Stephenie Meyer owns all TWILIGHT characters.


i am a work in progress,
dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding,
offering me intricate patterns of questions,
rhythms that never come clean
and strengths that you still haven't seen.

* o * o * o *

1. when did the sun stop shining?

A young girl opened her eyes to a new world. Fear's demanding hands grabbed hold of her and shook her to the core. Above her, the moon lent its dim lighting to the clearing of dirt and rocks where she lay still. The wind whispered into her ear but she couldn't understand the words, couldn't figure out where she was. Instead, she saw pieces of images in her mind, but she couldn't even tell if they were from a memory or just her imagination running away from her again, the way her parents always said it did.

Cold, white walls. No windows. One door.

A large, slender hand on her arm, stroking her skin lovingly.

Red eyes flashing angrily at her.

Men staring at her steadily as if they were statues.

Blonde hair pulled into a low ponytail.

Fear.

Lust.

Anger.

Happiness.

She let out a scream and shut her eyes tightly, trying to get rid of the pictures in her mind. There were so many of them and none of them made sense to her. The sound of wings flapping drew her attention to the trees above her and she saw a flock of geese flying in a V across the sky. When they moved over her, the moonlight that had been streaming through the high brances disappeared and she was left in darkness for long moments.

The burn was still in her throat. A small, pale hand reached up to touch the skin there; part of her was scared she would feel the heat of a flame resting on her body but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The tiny pit of worry that rested at the base of her stomach started to grow and an emotional torrent coursed its way through her body, overtaking her limbs, but there was no release of tears.

"It will hurt but it will save you."

"Save him. I know you can."

"Patient #7 needs to go into the back room."

"You will be mine."

"Save her! Please. Don't let her die."

"Stop telling lies! You see nothing, child!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am."

"No, no, no." She paused when she heard her own voice. It was too light, too high, too airy. Once again, her fingers danced over the skin of her throat. "What's happened?" she asked in a whisper, but there was no one around to hear her question or to answer her. Her stomach tightened up, the way it did when she had to tell her mother that she had been twirling in the house and her arms had swept an antique frame to the floor, causing it to crash into a thousand tiny pieces.

She felt lost. There was nothing but darkness surrounding her. Although she could hear tiny sounds, she didn't understand them. No one could see her or hear her, it seemed.

With a growing sense of unease, she shut her eyes and prayed for answers to come in her dreams.

* o * o * o *

2. i'm ready to go where i've never been

There were no dreams.

Sleep had evaded her for the first time in... she wasn't sure how many years. The only thing she remembered from her last birthday had been a young gentleman at her parents' front door with a single flower.

But she had always had dreams that made no sense and for all she knew, she had only dreamt of a handsome, young man coming to call on her.

With a speed that frightened her, she stood from the dirt and looked down at herself. Her body was covered with thin sheets that were yellowing in color and there were streaks and dots of crimson. She trailed a finger over the red color before bringing her hand to her face to study it and her body stiffened as the faint scent of dry blood hit her nose.

Her mouth dropped open and she sucked in deeply, only for the burning in her throat to intensify with the oxygen that raced into and down her body.

"I'll save you, my beautiful child."

Footsteps. Harder. Faster. Racing after them.

Warm arms holding her up.

"Mama, where are they taking her? When is she coming back?"

Brown eyes full of innocence, full of questions.

Laughter.

Cruel laughter mocking.

"You can't keep her from me. Not forever."

Tinkling laughter teasing.

"How can someone so tiny be so annoying?"

Pale bodies lying in a heap at her feet.

Trees whizzing by as she followed the scent of an elk.

Red. Gold. Red. Gold.

Her hands lifted to her hair and she grabbed at the short strands, tugging until she could feel the slightest pinch of pain on her scalp. It helped clear her mind.

She took a few steps and felt everything. The dirt beneath her feet crumbled under her toes. Air particles whirled around her hair and a mixture of bugs and pollen found its way to her as well. A slight wind caressed her skin and she tilted her head, letting the breeze take away her confusion for the time being.

Twigs cracked to her left and she could hear voices murmuring to each other. With an almost-childlike curiosity, she walked towards the sounds, amazed at the way the murmurs turned into words with each step. She still couldn't see anyone but she needed help, needed to see people to know that she hadn't woken up in a strange world where only she existed. The voices grew louder still and she quickened her pace until she was running through the wooded area, shifting her body to the left, to the right, down a bit, in order to avoid the tree branches that reminded her of hands grabbing her to hold her against a cold, metal table.

Wires connected to large boxes attached to her skin.

