An: This story begins on the day of Bella's eighteenth birthday party, and will eventually be Bella/Jasper. The rating is currently T, but will change to M when we get to the lemons. I hope you enjoy it, please let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, any of its characters and settings, and make no money from this.
My birthday. Eighteen. A whole year older than Edward. How much older would I have to get before he let me become like him? Would he wait until I was old, until I had wrinkles and grey hair? I just felt depressed, when I should have felt happy. I knew that Alice I made a big deal of it, I was pretty sure that she had organised a party. She'd been acting strangely all week.
Edward, of course, was thrilled. He had no intentions of ever letting me become what he thought of as a soulless monster. In his eyes, every birthday was a gift, the longer he could hear my heart beating, the better. I knew that one day I'd bring him around to my way of thinking. Alice had seen it, seen a vision of us together, arm in arm, ghostly pale with butterscotch eyes. I couldn't wait.
I pulled up outside the Cullen's, knowing that the rumbling engine of my truck would have let them know I was on my way, even before I had turned down the drive. I took a deep breath, and tried to prepare myself, already beginning to feel nervous at the thought of all the attention which would shortly be on me.
Alice was pulling open the door of my truck even before I'd had time to notice she'd left the house. "Happy birthday!" she screeched, pulling me out of the truck and into a hug, so hard it made me gasp for breath. "Come on, get on my back, I want to talk to you before you go in." She whispered, right next to my ear.
I obliged immediately, anything to keep from going into the house and being lavished with gifts and attention. I closed my eyes against the sight of trees rushing past us as we sped into the forest, the wind whipped through my hair and chafed my cheeks. This was just like Alice, impulsive and giddy.
I'd barely had time to wonder what was going on when we came to an abrupt halt in the middle of a small clearing. Alice let me off her back but didn't turn to face me. I started to worry. "What's happened?" I hated the edge of fear in my voice, but I couldn't help but think that something bad was happening.
"It's not what's happened... but what's going to." She explained haltingly, wringing her hands. She turned to face me, and as I took in her face I calmed down. I felt more curious than afraid now. She looked sad, but at the same time excited.
"I'm leaving, just for a while. I had a vision last night, more than one, I've been having them for a while. There's so much more in my future than I ever realised, and I have to go out and meet it. I saw a man, a vampire. We were mated."
"But Alice, what about Jasper, you love him, he loves you. You could stay with him, with all of us. Aren't you happy?" I babbled, bewildered. I could hardly understand what she was saying, it just didn't fit. Carlisle and Esme, Rosalie and Emmet, me and Edward, and Alice and Jasper. That's just how it was, how it was always going to be.
"I'm happy, but I could be so much happier. Things between Jasper and I have been getting steadily worse for years, and since we met you, it's become harder and harder. He struggles with this life so much, and I'm sick, sick to the heart of me, of trying to rein him in. Trying to stop him from slipping. The strain's just become too much and I can't do it anymore." She said, I could see the truth of what she said in her eyes, and it hurt me to know that I had caused them such pain.
"I'm sorry, it was stupid of me, selfish. I make it so much harder for him. I can stop coming to the house, that will make it easier for him. You can't just leave Alice. It would hurt them all so much."
"No Bella, you're a part of this family now, they'll need you, when I'm gone, you'll help hold them together, I've seen it. Even if we'd never met you, this would have happened, it would just have taken longer for me to see that Jasper just isn't my destiny. Daniel is more than I had ever hoped for, he's the man I've seen, he'll make me happier than I thought I could be. You'll like him, they all will eventually." She said. She was smiling now, love shining from her face. Whether it was for us, or for the man she had yet to really meet, I didn't know.
I knew that I had no chance of persuading her to change her mind, no one did. She was going to leave. I felt the beginnings of tears build up in my eyes and spill over onto my cheeks.
"When...when are you going?" I choked out. "I'll miss you so much, you're my best friend Alice, my sister."
She looked away from me then, but reached out and took my hand. "As soon as I get you back to the house."
"Now? Have you already packed? Have you said goodbye? What do Carlisle and Esme think? Is Jasper ok?" I scrambled for words, scrubbing at the tears on my cheeks.
"I've got everything I need in the car." She said, then stared at my face for what seemed like hours, but could only have been second. "No one else knows... I couldn't tell them, it's taken everything I have to keep Edward from finding out. They wouldn't understand, and I don't know if I could leave if they asked me not to go, not all of them."
I stared at her, trying to understand what she was saying. "But how...? How can you leave without saying goodbye? Even if you speak to no one else, you owe Jasper an explanation. He deserves that at least."
"I can't, if he knew he'd follow me. He'd kill Daniel once I found him. It's better this way, a clean break. I hoped... I wanted you to tell him, to explain things. Make them all understand why I had to go. You understand, don't you Bella?" She was pleading with me now, and I knew that this was hurting her too, I knew there would be tears on her face to match my own if she could make them.
"I... understand why you have to go, I wish you didn't, but I get it, I do. And I'll tell them." I reached out and hugged her as tightly as I could, knowing it wouldn't hurt her.
"Jasper will need you, Bella, I need you to promise me you'll be there for him. And tell him that he'll be happy again. I've seen him, smiling, laughing, even. This is the right thing for him too, though it won't seem that way for a while." She hugged me back, almost painfully.
"I'll try my best, I promise. How long will you be gone?" The tears had stopped now, this was inevitable, and if Alice was right, and I'd never known her to be wrong, it was for the best.
"I don't know, a few months at least. I'll call as often as I can though. I'll miss you, most of all. Take care of them for me. And try to keep yourself safe." She laughed out the last part, though it sounded more like a sob.
"I will." I said quietly, already thinking about the task ahead of me, how hard it would be to tell them. Even harder to keep my promise. How could I be there for a vampire, that not only disliked me, but wanted more than anything, to feed from me? I knew that my presence caused him pain, made his throat burn for my blood. This was true for all of the Cullen's, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad for them as it was for him. It had been worse for Edward, in the beginning, but he had gotten used to me now.
"We better get back, they'll already be wondering what's going on. I'll drop you by the door, and I'll be gone by the time they realise what's happened."
Once again I climbed onto her back, but with a heavier heart. I didn't notice the speed this time, I was too focused on Jasper, and the fact that very soon, I would tell him something that would break his heart.