You do what you have to do in order to save the people you care about. Even if it means risking everything. For every one's sake, I interfered: I followed my brother and saved Isabella Swann's life.
I push the gas pedal to the floor, the stolen Volvo roaring down the road as my mind races frantically through the visions of what could be. But none of that matters more than me driving this car, taking the frightened human girl sitting in the shotgun seat as far away from Forks, Washington as possible. Away from the gruesome death she narrowly escaped at the hands of one of my own family.
I'd seen it clearly, her death, the near-reality of it and then the reality of Edward letting her scent pull him into the kitchen. This beautiful girl who stared at me with eyes full of terror, her only flaw being her mouthwatering scent. What can I tell her after what she's already seen? Two vampires fighting until the small, sane part of Edward's mind let me escape with Bella—knowing that I was right when I snarled at him to go home. What can I say to this girl in order to explain? How can I tell her and make her understand…?
Ugh. The melodrama… When all this is over, I'm definitely going to need some therapy shopping…
Unfortunately, I can't think about buying shoes right now. I have to think about Bella, think about how to make this rescue run as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
I glance at her out of the corner of my eye, knowing that she would flinch if I tried to touch the hand gripping the armrest. She's too keyed up; I can't blame her for that. I want to tell her to relax, she's safe, but the words would be useless. She's in a strange car with an even stranger girl. I'm surprised she's not more upset or afraid.
Think, Alice… I turn on the car's radio, switching to the fifth CD. Edward always keeps a copy of Debussy in here; it calms all of us down, even Emmett and Rose. Clair de Lune on volume 10. Bella's breathing steadies, her heart slowing and her body unclenching. The music causes the tension in the car to fade away.
Thank whatever power is out there for clairvoyance. It's safe to talk now, but I keep my eyes on the road and my foot firmly on the gas pedal. The farther away from Edward we get right now, the better. The vision of him going back home and talking to Carlisle is getting clearer, signifying reality, but I don't want to risk this girl's life unnecessarily. There are so many outcomes and possibilities, but her life is a fundamental factor in my family's survival. She has to live.
"I'm Alice Cullen," I say to her, making my voice light. Maybe she'll forget the image of me tackling Edward. Fat chance.
"Bella Swann," comes the automatic answer, not quite as calm as I would've hoped, but what can you do… Bella clears her throat, inhaling, exhaling. She does smell really good, something floral, pleasant…
Focus! There are things to do, important things—where to go, a few phone calls to make…
"I want to thank you," Bella says, looking at me. I dare to look back. "For saving my life," she adds carefully, trying and not quite managing to smile at me.
Inwardly, I bite my lip and search for the right response to give her then decide that uncomplicated is the best approach. Outwardly, I turn my eyes back to the road, my own smile in place. "You're welcome, Bella."
Pretty name. Beautiful girl. I wonder if she might be…
I mentally smack the thought down. Now is not the time to be thinking about whether or not Bella Swann likes girls.
Sigh. Life would've been a hell of a lot easier if I had just been able to force myself to love Jasper. No one blames me for it, but sometimes I wish that I could feel more for him. So many people at school thought we were dating, but I… well, let's just say that I figured out that I was sent to that mental asylum for more than my visions.
I should call them, so that they know where I am—shit! Bella's father is going to panic when he sees that she's not at home! I reach around the seat and fish my cell phone out of my purse. "Do you feel up to calling your dad and telling him that you're out?"
Bella nods, gingerly taking the outstretched phone. Her fingers graze my palm, sending a little electric shock through me.
Dammit. I didn't ask whatever God is up there to be attracted to girls. I swear He or She is having a joke at my expense…
"What do you think I should tell him?" Bella asks, dialing.
I flip through the images in my head. "Tell him you're doing last minute grocery shopping." I pause, waiting for her to make the call and checking the outcome quickly. Looks good.
"Hey, Char—Dad? It's me, Bella." She manages to sound sheepish, a good actress in spite of how confusing this situation must be for her. "I'm out shopping—I know it's a little last minute, but seriously, Dad, there's nothing in the fridge." A pause; Charlie is asking why she left the truck behind. I wrinkle my nose in annoyance. Minor complication, but she can still pull it off… and really, she drives a truck? Ugh…
Bella's eyes flash to me anxiously. "Umm. I met someone at school. One of the Cullens, Alice. I thought it'd be okay… Oh?" Her voice changes, relieved now. "Okay. Thanks, Dad. We just might do that. Bye." She closes the phone and sets it in one of the cup-holders between us. "He bought it, even told me that we could go out to dinner."
Out to dinner? Like a date?
