Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or the characters. Thanks a million to my beta, CrystalRaindrop!
Alice: 14, Jazzy: 17 Em: 20 Rose: 19 Teddy: 3
I'm a house of cards
In a hurricane
A reckless ride
In the pouring rain
She cuts me and the pain
Is all I wanna feel
She'll dance away just like a child
She drives me crazy
Drives me wild
But I'm helpless when she smiles
~ Helpless When She Smiles - The Backstreet Boys
When She Smiles — Chapter Twenty-Three
But he was cut off by the phone ringing. I was almost thankful.
She had been writing. She... she hadn't given up on me!
It was too much to take in, too much to fully comprehend.
"Hey, mom, now is not a good time. I'm ... what did you say?"
Edward's voice floated into my consciousness. I registered the fact that he was talking in the background, but I couldn't make sense of the words. But then he uttered her name, and I felt my heart beat faster. It wasn't simply that he'd said her name, but instead because of the other words surrounding it. It took several moments after that to realize that he was talking to me, that he'd hung up the phone and was trying to get my attention. I turned to stare at him.
It only took three words to snap me out of my stupor.
"Alice is missing."
Oh, God, please, no...
June 10th — Jazzy POV - 8:00 PM
The rain felt like tiny razors all across my skin, cutting me. It was oddly appropriate, because that's how I felt inside, too. I felt pain like I'd never felt before. I felt like my whole life was being ripped apart, piece by piece.
Alice is missing.
The search party was all around me. It consisted of Edward and Carlisle, Charlie and a few men from the station who had volunteered to help, and me. Bella was at the house with Teddy and Marie, alone and worried. I briefly felt bad for her, but my thoughts were quickly consumed by Alice once more.
"She ran out earlier; she was mad at me, so I didn't try to stop her. I felt that she ... needed some time alone. So I let her go. She hasn't come home, and she's nowhere in town. No... no one has seen her."
Esme's words echoed in my mind. She had been worried, and crying inconsolably. She blamed herself; I was beginning to feel anger about what she had done, so I blamed her a little bit, too. But I knew she hadn't done this on purpose — she loved Alice, too.
But despite that — despite everything — my baby girl was still missing, and it was raining hard. I could barely see the trees in front of me, and I knew that if she was lost, she would be scared, too. She hated thunderstorms — she always had.
Unless that has changed, too. Three years is a long time...
I shook my head. Now was not the time to be depressed over the time we had missed being together. Instead, it was time to search so that maybe, just maybe, we could make new memories together.
I turned my head, squinting hard to see through the rain. Carlisle was coming toward me, his blond hair hanging haphazardly in his eyes. He held a flashlight — for all the good it did in the rain — and was wearing a large, yellow raincoat provided by Charlie. He looked into my eye when he was close enough to see me. I knew what he was silently asking.
Have you found her yet?
I shook my head.
"Do you know where she would go? Is there any place special she goes when she's upset, or angry?" I asked, and I was frustrated with my own uncertainty. I knew, of course, where she would have gone if this had happened three years ago. But that, too, had probably changed. I knew that if I was still the one living in Forks, I would have avoided our places. I would have avoided the memories. But... then again, Alice always was the stronger one of the two of us.
"You would know better than I would," Carlisle countered, pulling me from my thoughts; he was yelling now, to be heard over the rain. His voice echoed through the treetops. I pursed my lips, not responding immediately. He was wrong. I knew he was. I wasn't the one who knew Alice best anymore. Someone else had taken my place.
But any guess was better than nothing, I decided. So I paused, and thought. Where would she go? If this had happened when we were still young — when I still knew her as well as she knew herself — where would she run?
When she was five, her favorite place had been in her closet. It was a tiny closet, and it took a lot for us both to fit in there. Nonetheless, she had climbed inside every time she was scared, and she had hauled me with her. I smiled then, remembering.
"Jazzy! The monsters are coming! Hide with me!"
Wide, blue eyes were frantic and terrified. I chuckled to myself a little; there were no monsters, I knew. At least, none that would hurt Alice. I would make sure of that. No one would ever hurt her.
"Where should we hide?" I asked, and I arranged my expression to appear carefully worried and cautious. Alice looked up at me, and grabbed my hand.
"In my closet! They can't find us there."
I never did understand why the closet was so safe. Why was it that when we were in there, she wasn't scared?
"OK, then," I told her, and we ran together to her closet. I shoved the door open, and we both crawled inside. But she was growing, as all small children did, and it was a little more cramped than usual.
"Jazzy, move. I don't have enough room," she complained, and my lips twitched, wanting to smile. How silly this must have looked from outside. A five-year-old girl hauling her brothers best friend into the closet in the middle of the day because of the "monsters" that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. But that was a child's imagination. Always creating.
"I can't move, baby girl. You're closet is too small."
Alice was silent. Then,
I wasn't sure what happened next, but the next thing I remember, Alice was crawling onto my lap and laying her head on my chest.
"I love you, Jazzy," she whispered, and I wrapped my arms around her, holding her close.
"Love you, too, baby girl. Forever."
After that, her hiding places had become more reasonable. The last place I remember hiding with her before I had left was in the park, under the jungle gym. It was a small space; I was sure that we both wouldn't fit in it anymore. But she was a small girl, so...
"Maybe in the park," I finally answered, when I realized that Carlisle was still waiting for an answer. "We used to hide under the jungle gym when people would tease her, or me. It's tricky to get into, and once you're in, no one can really see you. If... if she's in there, she's at least mostly safe from the rain."
Carlisle nodded. "Go look there, then. We need to split up, anyway. We're not covering much ground this way. I'm headed into town to check the courthouse and post office; Esme didn't look there. Charlie and his team are scanning the woods around the house, and Edward's covering the school."
I nodded; it was all trivial information. I knew where I was headed, and I knew I wouldn't be stopping until I found her. So it didn't really matter, anyway. I began to walk away from Carlisle, and then I was running. I didn't even have to see my surroundings to be sure where I was going. I knew this path, from Alice's house into town. I used to take it every single night.
The rain was still pouring, and I was beginning to feel it now, yet it wasn't unpleasent. It slashed across my skin as I ran, and the water that was already on the ground soaked into my shoes. My feet were uncomfortably wet, and they slipped in the mud occasionally as I brushed my way through the tree branches and various thorn bushes that were scattered throughout the landscape.
"Alice!" I called, for I could now see the park in front of me. I heard no response, and my heart fell just a little.
It was then that I realized I'd given up any previous idea about not seeing her. I had to. Even if it was just for a moment. Even if she told me she never wanted to see me again. I had to see her, to feel her arms around me and to hold her tightly in my own arms.
I was stumbling every few steps now; the sand in the playground had been turned to a slippery mush from the rain that continued relentlessly. I could see the jungle gym; I couldn't yet see our hiding place, thought. Despite this, it was almost as if I could feel her. I knew she was there.
I stumbled upon the jungle gym.
Or maybe it was just foolish hope.
She wasn't there.
I slumped to my knees; I wasn't sure if I was crying, because the rain was too heavy. But it felt like my heart was breaking. No. It felt like it had been torn in pieces and was now being stomped upon.
I opened my lips, and cried out, every bit of anguish that was inside pouring out with that one, single word.
( - Alice POV - )
I wasn't running anymore. I was curled into a small ball, thankfully shielded from the rain. The letter that I'd wanted to send to Jazzy was clutched tightly in my hands, ruined now. The words were all blurred together from the rain that had come out of nowhere.
I can't do it.
I was staring at the mailbox, Jazzy's letter gripped tightly in my palms. I was nervous; I was crying, too. I couldn't force myself to open the little box and stuff the letter inside. Doubt was overwhelming me, filling me and tearing me apart.
What if he didn't want me anymore? Did it matter that this hadn't been either of our faults? It had been three years.
What if it was too late?
I dropped my head into my hands, and bit back a sob. The rain was getting harder now, and colder. I shivered, and blew a lock of soaking hair out of my eyes.
I needed to find somewhere safe from the rain. Then... then...
Well, I wasn't sure what would happen next. I would probably wait out the storm, because I couldn't tell where I was going in the darkness. I wasn't even sure where I was. But surely I had to be somewhere near shelter. Any kind of shelter.
Wrapping my arms around myself, I began to walk. It was slow going, because the wind was strong and blowing against me. But before I knew it, the ground beneath my feet grew softer; I reached down, and the sand slipped slowly through my fingers.
There were only two places in Forks with sand; the beach (Which was technically in La Push) and the playground.
So I did know where I was after all...
I smiled a small, sad smile. This was the park where Jazzy and I always came. I hadn't been here many times since he'd left — I could count on one hand the times I had been forced to come here. It held a lot of memories, including all the times we would come and climb into the jungle gym to hide from the kids who liked to tease me and bully him.
The jungle gym...
It would shield me from the rain, if not the wind. It was a start. And it would probably have to do, because I knew the area around here, and it was almost all residential. The last thing I wanted to do was crawl, soaked and shivering, up to someone's front door and ask for a place to stay.
I sighed, and wrapped my arms tighter aroung myself.
Jazzy! Hide with me!
I knew it was stupid; I was getting soaked, and probably sick. But the memories... I knew they would come rushing back again. And I was defenseless and hopeful, and so easily hurt right now.
I won't let them hurt you again. We can hide until they leave. ... I won't ever let them hurt you again.
I moved one step forward, and then another.
C'mon, baby girl. We can play a game. This can be... this can be our spaceship!
I knew that, back then, Jazzy had been protecting me the only way he knew how — by hiding. He couldn't physically fight them off. He wasn't weak, but he wasn't physically strong. He was beat down far too often — in pain far too often — to really be strong enough to fight anyone.
I was in front of the jungle gym now. The rain was too thick to see anything but the bright colors that were suddenly assaulting my vision.
I love you, baby girl...
I reached out to touch the plastic, but pulled my hand back quickly, almost as if I'd been shocked.
My heart beat fast, and I shivered harder than ever. His voice sounded so real. It was so much worse than any memory I could imagine; his voice, so real, so strong, cutting through me. When had my memories become quite so real? And if I could hear him, why couldn't I see him? Maybe there was something wrong with my head... maybe I was hallucinating.
But then... I could hear him moving, too, which was unusual. And surely I was going insane now. Memories weren't supposed to be so vivid. But I could hear footsteps, frantic and clumsy, moving quickly across the park.
Memories... memories hurt...
But I knew.
... it wasn't a memory.
Blue eyes. Messy, wet blond hair.
My knees grew weak.
And then, a look of confusion lit his beautiful face. The Jazzy in my memories was never confused. Or quite this soaked.
The rain poured harder than ever. Even without the thunder, it sounded like the world was shaking and exploding everywhere. I couldn't hear; my vision was beginning to black out. Was I fainting? That would be sucky timing...
"Is that... is that really you, Alice?"
And then a hand, soft and warm, was on my face.
My knees gave out, and I fell to the ground.
But as I closed my eyes, I smiled, because at least if I never opened them again, he would be the last thing I ever saw.
I REALIZE THIS IS A SHORT CHAPTER! ... now that that's out of the way, I'll explain. Classes started this week. My life SUCKS. Over 10 assignments already turned in, and several more to accomplish this weekend, along with off-campus work. So I figured I'd give you what I have and call it good so you don't worry that I've died again.
NOTE: Yay! Reunion next chaaaaaapter!
PLEASE REVIEW! ( I accept Anon. reviews, too! )
"Is she's gonna be ok? She's so pale, and she's not waking up..."