"This won't hurt."

Cruel, menacing laughter.

She felt like she was being electrocuted; her body lifted the slightest bit from the table in shock.

"I love you, darlin'."

She stopped dead cold at the words that filtered into her head but before she could think of what they might mean, her body dropped into a crouch and her eyes narrowed in concentration to where she could still hear the voices. Silently, she counted to three, and then she was running faster than she ever thought she could. The trees seemed to give way to her body as she weaved in and out of the path.

Closer and closer, the scent of blood – not dry or caked, but fresh blood that still pumped through veins – curled around her, beckoning her closer, demanding her to move faster. A thumping sound began to beat wildly in her ears and she bared her teeth to the empty space before her as she ran as if anyone could see her.

She didn't think.

She didn't stop.

There was no plan, no finesse, no thoughts whatsoever.

There was only the cracking of bones at the mercy of her hands, two bodies in pain as sweet, sweet blood revived her, made her feel whole, satiated the burn.

Above her, the sun appeared.

* o * o * o *

3. i watch the way you love your family

His face was the only thing she could think of.

It had been days since she had left the hunters by a river and in those days, all she could see was a pale, attractive face with sharp, red eyes and honey-blonde hair. In her mind, his lips were quirked into a smile and his gaze was for her and only her.

She needed to find him.

A hopeful smile.

"Mama, has he come calling yet?"

Uncertainty.

"What is this family you speak of?"

A single flower.

"Small, delicate, but still alive in the winter. Like you."

Diamonds.

"I'd like to ask for Mary Alice's hand in marriage, sir."

The voices in her head suddenly quieted without the pulling of her hair or the pinching of her own skin.

"Mary Alice," she said quietly. "My name is Mary Alice." The name rolled off her tongue like candy, its sweetness finally putting a smile on her face, though it was small. "I have a name."

Night had fallen around her again and so the tiny girl made her way out of the woods where she had stayed since she first awoke and made her way slowly into a town. She hadn't bothered to learn its name; she only cared about its residents.

She had learned that night hid her the best; the sun caused her skin to sparkle like the diamonds that had once been offered to her and drew too much attention. At night, especially late when she liked the air the best, young couples ran sloppily through the streets as they tried to sneak back into their houses. They never noticed the lone girl ambling about town as if lost because they were too busy engaging in inappropriate activities for people their age.

Many of those couples never made it back into their safe houses.

She found a young pair hiding in the shadows of a quaint house. The window above them was open and Mary Alice knew, without a doubt, that the boy had helped the girl climb down the tree in order to find lost kisses away from the prying eyes of parents. She watched them as they skittered down a path until they were in a grove of trees where oranges hung precariously from low branches. A quiet voice in her head demanded she take them immediately lest the burn in her throat cause another attack of images, but Mary Alice waited. She always waited.

She made her way closer, taking to the shadows, and soon heard the soft whispers of love and the giggles. They made promises to each other and Mary Alice let out a breathy chuckle; they wouldn't be able to keep them.

When their bodies were empty and lifeless on the ground, his face entered her mind again and she reeled from the emotions flickering across his features. She leaned heavily against the orange tree, hearing it creak against her strength and let her gaze blur the edges of the world until she could watch the images she had come to rely on so heavily in the past few days.

A lazy grin as he lay next to her on a large bed.

She was so tiny.

"You two could be twins."

A man and a woman dancing in a kitchen.

Long fingers dancing across the black and white keys of a grand piano.

"You're in pain."

Rage in red-rimmed amber eyes.

Failure. Disappointment.

"You're not alone, not anymore."

Trust. Love. Understanding.

"Her happiness is all that matters."

Blonde hair. Gold eyes.

Talent. Gifts. Connections.

Edward. Carlisle. Elizabeth. Cullen. Masen. Family.

Blues. Whites. Gold. Always gold.

"Jasper Whitlock, sir. Thank you for giving us a chance."

Jasper. Jasper.

Her eyes snapped open.

She knew where to go.

* o * o * o *

4. i'll be waiting by the window with a view of the parking lot

Months. It had taken her months to find the diner in the city of Philadelphia where she was supposed to meet the man she had seen in her mind. Though she learned that the sun could not harm her, she still traveled in the veil of night, and so it took her longer than expected.

But the months hadn't gone to waste.

The flashes in her mind still came at their own will and she still couldn't tell what half of the images meant. There were faces she felt familiarity towards; faces she believed were once a part of her past though she had no proof and wasn't sure how she could learn about her life before this... transformation she had gone through. But there were also faces she didn't know at all, faces that confused her and made her feel like she belonged somewhere. There were also faces that frightened her, that told her to be careful.

