A/N: This is my first shot at fanfic, and I hope I didn't mess with your beloved characters too much. I hope you enjoy :) and please, for the sake of all that is holy, REVIEW! SMeyer owns.
I stared out the window, pouting a little, my legs swinging back and forth off the edge of my bed. It was raining again. It always rained, and I was tired of it. But this time, the power was out, and I couldn't turn my TV on or heat up my curling iron. All of my magazines were read and gutted of all good fashion ads that now hung on my walls and my cell phone was dead. It had been raining ceaselessly since Thursday when my father picked Edward and I up from First Beach after his check-up at the doctor's office. I'd found it kind of ironic, considering my dad was a doctor himself. Regardless, it had been raining for four days. We were lucky that Carlisle decided to build our house on high terrain. Some homes at sea level were worried about flooding. At least there was a bit of brightness left; the coolness of the gray sky filtered in through my curtains and casted a muted glow on the dark wooden floors. On the bright side—no pun intended—it could have been dark, and I hated the dark.
My eyes snapped up from my pale knees as someone pounded relentlessly on my bedroom door. I sneered. Edward. He was so irritating.
"What do you want?" I called across my football field of a bedroom. My clock at my bedside table read 6:30. Dinnertime. My mother and father smiled at me from the family picture that sat in the delicate silver frame by my alarm.
"Esme said to come downstairs to help set the table," he hollered, opening the door without permission. I slipped my flat off my foot and promptly threw it at his big, bronze-colored head.
"I didn't tell you that you could come in, Edward," I snarled, removing my other shoe from lack of proper ammunition.
"Well I didn't ask," he snickered, dodging the Italian leather that was soaring towards his face. "Besides, if you didn't want me in here, you should have locked the door." The grin he wore was so smug that I nearly lunged at him myself.
Edward is the younger of my two brothers, and while I liked him more than Emmett, he was definitely the lesser of two evils. Edward and I are twins, and he seemed to think that because we share a birthday, it was okay to be a complete dick without any remorse. On our thirteenth birthday four years ago, I invited my first boyfriend, Bryce, over for the 'family birthday party' that my mother insisted on hosting. I remember Bryce that day so clearly as if it was happening all over again in my head. He ran from the house, screaming to his mother on his cell phone, with pink icing hardening around his carefully gelled spikes. Edward had howled with laughter as he and Emmett rubbed the butter cream into Bryce's hair as if they were washing a dog, Bryce screaming and crying all the while as Esme tried to pull the boys away from him. My eyes had brightened at the sight of my giant pink birthday cake, Esme balancing it precariously on her palms, my elated squeals transforming to screams of terror as Edward jumped from behind a curtain, screaming, "boo!" and laughing hysterically as our mother dropped my pink birthday cake to the floor in complete fear. He and Emmett apparently thought it was a good idea to scoop the ruined cake from the floor and wash my boyfriend's hair with it. I had told myself that something bad would happen as far as my brothers' involvement was concerned, almost like a premonition. But I'd passed it off as paranoia, figuring that Edward and Emmett would at least behave themselves on our birthday. I had been wrong. Bryce never came back again.
The story of my unfortunate thirteenth birthday party sort of demonstrates my entire childhood with Edward as my brother. Other than the same birthday, we shared a car, a school, a family, a bathroom…we obviously shared way too much. And the anger of seventeen tortured years of sharing a roof with Edward Cullen seemed to accumulate in that moment, as he stood defiantly in my doorway.
"Get the fuck out of my way, Edward," I hissed, shoving past him with as much force as my four foot, eleven inch frame would allow. That was another thing that irritated me; Edward managed to make it over six feet while I wallowed in the fact that I was almost legally a midget.
"Alright, Alice. Have fun letting Esme boss you around. I'll just be messing around with your shit while your gone." His lips curled up at the ends as he crossed his ankles in a casual stance, fingering the edges of a Vogue that sat on my desk.
"Try it and see what happens," I threatened, taking a step towards him.
"Ooh, and I'm supposed to be scared of you?" he cackled, throwing his head back in exaggerated laughter.
"Alice, Edward, knock it off." A smooth voice interrupted our quarrel, both of our heads turning simultaneously to face our father. Carlisle stood outside of his study door, arms crossed over his chest and his mouth turned downward in distaste.
"He started it," I mumbled childishly, my eyes on the floor. I twirled a tiny piece of black hair around my finger as Edward tried to form a poorly articulated excuse.
"I honestly don't care who 'started it,' Alice," Carlisle said firmly, cutting Edward off in the midst of his defense. "Go do what your mother asked." He pointed a long, pale finger towards the winding staircase. I followed his instruction without argument, Carlisle's voice wafting down with me as I left. "And as for you Edward, stop with the fucking cussing."
Esme was the anchor of the Cullen household. It was odd that she allowed us to call her Esme, but she had insisted that she liked it better than 'mom' because it kept her feeling young. Emmett always called her mom, and Edward did most of the time, but I think she liked for me to call her Esme because it made her feel like we were friends.
