This was not a part of the plan, but you guys wanted to hear what happened when Edward, Emmett, Rosalie, and Esme met newcomers Alice and Jasper! So, in response to that crazy-wonderful influx of reviews, I had to acquiesce. Ya'll are fab. ;)
"I suppose I should introduce you to the rest of the family," Carlisle said, looking a little bit guilty. "Don't worry, though, I don't imagine they'll have any qualms."
"They won't," Alice winked. Carlisle laughed.
"You'll be quite an asset to us, Alice, I can already tell. Hold on, I'll get Esme and Rose. Edward and Emmett are away on a hunting trip, but they should get here –"
"-mid-afternoon," Alice cut in. Jasper rolled his eyes at her.
As soon as Carlisle left the room, Alice got up from her chair and sat down in Jasper's lap. His long arms wrapped around her and rocked her back and forth.
"Can't you see it?" she whispered to him. "Better times are coming."
"Times have been more than just 'better' since the day I met you," he replied softly.
Alice kissed his neck, right on one of the scars. It had become her favorite, and it tended to be stained with her shade of lipstick most all of the time.
"The emotional climate here is a good one," Jasper whispered. "They're good people. Genuinely so."
Jasper was fascinated by how easily the word "people" had slipped out. He hadn't fought the urge to say "creatures" or even "vampires." Carlisle's coven genuinely came across as a group of feeling beings with consciences – something that he had never imagined himself being able to become again. First beaten down by the callousness of war, then the brutality of Maria's army… it never ended.
Alice got up, hearing new footsteps enter the room. Unable to remain sitting in a lady's presence due to his strict southern upbringing, Jasper stood as well.
Alice's first impression of the two women was awe. They didn't resemble in the least the feral vampire females that she had seen running through the woods and tracking down human prey. Instead, they were as refined – or perhaps even more so – than their human counterparts. The brunette was pretty in a natural, demure kind of way. The blonde, on the other hand, looked like a goddess from Greek mythology. Considering her immortality, Alice caught herself wondering if any of those myths had been written about her…
"This is Rosalie," Carlisle indicated the blonde, who inclined her head and smiled cordially. Jasper caught a vibe of haughtiness, but wasn't particularly surprised. He shook her hand politely, but Alice jumped forward and threw her arms around her. Rosalie was shocked, initially, but Jasper could see the shadow of a smile on her face after a moment.
"Sorry," Alice said, stepping back. "Was I too forward?"
"Not at all, dear," the other woman replied, stepping forward and embracing Alice herself. "We could use a ray of sunshine around here."
"And my lovely wife, Esme," Carlisle finished, giving the brunette a peck on the lips that became a very long-held kiss.
"Well, it's good to know that public displays of affection aren't frowned-upon here," Alice interrupted them, winking at Jasper. Carlisle paused.
"Yes and no, I suppose," he started. Esme nodded sympathetically.
"Our youngest son, Edward, is the only member of the coven who remains without a mate," she explained softly. "He also has the occasionally unfortunate ability to read minds, so things can get kind of awkward when he's here at home. We've developed a system over the years – Edward usually finds other places to be on Friday night – that's 'date night.'"
"Although not much 'going out' actually takes place," Carlisle said, raising his eyebrows to ensure that the implication was made. Jasper looked slightly horrified that they would discuss something like this in the presence of ladies, but Alice snickered and elbowed him.
"Sounds good," she said. "Any other rules we should know about?"
"There are only about a million," Rosalie replied loftily, rolling her eyes. Esme and Carlisle exchanged a look. Apparently it was Carlisle's turn to explain.
"There are a lot of issues involved with living so closely among the humans for long periods of time," he admitted. "There's our obvious coven regulation about subsisting on only animal blood, but there are, as Rosalie says, lots of other nuances to master. Don't worry, though – you'll pick them up quickly. It's all about little things like fidgeting and blinking and breathing regularly. Practice makes perfect."
"Don't forget about endless high school," Rosalie said, holding up her right hand to reveal a class ring with a pink stone.