Brown hair. He spoke with a gentle voice.

Blonde hair. Hard eyes that dared anyone to speak against her.

Sweet, round face.

"Come back."

Sharp jaw, a mouth set in a firm line.

"Against the rules."

Red eyes. A feral smile. Gold eyes. Soft hands.

Humans, pale with death.

"There's another way."

"This is the only option."

Pale skin marred by hundreds of scars.

"Let me heal you."

Gentle kiss. Petals against her skin.

Surprised eyes. Embarrassment. Completion.

"Anything else, dear?" The waitress was old; her heart rate was slower than most, the scent of her blood not as appealing. A shake of the head sent the white-haired lady away.

Alice – she had decided to drop the Mary when she crossed into Delaware because she felt it was too Southern – had sat in the same booth for two weeks. The servers at the diner had learned her name and that she only ordered one cup of black coffee but never drank it though she paid more than was necessary. Every night at 8:00, Alice walked into the diner, announcing her arrival with the little bell above the door; she walked to the booth in the corner of the diner where she could stare out the window and stayed there quietly until 5:00 the following morning.

It was raining outside – fat, heavy drops that splattered against the windows of the diner. In the distance, thunder rumbled. The lights flickered in the small eatery but Alice didn't flinch. As she stared at her reflection, she brought a hand up and fingered the darkening smudges beneath her eyes. Somewhere in Virginia, she had found herself stuck in a cluster of caverns, and had watched as the sun shone for days on end. At night, men came to work on buildings, and so she had found herself with nowhere to go. When her body had felt like it was going to burst into flames and she couldn't handle the lack of blood, she had burst out of the caverns late one night and ran into the woods.

There were too many men to kill them all without suspicion.

Alice had listened closely to the forest; sometimes, she swore nature spoke to her and taught her what to do. She had followed the call of the wind and within seconds, two large deer had lain at her feet, completely drained. The blood hadn't fully satisfied her, but it had been enough that the flames in her throat had trickled to a tiny itch. She had craved for human blood immediately after but then a vision had happened.

"We don't drink from humans."

He stared at her as if he could read her soul with a glance.

She and Jasper stood in front of a mirror and Alice's stomach rolled with disdain.

"This lifestyle isn't for me."

Tight hugs and whispered words.

"We protect our family."

The tinkling bell over the door sounded and brought Alice out of her musings. She stared at her reflection again, wondering if she would ever meet the people in her visions, when her body froze. Through the reflections from the window, she saw him.

He was tall, far taller than she had thought, and his body was stiff with uncertainty but she could sense the fatigue in him. His head turned slowly as if he was looking for something, for someone, but the tall booth benches hid Alice's body from view. He took the hat he wore off and held it lightly with long fingers. His face was pale, the same color of her own skin, but she could see cuts and scars littered on his cheeks, his neck.

She took a deep breath, wondering how to approach him.

Quietly. Gently. As if she were a child trying to scare a parent.

With excitement, with smiles, with laughter.

Calmly but full of purpose.

He stays. He runs. He smiles. He's in shock.

Alice stood from the booth and walked towards him, seemingly without a purpose at first. Then his head shot up and stared at her in shock; his body tensed with the anticipation of an attack. Hiding a smile, Alice stopped a few feet away from him and they eyed each other until he relaxed the slightest bit and Alice practically danced and twirled the rest of the way until she stood in front of him.

"Jasper," it was the first time she had ever said his name out loud. His eyes widened at her recognition. Alice blinked her eyes up at his impossibly tall frame and her mouth curved into an impish smile. "You've kept me waiting a long time."

"I'm sorry?" Jasper was unsure. "Ma'am," he added as an afterthought.

Alice reached a hand out and Jasper tensed up again until her hand rested on his forearm. Even through the fabric of his coat, the touch comforted him. She comforted him.

"Will you tell me your name since you know mine already?" He had a Southern drawl that fleetingly reminded Alice of home.

"Alice," she told him. "Please call me Alice." She gestured to the booth where she had been sitting. "Will you sit? I would like to speak to you about many things."

He nodded.

And life began once more.

* o * o * o *

5. 'cause i'm shedding my skin so you can see my face

They were companions, Alice and Jasper. They tiptoed around each other, were always self-conscious, but the relationship was defined by a convenient friendship.

He followed her lead, especially when she stared at him with wide eyes that were shades lighter than his own. Her decision to drink from animals, with the occasional treat of human blood, caused her eye color to change to a light burgundy while his stayed the bright red he had always known.