"I thank God for you, Alice," she said when I entered the kitchen. "I thought no one would come and help." A grin stretched across her face and she flipped her mahogany waves behind her shoulder.
"I don't mind," I lied. I arranged five glass plates perfectly around or circular table, humming some song I forgot the name of as Esme tossed a salad. Silence lingered in the kitchen, occasionally being broken by the clinking of glass or the pitter-pat of my footsteps against the tile. Esme wasn't particularly talented when it came to interacting with her own children. Both she and Carlisle worked like dogs day-in and day-out, leaving my brothers and I alone most of the time.
"So Alice, are you up for a little shopping in Port Angeles Wednesday before school starts?" Esme always broke the ice with a shopping proposal. Against my will, my face lit up as I slid onto a barstool.
"What do you think?" I asked rhetorically, biting into a carrot. Esme playfully swatted my hand away from her salad ingredients.
"Great. Your father is taking the day off Wednesday, too. I think he's going to ask Em and Edward to go on the boat or something."
"The boat? In Forks? That's probably a stupid idea. It's been raining like crazy," I argued, gesturing towards the lighting fixtures that were still not working under the circumstances of famous Forks inclement weather. Esme hummed thoughtfully.
"Well, they'll think of something to do." She hastily chopped a stalk of celery, just missing the tip of her index finger. Her eyes widened infinitesimally at the close proximity of the butcher knife to her finger before they softened and her lips hardened into a straight line. I bit my lip.
"So you said Dad's taking the day off?" I asked. "He never does stuff like that. What's the occasion?" Esme continued to cut the celery into fine grains as if I hadn't asked a question.
"He feels guilty," she said suddenly. "He's never home enough, and he thinks that the boys are starting to resent him." I couldn't argue. Mine and Edward's little interaction with Carlisle upstairs just before was a fine portrayal of our relationship with him.
Carlisle loved us undoubtedly, but he always served as the more disciplinary parent while Esme was the more loving and indulging one. I suppose that it was necessary, what with Emmett's constant trouble making and Edward's dire need to pester me twenty-four hours a day. But Carlisle was seen as the villain. Esme could catch me doing something as bad as hooking up with my first cousin in her bathtub next to forty-two lines of un-snorted coke, and she would just smile and say, "Just wait until your father comes home!" She'd probably even help clean up afterwards, as long as she didn't have to punish me. I never really acted out much though, because I was actually trying to create a future for myself. I was bound for art school and took up all of my free time in drawing classes and shopping around with my best friend, Rose. I left the felonies and DUIs to my brothers.
"Funny that it's taken him seventeen years-well, eighteen as far as Emmett's concerned-to 'feel guilty' for neglecting his kids," I blurted, blushing at Esme's stunned reaction.
"Alice!" she chastised. "You know that he tries. Look at what he bought you for your birthday this year! And he offered Emmett that internship at the hospital…" She trailed off, realizing that all of Carlisle's efforts were entirely material. But her eyes were sad. Devastated, even. I couldn't understand why; she'd never protested against my complaints about Carlisle's parenting before. But her face fell slack, like she was dead. Her grip suddenly tightened around the cutting knife, her already pale knuckles bleaching white and her face coming back to life.
"Yeah, Esme. He bought me a Gucci bag. That hardly quantifies as love."
"Listen to me. He's trying. Let him try."
"He's trying with them, but why not me? Don't I get a free day with Daddy Dearest?" At that, she slammed the knife down on the cutting board. Her eyes were wide, her free hand gripping the edge of the granite countertop. She hesitated slightly, he face turning a purplish red, before exploding with anger.
"Your dad has cancer, Alice. He's going to die. There. Is that good enough for you?" I opened my mouth to say something, but my throat was suddenly parched and no sound would come out.
"So I hope you're happy with that explanation, Alice. I hope you're pleased with your little performance. Carlisle has given you kids everything, and you know he loves you best. You're his only daughter. Give him the benefit of the doubt, and stop being a little bitch."
My eyes welled with tears, my mouth still hanging open to say something that my throat wouldn't let me. Your dad has cancer, Alice. He's going to die. I thought back to Thursday, when the storm began. Carlisle had picked Edward and I up from La Push; Emmett had taken our Volvo for the day since his Jeep was in the shop. I hadn't noticed it at the time, but when I thought back, his face had been emotionless and his lips drained of color. He had known. He had already found out. And Edward and I just yelled at him about how he had been late and we'd had to stand out in the rain. Our father had just found out that he was dying and all we had done was complain about getting wet.
Esme choked out a sob, leaving the vegetables half-chopped on the counter as she turned on her heel and ran for her bedroom.
Nobody ate dinner that night.
The sky eventually brightened from a pitch black to a muted gray, an indication that the day was new. My eyes had remained open all night. My eyelashes were wet, my carefully applied mascara dried in dark tracks down my cheeks, the corners of my lips sticky with dried saliva. I heard a soft rapping at the door around noon, which I ignored.
