Hey, sorry it's a little late, but I was away, and then I got sick. But I'm back in full force again, and I hope you all enjoy the chapter!
Thanks to everyone who reviewed. It really does make me smile when I read every one. As gag-qorthy as that it, it's true!
Everything Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
Alice nibbled at her poached eggs on Monday morning, hugging her lukewarm coffee cup with her hand. Carlisle sat across the table from her, hidden behind the paper.
"You've been awfully quiet this morning," Carlisle said as he folded his paper and set it beside him. He studied Alice over his glasses. "Is there something wrong?"
"Nothing, just a few things on my mind," said Alice. It was much easier to avoid awkward conversations with Carlisle than it was with Esme. When you gave him vague answers, he accepted them.
"Are you sure there's nothing you want to talk about?" Clearly, Esme had put him up to this.
"Honestly, I'm fine. I think I'm just a little stressed."
"Well, hope you get everything in order," he said, draining his own coffee cup. He picked up his briefcase and gave Alice a kiss on the forehead. "Have a good day, darling."
"Thanks, Carlisle, you too."
Once the door slammed behind Carlisle the house was very quiet. Esme was out on a run and Edward was still upstairs in his room. Alice sighed when she thought of him standing in front of his mirror, trying to look his best, without actually looking like he was trying. She had considered going up to offer her services, but she didn't want to hurt his pride. He was too independent sometimes.
Finally, Alice decided she had given him enough time to prepare himself.
"Edward, hurry up or we'll be late!" He ran down the stairs, looking the same as he always did. He was smiling though, as if he was proud of himself. "You look nice," she said.
Edward looked down at his outfit and pulled at the shirt he was wearing. "You think?" he asked with a furrowed brow.
Alice smiled and nodded. She grabbed her bag and he followed her out to the car.
Before she got in she took a deep breath. Like Edward, Alice, too, had been preparing herself for something this morning. It was something that had been bothering her all weekend, but she had yet to discuss it with Edward. More than once she had tried to bring it up, but she found it too difficult for numerous reasons.
However, she had left it to the last possible moment, and the car ride to school was her final chance.
They were only out of the driveway when Edward realized something was off. Alice cursed herself for her uncomfortable fidgeting. It was unlike her to be distracted, so it tipped Edward off almost immediately.
"What's the matter?" he asked, obviously trying to sound casual.
"Well, nothing, really. It's just... I've been meaning to...." Alice struggled again to articulate her feelings. She closed her eyes and took another deep breath. Edward eyed her with curiosity. "There's something I want to talk to you about."
Edward's eyes flickered from the road to Alice a few times. "Shoot." He smiled at her in an effort to disperse her discomfort, but it only made her feel worse about what she was going to say.
"You and Bella had a good time on Saturday night, right?" Edward nodded; Alice continued hesitantly. "Obviously, the Hales will have their own ways of finding that out." She paused again, trying to keep her eyes focused on the dashboard. In her peripheral, she could see Edward's features hardening. She wished she'd never started talking, but she also knew there was no way to avoid it. "I... I was thinking...."
"Just say it, Alice." Edward spoke through gritted teeth, reacting exactly how Alice expected him to.
"Okay." She swallowed her nerves and decided to just say what she felt. "This is still a game for them, Edward, no matter how you feel about Bella, and no matter how she feels about you. They do not care. In fact, and this is what I really wanted to warn you about, now that you and Bella are... whatever you are, I think that they will take this even more seriously now. For all they know, we are still players in this, and your feelings for Bella, well, they aren't real."
A heavy silence feel over them. Alice stared out the window, while Edward started straight ahead.
"So you wanted to warn me?"
"Yes," Alice replied simply.
"Excuse me?" Alice struggled to form the words, she was in such shock.
"Bullshit," Edward repeated. "This is still a game to you, too."
"Edward, you have completely misconstrued-"
"Don't even try it. All you care about is getting one over on the Hales. That's why you "warned" me, you just want me on my toes for the next round of battle.
