AN: I'm awful! I know, and I'm terribly sorry! School's been a major pain, and my Microsoft Word got deleted to somewhere so I had to try and scour for it in my files. I finally found it but all my work was gone and thus… I rewrote everything to how it is now. I didn't have any homework (finally!) so I sat here for two hours and typed. Again, I'm sorry to all those who have been following and I'm thankful to so many people who have been adding this story and reviewing—it means so much to me!

Loneliness

Jacob could not win; he was failing in suppressing the stupid grin he knew was plastered on his face; jogging across the parking lot—God, he wanted to actually sprint, but held it in check—the shape-shifter spotted the slender figure. She was wearing a lilac blouse and a long elegant black skirt, her feet adorned in high-heeled sandals.

This is wrong, he thinks, waving to her despite the thought. Alice smiles warmly as he approaches.

"I'm not late am I?"

She laughs; he finds himself not disgusted by the tinkling of it. He knows that's bad; ignores it. "No. In fact I just got here myself."

"Did you now? Saw me in a vision did ya?" he teases.

The vampire rolls her eyes, but playfully punches his arm. The remembrance of its warmth alights her core; I really should not be here…

They have been thinking the same thoughts for a month—ever since their time in the forest; their haven. The subtle changes in their disposition have been difficult to hide, since each had mind-readers in their families. But they had been secretly visiting each other in Port Angeles, and then they would head to the woods. Where it was quiet and they could talk; where they could just be themselves.

Walking now, Jacob looks down at the vampire, absently brushing back a lock of ebony.

"W-What was that for?" Alice suddenly stammered. She still was not used to being unable to predict someone's thoughts.

"Did you straighten it?"

She blinks, but then perks up instantly, delighted he noticed. "Yes, indeed."

"It looks great."

Alice wondered if her stomach would have knots, or if her face would be a bright crimson; probably. She simply giggled, cantering through the soft ground. Jacob followed quietly, just staring. Suddenly, she sat on a fallen log, patting a spot next to her. He took her offer, inquisitive to what she wanted.

"Tell me about yourself."

He quirks a brow. "Why?"

"I'd like to know."

"Is there any other reason besides that?"

She nods, solemn but delighted simultaneously; it was an odd expression, he remarks to himself. But he supposes all vampires were capable of doing anything, even twisting many emotions onto their faces.

"Jacob," she begins, slowly, "That kiss we had a month ago…" she stops, lost for words.

"I was pretty good wasn't I?" he teases suddenly. He laughs at the consternation on her pale features. "What? Was it awful? I didn't think it was too bad for my first kiss."

The vampire's brows rise, scoffing a laugh. "I didn't know it was your first; nor did I think you thought you were superb."

"Ouch!" he barks, putting a hand to his heart. "That hurt Miss Alice. Really hurt…"

She looks down suddenly; a flicker of shame passes over her eyes. "Was it really your first?"

"Yup." He shrugs.

"I'm sorry…"

Jacob turns to her then. "Why—for stealing the virginity of my lips?"

She did not know how to take that statement—it was so ridiculously stated she could laugh, but she knows that there's an uncomfortable truth to his words. Jacob does not mind it, yet she could not help but feel guilty; people were different about how they feel on similar matters. Perhaps his first kiss was not as important as it had been for her. Withal, she wondered if he was saving it for the girl he loves—just not infatuated with; saving it for Bella…

Hanging her head, Alice sighs heavily.

"What's the matter?" the shape-shifter murmurs, voice heady with concern. "You can poke fun of me again, if you want."

She smiles softly, a stirring in her chest blooming from his worry. He was so bright, always trying to make people feel good that he, sometimes, forgot himself. She contemplates about Bella once more; was it difficult for Jacob to try and let her go yet keep her close all the while? That must be torture…

"No, I don't need to do that—and you weren't bad." She grins up at him, but it's brief.

"What's wrong then?"

Sighing, Alice stands, biting her lower lip. "Aren't you upset about my stealing your first kiss?"

His dark eyes become incredulous, and he grins. "Is that all you're upset about. It's really not that big a deal, Alice."

"You're not upset that it wasn't…"

They both knew who she was about to mention.

With surprising tenderness, Jacob curls his fingers over hers; he does not know why he is being nice with her. She is still his immortal enemy, but he was always one for hoping; maybe… the shape-shifter is not entirely sure as to what he wants to hope for—there is the fact that his tribe is still sworn to defeat all vampires.

But he doesn't wish to contemplate about that right now; he hardly ever gets a chance for himself. With that in mind, he places his hands behind his head and relaxes on the ground. Alice joins him, sitting cross-legged.

In the silence, there is a flowing peace; with gratefulness, they begin to talk, the pastime they both found to enjoy together. Jacob was never usually one for chit-chat, withal, with her, he found it enjoyable. There was a conversation before when he had inquired about her passion for clothing; like him about anything mechanical, Alice had gone on rambling about clothing for what seemed an eternity. But he encouraged her when she halted, the same when she had done for him.

In this companionable silence, they talk for hours, unaware of time and life—they were just a boy and a girl in this moment.

The two were unaware of a creature in the shadows, watching them, eyes burning; then, it ran.

XxXxXxX

Bella watched Jasper surreptitiously; she was worried about him. He had never been one for words but he was looking more distant than ever and she wondered what could be perturbing him. Approaching him steadily, she reached out and meant to place a hand on his arm; he had withdrawn so quickly she had to blink a few times.

"I'm sorry," she breathed nervously, "I didn't mean—"

"No, no," instantly contrite, he replies, trying to calm down her emotions, "I'm the one who should not have moved so suddenly."

