9. Futures

A/N: I'm becoming sort of addicted to Bella's POV- so, here it is- though I'm not sure if this was the best idea... its kind of filler…

Bella's POV

I have no idea how long I sat at the dining room table, eyes closed, completely frozen, head resting unnecessarily on my arms.

I was in the vampire version of shock, unable to move if I wanted to. My body had locked down, trying to allow my brain the space it needed to think. It wasn't being successful.

Though a thousand thoughts were rushing through my head, all were fleeting and enough concentration to process even one solitary thought eluded me. The flashes of various images of Edward, scrolling through my mind's eye as if they were part of a slide show weren't assisting in my attempts to focus either.

First, there would be Edward with shining green eyes, so bright and deep that I couldn't believe that God hadn't replaced his pupils with actual emeralds. The picture was burned into my memory from the parking lot, Edward's eyes on fire as they burned into mine. Shock at my imitation of a wall had manifested through his expression, but I'm sure surprise had been written all over my face as well. I couldn't believe I had just made myself so vulnerable, and I was in disbelief that I didn't kill him myself in the moment of close proximity. Yet, the main source of my surprise was how incredibly gorgeous Edward was, the green glint of his eyes in contrast to his messy bronze hair.

However, just as I was thinking nothing could be more beautiful, the image would twist and contort until another took its place. This one would also be of Edward, though it was vastly different. His perfect features were replaced by a sharper cruelty, the skeletal structure of his face, especially his jaw line, more prominent. The red tint of life vanished from the skin in his cheek along with any semblance of tan. The ghostly whiteness of his complexion only seemed paler in contrast to the frightening bright red that replaced the green of his irises. The vision was truly appalling, making every bit of me revolt in aching sadness.

That picture was all it took for my vivid imagination, honed by decades of prolific reading, to take off. I began to see Edward as one of us. I visualized pictures of him writhing in pain as the change burned away his humanity, others of him hunting, turned into a heartless predator. I thought about the curse of the burning thirst he would be tormented with, the bloodlust. I imagined his entire life ripped away from him, forcing him to constantly lie, keep his distance from humanity, and live in transience. The thoughts broke my heart- I couldn't imagine Edward's quiet nature forced into the reality of a vampire, harsh and deadly. I couldn't imagine the suffering he would endure.

On the other hand, I could envision him taking on the façade we all upheld, roughhousing with Emmett and Jasper, teasing Rosalie and Alice…being close by for the rest of my eternity. Gaining a family that included parents and siblings- things he didn't have now.

I wondered if the second part of my personal version of the future meant I was being selfish. Was I pacifying my own grief over what I knew couldn't be stopped by thinking up these positives?

The two facets of what was apparently fated to be Edward's future clashed with full force inside me as I struggled with this question. On one hand, the thought of Edward being resigned to the life we all lived and enduring the pain it would take to get him there was absolutely soul-shattering. On the other, I realized I generally didn't think my existence was so awful- not in the way Rosalie sometimes felt it was. Was it so detestable to be a vampire, especially in the way Carlisle had taught us all to manage it?

If one could be with the ones they loved forever and only had to pay for it by battling against a burning discomfort that was nothing more than a nuisance, then what was wrong with that?

Not that I claimed to love Edward. I may be a romantic at heart, but I was also a realist. While the connection I felt to Edward was strong, I hardly knew him, and there was no way I could claim love. Maybe the unyielding pull I felt was a sign of something more- I had heard the story of how Rosalie had been drawn to Emmett and subsequently risked changing him- but there was no way for me to know that yet, and Edward wasn't dying from a bear attack.

I growled softly in frustration, placing every ounce of energy I held into focusing, trying to stop the hundreds of tangents my mind kept running off on.

I had no idea what I was going to do. I ran through my list of options yet again. I could run- I wanted to do that more than anything. I was afraid, and ever since Edward came into my life, I had felt vulnerable for the first time in my vampire existence. A huge part of me, running off of instinct, told me that it was best to get far, far away. Yet, beyond my base instinct, I knew that wasn't the answer, and the entire family was in opposition to that decision anyway. That option was stricken from my list of potential actions.

The other option was to just avoid Edward like the plague. He seemed to be the complicating factor in my life, so maybe if I removed him as much as was possible, things would get back to normal. The complication of my feelings posed a serious roadblock to executing that plan. What I felt for him was entirely too intense to be ignored. Edward had become the center of my life in that parking lot, and the gravitational pull I felt to him had not vanished in the subsequent hours. Like Alice had said, there was no way I could actually stay away from him, no matter how melodramatic that sounded or how much I hated that a boy could have this influence on me. It wasn't like I could imagine Edward putting up with that either- I had seen the determination in his eyes to know the truth.

These conclusions left me with the only two options that had any probability of actually occurring anyway, if I was trusting Alice. And I always trusted Alice. I was either going to end up killing Edward, or he was going to become one of us. How either of those two futures would become the final outcome, I had no idea. Alice hadn't given a multitude of details over our little family council.

I continued to seethe in frustration at my lack of knowledge, wondering what else Alice was hiding from me. How was I supposed to make an informed decision when I had no information?

The thought pushed me over the edge and a new resolve overtook me. For the first time in hours, I moved, lifting my head from my arms. I pushed back my chair, taking notice that night had fallen- from looking through the window at the position of the moon, I assumed it was a wee hour of the morning.

I walked out of the dining room, through the great room, and up the stair case, my steps determined. I listened intently at the door to Alice's and Jasper's room, wanting to ensure that Alice had seen a vision of me coming up here and that I wouldn't be interrupting something I had no desire of seeing. Deciding it was safe, I knocked quietly at the door.