"We all pick and choose our roles," Esme explained. "I'm always the housewife, but occasionally Edward is my brother instead of my son. We all have windows of age that come across as believable, but bearing that in mind, we can only last a decade or so in each area. Over time, we've found that it works better if the teenagers start as sophomores or juniors in high school and Carlisle and I each start around twenty-four. It's a stretch for him, but we have to make it appear that he's out of school and certified to practice medicine."
"So much thought has gone into this," Alice marveled. "It's really impressive."
"Well, what else do you do when you have twenty-four hours every day?" Carlisle asked rhetorically.
Alice laughed, but suddenly stopped when she got a quick image of the next question to come.
"Tell us about your histories," Esme urged them. Alice and Jasper exchanged a quick look. Alice had seen it coming and braced herself, but she hadn't had the time to warn Jasper.
"Well, I haven't got too much to say," she admitted, hoping to give Jasper a chance to think of a good way to word his answer. "I have almost no memory of my human life at all. I found a hospital ID bracelet in my pocket after I was changed, and apparently I was called 'Alice.' That's all I have to go by."
"That's fascinating," Rosalie said softly, surprising Alice, who had almost forgotten that she was there. "No memory of the change, even?"
"Very little," Alice replied, biting her lip. "Just a few hazy memories of pain. I do, for whatever reason, have a couple of random recollections from my childhood, but those don't do me any good."
"How about you, Jasper?" Carlisle asked. Alice cringed.
Why so early on? Couldn't he prove he was trustworthy before he had to admit that he came from the bloodbaths of vampire warfare in Mexico?
"I was one of the warlords of the most powerful vampire coalition in Mexico following the American Civil War," Jasper said evenly, without hesitation. Rosalie's eyes grew huge and Esme inadvertently tightened her grip on Carlisle's arm. The doctor, however, remained impressively passive.
"That's quite extraordinary," he said evenly. "You're a higher-caliber fighter than we are. As much as we attempt to avoid violence, I daresay that in our state it is occasionally a regrettable necessity. Rest assured, your knowledge and experience will be a comfort."
Alice grinned at Jasper and squeezed his hand, but Carlisle wasn't through.
"However, I do not hesitate to warn you that this lifestyle will be quite a transition," he continued. "Going from momentary gratification of bloodlust to utter denial of it will quite taxing."
"We've talked about it," Alice assured them softly. "This is still the right choice. You can trust him."
Jasper drew her hand up to his cheek.
"That explains the scars, then?" Rosalie asked. Esme nodded, as though she had been wondering the same thing.
"Yes," Jasper replied, his even countenance still betraying no pain or shame. "I trained newborns."
Carlisle's closed his eyes.
"I'm so sorry."
Jasper shrugged. Alice gave him a quick hug, but then looked back up at the others.
"I guess we've got all the hard introduction stuff out of the way," she said, breaking the awkward silence that had ensued. "On to happier things! We brought almost nothing along with us, but we're not gross wild invalids or anything. We've just been staying in hotels and buying our clothes as we need them."
"Perfectly fine! That's a good way transition into our lifestyle," Esme encouraged. "Plenty of vampires would have settled for sleeping outside."
"Transition – that's what we were going for," Alice replied proudly. "But anyway, we'll need to do some serious shopping later today for stuff like towels, furniture… and more clothes."
"We're fairly financially secure," Jasper added. Carlisle and Esme looked at each other as though wondering how this 'financial security' had come about, but decided it would probably be better not to ask.
"Good, that's good," Carlisle said finally. "Feel free to go upstairs and pick out some rooms… or, I mean, a room, if you prefer."
"One will be plenty," Alice said, already headed up the stairs. Jasper, who was finally appearing a little bit more comfortable, laughed quietly.
"It will take that much space just to hold all her clothes, after a few shopping trips," he said. "I think I might need an office of my own somewhere – I get the feeling she'll take over 'our' space pretty quickly."
"I heard all that!" Alice said from somewhere on the second floor.
"It's fine, Jasper," Carlisle said, smiling too. "Whatever you guys need to be comfortable."