"Alice? Mom says you're not coming to hang out at Jasper's with Emmett and me today. Change your mind?" I heard Edward's low voice call. I disregarded this also. I heard the doorknob jiggle, and I emitted the first sound I'd made in twelve hours. It was a humorless chuckle. It was ironic-the first time I had remembered to lock my door was the one time Edward wasn't intentionally trying to aggravate me. Eventually, the rattling stopped, and the house fell silent. I assumed that Esme had gone off to work at her interior design company and Carlisle had driven to the hospital for his shift. I found it confusing that Carlisle's body was fighting itself and he was continuing to try and save other people's lives. It seemed that everything was full of irony. Staring at the red numbers of my alarm, I watched the hours pass without moving from my fetal position on my bed, my father's face watching me with a smile from the picture frame beside my clock.
I couldn't tell Edward. I wouldn't tell him. It wasn't my secret to tell. I figured Carlisle's random decision to skip work Wednesday was so that he could tell my brothers himself, and as much as I wanted to scream or yell or kick Edward in the face, I couldn't. I couldn't do anything. My father had cancer. It was so messed up. I was so happy, a hyper little seventeen-year-old girl with tons of money and friends and potential. I was going to art school. I even thought that maybe Jasper Hale from school had a crush on me. Everything was fucking perfect. But then…this. Carlisle was a surgeon, for crying out loud. It was kind of like a fireman's house burning down, or a policeman's home being intruded. For some reason, it seemed against the norm. Since Carlisle was a doctor, he could never be sick. As irrational as it was, it sounded completely sound and reasonable in my head. I had formed a sort of hatred for my paternal figure, for reasons unknown. Maybe it was because he was never really around, or maybe it's because he was always there and I took him for granted. Or maybe it was because Emmett and Edward hated him so much, and the hatred sort of rubbed off on me. Carlisle seemed a permanent fixture to me, a never-ending money supply. A prop that always handed me his car keys when I wanted to go to a party with Rose or a black Am-Ex when I wanted a new pair of shoes. I never thought of him not being there.
In these hours that I lay on my antique sleigh bed, soaking my silk pillows with silent tears, I never once considered that Carlisle could get better. I expected the worst. Now that I knew he was sick, I couldn't picture him getting better. And I wasn't even sure what type of cancer he had. Truthfully, I didn't know much about the disease. I just knew that it was common, and a lot of people in the world had it. Rose's grandmother had died from it in the ninth grade, and Jasper's uncle had melanoma. I'm sure Carlisle has been livid with Esme after she told him that the news slipped out. My dad did adore me, after all. He had probably wanted to tell me himself. I was the 'good child,' always getting straight A's and going out with the right boys. And I repaid him with disrespect and indifference. His eyes were wide and expecting when he handed me that wrapped package on my seventeenth birthday, his cheeks pink with expectation. And the purse that was inside was exactly the one I'd wanted. It was perfect and beautiful and I'd sneak off to my closet in the middle of the night to just look at it. In the split second I first laid eyes on it, I already planned to buy a matching wallet and thought up fifteen different outfits I could wear it with. But I swallowed it all back.
"Thanks, dad. It's nice," I'd said, without sparing even a smile. And his face fell miserably, crumpling into a devastating frown that made his young face look old. Defeated. And I had been happy, hoping that finally, he could see that I wanted affection and not a four thousand dollar Gucci bag. Even though it was perfect. A piece of art, really.
I would take it all back, in a heartbeat. I would throw my arms around his neck, squealing about how completely faultless the leather was, how beautiful the gold chain-link handle looked, how it was exactly what I had always dreamed about. But it was too late. My newfound love for my father would now be only recognized as pity.
After the red numbers on the clock morphed into indecipherable shapes through my tears, the sky grew dark again. I knew that the power was probably back on, but I couldn't break the walls of my grief to reach for the light switch.
"Leave her alone, Emmett." Esme's soft voice broke me from my sleep. My eyes lazily opened, my body stiff and my short hair ruffled from two days of being unwashed. It wasn't like me not to be perfectly groomed, and the feeling was uncomfortable.
"Why not? She's been in there all fucking day." Emmett's voice was booming, and it made my heavy head rattle.
"She's sick," Esme lied quickly, their voices growing faint as they distanced themselves from my door.
I knew that I couldn't waste away in my bedroom for the last week of summer until school started, and eventually Em and Edward would get suspicious. I made a decision then, beneath the new halo of light from my table lamp. My father was dying. I loved my father, even though he thought I loathed him. My father loved me. My mother loved my father, and wanted me to love him too. My brothers were assholes. And I loved my brothers. So I would pretend like nothing was wrong. I only had one day left to fake happiness until they found out for themselves. Just twenty-four hours, and that was all I had to fight through. And I'd do it. I'd do it for my dad, for Esme, and for Edward and Emmett. I needed to grow the fuck up.
This chapter is a little lame. I realized after going back to revise when I was writing one of the soon-to-last chapters. But give it a chance!