Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I am in no way affiliated with the world of Twilight. That honor goes to Stephenie Meyer. I only claim the "shoe incident". And yes, a guy seriously went all Prince Charming on me when I lost a shoe going up the stairs. It was cute.
A/N: A fluffy little one-shot between Alice and Jasper. Takes place in the days before Bella.
For My Cinderella
The passenger door slammed shut brusquely, each individual click and snap of the mechanisms inside of it registering in my sensitive ears. Somehow, that brief little noise held more anxiety for me than all the battlefields of my past, the air filled with cannon fire and the humid scent of sweaty death.
She danced away from me, down the long driveway, hips swinging provocatively. She knew I was watching. A token number of her bags swung from her hands in time with her step; I could hear the dull clicking of her high heels against the gravel through the body of the car. I fought down the impulse to jam my foot on the accelerator, to swing open the door and catch her up in my arms with the most abject apology I could ever utter.
If nothing else, I was still a proud man. A proud man, and a married man. Married. That one word, tying our names together for all the eternities, still astounded me. That short little feminine figure was mine to have and to hold, to honor and protect, just as surely as I was hers.
The accelerator was pressed to the floor before I knew it, and Alice was still walking along at a human pace, avoiding my glance in the rearview mirror determinedly as I sped past her. But I knew her too well. The tilt of her head was too high, laying bare too much of that ivory-pale neck, for her to be assuming her natural demeanor. Another quick glance in the mirror pierced me to the core; had she been able to produce them, tears would have been dripping down her face like steady rain, I was sure of it. The thought that I, the one who had vowed to cherish her, had been the one to cause her pain destroyed the façade that I had so carefully cultivated. I was not proud; I was pitiful, and she was the first to show mercy to me. I was not whole; I was broken, irreparably, until she became my life. I had been nothing but a shell of a man before her; I would be even less after. A sudden determination to never let there be an "after" welled up in my dormant heart as her slim figure faded into the green of the trees. I stopped the car suddenly, brakes squealing in protest, and flung the door open, eyes peeled for the first sight of her. I had no idea what I was going to say. My silver tongue was failing me, dead in my mouth. So much for charisma.
I slipped out from the car in one fluid motion, watching her progress and determined not to let her past until she at least said something. Anything but this stony silence and that hint of a desperately sorrowful look on her face. She was approaching more slowly now that she had reached the rear of the car, that look of studied calm slipping from her features; she couldn't hold to a front anymore than I could at a time like this. The gentle breeze picked at her clothes, ruffling the soft gauzy material of her skirt and pulling her hair into disarray. A wave of jealousy coursed through me; at this moment, even the wind was closer to her than I was
Her eyes flashed to mine and my breath caught in my throat. There was a pained edge in that gaze that made my entire being twist in sympathy. Something in my expression must have shown my thoughts; for the briefest instant, she allowed me the glimpse of forgiveness, but a hard, unfeeling look descended again so swiftly that I was not sure that it was anything but a figment of my imagination. The words on my tongue were ripped from my mouth; she passed me in silence. No word dropped from her lips, she gave not even a fleeting glance to console me. It wrenched my dead heart from my chest.
I dropped back into the driver's seat of the car, knowing, acutely, that I did not deserve her. For her to be so cold, I must have offended her more deeply than I initially suspected. I had never meant it that way—she must surely think that I didn't care for her now. But how, after all these years together, could she even suspect that? My love, my life, my wife, the only reason that I subjected myself to this torture, and she couldn't see that? All that it had taken was one simple phrase—"Sometimes it doesn't seem worth it."—and she thought that I didn't care! No, no, Alice wasn't like that. There must have been something that I had done before—did she think me uncaring, and took that as confirmation? Was there something in one of her visions? Or did I just not tell her how I felt nearly enough? I had thought it was evident, but perhaps that was just how I saw events through my clouded eyes—I was a fool. I wanted to curse myself, to destroy something, but I knew I wouldn't; she'd always asked me not to before. Never commanded, always asked. That had always been enough to cool my temper, to calm the beast within.
My hand was frozen on the key, still stuck in the ignition. Alice still waltzed away from me. Alice, a sister to the Muses; the only music that tamed and buried my instincts. And the lighthouse on the rocky shore: she had known that I was looking for her before I even had realized what the aching gulf inside of me even was.
She was at the foot of the porch now, one delicate foot poised above the first step. A gusty sigh ripped from my dead lungs: she had never looked back. I opened the door of the car and slipped out again; the fault was mine, and so would be the apology, if she would even hear me.
One small foot slipped out of her shoe and it clattered to the ground. She turned to look at it, an odd look of dismay written on her face.
Before I knew it, my vaulting steps carried me to her, her shoe was in my hand as I fell to my knees, and words were welling up from my heart and spilling from my mouth.
"Cinderella—I believe you lost this."
Her eyes met mine, beautiful pools of brilliant emotion, as she slid her foot into the shoe. "Jazz, I… I shouldn't have…"
I stood up, cutting her off with a brief gesture of one hand. She looked up at me: even standing on the bottom step, with those heels on, she was still shorter than I. She opened her mouth to speak again, but I leaned forward, pressing my mouth to hers and wrapping my arms around her waist tightly. I heard the bags drop, unheeded, as her hands traced their way up my back and tangled in my hair, pulling our faces even closer together. I let my lips travel over her face, whispering her name and my love for her softly as she leaned in to my embrace, wishing that this moment would never end, for she was perfection, she was my reason, my entire life. For all time.