What She Needs

There were times when Alice Cullen hated Jasper's ability to manipulate her emotions.

It didn't happen often, but sometimes, the perpetually perky vampire just needed to… feel.

When your life span was eternity, it was impossible not to have a bad day every now and then. Even for someone who was as optimistic as she was, there were off times. On the rare occasions that she was upset, she needed to know that the emotions engulfing her were her own, were real. And on those rare occasions, she wished her husband would resist the urge to calm her.

The pixie-like woman knew that her husband only ever meant well. She was also acutely aware that her emotional state affected him more strongly than anyone else's because of the bond they shared. Jasper seemed to always be in tune with her feelings even if they were nowhere near one another. There had been times, when her heart was breaking, that Jasper had come running to her. He'd managed to make it to her side before the first dry sob wracked her chest. Looking up into his pained eyes, she longed to ask him to leave her feelings be. But the desperation in his gaze was more unbearable than her own sadness. And because of that she'd never been able to make her request. As his calming influence stole away what she was so desperate to feel, Alice knew that she would never be able to ask that small thing of him.

The very first time she saw his face in her visions, the woman had known that he'd want nothing more than to make her happy. Just as she hated to see him suffer, she knew he couldn't stand to see her as anything less than calm either. Even if he never admitted it out loud, Alice knew her pain ate at every fiber of his being. No matter what.

Looking into his eyes, she knew she'd never be able to ask him to do something that would cause him pain.

Even if that meant, on days like today, she had to sacrifice her own desire to grieve.

Alice stood outside of the now demolished hotel window, the salvaged camcorder in her hand. When they'd moved Bella from the ballet studio, they'd taken her to their hotel so that the EMTs would list that as the place she'd had her 'accident'. Edward had wanted to take her to the hospital straight away, but Carlisle had insisted on the grounds, that it would lend credibility to their story. That had happened over an hour ago, and instead of going to the hospital, she and Jasper had stayed behind to "make it believable."

As her father climbed into the ambulance, he'd placed the handheld video recorder in her tiny hand. The moment their eyes met, the small hunk of plastic and electrical parts seemed to take on a whole new weight. His only explanation had been a tenderly whispered "watch it" as the ambulance doors slammed shut, blocking him from her terrified gaze.

Alice had stood, frozen, watching the vehicle drive away, sirens blaring, the camcorder weighing her palm down more and more with each passing second. The white van rounded the corner, disappearing from sight, bringing her attention back to what was in her hand. She felt the calm slipping through her veins before she felt Jasper's hand press protectively into the small of her back.

"What is it?" Her husband's voice was soft, concerned. He picked up on the anxiety that hadn't registered in her brain yet.

"James… He knew me." Alice leaned back into her husband's touch suddenly dreading the contents of the video camera more than before. Jasper's wave of calm seemed to have triggered a feeling of apprehension instead of the peace he'd intended. She'd heard the words as they slipped, half slurred from Bella's lips. James knew who she was. But more importantly, he knew who she had been. Her former life had been a mystery for so long that Alice didn't really consider herself as having had one. Of course that was impossible. They all had pre-vampire lives. But until now… she hadn't. Knowing that she held the answer in her hand sent a fresh surge of fear flowing through her small frame that managed to break through Jasper's influence.

After all this time, did she really want to know?

Or, more importantly, did she need to know?

Alice could feel her emotions at war with Jasper's. Fear that was so acute she could taste it fought with her husband's urgent waves of calm. "Jasper, I don't know if I can…" Her voice was barely a whisper, but he would have had no problem hearing what she said. As well as the thing she couldn't say.

Silently he stepped forward, the hand that had been on her back moved to take the video camera from her. Even though she no longer held the small piece of equipment, Alice's arm was still extended. She couldn't move. The only thing she was conscious of was the weight that still seemed to weigh her unmoving hand.

Still focusing on her open palm, Alice failed to notice Jasper closing the slight gap between their bodies. His chest was now gently rising and falling against her back. His hands, raised on either side of her body, held the camera up so that they could both see the screen. Alice would have liked to lean back into her husband, but she couldn't relax. She was too tense. Too alert.

