To Be Tempted (1/1)
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Timeline: During New Moon after Jasper tries to attack Bella. Alice's POV.
I stepped out the back door, closing it gently but securely behind me. In the chilly autumn air, I took my first breath in several minutes. My willpower was not nearly as strong as I would have liked. Bella was going to be fine, I knew that, but I still would have liked to have been able to stay in the room. A simple papercut began it all. How quickly everything could fall apart. I looked towards the woods.
Jasper was crouching against a tree, head bowed. Edward stood several feet away, glowering at him.
I clenched my eyes shut, trying to block it out. This was one of those times it was easier not to see. Less painful. Jasper wasn't going to do anything to prevent the verbal flogging that Edward was planning. Whenever he did something he felt ashamed of, Jasper felt like he deserved punishment of some sort. And it always tore me apart to see this, but if he didn't take his penance, he would brood about it for much longer.
Emmett and Rosalie emerged from the path to the river.
A moment later, Rosalie led Emmett out of the wood by the hands. They were arguing.
"Rose, I still think I should've stayed down there, just in case," Emmett argued.
I quickly scanned through the visions I had seen. No sign of violence. That was good.
She didn't pause in her trek across the back yard towards me, her long blonde hair blowing in the wind. He followed her, somewhat unwillingly.
"Alice," Rosalie began, "You should go down there. Make sure Edward doesn't…get too angry."
Emmett looked at her with surprise, as he followed her past me into the garage. He patted my shoulder quickly in passing.
"Well, if anyone's going to get through to either of them, it's going to be her," I heard her explain matter-of-factly.
I pushed myself down the path. Edward was the closest of my siblings, and he was in immeasurable pain. And Jasper, well, he was the love of my life, and if it was possible, I was willing to bet that he was in even more pain. As I approached the river, I could hear Edward. He wasn't any louder than a whisper, but I could pick out bits and pieces of his chastisement from some quarter mile down the path, before it cut out all together as he sensed my approach.
Edward looked up as I joined them on the river bank.
Edward prepared to take Bella home. She had changed her shirt to something of Esme's.
He nodded tersely to me as he strode away from the clearing. Jasper remained seated on the forest floor at the bottom of the huge tree. His arms were crossed over his tightly drawn knees, his head resting on his forearms. I walked toward him, taking a deep breath as the wave of his self loathing hit me like a brick. He couldn't fake his way out of a mood like this, even though I was sure he was trying to. Jasper hated when he projected his unhappiness on others inadvertently. Especially when the other person was me.
I resisted the urge to see how this conversation would go, as I stood beside him and ran my fingers into his messy golden locks. He lay his head back against the tree, eyes closed. I took the opportunity to perch on his knees, taking his face between my hands. I pulled him closer and kissed his forehead. He made no attempt to stop the inertia as I released him, his head landing on my chest.
I sat on Jasper's lap. He clutched me tightly to chest as he rocked back and forth.
How funny it was that my visions couldn't go beyond the near future right now. I ran my hands down his soft turtleneck sweater, as I slid down his knees to settle more solidly on his lap. Suddenly, his arms came up to hug me tightly. If I hadn't know it was coming, it would have startled me.
I dropped my knees to the soil below us, letting myself fall completely into his frantic embrace. My hands ran beneath the fabric, caressing his cold, puckered skin. Jasper shivered against my touch, and started rocking us back and forth.
Several minutes passed, in which the world ceased to exist outside Jasper and I at the base of that tree. Gradually, the anxious rocking stopped. I took the opportunity to lift his head from my shoulder. His eyes were still clenched shut.
"Look at me," I asked him gently, my hand resting beneath his chin.
He complied, his topaz eyes dull from the anguish he felt.
I bit my lip. "Oh, Jasper." Kissing him softly, I kept my fingers on his cheeks, forcing him not to look away.
Jasper and I sat in the front seat of his car, our hands laced together over the gear shift. The car hurtled down the highway.
"We're leaving." I murmured. It wasn't a question.
"I…" he struggled. "I think it would be best."
I buried my head in his shoulder. "I wonder why I couldn't see it…" This did puzzle me. He seemed pretty set in his decision. Why hadn't I seen it beforehand?
"I wanted to talk to you first," he explained. Letting his head fall against my neck. "This is going to be hard for you."
I bit my lip. It was going to be hard. But I could give up my new best friend. I couldn't ever part with my soul mate. "It'll be okay," I assured him.
"I don't know why you forgive me, but when you came down here, I knew you would."
"If you'd have been really upset and mad at me, you wouldn't have come."
"I love you," I told him, kissing the side of his neck tenderly.
"I know…" he stumbled, pressing his lips to my cheek. "I don't deserve it."
"Don't you ever think that. Ever!" My knees clenched against his side.
"I almost killed Bella tonight, Alice!" his distress rang out through the forest.
"But you didn't…you didn't, Jasper." It was a feeble response.
"If Edward hadn't blocked me so hard...I tore right through your grip," he shook his head.
It had all happened so fast that I had only seen it a split second before he lunged. I was left holding a small piece of the back of his sweater.
"Alice," he whispered in my ear, "You can't possibly be feeling guilty for this."
But he knew I was. If I had seen it in time, I could have gotten him out of there before it happened.
"Baby, please don't…" His hands ran through my short hair.
We zipped along in the car through the darkness. A lone sign gleamed on the side of the road. 'Welcome to Mississippi'.
I closed my eyes. "Huh."
"What is it?" Jasper pulled my face up towards his, resting his forehead against mine.
"We're going…to Mississippi."
"To find your past," he sighed. "If you want to…"
I nodded vigorously into his shoulder.
"Good. Edward thought you might want to…" he let that trail off.
"Edward?" I asked, lifting my face to look straight at him, golden eye to golden eye.
"I…I couldn't…even process…." In pain, he tore his gaze from mine. "I'm so sorry we have to leave."
I yanked his chin back up with a little more force than was strictly necessary. "Do not beat yourself up about this." I kissed his cheek, his nose, his forehead, ending on his lips. "Of all the things you're upset about tonight…not being the one to decide what we're going to do…"
Edward was returning down the path, striding quickly along the fallen leaves.
I ignored the vision, and buried myself in Jasper's embrace.
"Alice," Edward called, pausing some hundred feet away with us at the entrance to the clearing. "I'm about to take Bella home. Could you help her find something to wear?"
I hesisted, but Jasper murmured very softly in my ear, "Go on. You want to say goodbye."
::I"ll be right there, Edward:: I thought.
"I'll wait for you in the yard," he responded, retreating down the path.
Jasper slowly pushed himself up to a stand, still holding me up, tightly to his chest.
Jasper sat on the edge of the river, lost in thought, as I returned.
"Are you coming?" I asked, knowing that he wasn't.
"I'm going to wait here," he sighed, lowering me to my feet beside him. "Edward would prefer if I didn't go back up there till she's gone."
I nodded. This was going to be hard. I was going to be saying goodbye to Bella for the last time. "You're not going anywhere?" I asked, confirming what I'd seen in my vision.
"I'll be right here by the river," he assured me, kissing me deeply. "We still have a lot to talk about. I'm so sorry, Alice, I really am."
"I know, sweetheart, I know," I gave his hands a squeeze before releasing them, and scurried down the path after Edward. The sooner I got them on their way, the sooner I could return to Jasper. I was suddenly eager to get the inevitable over with. It was going to be difficult, but the sooner I was back in his arms, the better. At this point there was nothing I could do to make this easier, just get it over with, and get myself back to my love.
"'Tis one thing to be tempted, another thing to fall." ~ Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare