A/N: This is an AH/AU fic. I'm going to try and maintain some canon elements (as the extent and nature of Alice's and Jasper's injuries reveal themselves, you'll see what I mean), but this will be a largely original story. Please bear in mind before you start reading that this story is rated for graphic descriptions of debilitating wounds, strong language, and eventual sexual content.
Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its characters.
Tie Me Down to this World
"Show your face, please, tie me down somewhere. Tie me down to this world. I don't want to join the ghosts. I'm just an ordinary person. I need you."
~Haruki Murakami, Dance, Dance, Dance
Prologue: Nature's Second Course
"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."
~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth
"He's waking up."
"Are you sure? He's not moving."
"Look at his eyes. He's forcing them shut now, but he's awake."
"Jasper, Jasper darling, can you hear me?"
"Jasper, it's Mom. I know it hurts, but you have to try and open your eyes now, hun."
No, you're wrong. It doesn't hurt. Not yet. But if you make me come to you, if you rip me from this darkness, then I will feel it. Please, just let me stay here.
But she can't hear me, so she can't know. She can't know how precariously I'm walking the line between waking and sleeping, between pain and peace. So she does the unimaginable: she reaches out and touches my hand.
Just a touch: less a caress than a light gust of wind. And yet, for all its tenderness it may as well have been a giant wrecking ball knocking me over the edge of consciousness. The site where her fingers brush my skin turns into a great fault line that quickly travels across my entire body. My skin rips apart, and I can feel fluid rising to fill the gaps. Everything is tearing, everything is leaking, everything is pain.
I open my eyes and scream.
I fight to keep my eyes closed, knowing already from the lack of sunlight filtering through my eyelids that it is still nighttime. But it's too late—whatever it was that was so intent upon my waking has accomplished its purpose. And as soon as my mind registers that it is conscious, the questions begin.
"Where are you from?"
I don't know.
"Who are your parents?"
I don't know.
"What's your name?"
I don't know.
It's bad enough to have to go through these questions with my doctor, but it's far worse to have to ask them of myself.
What kind of person can't even remember her own name?
Sleep is my only relief from all this. The doctors give me drugs—good drugs—for the pain, and with them, I find I can sleep for twelve hours at a time. And just like that, there's half of my day gone where I don't have to face myself as a stranger, where I don't have to face myself at all.
I push the button at the side of my bed and within minutes a nurse appears in the doorway.
"It hurts," I state simply. Without further question, she comes to my side and injects a shot of morphine into the tube protruding from my arm.
The drugs hit me like a wave, and almost immediately they wash the insistent questions from my mind. Sleep comes next… sleep and darkness.
But in the seconds before sleep, I suddenly remember what it was that woke me in the first place.
It was a scream.
Someone was screaming.