It wasn't until the tiny screen flickered to life and Bella's helpless cries flooded her hypersensitive ears that Alice's thoughts began to spin again. The woman had seen bits and pieces of the confrontation in her mind since Bella had fled the airport. But seeing it on camera was so much worse. Each scream and gasp sent a surge of pain through her chest that would have stopped her heart if it were still beating.

It was a sick display of predator and prey that caused the woman's nerves to stand on end. A fact that didn't go unnoticed or untreated by her husband. Watching the young girl, whom she'd come to think of as a sister, tortured by the worst of her kind was excruciating. But it was nothing compared to how she felt when realization hit. Yes, this whole mess had been about Bella, but it had also been about her.

Or more to the point, it was about who she had been.

Up till now, Alice had had no idea who that woman was. But now, with the tiny screen hazy with snow, a forgotten life was beginning to form in her imagination. A constant shroud of darkness. Visions of the future that had landed her in an asylum. An impossible being who'd come to form an intense bond with her. Her brain supplied the details. Not one of the images flashing behind her eyes was a real memory. They were merely the by-product of a vivid imagination grabbing at a past it could never know.

For once, Jasper knew what was coming before Alice did. The camcorder hadn't even crashed to the ground before the man had wrapped his arms around his wife's pixie-like frame. If she had been human, his grasp would have shattered her tiny bones. Alice didn't resist as the man tried desperately to pull her even more tightly against his chest. But she didn't respond either. The woman was completely devoid of any emotion. It was as if she was completely empty. As the video camera finally crashed into the pavement, the cracking of the plastic ripped through the quiet night. The sound caused a myriad of feelings to come flooding back into her now trembling frame.

Save for the shaking, Alice couldn't move. Couldn't talk. Wrapped in Jasper's embrace, she felt completely helpless. A million different emotions were warring within her. Each more potent than the last. As she tried to sort through them, the woman realized that she didn't really know how she felt. The one feeling that kept coming back however was sadness. But how could one mourn the loss of something they'd never truly had?

As her husband's arm tightened even more, the woman found herself broken for reasons she couldn't understand. Chest heaving in a vampire's approximation of sobbing, she fought against any feelings of relief afraid of the moment when Jasper would take this from her. Alice could feel his influence breaking through her resolve, but she kept fighting against it. For once, her emotional control was stronger than his. With each violent wracking of her lungs, a new emotion burst forth. Remorse. Fury. Relief. Each new wave of feeling seemed to conflict with the last, and each was more confusing than the previous.

She was mourning, but she didn't know for what.

Pressing her head back into Jasper's marble chest, Alice noticed that the one thing she didn't feel was… calm. She'd been fighting tooth and nail against her husband to hold onto her emotions, but part of her was sure he'd win out in the end. And that realization cut through the multitude of feelings that were warring within her. It was that knowledge that brought her trembling form to a complete halt.

No words needed to be spoken. At that exact moment, she knew he knew. Alice knew that Jasper understood that she ineeded/i this. For the first time, she had asked him to leave her be and he had even though it was killing him. The emotional battle they had just fought had said Alice had never been able to. She didn't need to see his face to know how much pain he was in right now. And his pain superceded her own. It always would. There would be times where she' want to feel but, it wasn't worth putting her husband through this pain again.

For a human, the process of grieving would have taken days or even weeks. But in a life where decisions were made and emotional felt in a fraction of a second, she's had enough. Her grief had run its course. Despite all reason, she'd mourned the life she'd never had. Mourned the idea of what had been.

Her current life, her vampire life, was all that mattered.

Raising her arms the best she could under her husband's stony grasp, Alice placed her tiny hands on the stone arms around her. Taking a deep calming breath, she waited for Jasper to react. It took only a second for the intensity of his hold to change from fiercely protective to heartbreakingly loving. Even though the meaning behind his hold changed, the strength of his grip did not. Smiling softly as waves of calm flooded her veins, Alice Cullen was relieved that her husband finally understood her need to grieve.

Squeeka Cuomo's Notes
- This was originally written for the lj community "twilight20" (Prompt: Secret)
- To everyone who read and reviewed "Moonlight Becomes Her", thank you. You've encouraged me to continue on with Jasper and Alice.
- Quack – Man I must get on your nerves with my constant freaking out. If it weren't for you, this would have been trashed. Thank you for all of your support.
- As always, reviews are love.