Alice wouldn't tell him why. She also skirted his questions of how she had known his name the first time they saw each other. Her visions had once separated her from loved ones and Alice couldn't bear to be alone again.

She took the lead in their adventures, decided where they should go. Jasper never questioned the places she claimed she had to visit – Chicago, Milwaukee, an unknown town further west, Oklahoma.

It was on their way to Louisiana when everything changed.

The days had been quiet and the nights even calmer. Outside a country inn, the new companions had taken a couple to the darkness of an alley between buildings, drinking deeply when Alice dropped the female in shock.

Jasper's head shot up, feeling her emotions swirl in the air around them. "Alice?" Despite the urgency to drink, it was impossible to ignore the grief and surprise emanating from her.

"No," she said into the thick air. Her legs crumpled beneath her and she held her head between her hands, letting her fingers tug at the hair. "No, no, no."

Blood. Pain. Screams. Sobs.

Hope. Changes on the way. A present.

"Take her away. She's not my daughter."

"I'm doing this for you, Edward."

Fire. Ice. Anger. Sorrow.

Sharp teeth tearing into delicate skin. Venom flooding her veins.

The orderly who took care of her.

A doctor filled with compassion.

"She doesn't want this!"

"Just wait; I'll take away your pain."

"Alice," Jasper's voice called out to her, frantic now, because she wouldn't – couldn't – respond. "Alice, darlin', please." His hands reached to hold her in comfort but the torrent of emotions made him double over in pain and he put a hand against the building, gritting his teeth.

"She hates this life."

"You were made for this."

She was beautiful, flawless, but her eyes were red and blank.

A hand smoothed down her face, down her neck. Her brain couldn't understand what was happening. It felt like a thousand ants were crawling over her and his touch only magnified the electricity.

With all the strength he could muster, Jasper focused on Alice's face and pushed as much calm and relaxation into her body. She still muttered "No" over and over again but the words quieted slowly until they ceased completely.

"Alice?" he tried again. Slowly, as if it pained her, Alice looked up into Jasper's concerned face. The lost look on her face pulled at his non-existent heart and he gathered her into his arms, still calming her as best as he could. Soon, her entire body stilled and he looked down on her face again. He had suspected it for a while but had never pushed her, but he felt like he no longer had a choice. "Alice, what did you see?"

The silence wrapped around them. Alice stared at him and without warning she pushed Jasper away from her body and stood. "What?"

With care, Jasper stood slowly. He could sense the imbalance of Alice's emotions and he wouldn't push her away now, not when they had gotten accustomed to each other. "You see things, don't you?" Her fear threatened to fold his body in half with its intensity and he spoke quickly, "Alice, please. I won't hurt you. The visions, they won't hurt you. What are you so afraid of?"

Tell the truth.

What is the truth?

Lie. Make up a story.

Keep silent.

He stays.

He leaves.

He holds her.

He turns away.

Shocked. Surprised. Concerned.

Never angry.

Alice stared at the man she had learned so much about in the past ten years. He had told her anything she wanted to know – he had described his gift, had told her bits and pieces of his past, had helped her learn strategies and techniques – and she trusted him.

"I see things," she said, her voice barely a whisper, but Jasper heard her loud and clear. "Sometimes, I don't know what I'm seeing. I can't tell if it's the past or the future." Jasper didn't flinch, just waited for her to continue. "I think... I think they locked me away."

"Who did?" his voice had hardened as the only thought that entered his mind was to protect Alice at all costs.

She winced. "My family," she said, her voice still soft. "I think." Jasper's eyebrows drew together and she continued. "I wish I could remember more. I don't," she faltered and Jasper approached her again, slower than before.

His arms enfolded her into his chest and they stood there. Like the couples Alice used to hunt, Jasper whispered a promise that he'd be there, that he wouldn't abandon her. For the first time, Alice believed spoken words.

* o * o * o *

6. and i see the world around me in a slightly softer shade

Alice had two more episodes that left both of them reeling in shock.

He was dying. She was the only one who could save him.

"Please, save him. For me."

He was the only one who could save her.

"He'll kill you if I leave you."

The Cullen family had taken in another member.

And then some time in the late 1930s, they completely disappeared from Alice's visions.

"Jasper, they're gone," she cried out as if she was in pain. "They just... they just disappeared."

For the first time, Jasper wondered what Alice really saw. Not for the first time, Alice questioned her sanity.

