A/N: See the end for a few notes.
Prologue - Before the Fall
Darkness hung like a shroud in the small, sterile room, the silence of the great house like a tomb in its stillness. There was no movement— not a shuffle, not a peep… hardly a breath to mark the passage of time, and yet she could see the movement of the sun on its celestial course in the world beyond, so far out of her reach that it hardly warranted a passing thought. She could feel the fluctuating warmth on her skin, each beam moving like fire to scorch the frigid flesh of her bare feet, which glittered faintly in the shrouded light. Her eyes were closed— she dare not open them to face the day— and she searched, hunting in the recesses of her mind for something, anything, do away with her nerves.
Beside her, as still and silent as the grave, her husband waited, his hands clenched in tight fists against the floor. He was patient with her— he always was— and he neither spoke nor moved, but she could feel the anxiety rolling off if him like steam. He did not project it as he might have with the others, but she could feel it nonetheless, running like a cable from his heart to hers. It was the way of things. The way of their kind. She knew his heart as deeply as she knew her own, and so even when the fog of worry clouded the mirror of her sight, she did not begrudge him and she sighed, the echo carrying well beyond the confines of their dark, cold bedroom. Her eyes snapped open, blinking to clear the mist, and he took her, softly, into the safety of his arms.
"I wish you wouldn't," whispered Jasper, his voice muffled in her hair. "There's nothing left to see, love."
Alice, mutinous and furious, said nothing.
"Does it hurt you? Your head?"
Alice only frowned. Jasper, sensing her irritation and impatience, rose quickly his feet, his footsteps all but silent against the smooth wood of the floor. He padded to the window, his fingers resting on the sill, and before Alice could prevent it he twitched the curtains apart, banishing the blackness and bringing the room into glorious, brilliant light.
She hissed and turned her face away. Jasper only stared, his features hard and morose, as she leapt to her feet.
"I wish you wouldn't," he repeated. Alice fought back the sting, her fingers pressed to her temples. "I really, really wish you wouldn't…" His hand was extended, as if he would touch her, but Alice backed away, her face awash with irritation.
She was out of the room before he could reach her.
In the shadowed recess beneath the staircase, Alice let herself sink back into the quiet and the still. The world was not so silent here— her ears, so attuned to the usual sounds of the house and its occupants, were not able to filter out the noise outside the confines of her bedroom. Her eyes were shut— she did not need them to see what she was looking for— but her hearing could not be so easily disabled and as she hunted, she let her ears run amok.
In the living room, by the tall, untinted windows, she could hear her brother pacing. Emmett had always surprised Alice. He was by far the largest and strongest member of their coven, his sheer size making him formidable and dangerous, but he was stealthy too, and quick. He did not lumber, did not stumble, and she felthis movements just as strongly as she heard them, his weight shifting from foot to foot, disturbing the floorboards.
Emmett, like Jasper, had watched Alice scarper to the corner, but had said nothing as he fixed his eyes on her, his face as unreadable as stone. She did not have her husband's gift— she could not tell for sure whether he was upset or curious or sad— but there was an odd, unhappy glint in his onyx eyes that spoke louder than his words ever could.
Alice did not linger on that— she knew that her moods bothered him and that her silence, so unnatural and aggrieved, hurt him.
Emmett, for all his teasing, did not enjoy conflict.
Alice let her ears wander to the other parts of the house.
Upstairs in his office, she could hear Carlisle's flowing, rhythmic scratching of pen on paper. Farther still, in the confines of the yard outside, she could hear Esme tearing up the weeds that'd had audacity to crop up in her immaculate, manicured garden. Jasper had retreated back to their bedroom, no doubt brooding over her furious rejection, and Rosalie, out of range, had left to hunt after the blowout with Emmett that morning and had yet to return.
Squinting into the blackness of her own mind, Alice did not let her thoughts drift to her other brother, whose name she would not utter and whose face she did not want to see. That brother who, by all accounts, was the cause of their strife and the root of her own personal hell, in which she was now imprisoned.
A hell which, no matter how she struggled, left her blind, because no matter how hard she looked, or how desperately she sought, she could not see the one fate she longed to find. Though the struggle had consumed her for nigh on half a year, that fate was as elusive as a moonbeam, untouchable and cold.
Alice squeezed her eyes shut all the harder, throwing herself into the wild unknown, sifting impatiently through those visions that could not answer her questions.
