A/N: Alice shifts quickly through emotions in this chapter, especially when she goes from being around Edward to being around Jasper. She'll stable out soon, I promise. Once again, enjoy.
The next day had an awkward tension to it, as everyone was careful not to upset Alice. Alice, on the other hand, was completely occupied being completely, utterly, and irrevocably in love with Jasper. It seemed, to the others, that her ordeal had caused her to fall in love all over again. For Alice, it had been the previous night's interactions that had sent her over the edge with bliss. After what she had been through, Jasper had been so careful, so gentle and soft that she couldn't help but be swept off of her feet. And it continued in this fashion for the next week or so. During the day, the family gathered what information they could on the rogue vampire that remained at large. But when night fell, Alice's mind was elsewhere. In Jasper's arms, she didn't have to constantly relive what had happened, didn't have to avoid being asked for details. She didn't have to think at all. All she needed to do, all she wanted to do, was feel. Esme and Carlisle were simply overjoyed that she was readjusting in such an easy way, and Rosalie and Emmett took their initiative, taking time for themselves as well. Edward thought differently.
The first incident had occurred the day after Alice returned. He had wandered into the living room to find Alice sitting on the couch, staring at the tv screen, which was black. She was eerily still and blank, her little hands curled into tight fists, her knuckles white. He had gently begun to probe her mind when he was met with blunt force. She had repelled him, met his silent inquiries with a mental brick wall. She turned to look at him, fixing him with such a raw look of pure hatred that he took a step away, taken aback. Her eyes were coal black, her skin even paler than normal.
"Stay out of my mind," she hissed angrily.
"Alice, what's wrong with you?" She turned away from him, shielding herself.
"Nothing is wrong with me. Mind your own business Edward. Just because you have the ability to pry into someone's private thoughts doesn't mean you have the right to." Edward was struck speechless. Alice had always let him into her mind, sharing her ideas, her memories, her visions, her feelings. He had always been closest to her, as their gifts were so intertwined. He saw what she saw, and she had never stopped him from seeing before. What was in that head of hers that she was so determined to hide from him?
The second time, they had been hunting. Alice was sitting on the sloping lawn near the lakeshore, crosslegged, lost in the same trancelike state. Edward and Jasper had been speaking in low voices, careful not to let her hear.
"I'm worried about her...she seems off. Of course, she'd be a little off after what happened, but this is...different."
Jasper nodded gravely. "I'm worried as well. She's been...detached, for the most part. But there are moments when she's just so obviously vulnerable and scared, and it frightens me a bit. She's always been the strong one, and I fear for her now. I'm afraid she'll hold it all in. She hardly even told me what happened...there's more than what we know. She just won't open up, even to me." He recalled the first night with her again, how forceful and determined she had been, how she had almost desperately kissed him, begging him to take her. He turned to look at her, a deep sadness plaguing his now topaz eyes. "There are moments when she looks as though she's about to break, and I just don't know how to help hold her together."
"She told Carlisle that something else had happened, and then she just didn't go on. He didn't push her, but he wonders. We all do. She was there for too long...nearly a full day. Nothing in the human world, of course. But for us...I can only imagine what she went through. And the fact that she though it was you couldn't have helped. I can't even begin to fathom how that must have felt."
Jasper turned away from Edward, gazing over Alice's head into the sunset with her. "I can. I know. I can still feel it in her, that pain. That feeling of completely abandoment, desolation...it's horrible, Edward." He paused, moving his eyes to Alice. "She's afraid of being alone in the dark. Did you know that Edward? She's absolutely terrified of being left by herself in the dark. I never leave her side at night, just to make sure she never has a reason to be afraid."
"You're amazing to her Jasper. I hope she never has a reason to fear you." He murmured this last part quietly, to himself, for reasons he didn't understand. He shook his head, ridding himself of the foreboding feeling that had overshadowed him. He sighed, running a hand through his hair and narrowing his eyes slightly at Alice, concentrating hard. This time, instead of just being blocked, she sent a mental bolt of pure energy at him, and he staggered back as though he had been hit.
"Edward?" Jasper looked at him curiously.
"N-Nothing...I'm fine. Don't ask." Jasper nodded, taking his word for it.
That night, Jasper and Alice retired to their room late, having just finished a rousing game of gin rummy with Carlisle, Edward and Rosalie. Emmett had opted out to watch on the sidelines, chuckling at how intently his wife demolished everyone. Alice was on him the moment the door shut, standing on her tiptoes to press her lips feverishly against his. She gripped his shirt tightly, twisting the fabric between her fingers.