"What's the last thing you remember?" Jasper sat on the hotel bed next to her. Over the years, they were able to come up with money that allowed them to live more comfortably as they followed the family of vampires. Alice had tried to find a pattern in the cities they chose, but couldn't come up with anything. "Alice?"

There had also been a shift in the relationship. They were still friends and traveling companions first, but Jasper had found himself becoming more and more protective over Alice. She had noticed the change but kept quiet on her own feelings – the ones that had started the first time she had walked into a hotel room and he had only been wearing a pair of pants.

The muscles in his back had rippled with his movement to pick up some clothes that had been discarded on the floor. Alice had stared at the faint, white lines crisscrossing the span of his shoulders and down the length of his back. Her fingers itched to run over them, to take away the memories that must have been lurking in his mind regarding the cuts.

He had turned, then, with a stony, unreadable expression on his face but then their eyes had met and he relaxed, fully realizing that she wouldn't judge, wouldn't pity him. From then on, Alice had kept her emotional climate as steady as possible around him.

She didn't want him to find out how much she wanted to touch him in ways far beyond friendship and how much she wanted to protect and be protected – in every way possible.

"Are you okay?" Jasper's question cut into Alice's memories again and she ducked her head in embarrassment.

She nodded in response, "They were in Washington. I don't understand what happened." The atmosphere in the room shifted to apprehension and unease. "Jasper," she said his name quietly. "Do you think this is a hopeless case?" He stayed quiet and tried to gauge her emotions. "I mean, it's been so long and now... now, I can't even see them and," she stood and walked to the glass doors that led out to the balcony. She looked remarkably like a marble statue of a Roman goddess in her stillness. "Jasper, what if I've been chasing something that's not there or something from the past?"

Jasper moved to stand next to her. Their bodies were close, but they didn't touch. Staring at their reflections, Alice wondered how the relationship between them had strengthened over the years when they still kept so much from each other. She didn't remember her past, not completely, but she never told Jasper about the visions that confused her most – the ones that were more memories than predictions; and Jasper's transformation was still unknown to her. He had been in the Civil War and had been turned during that time but the circumstances and his newborn years remained a mystery.

"I don't know what to do."

The muscles in his arm flexed as they wrapped her in a hug. Physical contact was rare between them, save for a few touches to the arm, and Alice breathed in his clean scent with an open mouth. "Alice, things will work out," he said it as a promise and Alice longed to believe him but she was hesitant to trust anyone, even this man who she wanted to spend her eternity with. She just wasn't sure if she would have the chance to.

"Maybe it isn't worth it," she said quietly. She pulled away and sat on the bed again, needing the space between them. "Maybe none of this is worth..." her voice trailed off and again, she wished she could cry.

Hating that he couldn't do anything to alleviate the maelstrom of emotions coming from her, Jasper walked to the foot of the bed and stared at her. "None of it?" he questioned. There was a hitch in his words, in his tone, and Alice looked up but her eyes glazed immediately.

They were a tangle of limbs on a hotel bed in a new town. His body was warm and comfortable and she fit perfectly in his arms.

He was running from her, scared that his words had ruined the companionship that they had built for almost 20 years.

She laughed at him and asked why it had taken so long for him to realize, to understand.

His hand reached out for her but she stood still, shocked at the admission. She wanted to lace their fingers together but it was like her body had been filled with lead and no amount of strength would allow her to move.

A couple arrived and sneered at her, blaming her for the precarious emotional climate that Jasper was broadcasting to the room.

He was lying in an abandoned street, limbs torn apart. A tall, pale, beautiful woman with a cascade of black hair stood above him. Behind her, a fire raged.

Alice hadn't realized it, but her hands were wrapped around Jasper's wrists. Sometime during the assault of visions, he had moved to her, worried because her hands kept reaching out and kept attempting to hold onto something. The serenity Jasper was projecting was lost to the air.

"What is it?"

It clicked, suddenly, in Alice's mind, why her visions were sometimes straightforward and solitary and why they were sometimes a jumbled mess. Her fingers slid slowly off of Jasper's wrists and her eyes widened. She asked her question, "What were you thinking of right now?"

His confusion was thick in the air but his face remained stoic. "What do you mean?"

"Right now," and Alice's voice took on a slightly hysterical tone. It was like something was skirting her focus, sticking to the edges of her mind, and she wanted to grab it for knowledge. "Jasper, what was going through your mind just now?"

Jasper's eyes darkened with worry and a hand moved to Alice's shoulder, resting there lightly and the tiny woman could feel the tendrils of his calm caressing her body. With a shiver, she moved from beneath his palm and looked at him expectantly. He said her name softly.

