A/N: I don't own Twilight or any of the other great stuff that belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I do own the incarnations of her characters in this story.
I'm sorry this has been so long coming. This chapter was hard to write, but that's not really an excuse.
I hope you enjoy this since it's been so long coming!
The Day You Went Away
The Monday after the party, Edward and Emmett came by the house before school. When I opened the door and saw Alice wasn't there, my heart dropped.
"She's not coming, is she?" I asked.
The boys shook their heads. "She's in a bad place Jas. She doesn't know which way is up," Emmett explained.
"And it's all my fault," I summarised, turning and heading for the couch.
Edward closed the front door as Emmett sat beside me. "It's not your fault Jasper. You didn't spike the punch, and you got rid of it as soon as you realised what was going on. You tried to help but because Alice didn't think she was drunk she thought you were just being a buzz kill."
"So she's blaming me."
"She is, but noone else is," Edward said quietly.
I dropped my head into my hands as Bella and Rosalie came in from the kitchen. I didn't need to see the looks that were being shared.
The following days blurred together. School, Frank's, baseball practice, but no Alice. I kept my word to Bella and Rose and didn't contact her. I wrote her letters and stuffed them in the back of my journal, knowing she would never see them.
Saturday morning I was home alone. Rose was at work, Charlie was fishing with Billy, and Bella was away at a swim team meet. I was flicking through the channels on the TV when the doorbell rang. I shuffled over to open it and was startled when Carlisle was on the other side.
"Dr Cullen? Come in," I said, moving to the side.
"Thanks Jasper, I won't keep you long," he replied as he moved to the couch.
I grabbed the remote and turned the TV off before sitting on the opposite end of the couch.
"Emmett and Edward are worried about you," he continued softly. "They're worried that you're blaming yourself for what Alice is going through."
I nodded. "They said that she blames me, even though noone else does."
"They're right. Jasper, you've been so good for Alice. We would see the two of you together and she was so happy – we've been waiting to see that ever since the accident. Alice has been afraid to love – her friendship with Bella was a big step forward, and you and Rosalie have been amazing."
"She's done wonders for me too. I've never felt like this about someone before – she makes me want to be a better person, just for her." I looked up to see Carlisle smiling sadly.
"This is going to take some time, Jasper. I just hope you're there for her when it's all over. Alice won't be returning to school for another couple of weeks – she's seeing a counsellor, and the boys are getting her assignments and handing her work in for her. She's pulled herself away from everyone to fight this – she won't even let Bella and Rose in at the moment."
The girls had told me as much. "I'll be there for her whenever she's ready to see me."
Carlisle reached out and placed a hand on my shoulder. "You're a good kid Jasper – don't let this change you."
I smiled wryly as he stood. "Thanks for coming by Dr Cullen – I appreciate it."
"It's Carlisle, remember?" he said with a smile. "You've become part of the family over the last few months – we care about you too."
After Carlisle left I sat back on the couch and stared at the blank TV screen. All I wanted to do was call her, or send her a letter – just reach out to her. But I didn't want to upset her so I didn't.
Three weeks later, Alice still wasn't back at school. Edward, Emmett, Rose and I travelled to Seattle with Bella for the weekend while she competed in a regional swim meet and it just didn't feel right – there should have been six of us.
We returned home late on Sunday to find a note from Charlie on the table.
I've been called in to work to cover a shift so I won't be home – I've left money for pizza in the usual place.
See you tomorrow,
We chuckled at Charlie's reference to the usual place – he didn't like leaving money for us anywhere obvious, and he also didn't like saying where he'd left it. The usual place was sandwiched between two bowls in the cupboard.
Bella called through the order and we were all surprised when the doorbell rang ten minutes later.
"That was fast," she commented as she grabbed the money and headed for the door, leaving Rose and me at the kitchen table.
A couple of minutes passed and then we heard Bella calling us from the front of the house. We exchanged a confused look and headed out together. I stopped cold when I saw Alice standing in the doorway, flanked on one side by her brothers, and on the other by her parents.
"Alice?" I whispered.
She didn't look up – just kept looking at the ground. The tiny girl I had been falling in love with looked nothing like herself. Shrunken, scared – but not Alice.
Edward reached out and put his arm around his twin's waist, and Emmett reached around and squeezed her hand. "You need to say it Ali," he said quietly.
