Out here it was better. Alone was better. There was a simple perfection in sitting on a log gazing at the trees, the river. The setting sun had softened the surroundings with long shadows creeping up the incline from the riverbank. A cool breeze occasionally rustled the tops of the pines and the wildflowers, and created odd patterns of ripples on the river. There was a serenity here that stood in stark contrast to the violent confrontation of five minutes ago.
When I closed my eyes it could have been 2006, 1948, or even 1862. The only thing it wasn't was Texas. Although I couldn't remember everything from my youth, I was still a Texas boy at heart. The air here was too damp, and the wind was fresh with the pungent smell of pine. Texas air was dry and smooth; it was subtle and occasionally scented by bluebonnets. There was a simplicity in Texas. The flat land stretched for miles so that you felt like you could see the future. You knew where you stood, and lengthy solitude was possible. Here, in Forks, there was always an obstructed view: a mountain, a curved road, towering trees, and fog, always the rain and the fog. Destiny was not in your hands.
So now I sat here alone where Rosalie and Emmet had deposited me about 100 yards from the main house. I kept my back to the house and the river in front of me. Rosalie had judged this spot to be, "far enough from trouble". Ironic, how she didn't realize that I often came here to think. This was where I always mulled over my troubles.
The two of them stood like wary sentinels. Rose was fuming, prattling on at speed that would rival her car on a straightaway, "…you know how to spell trouble, Emmett. It's spelled: B-E-L-L-A."
When I finally put up a hand to stop Rose's ongoing jabber, Emmett realized that they could and should go. At that point, Emmett knew immediately that what I needed was space. Next to me he was the best at sensing emotion. He gently guided Rose away even though she raised an eyebrow skeptically. Whatever further snide comments she might have had, she knew enough to keep them to herself.
Emmett had turned back for a second before returning to the house with Rosalie. "Don't think about it too much. It's not your fault. I'm sure Bella will understand." He grinned reflectively. "She understands everything. I'll talk to Edward, he'll be fine once he calms down. You know how he is, once he blows off some steam, he won't hold it against you."
I silently nodded in agreement. I couldn't blame Edward. Edward had done what any man would do. Had I threatened Rosalie or Esme, would Emmet or Carlisle acted differently? As for Bella, the ultimate enigma, somehow I knew she would understand, perhaps better than all of us. Understanding, however, wasn't my problem just now.
I wouldn't go back inside, even though undeniably that was what part of me wanted to do. There was a dull ache in the pit of my stomach and a tingling in the back of my throat that I desperately wanted to quench. No matter how much cleaning was going on, there was an unmistakable thinly veiled scent under all that bleach that someone had just dumped out the back door. From memory it was like the hint of garlic or the spices in good barbeque. Just that little bit seemed to stand out from everything else.
I ran my hand through my hair in frustration. It was my basic nature, how do you fight natural inclination? It doesn't even make sense to try; it denies part of what you are. There is no logical reason to fight it. Do you stop a mountain lion from hunting deer? Do you stop a spider from spinning its web? Do you erect a barricade to stop the lemmings running into the sea? I chuckled to myself after thinking of that last analogy. At least I hadn't suppressed my sense of humor, dark as it was.
At one point, early on after I was changed I had tried to define what the urges our kind had. As I wandered from town to town, one place where I could hide during the day was a library. They were notoriously dark with small reading corners where no one was likely to bother you. They weren't like the bright and modern libraries and bookstores of today where florescent lighting and coffee bars abound. If I had satiated myself during the evening, I could risk a day in a library reading without exposing what I was.
On one such library excursion, I walked over to a large, unabridged dictionary to look up a word in a Walter Scott novel that I was reading that not familiar with. When I approached the book it was already opened to the I-section. And "instinct" was the first word that caught my eye. Now, nearly a hundred years later I still remembered what I read. Does a condemned man forget his sentence from a hanging-judge? No, he remembers every word:
1. an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.
2. a natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency
3. a natural aptitude or gift
4. natural intuitive power
Instinct defined exactly who and what I was, the good and the bad. I was reborn to hunt humans, and it was an innate impulse. At the same time, I had the natural gift of sensing and controlling emotion. From that moment on I developed an acceptance. I thought, why try to change destiny? You can't. There is nothing that is ever going to change this.
I was wrong, there was one thing that kept me out here, and only one thing. I could hear her graceful footsteps as they delicately trod along the lawn. Alice.
"Jazz?" she said, her soft hands resting on my shoulders.
I closed my eyes and reach up and clasped one of her hands giving it a gentle kiss. "Alice, you don't have to say it, I know it will all be fine."
Alice looked at me quizzically.
I continued, "If it weren't, you would have been here sooner. Knowing you, you would have stolen…er, borrowed Emmet's truck to get me the hell out of Dodge."
Alice giggled, "For a minute there I thought Edward's gift had rubbed off on you."
What an interesting choice of words. She had no idea just how close she was. Edward's ability to read minds was still safely all his own, but he did have another gift one that until tonight I didn't think I possessed any longer.
I tried to explain to Alice. I guided her around to the front of the log so that she was now sitting beside me. "Whatever you are going to tell me about the future, Alice, isn't going to change how I feel right now. I've always thought that you can't fight instinct, and that you are a fool to try."
Alice nodded. This was a conversation we'd had in different ways many times before.
"Tonight, however was different. All I could think of was one thing. What it would have done to you if I had given in? I am going to keep resisting because of what it means to you. I love you too much to hurt you, and Bella if is what gives you the best friend that you never had, I'm not going to take that away from you. She accepts you as you and gives you a chance to be yourself in a perfectly normal way."
I took Alice's small face into my hands and looked into her eyes. "I won't be the cause of what hurts you, ever. I can't lose you." In my head I silently finished, "It would kill me."
"You won't---" I didn't let Alice finish, my lips touched hers stopping any continuation.
As I drew her into my arms I thought that there is a gift that Edward has. It was the ability to reach past our existence and touch a piece of our long forgotten humanity. Bella made him feel human, feel alive. In a way tonight she had done the same for me. If I weren't truly alive would I feel regret? Would I be this troubled about fighting instinct?
Above all I realized that there was one power unique to humans that trumps instinct. I might not have realized it until tonight, but that gift was love. I loved Alice deeply, irrevocably, and completely. Love would win out over instinct.
As I held Alice tight and breathed in her scent, I made a note to thank Edward, if he didn't kill me first, when we talked later. Love's is too valuable of a gift to ever lose. Tonight reminded me of that, it's something that I should tell him.