"Oh… Well…" Bella licks her lips hesitantly, eyes cast down. She didn't want to push anything if she could avoid it; but she was concerned for him. He chuckled then, and she looks up into his face.

"Don't worry about me," he tells her gently. "I'm tough enough to handle anything."

Bella sighs quietly, searching for words. Taking a quick breath, she looks back up at him; he's amused by the determination in her dark eyes. "What is bothering you? You have not gone near me since you all came back."

He is no longer amused. Quirking a brow, Jasper asks her to explain.

"I know that you and I have never actually gone near each other before, but… Are you worried about you hurting me?"

He winces inwardly. "No…"

Bella takes a step towards him, and he forces himself to stand where he is. "I'm not angry with you. I've already forgiven you."

Jasper smiles a little, warmed slightly by the anxiety in her waves. "That means more to me than you could ever know, and I thank you for forgiving me."

The girl's dark eyes dance, her lips curving in a delighted smile. "I'm glad. You know I could never be angry with you—any of you."

Though he was indeed happy that she held no grudges on him, she was still contemplating the tiny pained expression flittering in his eyes. "There's more bothering you, isn't it?"

He nods.

"What is it?"

"It's… Alice."

The girl blinks, confused. "Alice? What's the matter with her?"

"I'm not sure," he slowly replies, thoroughly as perplexed as she. "There seems to be more to her lately, as though she has become more in tuned with this world somehow. Her emotions are always a whirlwind for me now—they used to be calm but now they are always so tempestuous."

Bella walks closer to him, looking out the window of the study with him. She can't think of anything to say. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be, Bella, you've done nothing."

She reaches out again, and the vampire makes no sudden movements for her sake. Her soft hand lands on his, and a warmth seeps into his. He wonders how someone so pale could be so warm; he asks himself if Alice would be that warm if she was human. Of course she would be… They all would be.

Jasper smirks, raising his eye brow once more. "You're an incredibly perceptive human, young Bella. It's no wonder that my brother-in-law fancies you so much."

She blushes; and there's that scent again… that strong smell spiking the air, teasing his senses. Seeing his knuckles whiten with effort, Bella takes a step back. His eyes gleam, darkening into a rich brownish gold hue.

There's a blur and Edward is instantly at her side, eyes glittering, hands clenched hard.

"Edward, wait! He didn't do anything! Really, I'm fine, see?"

Though Edward obeyed, Jasper had already opened and jumped out the window, pain ebbing through him everywhere. He didn't understand what was happening—there was so much pain everywhere. When Edward came in, there had been a burning sensation of fear and anger in his waves; when he was with Alice now there was that cold splash of guilt and remorse hitting him in the face all the time and he couldn't understand why.

Then there were his emotions, a rampant tornado within his self. But the biggest was one that he hadn't felt in so long, not since he left his past—and it was loneliness. It ate at him, and he wanted it to go away.

Would he always be so different from the others? Would he always be the 'weak link'? The one who would, forever, jeopardize their safety?

He had kept hoping that, one day, he would overcome the thirst for human blood but it just seemed to get stronger. He didn't want this to continue. He was so… tired of it. Incredibly tired and sickened by everything; all these emotions raging, all the emotions of people hitting him with a ferocity that should throw him on his back.

There was no sense of anything. He was, somehow, exhausted and drained by the world. It was wrapping around him, suffocating him with its burdens. He was just so… sick of everything!

He was alone in the forest—restraining himself was not needed for now.

Like a lightening bolt, Jasper struck a nearby tree, ripping through the bark with cold steel-like fingers. He attacked it again and again, watching the splinters break, turn to dust, when they tried to wedge themselves into his stony hands.

He cries out, wanting to find a way to release all this pent-up tension; he just didn't want to feel right now, yet he found it hard to drown anything out. Why?

He was just so angry with everything…

There's a growl behind him, and Jasper whirls, pouncing where the wolf had been.

Hissing, Jasper attacks again, letting his anger roll off him.

He senses something then, that the wolf, though full of hatred towards him, did not wish to fight.

"What do you want?" he calls out, waiting.

The wolf narrows large eyes, and retreats to the woods; Jasper retreats, knowing he'll come back.

A slender figure approaches then, and he's taken aback by the form; a female shape-shifter? How is that even possible? Males have been the only ones to ever fight against them.

Even so, the young woman came towards him. The girl had short-cropped hair, just like the males, but there was no trace of masculinity in her features; her mouth was completely sensual, with an aquiline nose above it, within an oval face; but her large eyes were astounding to look at. Bella had dark eyes, but there was a gleam that he found interesting to look into. Her physique was, too, feminine in every curve.

Her face stern, she halted. "What are you staring at?"

Jasper just continues his scrutiny. "I should be asking that. These are not your grounds."

"I don't have to answer you anything!" she snaps, and the anger radiating off her is invigorating, though unbalancing.

"Then don't. But you obviously have something to say to me if you came all the way here."

The woman straightens now, her head erect as she glares at him. "I want you to explain to me why one of your members is talking with mine."

Jasper's eyes widen a fraction. "That's ridiculous. We know full well of the treaty and none of us fraternize with any of you."

"Liar!" she spits at him, like a curse. "If you don't tell to that little dark-haired vixen to stop playing tricks on Jacob, you won't get another warning!"

Jasper is stunned, stuck to the ground.

The young woman doesn't wait for him to reply, already treading through the woods on human feet.

The vampire watches the dimness of the forest enshroud her form, though he was not actually seeing. He stood there till the sun had set, and other creatures had begun stir.

They silenced for the rest of the night when an eerie cry of anger stabbed the heavens.