Author's note: This is the first of future chapters that all describe a different day in our beloved characters' childhoods. All chapters are going to be done in the point of view of someone observing that character's day, not the character itself. Wow. That was a very convoluted sentence. Whatever. Read it and you'll get it.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight. Stop rubbing it in.
"What's your name?" We started out with all of the patients this way. It wasn't that I didn't know her name - of course I did. The real question was if she knew her name or not.
"What's. Your. Name?" I said each word distinctly as I could, but the girl just stared. Her stare was so odd. I could see that her eyes were pointed in my direction and that I should have been in her line of sight, but it was like I wasn't standing in front of her. It was as though there was nothing before her at all.
"Do you know where you are?"
Her eyelids fluttered shut once, but otherwise made no move to answer.
"Do you know who I am?"
Nothing. No response. Exasperated, I decided to go through the rest of the "examination" quickly so I could leave as soon as possible. The thirst was starting to get uncomfortable and I knew James would be getting impatient.
"I don't understand you," she finally answered a few minutes after I had asked the last question. I had been busy scribbling down a few brief notes on this mundane patient for the asylum's sake. I wouldn't need any records to go back to while working with Mary Alice because I was physically incapable of forgetting these facts.
I looked up and she was staring at me again, but the look was different because she seemed as though she was staring at my face, not the expanse of white wall behind my head.
It wasn't that I hadn't noticed before, but it was much more obvious now that she didn't appear as an unanimated corpse. She was beautiful for a human. Very beautiful, in fact.
Her chin was little and her nose was skinny. She had miniature elfin ears and a tiny set mouth with full lips. She was extremely lean and almost comically short-possibly from lack of nutrition over the last few years. Her hair had been shaved, but her eyebrows were a dramatic black and arched perfectly on her forehead. Everything about her was just so ridiculously small. Except, of course, for her eyes; they were gray-blue and impossibly large for her face.
"How can I explain the question where you can understand, then?" Glad I was finally getting a response, for reasons I didn't understand, I wanted to do whatever I could to keep her talking.
"It's not your words that I am talking about. It's you. All of you. I will never understand grown-ups and it makes you so much harder to see."
I was suddenly struck by how brave she was. She was so young and should have been instinctually terrified of the strange, frightening monster trying to talk to her but she didn't even look fazed. On the contrary, she looked perfectly at ease now, one of her legs swinging back and forth in the air like a cat's tail because they weren't long enough to touch the ground.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, look at babies. When babies cry, they cry for one out of maybe five reasons. It doesn't take long to figure out which reason it is and then the baby will stop crying when you fix it. It's all very straight forward. Adults are so much harder see. You make my head hurt when I try to purposely." Her eyes clamped tightly closed and she cradled her pale face in both hands. She looked like she had a headache and I couldn't restrain the comforting hand that froze poised over her petite back.
She flinched at the cold and I wasn't surprised.
Her eyes opened, looking alarmed and strangely … resigned, but then registered with shock when she saw my expression.
For the lack of life in me, I could understand why she was so confused and when I did understand, I was furious.
It was a common place in an asylum for the staff and guard to abuse the patients, especially ones as vulnerable and young as Mary Alice appeared, though I had never engaged in any of those … acts. Even if my hands weren't so impossibly strong and venom didn't run freely through my mouth, rape had never appealed to me. I wasn't attracted to the half alive forms that haunted their black cells, not enough, at least, to use, kill them and have to move on to the next job. It wasn't worth the necessary effort.
"I'm not going to hurt you." I used my best soothing voice and I hoped that I reassured her fears.
"Why not?" She asked, looking totally bewildered. "I can see enough that you won't … but I can't see why."
"Simple," I said, shrugging my shoulders.
"I don't want to hurt you like they do." I motioned with my chin to the door at my right, indicating the rest of the hospital, and I fervently hoped she believed me. The name "doctor" didn't really apply to the men employed in this building. "Torturers" was a more accurate description. If the girls coming into this place weren't crazy to begin with, they made them insane while they were patients here.
Some of the more sadistic ones liked to play the good friend only to swipe the rug out from under their feet and hurt them later. It made the whole experience that much sweeter for them. With the newest implement of shock therapy, those men were practically jumping with glee at all the new possibilities.
"But why?" She stressed the word hugely. "I know you aren't going too hurt me, I get that, but I can't even imagine why you would care."
I stared at her, trying to come up with a better reason, but I didn't have one.
"I don't know. I guess because you don't deserve to be here … But what do you mean when you say 'see'?" I really hadn't had a decent conversation with people I actually wanted to speak to in a long while. I was sorely out of practice with talking to the sane - James hardly fit into that category.
Her chart had said that she was delusional and her loss of connection to reality made her a danger to herself and the others around her, but she seemed anything other than crazy to me. The intelligence that dominated her gaze and her calm composure told otherwise.
"Oh, that's right. They haven't told you." It seemed like she was apologizing for not explaining before, though it didn't make much sense. "I am a psychic. I can see the future … most of the time." She had said the last part eyeing me speculatively.
"Really?" I asked, after a moment. Strangely though, it didn't seem … odd for her. It almost …fit.
She nodded, but her smile looked sad.
"It's why I'm in here," she motioned to the empty room that was used when doctors evaluated their patients one-on-one, like it was filled with gold.
"My parents …" the word twisted like broken glass through her teeth and it was the only time yet she seemed uncomfortable or disgruntled-ever since the thaw; otherwise, she was shockingly serene. It was so strange for a child in an asylum to act so calm. "… They didn't appreciate my visions, but had always dismissed it as luck or even dishonesty. 'Stop telling lies, Alice. Lying is a sin.'" Her voice was shrill and loud and I couldn't help but chuckle at her impersonation.