"I swear to god that's not what I wanted to do." Blinking furiously, Alice was surprised to find that she was on the verge of tears. "Why would you think that?"
"Because you've been obsessed with it all week, ever since Bella got here. Did you ever once stop and think how cruel this is?" Edward's words cut through Alice and she couldn't meet his gaze as he pulled the car to a park in school.
Desperate now, Alice let a few stubborn tears escape and quickly wiped them away.
"Fine. Do whatever you want. Don't come fucking crying to me for help when Jasper Hale takes Bella from right under your nose. Because, like it or not, him and Rosalie are fucking smart bitches and they will do everything it takes to steal this one thing from you. If they want this enough, and they do, then they're going to succeed."
Edward narrowed his eyes at her and opened his mouth, but Alice cut across him again. Anything else he said would be unbearable.
"I'll find my own way home today."
She slammed the door of his car behind her and took a few gulps of fresh air to ease her aching head.
When she turned around, the car park was almost full. Across the lot, Jasper Hale was staring at her, Rosalie's Beamer nowhere in sight. Alice expected him to turn away when she met his eyes, but he didn't. Instead, he looked at her, searching for something. Alice returned his stare blankly.
Once he was apparently satisfied with what he saw, he winked at her. Something about his smile made Alice feel sick.
Alice crossed her arms over her stomach as she watched him move through the cars, towards something. Following his path with her eyes, Alice saw who he was heading towards. Her stomach sank, but she wasn't surprised.
Jasper helped Bella out of her van and shot her his infamous arrogant grin. Alice's stomach clenched.
She hadn't dared even for a minute to believe that Jasper was being genuine on Saturday night. In that drunken moment, Alice hadn't suspected that he had ulterior motives, but when she woke in soberness the following morning, she knew differently.
Unfortunately for her, what Jasper said had got to her, and that was exactly what he wanted. The whole car journey home, Alice sat in the back of the car in silence. Even once Bella had been dropped off, Edward was still so lost in his own world with Bella that he didn't even notice.
That night Alice had been kept awake with a turning stomach and twisted head. When she finally awoke after a disturbed sleep, Jasper's words still rang loud and clear through her head.
Edward was her only friend close to her age, and he was her brother. Bella was going to take him away from her.
But it wasn't as though Alice hadn't had the opportunity to make friends, she just chose to keep people distanced. Their family moved so much it only seemed logical to only grow close to the people that would be moving with her. Edward had always felt the same way.
Things were changing, though, and now Edward had Bella. It was just a matter of whether or not he could keep her. Alice stood by what she said; this was still a game, regardless of how feelings changed.
She got changed for Gym in silence. Rosalie still hadn't arrived, but it was very unusual for her to be early to Gym. Alice was not looking forward to facing her. The success of their party crash had sent ripples through the school.
"I cannot believe they pulled it off," Lauren said loudly, so the whole changing room could hear. "It was legendary." She flicked her mascara wand up with her wrist and pouted into the mirror. "And did you see Tyler's face when he saw me and Mike together. So jealous."
Alice could not stand to listen to anymore and walked right past Lauren and into the hall. Coach Clapp was already standing in the middle, waiting for the class to congregate. A few boys were already gathered, but Alice was the first girl out of the changing rooms.
"Hey Ben," she said, walking up to stand beside him. "Did you enjoy Saturday?" Ben, who was noticeably tired, beamed at Alice.
"Yeah, it was brilliant! Took a while to clean up, though, but at least my parents didn't find out." He yawned loudly, attempting to conceal it from Coach Clapp which his hand.
"Now is not the time for sleeping, Mr. Cheney. We're about to get stared," said Coach Clapp. The entire class had arrived by now and Rosalie Hale was staring down at Alice, a pompous look on her face.
Alice's stomach dropped. It hadn't occurred to her that Jasper might have told Rosalie about their conversation on Saturday. Even though she'd told him not to, her request surely wouldn't stop him. If Rosalie knew what had passed between them, it would give Rosalie an incredible advantage over her, given how vulnerable a position it put Alice in.
