The pictures flashed before my eyes, lightening fast, appearing barely a millisecond before Jasper disappeared from my side. I stood frozen in shock as I watched him tumble into Edward's defensive crouch, the harsh sound of crashing boulders erupting between them.

And then I smelled it, and for an instant I could not think of anything else. The flames that leapt to my throat sent tremors throughout my body, and I thought of how incredibly easy it would be to…

Carlisle's calm, decisive voice cut through my thoughts, and I clutched at it like a lifeline.

"Emmett, Rose, get Jasper outside."

My mind swam back to focus and my heart clenched painfully as I saw Jasper, his beautiful golden eyes changed to the black of a wild animal, being dragged away by a strained-looking Emmett. Rosalie and Esme followed quickly, and I considered following. But I couldn't leave Bella, my best friend, here like this.

I just prayed that I would see if there was anything bad coming.

"Let me by, Edward," Carlisle murmured quietly.

I did not want to look at the terrible expression on Edward's face. I cast around for something to do, feeling helpless and utterly useless. Rosalie, the medical school graduate, should be here. Not me. "Here, Carlisle," I said, handing him a towel from the kitchen, trying not to look at Bella's bloodied arm.

He shook his head, already ripping the never-used tablecloth for a tourniquet. "Too much glass in the wound." Bella visibly paled, closing her eyes, and Carlisle looked at her in concern. "Bella, do you want me to drive you to the hospital, or would you like me to take care of it here?"

"Here, please," she whispered. She moved her arm ever so slightly, and a drop of warm blood fell to the floor, the sound echoing in my ears. I had to get out. There was no way I could make it much longer.

"I'll get your bag," I said hastily, ducking out of the room and upstairs into Carlisle's and Esme's bedroom. I could hear them placing her on the kitchen table as I grabbed the reassuring leather handle, and I paused a moment, grappling desperately for self-control. I could do this – I had to be able to do this. I thought of Jasper, who always looked to me for strength. For him, I could not be the one to fail. I twisted my engagement ring and took a deep breath before walking downstairs.

Standing by the table, Edward looked visibly pained – already Bella was pleading for him to leave. "Why are you so masochistic?" Bella mumbled in irritation as Carlisle grabbed the bag from me and opened it, scanning for supplies. A second drop of blood, invisible to Bella, dripped onto the floor, and I scrambled wildly with my desire, fighting the beast that rose within me. A small, involuntary hiss escaped my lips, and I clenched my jaw shut. Bella did not hear, but Edward glanced at me quickly, his eyes suddenly fierce.

Shut up, Edward, I thought. I can take it.

He looked doubtful; his gaze was murderous.

I met his stare head on. I promise. I love Bella, too.

He paused and then nodded curtly, too quickly for Bella to see. Carlisle noticed the exchange and looked at him.

"Edward," he said, taking out a roll of white tape, "You may as well go to find Jasper before he gets too far. I'm sure he's upset with himself, and I doubt he'll listen to anyone but you right now."

Edward's eyes flickered to me in disbelief, and I shrugged. I'm sure he'd like to see you, too. Tell him I'll talk to him as soon as I can.

Ever so slightly, he frowned, and Bella cut in as well. "Yes, go find Jasper."

"You might as well do something useful," I added. Tell him Jasper that I love him, I thought silently, my chest clenching in pain. Please … don't let him forget.

He hesitated, looking at Bella one last time, but then nodded crisply and sprinted through the back door. I wished I could follow him – I wasn't sure how much longer I had.

I watched as Carlisle injected Bella's arm with a clear fluid, and my hands balled up into fists, craving relief from this double torture – the heinous burning in my throat as well as the pain of seeing the sister I loved in pain. Bella turned her head pointedly away, watching Carlisle's face or occasionally looking blankly over his head to distract herself. I was glad she did not look at me – I was not sure what my expression looked like now.

The room was deathly silent. I looked at the bloodstains that covered her clothes, her skin, her fingers, and suddenly it was too much. Not just the thirst, although that put me in the most intense pain I had ever felt in my life.

No, it was the fact that Bella, my best friend in the whole world, was sitting three feet away from me, and all I could think about was how wonderful it would be to kill her.

I hated myself. There was no other way to say it. I hated the very core and essence of what I was, I hated the part of me that made me want to hunt and kill and destroy. I hated the thrill of adrenaline that pumped through me at the sight of that warm red liquid. I hated the venom that pooled in my mouth at the tantalizing thought of her destruction. But most of all, I hated that Bella sat here, in a room with two of the deadliest creatures to her existence, without a single thought for her protection. Nature should have told her to run away from us, to scream and hide. Yet she sat there, looking disgustingly delicious, without a thought for her own safety. She held her arm out to be stitched up by a vampire, she sat quietly in my all-too volatile presence with all the peace and serenity in the world.

Why? Because she trusted us. And the trust was too much to bear. Because it would be so incredibly easy to slip … so easy to slip and kill this sister I loved with all my heart.

I could not stay any longer. I silently slipped out the door, pressing a tiny, apologetic smile to my lips. I'm sorry, Bella. I'm sorry that I can't be better for you.

...

...

...

A/N: This particular scene is done, but I'm toying with the idea of writing the interaction between Alice and Jasper after this incident. Please review and let me know what you think.