"I need to know," she said, urgency in her words. "Please."

There was a moment of tension before it unfurled into defeat. "You," he admitted. "I was thinking of you."

"What about me?" her voice had softened to a whisper and the last image that had passed through her mind burned behind her eyes. With the slightest pause that human eyes would never notice, Jasper sat on the edge of the bed, careful not to touch Alice for the time being. He said her name again to ask what she had seen but her eyes darkened to deep pools of black. "What about me?"

"Alice, I," he cut himself off. It was rare for Jasper to be nervous, to be uncertain of his own thoughts. He was used to knowing, understanding, theorizing, but ever since Alice had entered his life, he often found his mind spinning in circles. "I'm trying to find a way to tell you," his voice trailed off.

"Tell me what?" she pressed on but she was suddenly overcome with an emotion she hadn't felt in a long time, at least not directed towards her. Her mouth opened in a gasp that wasn't expected and she looked up at him, craning her neck to try and catch his eye. He turned his face away and stood but Alice's hand shot out to grasp his wrist. At the sudden movement, Jasper wrenched his hand away and let out a warning hiss. Eyes wide and uncertain, Alice immediately brought her hands up, palms out to show him she didn't mean anything by the grab. "Jasper, don't leave. Please."

"I don't think I can," he said lowly, though he took a step back from her and the bed. "Alice." Her name on his lips was both harsh and needy, wanting and dismissing, unsure and confident. Like a flower blooming, Jasper suddenly felt slow and steady tendrils reaching out to him, sharper than anyone else would have noticed. The feeling was almost suffocating and he gasped in gulps of air that his lungs didn't need, only because he wasn't sure what else to do. The floor was hard under Jasper's knees as he fell; his eyes darkened and his face shot up when he felt Alice's presence standing above him.

Moving far slower than she had become accustomed to, Alice drifted to the floor to kneel next to Jasper and reached a single hand out, subconsciously wondering how dangerous this position was. When Jasper didn't move, her palm met his neck and her thumb traced soothingly over the scar that marred the line of his jaw. "This is new to me," she said quietly. "I don't know what to do but I don't want to hide, not from you."

Their eyes met, his black to her mixture of red and gold. Her emotions were still hitting him full-force but now, he welcomed them, practically relished in them. For the first time since he had run from his beginnings as a vampire, he relaxed and welcomed the change.

"Don't hide," he said, encircling her wrist with long fingers. "I won't ever make you hide from me."

* o * o * o *

7. i'm everything i said i wouldn't be

He wasn't happy with the change. Alice had come to learn that Jasper was made to fight, to kill, and though he had gladly turned away from those times, it was still a part of who he was. Making the change from humans to animals wasn't as easy for him as it had been for Alice but he tried, if only because it made Alice happy and allowed her to focus on the Cullen family once again. They had reappeared a few months after the disappearance from her visions and though she never knew what triggered the empty span of time, Alice tried to put it behind her. Jasper's reluctant acquiesce to hunt animals had brought them closer than ever before to the family.

The visions had brought them to the northern part of Maine, almost to the Canadian border. The small cottage had been empty when the two vampires stumbled upon it in the late fall and a bit of searching revealed it was a summer home for a family. They weren't of any importance and the two had settled in the living quarters to await the future.

Alice sat in front of the mirror, tugging at the short strands of black hair atop her head, wishing that it would grow, just a little bit, but knew no amount of hoping would let it happen. She let out a deep sigh and propped her chin on a fist, staring at her newly-gold eyes. They had changed completely to the vibrant shade a few weeks earlier.

A swirling mix of guilt, disgust, and pride circled around her before she even realized Jasper was just outside the door to the cottage. She cursed silently to herself for not paying more attention to her surroundings while Jasper had gone to hunt but the thoughts diminished when he walked in and stared silently at her.

His eyes were dark and closer to red than gold.

"Oh, Jasper," she said softly. She hadn't seen it, hadn't been looking for his future because every time she did, she felt like she was spying on him. She stood from the small vanity and took careful steps toward him. "What happened?"

"Don't you know?" he spit out and Alice would have cringed back if not for the apologetic sorrow that came with his words. He turned away from her before she got too close. "They were hunting," he explained in a hard voice. "Alice," he shifted as he looked at her again. "I wasn't made to be like this. This isn't, this isn't what I am."

"No one was made to be like this," she countered. "But this is what we've become and we choose how to live in this world." Beneath her fingers and her palm, she could feel the scars criss-crossing over his cheek, "I won't force you to change, Jasper, and I won't hold it against you."