However, Alice remembered Jasper's face as he looked at her earlier, and she finally understood what it was about. She should have recognized the lines of worry etched on his forehead, but it wasn't an expression she was accustomed to seeing on his face. There were many expressions Alice had never seen of Jasper's face.
He had been afraid, as afraid as she had just been, that Alice had told someone.
Alice looked Rosalie straight the the eye, trying the muster the most hostile look she could to try and wipe the smirk off Rosalie's pink lips. When she reached Rosalie's eyes, she couldn't help but look away. Through her hazy memory, she matched the color of Rosalie's blue eyes to Jasper's. Even in the dim light of the street, his eyes had stood out, dilated pupils and all. They reminded Alice that now there was something between her and Jasper; a secret; a vague, unspoken agreement; a tie between them, that either one could break to the detriment of the other. The realization of this terrified Alice.
A sudden desire to get as far away from this class as possible came over Alice. Her feet twitched beneath her, but she shook out her arms and shifted her weight alternately on the balls of her feet, feigning an impatience to begin the exercise.
Rosalie raised an eyebrow in confusion at Alice's erratic behavior, but Alice met her with a raised chin.
"Come on, Alice," Ben said from over her left shoulder. Alice gave him a quizzical look. "You're on my team."
Alice followed him dumbly to the smaller group that made up her team.
"What are we playing?" she asked Ben quietly. "I kind of spaced out," she said when he looked at her again.
"Soccer," he said in reply. "We're on Team 3."
Alice nodded to show she understood, and kept her silence as some of the more serious soccer players discussed strategies.
"Team 1 and 2, let's go!"
The first two teams kicked the soft ball about the court for seven minutes before the whistle was blown. The coach called for Alice and Bens' team to play against Team 4.
Alice took her agreed position as defender, and, much to her displeasure, Rosalie was marching right towards the same spot. As much as the teachers tried to avoid direct confrontation, sometimes it was unavoidable.
"I'm gonna wipe the floor with you, Cullen," Rosalie hissed at Alice, knocking into her shoulder as she walked past.
"Shove it up your ass, Hale. You seem to have plenty of room up there." Alice shot back at her, bracing herself for a tough match.
The whistle blew, and immediately Alice's team took control of the ball. With such a small court, and it being an indoor match, it would only be minutes before the ball was stolen and sent down towards Rosalie, so Alice kept on her toes, ready for it.
"Cullen, heads up," someone shouted.
A high ball was coming for them. Aware that she'd never be able to get it before Rosalie made contact, Alice pivoted behind her, waiting for the steal. Rosalie had not seen her move, and when she spun around to head for the goal, ball at her feet, Alice was quick to kick it away from her.
Sprinting after it, Alice maneuvered the ball between the feet of various attackers. Looking up for a split second, for someone to pass to, Alice's feet caught underneath her and she threw her arms out just in time to break her fall against the hard wooden floor. She flipped around to see Rosalie running in the opposite direction, with the ball.
Coach Clapp simply shrugged when Alice looked at him imploringly. Cursing under her breath, Alice got to her feet and dusted herself off just as Rosalie scored. Shaking her hips in a victory dance, Rosalie winked at Alice in a way that so mirrored her brother's that Alice felt her face heat in anger.
When the ball was thrown out again, Alice's team had it once again, before it came back down the court. Alice quickly intercepted a pass before it could get very far, kicking it as far as she could up the court. With one tip from Ben it was in the back of the net, and the score was even. Returning to her original position on court, Alice blew a quick kiss in Rosalie's direction; the latter flipped Alice off when Coach Clapp's back was turned.
"One minute left," the coach said after a few minutes of no scores.
Alice was quick to receive the sideline throw in, but Rosalie was not far behind her as she kicked the ball from foot to foot.
"Looks like you're just not quick enough," a sneering voice whispered in Alice's ear. It took only that moment's break in concentration for Rosalie to knock the ball from Alice's control, almost tripping her up again as she went.