Shut it, I mentally snarl at my brain. She's had a slightly traumatic experience. Just because you're the only lesbian in Forks and she is a very attractive girl does not mean that you can take her out on a date…
Still. Maybe dinner would be a good idea…?
"We can, if you'd like," I offer. "I'll pay. We could go clothes shopping too…" I could get those patent leather pumps I saw last week… Plus shopping could help keep her calm. Speaking of which… "You're taking all of this surprisingly well."
Bella hesitates before answering. In my mind, I hear the different things she would say: "I know I'm safe… If you wanted me dead you would've let Edward—" Her real reply breaks through the mini-visions. "Why does your brother hate me?"
Ah. Amazing how I can still be thrown for a loop. Well Bella, Edward thinks you smell good. In a bad way. He wants you dead. He wants to eat you. He wants to drink your blood. Because he's a vampire. And I'm one too…
Can't say that.
Umm… Edward's a freak. He wants to… run you over with his Volvo…?
I shake my head, deciding that I'll just dodge the question. "You're safe with me, Bella. Promise." Plaster on a smile, distract her—what time is it? 6:00 pm. Humans eat around six, right? "So what are you feeling like? Italian or…" I look at the possibilities. "… Mexican? Crazy, isn't it, how they have Mexican this far north…" If I talk enough, she'll lose the opportunity to press the Edward issue. "We can pick up the groceries after dinner and then I'll drive you home…"
"It'll be safe to go home, then?" Bella asks, her face flushing and her heart speeding up.
Wow, she smells good. Thank God I hunted recently because even though her blood doesn't seem to drive me crazy like it drives Edward, my throat has gone achingly dry. I swallow down the venom in my mouth. "Yes, it'll be safe." I glance ahead in time, flicking through the visions. Yes, Edward will stay at home, ashamed of himself enough to stay inside through the night. I ease my foot off the gas, slowing the Volvo down to a human speed—80 mph. Thankfully, Bella's been too distracted to pick up on the speedometer. "So pick a restaurant. My treat. To make up for earlier."
She smiles at me, a tentative, but real smile. "You said Mexican?"
I grin, looking forward to the future, seeing a million visions of her smiling at me. "Mexican it is, then."
It really is a pity that something that smells so good can taste so bad. I don't enjoy eating. For some reason though, I'm always the one that manages to consistently keep up the pretense. Bella actually believes that I'm tasting this chicken enchilada, instead of mouthful after mouthful of ashes.
I am definitely going to regret this later. Vampire bulimia, here I come…
I push away the thought and mental image, watching Bella shovel her food into her mouth as if any minute now it'll disappear. When she notices me watching, she flushes, noticeably slowing down.
"Guess I'm hungrier than I thought," she mumbles. I laugh.
"Don't be embarrassed!" I bring the glass of water in front of me to my lips, pretending to take a sip. Pretending to be human. "I like a woman with an appetite."
She looks back down at her plate, and I wonder worriedly if I've made her uncomfortable. Nice going, Alice. We've been here at this restaurant for maybe a half-hour, the talk easy and comfortable up until now. Typical that I'd jump ahead of a vision and say something awkward. Where's Edward and Jasper when you need them? One to tell what she's thinking and the other to fix what she's thinking.
"So are you gay?" Bella asks quietly, the question I've been waiting for all night.
"As the day is long," I answer, trying to lighten the tension with as real of a smile as possible—it's hard because I'm choking on every piece of my meal. "Does that bother you?"
"What?" Bella's brown eyes flash up to me, looking alarmed. "Oh, no! Not at all. I mean, I just heard that you were with…"
"Jasper? I know. I'm not." I pull a face, sticking my tongue out. "He's like a brother, as cliché as that sounds."
That earns me a laugh and I feel a little lighter at the sound of it. She grins at me, saying, "I completely understand."
Does she now? Maybe… "What about you? Anyone you left behind when you moved from…?" Phoenix, she's going to say Phoenix.
"Phoenix, Arizona." Score! She shakes her head, hiding another blush behind her drink. "Nope. No guy worth my time."
"I completely understand," I echo, grinning. I hope she means what I think she means. I resist the urge to glance ahead at the possibilities—I have no time right now to fully concentrate on them. Besides, I like this moment, flying a little blind, fascinated by a human girl. It's exhilarating, even though it's only something normal.
Oh, dear. I've been alone way too long…
"So you still haven't let me in on why Edward showed up at my house and—" Bella waves her hand, reluctant to use the word 'attacked,' even though it's probably what is running through her mind. That, or 'tried to kill me.'
