gleaming, venom-coated teeth.
It wasn't that she was particularly interested in witnessing Edward's first fumbling foray into making love, but she did want to know if he could handle it. He always kept such a tight leash on his emotions that this was sure to test the limits of his composure. Alice wouldn't be able to bear it if Bella was hurt and she could have prevented it with a warning just by taking a peak at how they spent this evening.
"These last weeks… the outcome keeps changing," she said, frustration clear.
Alice hated not knowing. It was her job, her way to protect the family! They needed her foresight. But here she was - useless. Edward's uncertainty left her in limbo, and the only thing she had been able to see was that there was nothing more she could do except wait.
The newlyweds should be on the island by now though. Bella wasn't likely to put the subject off for very long. If there was a chance to see and advert disaster then the time would be now and everyone seemed aware of it.
Carlisle entered the room silently, moving to Esme's side and placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. He too was waiting for Alice to check. Esme reached to cover his hand, their fingers interlocking. Each taking and providing comfort from the other.
Alice closed her eyes to search.
Flickers. That was the only way to describe the rapid-fire flashes alternating from a bed dusted in feathers to scenes of the couple arguing and Bella crying, along with everything else Edward was insisting she keep an eye out for. After a moment they sorted themselves into a more linear stream that she could swipe through.
Bella was sorting through the lingerie and trying to find one that would help her seduce Edward. Her embarrassment was clear from her pink cheeks and the way she gingerly picked up the red lace baby doll with two hesitant fingers only to put it back in the bag several times and ultimately deciding on a black ruffled number.
Alice was glad she'd included so many choices. Apparently she'd been right to think Edward might need a few incentives to actually be with Bella.
Rose was going to buy Emmett tickets to a football game in Portland next month. They'd have to leave early though because of the sun. Emmett would be so furious that he missed seeing the game winning field goal in the last four seconds that he'd destroy several trees along the drive to the house.
Alice rarely paid her sight much heed when it revealed events such as this. There were too many people involved in a single sport game, any one of which could make a decision that changed the outcome. Not to mention visions centered around the weather were notoriously unpredictable since it was always changing when they happened this far out. But she was so attuned to her family that any time one made a decision she saw something related to it whether momentous or not.
Bella was taking a shower before joining Edward, and seeing to all of her various human needs. It was a stalling tactic. She was visibly nervous, her breathing fast and erratic as she sat on the floor wrapped in only a fluffy white towel.
Edward was taking Bella snorkeling in the little hidden cove on the other side of the island. He was keeping his distance so the fish, turtles, and porpoises would swim near Bella, but he was enjoying watching her pleasure as she took everything in. Not to mention that he enjoyed showing off his ability to go without oxygen.
Bella was grinning as she plucked feathers from her hair. The tangled mess resembled a bird's nest. Every few seconds she'd close her eyes and smile dreamily, enjoying her thoughts - likely some memory. There were noticeable bruises along her cheekbone and jaw, the skin deep red along the edges of the mark transitioning to bluish-purple at the center in both cases. Her lips were swollen and more purple than usual as well. Likely bruised or chaffed as well.
Surly Edward had enough practice kissing Bella by now that those marks weren't from him. Surly! Perhaps this happens in a couple days and will be an injury Bella incurs from her island adventures.
Esme was buying the peach and tan granite counter top instead of the grey and black. The warmer colors would open the room up and make it seem much more inviting to the young couple planning to start a family.
Edward was asking for a couple more days to prepare, insisting he needed them if he was to avoid hurting her. He planned to keep Bella so busy during the day that she fell asleep too exhausted and worn out to push for him to keep his promise.
Aro was sending Felix, Santiago, and Demetri to Guatemala, or perhaps even farther south, since the coven there had grown so large that they'd failed to go undetected. There were reports in the paper about drug related violence. Aro wanted his three guards to keep an eye on things for a few weeks, determine if anyone was worthy of being offered a second chance, and if the coven's numbers weren't decimated in their next skirmish, he would send Jane to help the three annihilate everyone.
Bella was crying and begging Edward to talk to her. She didn't understand why he'd stopped. He hadn't hurt her. She'd been enjoying his kissing, but he'd stopped anyways and refused to even consider trying. She begged. She pleaded. He looked agonized, but resolved. His only response was to say, "Jacob was right."
Alice's sight was silent, but years of practice in addition to her vampiric-enhanced senses meant that she could easily read lips. It was rare that she wasn't able to determine what was said in a vision just by watching them speak.
Edward's hands were gripping Bella's hips securely as he moved carefully, deliberately, over her obviously in the middle of making love to her. Her arms were wrapped around his back clutching him furtively to her. His eyes were glazed with passion, lost to emotion. Bella's head was thrown back, exposing the column of her throat to his deadly teeth. Edward's mouth opened as he stared down at the tempting offering, but after a moment he turned to bite brutally into the pillow beside her head.