Jasper nodded his thanks and headed up the stairs after Alice. He found her in a nice, comfortable-looking room on the end of the hallway. There were blue curtains in the wide windows and several rugs on the floor, looking as though they probably existed to distract any visitor to the room from the lack of a bed. It was a nicely furnished space, aside from that apparent oversight, with several well-dusted bookcases.
The only problem was that it already looked occupied.
"Can you believe that view?" Alice demanded, gesturing towards one of the enormous windows. "I think that's a waterfall, in the distance over there!"
"It's nice, definitely," Jasper replied uneasily. "But it looks like somebody lives here."
"They have plenty of space, Jasper," she sighed. "And Carlisle said to make ourselves comfortable. The only empty room up here just faces some random trees. BOR-ing! I need a pretty view to be comfortable. And besides, Edward won't be mad. He'll think I'm a weirdo, but he won't be mad."
"If you say so," Jasper said, shrugging. He'd take her word for it; she was usually right. And after all, if this was going to be a problem, he didn't think that the family would be able to adjust to Alice very well anyway. Might as well give them an idea of what they were dealing with right off the bat.
She did seem so happy, too, when she looked out that window…
"Help me move these bookcases, Jasper," Alice interrupted his thoughts. She stepped over to the other side of the room, across from the windows. "I mean, we'll have to stop in a few minutes – Edward and Emmett will be getting here around a quarter after. But we can get a start. Let's take the first load down to the garage."
"Sure," Jasper said, stifling a laugh as he easily picked up one of the fully-stocked wooden bookcases and followed Alice, who carried a few beanbag chairs, down the steps.
"We're taking the room at the end of the hall," Alice announced as they walked through the foyer. Esme gave Carlisle a look of hesitant amusement, but Rosalie laughed outright.
"Edward's going to love this," she drawled. Alice nodded earnestly.
"Actually, he will. He was planning on moving some of his things to the other room next week anyway."
Carlisle laughed, giving Rosalie a playful shove.
"I think you may have met your match, dear."
Rosalie didn't appear quite as amused.
"Just don't pile his stuff anywhere near the Corvette," she sighed, noticing that they were headed towards the garage. "It's mine, and it doesn't have a scratch on it. Believe me, I'll notice!"
"No problem!" Alice replied from the garage.
While she and Jasper were still in the process of unloading their first armfuls of Edward's belongings, the garage door opened. A mud-spattered Jeep that looked as though it could have been army-issue was now parked on the edge of the driveway. A tall boy with curly brown hair jumped out of the driver's side, followed by a slightly smaller redhead who had evidently been his passenger. Alice and Jasper easily pegged them as vampires – not only because of their agility, but because of their stunning good looks. Both stopped short at the sight of the two newcomers.
"Hey, guys!" Alice called, undaunted. To emphasize her greeting, she put down the beanbag chairs and waved energetically. "I'm Alice, and this is Jasper. We're moving in!"
"O…kay," Emmett said slowly, walking up and shaking her hand. Edward still hung back a few feet, but Emmett gestured for him to come forward. "I'm Emmett, and this is Edward. We've been moved in for awhile now."
"Um, it looks like I might not be anymore," Edward contradicted him, a hesitant crooked smile appearing across his face. Alice giggled.
"Sorry about that. You don't mind, though, right? I thought you were getting tired of the water pressure on that side of the house anyway…"
Emmett gave Edward an inquisitive glance.
"She's right," Edward admitted, giving them a strange look. "Wait, you – Alice – you're seeing some strange things… Do you have some kind of power?"
Alice ignored him, looking puzzled for a moment.
"Oh, yeah… he's the mind reader," she finally said, more to herself than anybody else. Jasper rolled his eyes.
"I think we all have some explaining to do," he said apologetically. "Why don't you guys come in – we can all talk and get to know each other."
"Great, Ed," Emmett said, turning to his younger brother. "The little one's moving you out of your room and the blonde one's inviting us into our own house… you know, I like 'em – they've got nerve!"
"You better like us," Alice called from the kitchen, where she had danced in ahead of the rest of them. "We're sticking with you guys for a long time!"