I bite my lip, setting the disgusting human food aside. Small talk has now officially ended. She's not going to give up on the subject, that much I can see. What can I tell her? Not the truth, obviously. Not yet. "Edward…"
Wait! A phone call. A phone call from home in… five minutes. I can stall easily. Make up something, protect the family. Lie to beautiful Bella—shit, I don't want to lie to her, but I have to… I'll look up the outcomes and how she fits in to my life when I get home. If she ends up playing a huge role in the future, then I'll explain to her why it was necessary to lie now…
I'll buy her shoes to make up for it too. Promise. A good pair of shoes make everything better.
I take a breath, finding the lie that'll work the best. "It's a little difficult to explain… Edward has…" Oh, man. Now the only problem is that I might laugh at how absurd the story is. But mental issues are more normal than vampirism, right? I force myself to look and sound grave and serious. "He's kind of a severe form of bipolar. Carlisle has been trying to find prescription that'll help, but—"
Cue cell phone! Saved by Panic! at the Disco. I rummage through my purse and pull it out, already knowing who's calling, but checking for the sake of human pretense. "Ah, I'm sorry, Bella, it's my brother Jasper. My family's most likely wondering where I am…" I glance at her, widening my eyes in not-so-fake contriteness. I hate lying to her, it doesn't seem fair.
Disappointment is clearly written across her face. My eyes fall away, a little bit of shame filling me. Ah, damn. Shoes… Think of the shoes I'll get her… "It's fine," she says, pulling a smile to her face. It doesn't reach her eyes. "I understand."
Sheepish look, then flip open the phone. Pretend you're not relieved. "Hey, Jazz," I say quietly, wishing that I could project my thoughts into his head like I can with Edward. You have impeccable timing, honey…
"Alice," Jasper says as a greeting, his voice velvet-soft even over the phone. "We've been wondering where you are. Edward's home and told us what happened…"
"I'm with Bella Swann," I reply casually, conveying with those words that she's safe and that I'm in control. "I borrowed Edward's car and took her out to dinner. Which you have managed to interrupt," I add teasingly. Can't talk too long.
"Ah…" He's got it, smart boy. "Well, Edward wants to apologize to your date. Formally. I think in person, even. Then he's going to Denali for a while."
Really now? Frowning, I eye Bella, who has completely cleared her plate. "I'll ask her if she's comfortable with that. Hang on," I pull the phone slightly away from my ear. Bella looks up from her drink, questioningly. "This is going to sound really weird, but Edward wants to apologize to you in person, and if I know him he'll stay up all night feeling guilty about it if he doesn't tell you he's sorry." As I'm speaking, I mentally look at what would happen if we swung the house and if he'd be successful in seeing her again and managing to not tear her pretty little throat out… It looks fine to me. "So would it be okay if before I take you home, we swing by my house?"
"It's safe, right?" She asks, traces of fear in her face and voice. But she's trusting my judgment. She's trusting me, even though she hardly knows me.
I grin, seeing good signs. Good things in the future. She trusts me. Already. "You only have to hear two words out of him. Promise."
Friends. I can be friends with her. Can't friendship be a stepping stone to something closer? I shut the car door, bounding out of it as we stop in front of my home. Three people are standing on the porch, waiting for Bella and me: Emmett, Carlisle, and Edward himself.
Bella takes my hand in hers and I swear if I had a live heart it would've skipped a few beats.
Friends. I can see it. Visions of us, close, laughing, talking. Watching movies, going shopping, makeovers, sleepovers. And images of me touching her, innocently playing with her hair, kissing her cheek, touching the back of her hand or her shoulders. I can see myself close to her. Her in my arms, me holding her…
Are these visions or fantasies? I can't tell, but I don't care. Later I'll make sure.
Bella's heart is racing a mile a minute and I casually wrap my arm around her shoulder, slightly shielding her from Edward, like any good friend would. She murmurs a small, barely audible "thank you."
It must be a sign that I can't stop smiling, even when I'm later watching her walk into her own house. I watch the large red door close and the porch light click off and then I drive home, crossing the boundaries of human-pretense into vampire-reality.
Just not relationship-reality. Fantasy alters my vision, but I'll let that slide until another night.
a/n: Obviously, this is rather AU. I'm going to try and stick with canon-events as closely as I possibly can under the circumstances. Let me know what you think! Even if it's just to tell me that I'm crazy for making Alice gay... (grins) I've gotten that already from a few people, so please, don't be shy.
By the way, Alice's ringtone is "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" because if you forget that it's a guy singing the song, it could totally be about lesbians. (laughs)