Edward was tucking a tear-swollen, red-faced Bella into bed and wrapping himself around her sleeping form. He kissed her forehead and said, "One day you'll understand and forgive me. One day you'll agree that it would have been a mistake."
It was disorienting. Only years of practice and understanding Edward allowed her to navigate and interpret the shifting images.
"Edward still isn't sure that he's actually going to try. He's searching for a way to back out and change Bella's mind," Alice informed the assembled group.
"Seriously?" Emmett asked incredulously. "Has he met her? When has Bella ever changed her mind?"
"We've spoken at length. I know Edward is strong enough to handle this if he tries," Carlisle said, confidence and trust in his oldest son evident.
"It's not like he'll last long enough to have time to do any damage anyways. Not after over -"
"Emmett, stop being crude," Esme scolded once more. If she was still capable of flushing, Alice was certain she would be at this moment.
Alice continued searching while Emmett apologized to their mother. Only she could invoke any sort of contrition from her largest son.
Bella was joining Edward in the ocean wearing nothing more than a towel on the beach, and nothing when she reached his side.
Then there was the image of Bella covered in bruises and feathers. The mottled discolorations were a patchwork over her body - everywhere on her naked body was stripped in black and blue.
Alice stilled, forcing her focus to linger on the image of her beloved, fragile sister so banged up. There were nearly as many bruises as there'd been after James had attacked her last year. It was an alarming sight. Enough so that she made the decision to call Edward and warn him to be gentler.
That decision brought about yet another vision, this one much more distinct.
Edward was refusing to touch Bella, even as she sobbed, heartbroken, in the seat beside him. They were on an airplane. The ticket Bella held crumpled in her fist indicated this would take place tomorrow. She was speaking, but Edward wasn't even looking at her. Instead, he'd scooted as far over as the chair and wall would let him as he tried to maintain distance between his body and hers, a hard, resolved set to his face that only seemed to upset Bella more.
The scene shifted and it was Carlisle changing Bella, not Edward. Bella looked gutted yet resigned.
It was not the expression Alice ever expected to see considering how much Bella longed for her changing to happen. Edward hadn't even been in the room when Carlisle did it. Probably he was too worried about losing control or hurting her in some physical way. He couldn't see that he was inflicting emotional pain instead.
While Alice was fitting Bella for her wedding dress a few weeks ago, Bella had confessed how important it was to her that Edward be the one to change her. She'd said that his doing it would show her how much he loved her and wanted to keep her. For him to refuse to be the one to do it now… the lasting impact that would have…
Alice frowned. Transitioning from her human life - giving up her family and friends and learning to cope with all of the changes - was going to be difficult enough. Bella didn't need her doubts about Edward's feelings following her around for the rest of eternity. She already doubted him enough as it was. It was only a few bruises. She'd had worse. Best not to warn Edward after all.
"I'm sure that'll go over well," Carlisle said, sighing. He loved his son, but there were times, such as this, that he feared Edward's youth and inexperience prior to turning too strongly influenced his decisions, and not for the better.
"It won't," Alice said, frustrated as her foresight still refused to settle on one certain outcome for this night. "If he does they'll be home in a day. Two at most depending on layovers for the last minute flight," she warned.
"Oh dear," Esme said, sharing a look with Carlisle. It was a bleak prospect. Certainly not the happy, romantic honeymoon the couple should be engaging in.
"And if he does try?" Carlisle asked.
All at once the flowing current of pictures stopped, replaced with a single scene blooming to life in Alice's head. It was like watching a movie in technicolor only so much more vivid. These were Alice's favorite type of visions. The ones that she just knew would come to be. They were so real that her imagination could supply the missing details as if she were already there and it was already happening. The sound of the wind rustling the grass. The taste of pollen and spring flowers in the air. The feel of the sun's warmth as shafts of light danced merrily across her family's skin resulting in the prisms of rainbow light reflecting through the scene.
Bella, eyes nearly the same golden as the rest of the Cullens' but with just a hint of yam orange lingering, was sitting gracefully on the porch steps. She was so still she could have been a statue carved from the most pristine marble and sheathed in denim and cotton.
Alice would have to do something about her clothing before she got back. It simply wouldn't do for her to still be wearing her old things when she'd so obviously transitioned.
Emmett and Rosalie were curled together on a porch swing, likely recently installed since there wasn't one outside just yet. Nearby, Esme was gardening. She appeared to be planting blue and purple irises, taking advantage of the rare sunny day. Alice was perched just above her on the railing, one leg dangling over and swinging gently. Esme reached to nudge her aside when it appeared Alice was distracted, likely lost in visions of the future, a wistful smile on her otherwise blank face.
Then Jasper came bounding up the drive, moving with the speed and grace of a cheetah. He looked incandescently happy, happier than Alice had ever seen him. When he reached the assembled group he scooped Bella up, spinning around with her draped over his shoulder as he laughed freely.