The blond carried the ball quickly down towards Alice's team's goal, but Alice was not willing to give this win to Rosalie that easily.
Moving as quickly as her feet would allow her to, Alice managed to catch up with Rosalie, first running beside her, then edging in front, judging the perfect angle for her move. Rosalie was not watching her, but had her eyes set firmly on the goal. Perfect.
Launching herself lightly off the ground, Alice then slid across the floor, pushing all her weight forward, so the momentum built. She winched as the heat of the friction burned against her skin, but her aim had been spot on and the ball was knocked right off the court. Alice braced herself for the inevitable.
Rosalie tumbled to the ground, tripping over Alice. Just like Alice had earlier, but with greater impact.
The whistle was blown numerous times, while Coach Clapp intermittently shouted, "Foul! Cullen, that was a foul!"
Alice, however, was choosing to ignore the coach. Her legs were tangled up with Rosalie's, and until Rosalie moved, Alice had no escape.
"You little bitch," Rosalie growled, shooting daggers at Alice from beneath her light hair.
Before Alice knew what was happening, she was being forced to the ground and Rosalie was trying to rip the hair from her head.
"Get off me!" Alice pushed her legs up against Rosalie's body and pushed her off and onto the floor beside. She retaliated by grabbing a handful of Rosalie's long hair, knotting it around her fist and tugging, eliciting a loud scream from her opponent.
The whistle blowing only became fiercer and the fight continued, and Alice was completely oblivious to Coach Clapp's shouts. She snatched and clawed at anything within her reach.
"Fuck you," Alice said, as Rosalie dug her long nails into Alice's upper arm, no doubt breaking skin. Alice reached closer of Rosalie's scalp and pulled harder.
Someone much stronger eventually pulled Alice away, her legs still flailing.
"Put. Me. Down!" She writhed in the arms of however had intervened. Alice did not feel like she was done fighting yet.
Breaking free, Alice stood still while Rosalie was allowed to get to her feet. She was fuming, glaring at Alice like she was a predator and Alice was her prey. Her blond hair fell loose from her ponytail, and her shirt was torn at the shoulder from where Alice had ripped it.
Lunging for her again, Alice was restrained by her arms. She fought to free herself again, but failed.
Coach Clapp stood between them, looking just as furious as Alice felt. "Cullen, Hale, come with me. Now!"
The two girls followed behind the coach, leaving a silently stunned class behind them.
"I cannot believe you two, lowering yourself to such a disgraceful display of physical violence. You are supposed to mature, responsible adults. Start acting like it."
Alice took deep, steady breaths as she tried to control her temper. No matter how much trouble she was in now, it was worth it. She had been waiting to kick Rosalie's ass for years now, and from the way Rosalie fought back, the feeling was mutual. Although she didn't do as much damage as she would have liked, it was still somewhat cathartic.
Fifteen minutes later they sat outside the Principal's office, listening to Coach Clapp's muffled version of the recent event. The nurse was inspecting a cut above Rosalie's eyebrow, as Alice held an ice pack to her arm.
Coach Clapp emerged from the office, still livid. Without speaking, he motioned for them to enter the Principal's office.
They both took the seats facing the Principal's desk. They waited while he wrote something down and pretended to shuffle through papers. Alice assumed that he thought the build up of tension was dramatic.
She sighed, audibly.
"I'm sorry, Miss. Cullen, am I keeping you away from something important," Mr. Greene cut Alice a patronizing glare over his glasses. He removed then, folding then slowing and placing them on the table before linking his fingers in a cusp above the table. "Would either of you care to explain?"
Simultaneously, both girls bombarded the principal with their own accounts of what happened.
"Completely unprovoked... out of nowhere... was just trying to get the ball... innocent, I swear...."
"Ladies," said Mr. Greene, cutting off their words with a raised palm. "Look, given the situation as assessed by Coach Clapp, and your, um, slight animosity towards each other, I have no other option but to place equal blame on the both of you."
Alice began to protest, as did Rosalie, but again they were stopped short.