I saw Alice draw a deep breath and she looked up, straight into my eyes. Gone were the sparkly, cheery eyes I was used to. Now they were hollow and empty.
"Jasper, I'm sorry," she started softly. "I know what's happening to me isn't your fault, and I don't blame you any more. I realise that I need help, and I can't get that here in Forks. I wanted to wait until you all came home from Seattle so the boys could come with me." She broke eye contact with me to smile sadly at her brothers. "And I wanted to say goodbye to the three of you." She looked at Bella and Rosalie before looking back to me. "I'll be home in three months – hopefully you can all forgive me by then."
We moved to hug her but she shook her head. "Don't."
She turned and headed for Carlisle's Mercedes. Emmett stepped forward and took me by the shoulders. "Don't give up on her."
The three of us stood in the doorway and watched as the remaining Cullens walked down the driveway and got into the car, and continued watching as they drove away. I stood there until the car was gone from sight, then stumbled backwards and collapsed on the stairs.
Rosalie knelt in front of me and took my hands while Bella closed the door. I tried to hold back the tears but there was no stopping them. Rose moved forward and wrapped her arms around me, and Bella squeezed onto the stairs beside me and hugged me too.
The three of us sat there, not moving, until we were startled by the doorbell.
"Pizza," Bella mumbled thickly, standing up and wiping her eyes on her sleeve.
Rosalie helped me to my feet and Bella waited until we were in the living room before she opened the door and paid the delivery girl.
I muttered something about not being hungry any more and ran upstairs, closing my bedroom door behind me and sitting on the end of my bed. My eyes moved to the giant photo frame hanging above my desk. It was filled with photos of the six of us, a couple of me playing baseball, one or two of us with Angela and Ben, and the middle one was my favourite. A photo of me and Alice, taken the night we went ice skating. I stared at it for what seemed like forever, and was brought out of my reverie by a gentle knock at the door.
It was Rose, with a plate of pizza. "I thought you might want some food."
"Thanks. Can you put it on the desk?"
She moved across the room and put the plate down, and came to sit next to me. She rested her head on my shoulder and I wrapped my arm around her waist before resting my head on hers. "I love you Jas," she whispered. "I never tell you that because I expect that you know, but I love you."
I smiled, the first genuine smile I'd had in weeks. "I love you too Ferret," I said back, using the childhood nickname dad had for Rose.
I felt her giggle. "We'll get through this. You, me, Bella – we're a family. And when Alice decides she's ready to see us…you…again, we'll deal with it together."
She left me alone not long after that and I managed to eat the pizza. I took my plate downstairs and washed it before heading back to my room. I grabbed my journal and a pen and sat at my desk.
Alice left today. She said she'll be back in three months, and that's she gone to get help. I'm glad that she's realised that she needs help, but I just wish that this had never happened.
Her family have been amazing through all of this. They don't blame me, even though they could. Rosalie and Bella have been so strong and supportive – giving me space when I need it, and dealing with the foul mood I've been in lately. It's amazing how it's on the times that things go bad when you realise just how lucky you are.
Monday after school I headed to Frank's as usual, and when I was leaving he handed me an envelope. "Your first pay," he explained. "I think you and Rosalie have more than worked off the difference on your cars."
"Thanks Frank – see you Saturday," I said with a smile, heading for my car.
I drove straight to the convenience store in town and bought two bunches of flowers – yellow and white for Rosalie, and purple for Bella.
I pulled into the drive a second ahead of Charlie.
"Jas, you shouldn't have!" he joked as he stepped out of the cruiser.
"Good thing I didn't then! These are for Bella and Rose, just to say thanks for putting up with me over the last few weeks. I didn't think flowers would cut it with you though – so hopefully me saying thank you will be enough."
Charlie clapped me on the back as we climbed the stairs. "You're welcome."
We headed through to the kitchen together to find Bella pulling a home-made lasagne from the oven and Rosalie setting a salad on the table.
"Flowers!" Rose squealed as I pulled them fro behind my back.
"For two of my favourite girls," I replied, handing her the yellow and white bouquet and dancing over to Bella with the purple one. "My extremely lame way of saying thank you."
Bella quickly filled two vases with water and the girls placed their flowers in the middle of table.
Dinner was relaxed and happy and afterwards we sent Charlie off to the TV with a beer. The three of us had just finished cleaning up when he called out to ask if anyone had checked the mail. We all looked at each other and shook our heads
"Oops," Bella called back as she left Rosalie and me in the kitchen. We heard the front door open and close, then open and close again a few seconds later.