When had Jasper ever laughed so joyously? So openly? Emmett could usual inspire a bright smile, and every now and then a single loud laugh, but never was Jazz so openly, boisterously amused.
After setting Bella back down, he took his place beside her, looping an arm casually around her waist and tugging her closer with an ease and familiarity that spoke volumes in the silent vision.
Rosalie was smiling as she watched them, obviously approving and Emmett was saying something with his usual teasing grin, but Alice couldn't make it out with the way his head was turned. But it was something that had Bella burying her face in Jasper's neck and Rose elbowing her husband's side. For his part, Jasper leaned down to kiss Bella's temple before whispering something private that had her burrowing impossibly closer. The intimacy and affection between the pair was unmistakable.
Suddenly Jasper stood, fluidly untangling himself from Bella and turning back towards the direction he'd come from with his arms opened wide and legs bent as though braced to catch something. Everyone else had stopped what they were doing as well; all eagerly looking towards what or who was coming.
Then it abruptly went black. Nothing.
That had never happened before. Never. Except when the wolves were involved, but that didn't make any sense just now, so it had to be something different. But what? What could make her sight vanish without warning?
Alice tried to isolate what decision had lead to the vision, tried to determine what happened next. Nothing. The future evaded her.
Alice had been so focused on Jasper the first time the vision panned out that she had not taken time to note her reaction to the events that took place. She took a moment to do so now, thinking back over it carefully. Unfazed. Happy even. How was that possible? Jasper was her life. She loved him dearly. They'd been together for decades. He was the first thing she saw when she woke, the reason she sought him out and her purpose for living those first few years as a vampire. So how was it possible for her to be so unaffected seeing him obviously in love with her newest sister? What's more, Alice seemed just as eager for what was coming as the rest. Just as eager for the mystery that stubbornly refused to reveal itself to her.
Only Edward and Carlisle had been missing from the group on this day that was likely to happen this coming spring if she had to guess. Bella hadn't looked any older and it had been obvious she was nearing the end of her newborn year. Carlisle's absence could be easily explained. He was likely at the hospital. But what about Edward? Where had he been?
"Alice?" Carlisle prompted now, concern etched deeply on his face. There was fear too, fear that he would lose both his daughter and his son if things didn't go well tonight.
They were used to having to wait occasionally as she filtered through all of the potential outcomes, but this had been a rather lengthy pause even for her.
"She'll survive tonight - one way or another." No one looked entirely relieved. "Bella will be one of us," Alice announced, infusing the words with confidence despite all the uncertainty clouding her mind after the strange vision. It was the only other truth she had to offer at the moment.
Tension seemed to drain from the room as everyone relaxed, that confirmation seeming to do the trick. Everyone, even Rosalie despite being loath to admit it, wanted Bella to be part of the family in a more permanent way.
"I'm going to hunt - in case they return early," Jasper murmured, slipping quietly from the room.
No one glanced up or acknowledged his departure.
Alice frowned once more. Jasper had always lingered on the periphery, remaining with the family more for her sake than his own desire for company. But it hadn't been like that in the vision. He'd been central. And again, Alice remembered that his happiness had been undeniable as well.
Since Alice had found Jasper he'd been content, grateful, protective. He loved her and felt such immense gratitude for the peace and easement from his past that she'd been able to provide. She had helped him find his humanity after Maria had robbed him of it. But after witnessing that scene, she had to wonder if he'd ever been truly happy with her and the Cullens - at least to the same degree or extent he apparently could be.
There was, after all, a difference between being satisfied with your life and honestly relishing it.
What had the vision meant? Why was she seeing it? Was she supposed to help it come to pass? Was it as certain to happen as it had felt like it was even if she did nothing? Was there any preventing it? Should she even want to stop it?
The bombardment of questions plagued her. It was so frustrating only having one piece of the puzzle!
Alice felt like stomping her foot in irritation. She thrilled for always being five steps ahead of her family. She wasn't meant to be in the dark. Not again. Not since becoming a vampire. And here she was, for the umpteenth time since returning to Forks, with no clue what the future held! And this time she couldn't even blame the wolves or pressure from Edward to watch for too many things at once!
For the next few weeks Alice obsessed over the vision, replaying it in her mind again and again, simultaneously thankful for the perfect recall that came with being a vampire and agonizing over every minute detail it allowed her to dissect.
She'd tried, unsuccessfully, to see what happened next. To learn what Jasper was welcoming. But always there was nothing except an endless black canvas. How utterly infuriating it was to not know! She honestly couldn't understand how others did it all the time.