"Given your previous records with the school, which are both spotless, the punishment will be light, in accordance with the crime committed." Alice couldn't contain her scoff at the mention of "crime". Mr. Greene cleared his throat before speaking again. "You will each sit one detention - on different days. Please see Mrs. Cope for details. You may be excused."
Alice let Rosalie storm ahead of her into the secretary's office, and instead waited outside.
"Well, well, what do we have here?" Jasper marched right up to Alice and stood facing her. In a futile attempt to ignore him, she averted her gaze and refused to respond. "Sore loser, eh?"
Obviously, he wasn't going to go away any time soon.
"Do you really want your beloved sister to see you speaking to me?" Alice snapped.
"Not really," Jasper said, taking a step closer. Alice stood her ground; she refused to be intimidated by Jasper. "But I need some information from you."
An unexpected laugh escaped Alice's throat. "Are you being serious? What makes you think I'll tell you anything." Alice turned to walk away, still muttering under her breath, "You arrogant, obnoxious-"
"So you remember?" Jasper grabbed Alice's arm, right where Rosalie had scratched it. Alice recoiled instinctively, cursing the tears of pain that pricked her eyes. "Sorry," Jasper said, softer. He sounded like he had on Saturday, more genuine. "Looks like she got you pretty bad."
Alice glowered at him. She was not going to fall for this act again.
"Cullen, can you tell me exactly what you remember from Saturday night?" Had Alice not had seem Jasper slime his way into anything he wanted before, she just might have told him. However, she knew better, and she knew him better.
"Why? Scared you let something slip in a moment of weakness?" Alice said, still clutching her arm where it throbbed in pain. Jasper sighed and took a step away from her.
"That's a fear you'll just have to live with then," Alice said, trying to walk away again. He shot forward, placing his hand on the wall so his arm blocked her path. Alice changed direction, but he repeated the action so that she was now trapped, almost pinned to the wall by his body.
"This is not a joke, Cullen," he said, his eyes darkening in anger. His fuse was clearly as short as his sister's.
"And this is not a game anymore," Alice retaliated. "For Edward, this isn't a game. So back off." Narrowing her eyes, Alice stood up to her full height, so she was less than two inches from Jasper's face as he hunched over her.
He dropped his arms from beside her and stumbled backwards. "This isn't a game for me either."
Rosalie slammed the door of the office open before Alice had a chance to figure out what Jasper meant. Did he feel the same way about Bella that Edward did?
"What are you doing here?" Rosalie said to Jasper, shooting daggers at Alice, just for good measure.
There was an immediate change in Jasper's demeanor. He threw his shoulders back and lifted his chin. Within seconds, his trademark grin returned and his eyes had hardened.
"I was just coming to see what all this fuss was about," he told Rosalie. "Doesn't look like anything important." His cold eyes raked over Alice as he said this. Alice flinched from this as if he had just grabbed her arm again.
Before either of the Hales had a chance to say anything else, Alice stole herself into the office, tears once again threatening her.
The rest of her day was clouded in misery as she wandered from class to class in a numb state of mind. She avoided the cafeteria at lunch, instead choosing to spend her time in the library. When Edward didn't come looking for her, she knew she was now alone.
Typically, the rain poured from the skies as Alice stood beneath the shelter of the entrance of the school. Racking her brains to try and find some way she could get home, Alice was coming up with nothing. She was very reluctant to call Esme, as she didn't want to explain why she wasn't riding with Edward, let alone the detention. Against her stubborn nature, she wished that today, of all days, she hadn't rejected her usual ride from Edward.
Giving up and deciding the only way was to walk, Alice began to dig deep into her bag, praying she hadn't left her umbrella in Edward's Volvo.
A familiar engine revved above the clapping thunder, and Edward appeared in his car. Alice lowered her head, shielding herself from the rain with her arm. She peered through the passenger window.
Edward was staring back out at Alice, his eyes apologetic. However there was something else there as he reached over and popped the door open for her.
End of Chapter 8