For those questions, and so many others that had not yet solidified in the wide expanse of her mind, were tossed around the murky waters of her thoughts like a rowboat in a storm. She was flooded again and again by the consuming mire of her memory, and though she grappled wildly for a life preserver, she felt herself sinking lower, and lower still.
When the sea became too deep— when she could feel its crushing weight on her like an anvil— her eyes flashed open with a snarl of furious disappointment and Emmett, his meticulous pacing interrupted, paused to watch her.
When she saw the angry worry in his scrupulous, ebony gaze, lasting only a moment before he turned away from her, she let out her breath in a rush.
"Don't strain yourself," he said softly, after a long moment of pause. "Don't stress, Alice. It won't do any good."
She was on her feet in an instant, her head still throbbing.
Emmett did not answer back.
Six months, Alice thought. Six months of this nonsense, and what had they to show for it?
The hollow ache in her head spread downwards, taking over her chest, her abdomen. Alice did not remember her human feelings— she did not know what it was to grieve, or to cry. She had felt anger before— her fury and temper rising to strike like a snake in the grass— but there was nothing in her frame of reference for this terrible, empty sadness which had taken her like a bandit.
She was sure, though she tried to school it, that she wore her grief like an old coat. She knew it when Emmett frowned, his bubbling temper melting to sorrow in an instant as he reached out a hand to her. Alice did not take it— indeed, she did not even reach out— and he left it there for only a moment before turned back towards the glass in defeat.
Alice only brooded, feeling harassed and sulky, before she sat back down and rested her cheek on her knees.
Six months. They had lived this way for almost six months. Six months of strife, and six months of waiting.
Waiting, she knew, for a day that might never come.
Six months, she thought again, since the Incident.
The Incident. That was the name she'd given to that day last fall, when the world they had so carefully crafted came crashing down around them like a house of cards. Pieces, falling one by one into oblivion, until there was hardly anything left but wreckage. Pieces which, try though she might, Alice could not even find, much less repair. Pieces she feared had been lost to them forever— floating away like dandelion fluff, or vanishing into the ether with the early morning mist.
The destruction had split her family apart, had stretched them thin like an old, worn shirt.
It was for this Incident that Alice felt such an overwhelming, soul-crushing guilt. She scowled when she felt it eating its way up her back like a parasite, tamping it down with a reckless and furious temper. She felt its sting— the same sharp pain that always came when she was confronted with her own ineptitude— but she did not let it master her and forced it down to the very soles of her feet, where it lingered, hissing, waiting for another moment to strike. Alice mollified herself with another quick glimpse, futile and unwavering, into the dark, unknowable future.
She looked again, one last time, for the young, familiar face in the endless march of time. Her freckled cheeks. The rich warmth of her eyes. Her slender limbs, her fragrant smell… hell, even her stumbling gait and ruby-red blush. Anything to assure her that the girl was still breathing, and that the world was still moving.
But even as she winced, the effort bringing her nagging headache to the forefront, she could see nothing but obscurity— blackness swirling with grey mist, as intangible and meaningless as a cloud.
She came back with a sigh.
"We promised," said a voice from the staircase. Alice glanced over, her face shielded by shadow, and Emmett stopped to stare. There was no anger in that voice— no undertones of disapproval or displeasure— but the words made Alice's temper flare once again and she stood, her eyes narrowed.
"And so did he," she bit out. Carlisle, his pale face a mask, said nothing. "He made promises too, Carlisle, and yet here we are."
"It's his decision."
Alice hissed, her face mutinous.
"It was," she returned. Emmett, silent as the grave, could only watch. "It was, Carlisle. But no longer."
With a sigh that might have moved mountains, Alice saw his defeat.
This time, it was Emmett who bristled.
"She belongs to no one," he growled out, and Alice felt a shiver course down her spine. Her brother was cold, icy in his outrage, and Carlisle had the good grace to look chastised.
"I don't mean it that way…"
At once, Alice felt the air shift.
From out in the garden, she saw Esme's quick return. Jasper glided down the staircase, his eyes downcast. And from the trees, as if she'd been summoned, Alice saw her sister make her way to the front door, slamming it so hard against the jamb that it cut through the drywall like butter. Esme flinched at the crack, her lips pursed in disapproval, but when Rosalie came in, blinking in surprise, there was no rebuke.