"They'll never take us in, otherwise," Jasper pointed out.

A shake of her head was accompanied by a smile, "No. They would never welcome us if we still hunted humans, but they're only in my head right now. You? You're right in front of me."

They stared at each other and Alice let her fingers drift down his skin from his cheek to his neck to the edge of the shirt he wore. She was once again reminded of their difference in height when she had to lower herself back onto her heels and, in doing so, needed to pull her hand down to the front of his chest.

"I don't know if I can do this," Jasper admitted.

Alice smiled, "You can."

"I'll try."

"I know."

* o * o * o *

8. sweet revelation got me levitating over ground

"We have to move," Carlisle says in a calm but stern tone. "Tie up as many loose ends as we can, but this incident only means we have to leave town in a timely manner."

"They're going to suspect something," Edward counters. Carlisle's eyes, worried and tired for once, turn to him to ask what seems to be a silent question. Edward dips his head. "Rebecca Millers was walking and thinks she saw Emmett following the girl into the woods."

Emmett, irises colored red, sat completely still at the dining room table in the house in North Dakota. "I'm sorry," he apologizes in a strained voice and Rosalie's hand tightens on his shoulder. Her face is a mixture of sadness and anger. "Carlisle, Rosalie, everyone, I'm so sorry."

"Where will we go, Carlisle?" Rosalie asks and it looks like it pains her to speak, to ask.

"New Hampshire," Esme is the one who answers. "Everything is set up. We leave within a week." She looks to Edward who nods slightly that one week will be enough time.

"New Hampshire," Alice repeated the state once she came to and Jasper stared at her with concerned eyes. He still hadn't gotten used to Alice's visions coming at any moment. Her eyes cleared and she beamed up at him. "New Hampshire, Jasper; that's where we have to go next. We're so close."

"Yes," he agreed quietly. "We are."

Alice glanced at him. "Jasper?" she asked hesitantly. "Are you sure you want to go to them? I've told you that we don't have to."

"I know," he said, skimming his lips over her forehead. "But we'll go," he said in a firm tone. "We'll go and we'll find a family."

"You're not coming with us?" Esme eyes Edward with uncertainty. "Edward?"

"I'll just be a few days behind you," he promises. "I'm just going to stop somewhere on the way."

"Be safe," she tells him.

"Always," he replies.

The visions were appearing more often now and clearer than ever before. By the time Alice and Jasper had packed up their belongings and Alice had rented one of the new moving trucks, she was more than ready to leave. She was eternally grateful that Jasper humored her and merely smiled at every outburst from a vision.

"He won't be there," she finally told Jasper as they began the drive from Maine to New Hampshire. He looked over at her as she drove and watied. He knew who Alice was talking about but knew there was a reason she was even bringing it up. "Edward," she confirmed. "He won't be there when we arrive."

"No?"

He stands in front of the single building in the middle of the night. He stares at it, wondering how to get rid of the pit forming in his stomach. He doesn't really remember it, doesn't know if he wants to remember it, but when he closes his eyes, he thinks he can hear his father's voice, smell his mother's perfume, feel their hands holding him.

"No," Alice said quietly, "but I think I know why we're finally meeting them."

Jasper waited.

"I think certain people are brought together for certain reasons. It's the only way I can justify why I see things the way I do, the only way I'm told when a decision will help or hurt someone." She glanced at Jasper from the corner of her eye. "I think Edward will need us there when he returns, even if he doesn't know it yet." Jasper, understanding her emotions more than her words, nodded and stared ahead. His hand drifted to hold hers and they drove into the night.

Days later, they pulled up to a fairly large house on the outskirts of a town called Franklin. Jasper waited in the van when Alice told him she would need to talk to them on her own and watched as she knocked politely and spoke to the blonde vampire that opened the door. His eyes moved to the van at one point and he stared at Jasper from where he stood in the doorway and after minutes of speaking so low that Jasper couldn't pick up the words, the rest of the family appeared behind him.

Jasper's fists tightened with worry when they all stared at Alice but he knew she could hold her own, could fight if it had to happen, but she hadn't seen an altercation so he wasn't worried. The sound of her laughter pulled at the empty space in his chest and she turned to him and nodded for him to come out and join them. He walked as slowly as possible to the house, trying to read their emotions, and was suddenly hit with amusement.

"Jasper," Alice said in a sweet voice. "Rosalie here says we can move into Edward's room as guests."

With a look of alarm, Jasper stared at the tall blonde who was smirking behind Carlisle. "Is that wise?" he asked her, asked anyone.