We headed into the living room just as Bella handed Charlie a couple of envelopes. "Aaaand…one for Jasper, and one addressed to both of you," she finished, flicking two envelopes across the room with surprising skill.
"It's from dad!" Rose exclaimed, tearing into the one addressed to the both of us.
"Well share then!" I replied.
She read aloud:
"Dear Rosalie and Jasper,
I hope this finds you both well, and not causing too much trouble for Charlie. I received your emails about your cars and your grades – the cars sound fantastic and I'm very proud of the grades you're both getting.
I'm writing to let you know I've been granted ten days' leave over Christmas. I'm going to fly into Seattle on December 22 and I'll have to fly out again on the 29th to make it back here on time. Charlie already knows I'm coming so hopefully this is a surprise for you.
It would be nice to be able to tell you what I've been up to, but all I can say is that Cuba is hot and I'm looking forward to a few days in the cold of Forks.
I've arranged to catch a bus from Seattle when I arrive so I'll see you around dinner time on the 22nd.
She grinned at me over the top of the letter. "He's coming for Christmas!"
We both turned to see Charlie and Bella grinning at us. "You both knew?" I asked.
Charlie nodded. "I had an email from Jack about a week ago, letting me know he'd been granted leave, and that he'd be coming. He told me he was writing to you and asked me not to say anything."
"What's the letter you got?" Rosalie asked me, gesturing to the envelope in my hand.
I'd almost forgotten about my letter. I glanced at the handwriting on the front and was startled to see Alice's neat script.
"I – I think it's from Alice," I stammered. "I might open it upstairs…"
Not waiting, I headed for the stairs, turning the envelope over and over in my hands. Once I was in my room and the door was locked behind me, I examined the envelope more closely. It was postmarked Friday, meaning Alice had sent it the day the rest of us went away.
I opened it carefully and pulled out the two page letter on Alice's favourite stationery – white with a rainbow in the top left corner.
I know writing to you is taking the easy way out, and I can't apologise enough for that. You've been nothing short of amazing, including giving me space, and I'm being weak and writing you a letter.
When I told you about Hope, I left some stuff out. Stuff that's important, and I should have shared with you.
Hope and I met in rehab for teens. When I was thirteen, I fell in with some pretty rough kids. They liked to drink, they liked drugs… I never tried the drugs, but the alcohol became my friend. It all came to a head when Emmett and Edward found me almost unconscious in the park near our house. They got me home and mom and dad sent me off to rehab for three months. I met Hope in there and we became friends.
We swore to each other that we'd never drink again – we were each other's rocks. When she died, my whole world fell apart. My family were (and still are) amazing, but I needed to get away from the memories. So we moved to Forks.
Then this year I met you. In you I found not only the most amazing boyfriend a girl could ask for, but a great friend as well. I'm still not sure why I only told you half of my story.
I don't blame you for what happened the night of the party. It's not your fault. You didn't spike the punch, you didn't make me drink it. You tried to save me and I wouldn't let you.
I'm sorry that I've shut myself away from you. I didn't want you to see me like this. I know that you heard about how I shut myself away with a bottle of vodka. That was only the start of it.
For the next week, mom and dad trusted me to be at home by myself. I snuck out a few times and headed into town, where I got people to buy more alcohol for me. I hid it in my closet. I would have dinner with my family, then lock myself in my room and drink until I either felt too sick to drink any more, or passed out.
Emmett came home early one afternoon and found me passed out on the couch downstairs. My stash had run out so I raided the liquor cabinet. I came to in the hospital with a drip in my arm and my family around me, looking like hell. That's what it took for me to realise that this isn't the way for me to live my life.
I need to kick this demon once and for all. To do that, I need to send myself away. I'm not going to tell you where I'm going, because I don't want you to see me like this. Once I've sorted myself out, I'll let you know where I am.
I'd love to hear from you if you think I'm worth it. I know it's not the easiest way to go about it, but if you feel like writing, you can get your letters to me through Emmett or Edward.
Jasper, I can't tell you how sorry I am for the pain that I know I've caused, and am still causing you. You are one of the most important people in my life, and my only hope is that you'll still be there for me in three months when I've hopefully sorted my life out.
I love you,