Carlisle, his head down and his eyes shut, looked up only when he spoke.
"What have you seen?"
"Nothing," Alice said quickly. "Absolutely nothing. It's driving me mad."
At once, she felt Jasper stiffen.
"Nothing?" said Carlisle. "Nothing at all?"
Alice pursed her lips.
"Darkness," she said softly. "Grey mist. Lots of mist… I've never seen anything to equal it. I don't know what it means."
Only Rosalie, her lip curled in distaste, dared make a sound. One look from Emmett quelled her, his face as stormy as a hurricane, but the damage was done and Alice felt her temper writhe. Alice's rumbling growl set everyone on edge and, feeling her tenuous control strained, she was glad that there was no answer from her scowling sister, or anyone else.
When the silence grew long, she spoke again.
"I want to go and check," she said, and at once, the room was hushed. "I want to go and see— just to look, Carlisle."
Their father heaved another sigh.
"He will be furious," he warned, "if he finds out. I can't stop you, Alice, but I beg you… think before you do."
Her laughter, sweet, even through her ire, held no humour.
"He abandoned this family," she said lowly. "He abandoned her."
She felt Jasper shift, uncomfortable and nervous.
"You know what we are, Carlisle. And you know what that means."
Her father only stared, his melancholy gaze inscrutable and soft.
"You all know what it means."
Rosalie hissed, spiteful and angry.
"You would destroy us again?" she snapped, her voice so low it was almost a whisper. "You would ruin us again, Alice?"
Alice wheeled around at once.
"You know what we are," she said again, and this time, the edge was biting. "You know what it means for us… for all of us. You know what she means."
Rosalie laughed, all venom and spite.
"To you, maybe," she conceded. "And most definitely to him, but what about the rest of us? What about us, Alice, your family?"
Emmett, bone-white and furious, took a step away from his mate. His words were as sharp as Alice had ever heard them, and they cut like knives.
"She is family, too, Rosalie."
"Leave that child be," said Rose, ignoring Emmett's anger. "Leave her alone, and let her live her life."
"I only want to look…"
"I vote yes," said Jasper at her back and at once, all eyes shifted. Jasper was not looking at them— he had his gaze glued on his wife, on the intangible misery that rolled from her like a bad perfume.
"Yes," said Emmett at once, ignoring his wife's angry hiss. "I say yes, Alice."
Her temper began to recede.
"Yes," said Esme, her hand reaching out for Carlisle's. "Yes… I would go with you, if I thought it would do any good."
Alice did not need Jasper's gift to hear her doubt. Rosalie wheeled around, her back to them.
"Do what you think is right," said her father, his face unreadable. "But mind the consequences, Alice…"
"I'm not afraid of him," she returned at once. "He lost the right to choose for her the minute he left."
The minute he broke my heart, Alice thought, looking around at the five unhappy faces of her family. Her fractured family. The minute he broke us.
And with the decision made, it came as if in a dream, so vivid and sharp that it stopped her dead. The mist fell away, the blackness lightened to a shifting, writhing grey, and she saw, with her eyes closed, a scene unfolding in rapid progression. It hit with the force of a train, barreling headlong down the tracks without its brakes, and without the usual, gentle transition from the present to the future, Alice was suddenly immersed in a vision so clear she could taste the sea salt and brine on her lips.
She could not feel Jasper's arms, holding her steady.
Wind billowed and rocked the trees at the edge of the sea. She stood on pebbled sand, her feet drenched in the swelling surf, as she stared out at the churning charcoal of ocean waves, white-capped and frothing. The wind was cold, though it did not bother her, and the sea spray flattened her hair against her scalp, but she took in the scene with vivid swiftness, her perfect vision unmarred by the pelting, icy rain.
She did not recognize the exact spot, though she thought she recognized the water. The springtime Pacific was uncommonly rough, its great, black swell clawing angrily at the jutting rock cliffs. The beach was narrow— there was only the smallest strip of sand at the very edge of the grass before it transformed into smooth, round pebbles, strewn liberally with driftwood and bonfire ash. Out to sea, there were small islands— close enough for her to make out the rocks and trees, but too far to see anything moving, or living.
Alice heard the muffled concern of her family, dull beneath the roar of the waves, and in another moment she froze.