Alice sent him a wink, "It will be worth it."

* o * o * o *

9. so wonderful you're in my life

It was difficult, merging into a family that had been together for over a decade already, but Alice was determined to make it work. There were problems that she hadn't forseen – the Cullens hadn't expected another couple and didn't have as much extra room as they'd liked, Jasper and Emmett eyed each other warily, Alice often found herself in the middle of a glaring match between Rosalie and Edward.

Edward's reaction to the two of them had been the most surprising. When he had returned, he was more than just a little angry that all his belongings had been moved to the garage, and he had glared, not at Rosalie, but at Alice. She had stood frozen in shock at the ice that seemed to form in his eyes and had fumbled out an apology but he turned away and began moving his things to the room farthest away from his old one.

He hadn't spoken to Alice or Jasper since.

The silence from Edward was grating on Alice's nerves. Edward had known immediately how to keep Alice from seeing his future and though he didn't share his findings, he merely stared at her when she became frustrated, and gave her a tiny smirk.

Jasper was ready to start a fight with him.

And then it happened.

Playful shouting.

Laughter.

Running. Lots of running.

Edward's eyes sparkling as he teased her.

Alice jumping on his back and the two of them crashing onto the coffee table.

Jasper shaking his head at their antics.

"It's like you're the same person."

Alice blinked and stared at Edward. He quirked an eyebrow up and stood from where he was sitting. As he passed Alice, a hand reached out and ruffled her hair. He stopped when she called his name out in her mind and asked a silent question.

"I'm just not used to someone knowing me that well," was all he said. "We'll talk soon." He paused. "I'm glad you came, both of you."

* o * o * o *

10. i've loved you all along

They ran together through the thicket of the nearby forest. Jasper stayed a step behind Alice and watched as she ducked beneath the branches he had to knock out of the way. He had no idea where she was leading them but he trusted her explicitly and the thought curled around his body and held on tight.

Alice turned suddenly and grabbed his wrists to halt him and they stood there motionless as if they hadn't been running faster than a pair of cheetahs. They seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. There was no clearing, no moonlight shining down on them. It was almost pitch black but Alice could make out every line of Jasper's body, every curve of his face, his shoulders. With familiar touches, she palmed her way up his arms until he bent so she could lace her fingers behind his neck. He nodded at the question in her eyes and Alice jumped slightly, feeling Jasper's hands cup the back of her thighs to hold her up.

She stared at him, into the warm gold of his eyes. The red had long since faded and though she knew of the temptation, knew of his struggles, she loved him more for it because every day, he reminded her unknowingly of all he had given up.

"Marry me," she whispered into the darkness. Her hold tightened around his neck when Jasper's body jolted in surprise and she felt his fingers slip slightly beneath her. Her knees pressed harder around his abdomen and he shifted until he was once again holding her securely. The questions danced in his eyes. "Marry me," Alice said again, a little louder and with strength.

"Marry you?" he asked.

"You're the only one who's known me since the beginning, the only one who really knows me, my story. You're the one who led me to this world I know."

"Your visions led you to me," he said.

Alice smiled and pressed her cheek against his. "You caused my visions." Her lips kissed him light, right in front of his ear. "Marry me."

His grip tightened. "I'm already yours."

* o * o * o *

the slant, a building settling around me
my figure – female – framed, crooked, in the threshold
of the room, door scraping floorboards
with every opening
carving a rough history of
bedroom scenes.
the plot, hard to follow,
the text obscured in the folds
of the sheets,
slowly gathering the stains of seasons spent
lying there, red and brown like leaves fallen.
the colors of an eternal cycle
fading with the wash cycle
and the rinse cycle – again, an unfamiliar smell
like my name misspelled
or misspoken, a cycle broken.
the sound of them strong
stalking
talking
about their prey like the way hammer meets nail
pounding, they say, pounding out
the rhythms of attraction.
like a woman was
a drum like a body was a weapon
like there was something more they wanted
than the journey like it was
owed to them.
steel toed, they walk and i'm
wondering why this fear of men.
maybe it's because i'm hungry
and like a baby i'm dependent on them to feed me.
i am a work in progress,
dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding,
offering me intricate patterns of questions,
rhythms that never come clean
and strengths that you still haven't seen.


Thank you to Sara for the beta work.

Section titles were taken from songs found on Idina Menzel's EP, HERE. The songs include: "Here," "You'd Be Surprised," "If I Told You," "Penny," "Once Upon a Time," and "So Beautiful"

The opening and closing lines of this story is from "The Slant" by Ani DeFranco.