"When I saw the day my aunt would pass-on a week before it occurred, I was stupid in my hysteria and told my mother, but she didn't believe me. I got sent here immediately after the funeral." She looked at me again. "She drowned, you see, so wasn't like a sickness I could guess or something else I could lie about. It terrified them."
"You're not crazy." I told her after it seemed like she had nothing more to say. I wasn't familiar enough with her to know what to tell her after hearing something like that.
She shook her head. "No, I'm not insane, but I'm not normal either and apparently, that's just as bad a crime." She grinned then.
"I don't mind so much. I always knew I would meet you here, though I didn't see this face," she patted my hand twice and was shocked at the contact, "until just a few minutes ago. So I don't have it that bad." She shrugged lightly.
I froze. I didn't want to tell her this - I didn't want to even think it - but I had to. It wasn't fair to withhold my information.
"Mary Alice-" I started.
"Just Alice," she cut me off, "Mary is my mother's name."
I rolled my eyes.
"Alice, you … you must be able to see what Doctor Warner has planned for your … treatment."
Electroshock therapy. 'To stimulate the brain to proper function' he'd told me just a few hours before. 'It's only for the poor creature's good' he'd said with a grin.
"Yes," she said without the slightest of cares. "Shock therapy. There going to run a few hundred volts through my brain."
I'd stared at her blankly. It was maddening how calm she was.
"And that doesn't bother you …?"
"No. It's the way things are supposed to be," she said, looking surer of herself with every word.
"It's not. It's shown to make patients lose memory and function. It isn't effective for most that have been tested. That cannot be what's meant for you." She should be doing something fantastic. She should be taken care of.
"It is." Her voice was firm and soothing at the same time. "It'll work out, in the end. I think I was always meant to be something …" her look gave me the ridiculous impression that she could see right into my soul, "… more. I think it's a fair trade off, having to put up with here for a little while for what I get in return." To say I was shocked would be a phenomenal understatement. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that she knew what I was.
"And what exactly constitutes 'more,' my dear?" I said, trying to exude calm like Alice's while she stared at the wall again, contemplating.
"I don't know precisely because I can't see you people that well." She waved her hands in my general direction when she said 'you people' and it made me chuckle. "But I can sense that it will be worth it."
She gave me the strangest expression when she released the wall from her attention.
"What?" I asked self-consciously. I was never self-conscious.
"Nothing, honestly. I just thought … Well, I thought you were going to be … blonder." She said and a little crease formed in her brow, like there had been a little knot formed in her careful visions.
Her eyes suddenly flashed after a few minutes of comfortable silence and she picked up with the original topic of conversation.
"Oh, and no offense sir, but I don't think a bit of memory loss would be so detrimental to my mental health. There are some things I'd much rather forget before I get out of here, if you don't mind." She was eyeing some of the fingernail scratches on the opposite wall and I repressed a shudder.
Conversation had flowed playfully after that, both of us avoiding painful subjects. It was … nice. It wasn't like lying to the humans around here and having to pretend I was normal. It wasn't like conversing with a vampire-always having to be on edge lest the words would turn to violence. It was safe because Alice was neither.
After a while, discussion became less polite and a little more personal. Well, it wasn't so much a discussion as a rapid firing question round. Alice's gift was entrancing.
"Can you see it? Can you see the end?" I finally asked in hushed tones.
"Yes," she said as she grinned wickedly, needing no clarification as she could see the answer before she had to ask. "But before I tell you anything, I want to hear your thoughts."
"The whole planet will explode into a million pieces like a Chinese fire cracker." I mused with out being serious … while secretly being really serious.
She rolled her exquisite eyes hugely and a laugh came pouring out of her mouth like a chorus of bells. It was delicate and soft, just like the rest of her.
"See. Perfect example as to why adults will never be understood. Why must the world end so violently, hmm? Why can't it simply go as quietly as it came?"
It bothered me slightly, the way she kept on calling me an "adult." I was a vampire. I was fairly certain she had seen that, but she hadn't said the word yet. It was odd and unfamiliar, this feeling of being ashamed of what I am. I had never experienced it before.
But I could see then that she was having a real kick out of playing the ominous fortune teller and I wasn't going to get anymore out of her in that subject. I had one more question though, one of slightly more importance.
"When?" I asked quietly. To humans, I couldn't really see how the when mattered. Their lives were so short, it wasn't of any consequence, but for someone like me who didn't face the obstacle of mortality, the when was of much greater significance. Even as fast as I could move, I couldn't really see a way to outrun the end of days.
"Eh … a while," she said, shrugging her petite shoulders matter-of-factly. It was absolutely infuriating. I glared at her relaxed form and her smile grew much gentler.
"I can tell you … if you really want to know. No one here has ever been half as kind to me as you have. No one anywhere, actually."
I tried looked at her objectively. Her eyes were shiny and her cheeks had flushed slightly. Alarmed, I realized her was going to cry when someone like her never deserved to be sad.
Later, but not much later, I would figure out that right then was that exact moment when I made up my mind. I was determined then, and I didn't need Alice's visions to confirm it for me. With the law abominating Immortal Children, I would have to wait a few more years until she matured, but time didn't matter much to me anymore.
I was going to save her, my patient. I was going to make her mine and no one, not even James was going to stand in my way.
A/n: *Cowers slightly* You like?
Oh, and when Alice talks about "Blonder," she's referring to Jasper (I like to think she had always seen little bits of him.) It's not that adults are unclear either. She has a lot of trouble seeing vampires because she isn't one yet, unlike a werewolf or half vampire that she never sees at all because she never has, nor ever will be one of those.
She calls vamps "adults" because that's what she's going to be when she grows up. She can see she's never gunna live to be an adult in the human sense of the word, so she does with what she does know, if that makes any sense.