"Alice," he mumbled against her lips. "Wait...I want to talk to you." He picked her up, laying down on the bed with her straddling him, rubbing her back.
"I don't want to talk," she murmured, leaning in to nuzzling his neck in the way she knew he loved, eliciting a soft growl from him. She shivered at the sound, a little smile playing across her lips.
"Alice, don't. Tell me what's going on with you. You're acting so strange." She lifted her head to gaze at him.
"I'm not acting strange. I don't want to talk," she repeated, a little more firmly this time. He could feel fear emnating from her, along with a little irritation and a lot of desire.
"You hardly talk to Edward at all, you never laugh anymore. You barely even smile. We haven't had a decent conversation since..." He trailed off, unsure of what to say here. She was beginning to get scared. He was pushing her out of her comfort zone, taking her safety net away with these questions. She had thought that the one place she could get away from the curious eyes and worried murmurings was with him.
"Stop it," she whispered.
"You won't let anyone touch you. You even flinched when I tried to hold your hand tonight. Anything that you don't expect you shy away from," he continued.
"Stop it," she said a little bit louder this time.
He ignored her, going on. "You're cold, distant. I can rarely feel anything from you. You've shut yourself down, Alice. What did they do to you?"
Jasper stared at her, in shock from this sudden screaming outburst. He swiftly sent a calm through the house to ensure no one would come running. She sat on him, shaking, her eyes squeezed shut. He opened his mouth to say something, but could not even begin to think of words to convey his thoughts. Instead, he showed her what he felt. His own fear, sadness, hurt and love washed over her, engulfing her. She kissed him hard, pressing herself against him.
"Alice...tell me what you're feeling."
"Don't, Jasper, please."
She looked up at him, pleading and desperate, cutting him off. "Please, Jasper, make love to me." He gazed at her for a moment, the rush of unavoidable aching need taking him over. He kissed her deeply, letting the night cover them.
It was another four days until they caught wind of Malcolm again. Alice was sitting playing a few rounds of blackjack against Emmett when she had a vision.
"He's headed here again. He'll be here by twilight." The family went silent as tension mounted.
"We'll wait for him," Edward said.
"No," Alice said. "We'll meet him head on. He'll be expecting us to be here, but he won't expect a direct attack. He'll expect me to stay here, where I think I'm safe."
"Why would he think that?" Rosalie asked, uncertain.
"Just because," Alice snapped. "Come on. We have to leave now if we're to catch him in time."
The forest was dark, dense and quiet. Emmett and Jasper led the hunting party, with Alice and Edward bringing up the rear. Alice was completely silent, in her movements and in her mind. Try as he might, she would not let him in.
"Alice," he stopped her, a hand on her arm. She shrugged him off, facing him with a mildly annoyed expression.
"We have to keep moving, Edward."
He was tired of playing games. "Did he rape you, Alice?" he asked bluntly. She stared at him long and hard, then laughed harshly.
"No, Edward. He could have, and he might have wanted to, but he didn't. Jasper is the only man I have ever been with, and I intend for it to stay that way."
Edward ran a hand through his hair, letting out a long sigh. "Then what? I don't understand." He stressed the last word. The others were long gone by now. Alice turned from him, crossing her arms protectively over her chest. "Alice, don't. Don't close yourself off from me like this."
She rounded on him, her voice low and deadly. "Do you want to know, Edward, what they did to me? Fine." She forced her memories on him in a vicious mental assault. He saw Alice lying in a pitch-black, windowless room that couldn't have been more than six feet on all sides. He witnessed Malcolm as Jasper taunting her, beating her, breaking her. Finally, he watched as Malcolm leaned in close, whispering to her in horrid detail exactly what he'd do to Jasper, to each memeber of the only family she knew before destroying them all. She crumpled to the groun, releasing him from her mind's hold. She knelt with her hands planted firmly on the ground, her tiny frame shaking more violently than ever before. Edward sat himself beside her, tentatively hugging her. She looked up at him, and suddenly her mind was open wide. She shook her head sadly.
"That room, Edward, that horrible room. I couldn't bear it. And the worst part is, I don't even know why. I could assume it was like being in solitary confinement all over again. But if something happened when I was in that asylum, I will never know..."
Edward was silent, unable to begin to comprehend that emptiness, that gaping hole in her life.
"Come on," she said quietly. "We have to catch up. I want that bastard dead."