Even as she agonized over the vision, she helped the others prepare the cottage. The insight the vision had given her prompted her to veto Esme's idea of trying to recreate a piece of Isle Esme in the bedroom. Part of Alice realized that with every decision she lead Esme to make, she was helping create a home for Bella to share with Jasper rather than Edward. The knowledge did nothing to stop her from acting even as she mentally bulked at the notion.
No one else seemed to notice. There was enough in the usual pale-on-pale color scheme that the majority of the family favored for her choices to go undetected. Not to mention the idea of Bella and Edward not staying together after everything they'd gone through to get to this point seemed ludicrous.
Alice wasn't sure how she felt. She'd relied on her visions for so long. Trusted them to show her what she needed to be happy, and ensure that her family was as well. The countless proof she had from the last century didn't make it any easier to accept that things could be changing. She longed to cling to the familiar, to dig in her heels like a spoiler three-year-old throwing a tantrum and refuse to relinquish her claim. Change was so very against their vampiric natures, but that didn't stop the fact that she could practically feel it coming.
All the while her relationship with Jasper was suffering. He'd returned from his hunt and immediately picked up on her tension and clouded, turbulent emotional state. There was no hiding it from her empathic husband. Her partner in all things for so long. He didn't understand why she was so distracted, what was keeping her so preoccupied now that the threats of Victoria and the Volturi were gone, or why she was deliberately putting distance between them.
"Are you upset with me? Am I going to hurt Bella again when she gets back?" Jazz asked one day when it was just the two of them working on the cottage.
It was rather telling that his first thought was that her preoccupation centered around danger to Bella - particularly his concern that he was the potential danger to her.
"Hmm?" Alice asked, tilting her head inquiringly.
"Is that what you've been looking for so intently? You're always on the lookout for me to slip. Did you see it happening? Bella's the only human I'm likely to be around in the foreseeable future. Am I going to hurt her?" Jasper asked, expanding on his own worries. Alice could feel his concern tainting the air, rippling outward from him like waves from a stone splashing into a pool of water.
"No! No. Nothing like that," Alice reassured him quickly, dancing over to touch his cheek lightly in reassurance, and trying half-heartedly to let him feel the sincerity of her words.
Jasper nodded, accepting her promise as truth. He always did. She was the one that knew the future, after all. He trusted her implicitly.
"Is there something else bothering you then?" Jasper whispered, closing his eyes and leaning into her light touch, seeking comfort and contact from his partner.
His medium was emotion, and usually he was content to taste the emotions Alice projected and return his in kind. Emotions were so much more honest than words, more difficult to trick or manipulate - at least from his perspective. Jasper could always sense the truth of emotions. It was part of his gift. But Alice was doing her best to mask hers. She had been for weeks now. It left Jasper feeling uncertain and insecure.
"No. Just trying to lock everything down. You know how I hate indecision. It makes things unnecessarily difficult," Alice said lightly, leaning up to kiss Jazz's cheek before skipping away to return to organizing Bella's bookcase. Jasper let it go at that, and they eventually returned to the main house without discussing it again.
For her part, Alice most wanted to understand the decision that lead to the vision before she shared anything or came to any conclusions herself.
Her focus was so centered on Bella and Edward's decisions that she ended up seeing far more of their honeymoon than she ever wanted to. Every activity. Every touch. Every kiss. Every time they made love. All of it. In detail. It was definitely an unwelcome side-effect of her frantic and obsessive searching.
She'd become so attuned to their decisions, though, that when Bella suddenly disappeared she panicked. One moment she saw Bella finding relief for her upset stomach before taking a nap to sleep off the worst of her food poisoning, the next, nothing!
Alice looked for her. Again. And again. But nothing. Bella's future had completely vanished.
She ran for the home phone in her room, dialing so fast her finger punched through the flimsy plastic. Growling in frustration, she darted from the room to where she'd left her cell phone on the dining room table beside the chess board. The remaining pieces from her game against Carlisle the night before were still set up announcing her victory.
Alice dialed more carefully this time, not wanting to be forced to seek out yet another phone. There wasn't time to waste on such things.
The phone rang. And rang. Did it always take Edward so long to answer? Didn't he understand how worried she was? The phone continued to ring. Alice could feel herself growling into the phone, the vibrations making her hand shake, but all she could hear was the computerized tone of the ringer. The monotone sound grating on her already jittery nerves. Where was he?
What if Bella had gotten hurt looking for the Pepto-Bismol and Edward had lost control? Was she too late to warn him? Was Bella already dead? What other reason -
"Hi, Alice," Bella said in a strange, strangled voice.
Alice felt an enormous wave of relief crash over her as the damn of fear broke and drown beneath her joy at hearing Bella. At hearing confirmation that Bella was alive. Her vision of Jasper being so happy could still happen. Then she frozen, brow wrinkling in confusion as she tried to see what had happened. Fear bubbled back up to the surface, suffocating what solace she'd discovered when Bella answered the phone.
Because Bella's future was still blank. Missing. Gone.