High atop a cliff, nearly one hundred feet above the reckless waves, there stood a figure. Had she been human, Alice suspected that she would not have been able to make out the details of that person swaying dangerously near the edge of the rocks. But Alice was not human, and she saw the girl with horrible clarity. She saw the tears coursing down her white cheeks to mingle with the rain. She smelled the flora of her blood, rushing angrily, almost defiantly, through her arteries and veins. She heard the thumping of her heart, faint over the thunder, and she heard the crying— the loud, hiccuping sobs that made her whole body shake.
Alice had never seen that look on her face before— such abject, unbreakable sorrow, mingled with a terror so strong that Alice could almost taste it, like metal on her tongue.
The girl began to weep.
"I'm sorry… I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…"
The hoarse voice repeated the words like a mantra.
"I'm sorry. I love you. I'm sorry…"
Alice screamed when she saw the girl lean forward, and she ran, futile though it was, into the crashing ocean waves. She watched the scene as if in slow motion— the girl's bent knees, her mottled, terrified face, and the tearful apology, not yet faded from her lips, as she released her stance and fell, tumbling head-first towards the earth, her body curling and flinching before it found its mark. She hit the water with a startling force, crashing hard enough to knock the breath from her chest, and in a fraction of a second Alice saw her sink, disappearing beneath the angry, black waves.
Her watch read 3:02.
She came back with a gasp, her knees on the floor as she wrapped her arms around Jasper's legs. She felt his terror— felt the absolute, reckless fear that rolled off of him in currents— but as her dead heart constricted, squeezing so hard she thought it might kill her, she felt a torrent of grief so strong that she wept, great, tearless sobs of misery, and could not bring herself to stand.
"Oh no… oh no. No. No, no, no…"
She felt Jasper shake her, but still, she remained. She heard the bustle around her— Emmett's furious helplessness, Esme's worried whisper, Carlisle, questioning Jasper and prying her away…
"What time is it?"
"Five minutes to three."
Jasper hauled her up, his arms encasing her in a cage of steel.
"What did you see?" he demanded, ignoring her feeble attempts to free herself. "Tell me, Alice. What's wrong?"
When she slid away, her eyes fixed frantically on Carlisle, she felt her throat tighten.
"We're too late," she said miserably, and this time, she saw dawning comprehension on Carlisle's face. "We're going to be too late."
"What happened, Alice?"
The words came like fire, catching and quick.
"She jumped," Alice said miserably, and she heard Esme's quick gasp as the meaning took hold. "At 3:02. She's going to jump."
"Oh no… Alice, no."
Her mother— eyes wide and terrified— looked as if she might be sick, though in truth, there was no possibility of it. Esme gripped Carlisle's arm like a vice, her fingers squeezing reflexively as the news took hold in first one second, and then two, before she wheeled around to the ticking clock on the mantle with a furious desperation.
"Where, Alice?" she demanded, and at once, she was at the door. "Where is she?"
"I don't know."
Alice felt her face crumple.
"Too high, Esme," she said pitifully. She saw Emmett's eyes pinch shut, his fists clenched. "Far too high…"
"No. Carlisle?" Esme turned towards him, frantic. When he did not look at her, her face fell.
"Are you positive, Alice?" he asked. "Absolutely positive?"
It was Jasper, his face pinched with the onslaught of her misery, who answered for her.
"Absolutely, Carlisle," he said. "There is no doubt."
Emmett's fist through the window, shattering the glass into rainbow dust, sent prisms through the air.
A/N: So. Here we are again, on a brand new roller coaster. This little plot bunny has been hopping around in my brain for MONTHS, and refuses to be left unwritten. I have only a vague idea of what I'm going to do with it, so if you're interested, leave me a review. The Island is still underway for anyone who's curious, but I needed a break from all the planning and world-building. I've hit a bit of a block with that one, so hopefully getting this tidbit out of the way will help to cure it.
As of right now, I have no proposed update schedule or word count estimate for this story. I'm going to TRY and keep it shorter than my usual 100,000+ words, but it really depends on where the story takes me.
ALSO, this is a New Moon AU (for those of you didn't see the description). The world I'm working in is the same as the books, except that there are no wolves, and hence, no treaty. All the Quileute characters exist in the story, but they are nothing more than human, just like everyone else.
Thanks for all your love.
For anyone who needs it, here are some people you can reach out to in case of a crisis:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566
Samaritans: 116 123
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255