Alice called for me to come in, and I cracked the door open before feeling it was safe enough to push it in further. Alice sat with Jasper on the bed, both, thankfully, fully clothed, with Alice wrapped in his arms and head underneath his chin as they watched some movie on cable. The scene was sweet, and I almost felt bad for barging in- if I hadn't been so driven for advice, I might have turned around.

"Alice, I need to talk to you please."

"Of course Bella. I was wondering how much longer you would sulk before coming up here. You mind Jasper?" she reacted, all in one breath before kissing his cheek. He nodded, and returned her kiss on the crown of her dark-haired head before rising from the bed. As he walked past me and out the door, his hand rested briefly on my shoulder, giving me a small but effective jolt of reassurance. I'm sure he felt my gratitude.

After I heard his footsteps retreat down the stairs, I plopped down on the bed in front of Alice, mirroring her cross-legged seated position. She looked at me expectantly, courteously waiting for me to speak, though she had most likely seen our discussion in a vision already.

"Alice, I need to know the details of your vision- all of it, don't spare me anything." I said, speaking quickly and as quietly as possible, hoping that none of my family was listening too closely.

"There really isn't much more than what I told you Bella."

"I don't care- I want to hear it all again."

She sighed, but obliged my request. "Alright. I see you biting him- in most of the flashes, its willingly, and in most of those, Edward lives."

"Most of them? How many scenarios do you see?"

"I told you- right now there are dozens. None of it is set in stone, and it keeps changing, though some of the pictures are clearer than others. All of your decisions are shooting back and forth like tennis balls, and none of the visions stay still for very long because of your indecision."

I took in a deep breath- this was all so overwhelming.

"Ok- so in most of them, I choose to change him, and in most of those he makes it?" I cringed at the thought of what "making it" meant in this context, but every time I acknowledged the fact that this was going to happen in some way, it became easier. "What about in the others?"

Alice looked away before answering, and still wouldn't look in my eyes as she began her explanation, fiddling with the hem of her dress instead.

"In the others- the bloodlust, it becomes too much, and you take him. Sometimes you're stopped, sometimes you aren't."

I nodded, but I knew the fear that raced across my face. So, it was possible I would lose my control, and innocent, perfect Edward would die because of it. Alice must have seen how upset I was, learning from years of experience as my sister and best friend.

"But those are all really fuzzy Bella, and there are only a few of them. Really- I promise, in most of them he survives and becomes one of us."

"How is that supposed to make me feel better Alice? Why would I change him? And what about how he's going to react? We're acting like this is our decision! He's perfectly healthy, and his life as a human is fine! Why is this a good thing?" I all but screamed my response to her attempts to comfort me, and I knew tears would be pouring down my face if that was still possible. Instead, I was forced to settle for dry sobs.

Alice took me into her arms, holding my head to her shoulder, allowing me to be wracked with sadness before replying.

"You're forgetting the other part of what I told everyone earlier. I see him after the change Bella. I see him happy- when I say one of us, I mean he becomes part of our family. And, I see him with you."

I calmed a little at her words, and considered all of it. The idea of being with Edward would have made my heart skip a beat, if I still had a pulse. And if Alice said he would be ok with it all…

"How certain is that part of the vision?"

"Well, the possibility of you killing him is still there, so it weakens the vision. But considering that, I would say that if he is changed, this part is almost one hundred percent guaranteed."

I sat up, and looked straight into Alice's eyes.

"Are you telling me I should just change him now?"

She laughed, almost hysterically.

"What?" I asked, reverting to being frustrated again.

"Of course not silly! You hardly know him."

I rolled my eyes, and stared at my sprite of a sister in shock.

"Then what am I supposed to do?!"

"Get to know him Bella. You wouldn't marry a guy after talking to him once would you? Then why would you want eternity with Edward when you hardly know him?"

"Says the girl who knew from a vision who her soul mate was…" I grumbled.

"Bella- just relax. He's still a human, and just sixteen. It's different. It'll make it easier on him if he knows how he feels before the change- though I can see it going either way…hmm…" she trailed off, getting lost in Alice-land.

I huffed, becoming more irritated by the second that I couldn't see exactly what Alice saw.

"What about endangering his life- isn't it more likely that I kill him on accident if I spend time around him while he's a human?"

"That's true, but changing him now, while you're unaccustomed to the scent of his blood- it's just as dangerous." She replied, serious again.

I wanted to scream- there were just so many freaking decisions to make, and each of them seemed to have a dozen different potential outcomes, none of which I could see first hand.

"What about what he saw? Do I give him an explanation? What if he talks?"

"I don't see that happening. Didn't you say you trust him?"

I bit my lip- darn it- I did trust him. My objection was trivial- but my question about whether or not to tell him was not. I had no idea how I was going to approach that angle of my dilemma.

"I can't give you any future-seeing advice on that one. You're so undecided on what to do that I can't see anything."

"As my sister then- what should I do?"

"Hmm..I think you'll have to decide that one on your own. But- it is who you are. I think if you're planning on spending the rest of eternity with him, you should tell him sometime- when is up to you." she advised, gently, and voice serenely quiet and even.

I sighed, hanging my head under the weight of all the choices I had to make, but knowing that every bit of advice that Alice had given me made sense. Darn her ever-knowing self.

"Bella- you can do this. And it's all going to work out, I'm over 90% sure."

"Thanks Alice." I said, part genuine, part sarcastic as I rose from the bed. It was nearing time for us to leave for the school, and I needed to get my action plan in order based on my new intelligence. I left the room, shaking my head at the 90% assurance Alice had given me.

A/N: so, there you have it. Alice/Bella sisterly fluff. Sorry if its repetitive- review, review!