A/N: Sorry it has been so long since I've updated. This is the busiest semester of my life and I recently got over H1N1 (swine flu). I just saw New Moon and I got inspired to work on this some more. As a general review response: yes, it is possible that Bella is using Alice a bit, but remember that for their relationship to work I have to make Bella reconsider her 800 pages of going on about how gorgeous and amazing Edward is. Her depression/emotional mess will last for a while even as they get together. Hope it works.
I woke up a few times during the night, and every time Alice would say, "I'm still here." I'd look at her, nod, and go back to sleep.
I woke up to my alarm and Alice pulled away from me, allowing me to recover from the startle. "I saw you talking to me," she said, "after we left. You were sitting alone in your house, by the window. And you were talking to me."
"If you saw that," I said, "why didn't you answer any of my e-mails? Or call me? Or at least let me know that all of you didn't hate me."
I regretted my words the moment I said them. Alice looked legitimately hurt. "I knew you'd ask me that," she said, "but somehow knowing the future doesn't always help you prepare for it."
My heart was aching, more than it had since Edward left. This wasn't the emptiness I was used to, but actual pain. Being stabbed with hurt. I remembered when Edward told me he didn't want me anymore, I asked him if Alice was leaving too.
"Shit," my breath sped into heavy pants.
"Alice...Edward didn't break my heart all by himself," I said, "I thought he did. I thought he was the only reason I was hurting. I knew he had issues being with a human, I knew I wasn't good enough for him. It was easy enough just to be mad at myself and leave him out of it. But it wasn't just him."
"When he told me he was leaving," I said, "he told me the rest of you were already gone. I asked...I asked him if that meant you too. I wrote you e-mails, more than I can remember. I would talk to you when you weren't there...God. I'm pathetic. I don't even know why...it was just...I guess...I knew Edward didn't love me anymore, but I never even got to say goodbye to you. And I couldn't believe that you would just...give up on me over what happened with Jasper."
"I didn't give up on you, Bella," she said, "but they all told me it would be best for you if none of us were around anymore. Even when my visions showed me otherwise, they told me my feelings were clouding my judgment. Carlisle supports me now, but it took a lot of convincing."
I was still reeling from the realization. Alice broke my heart. Alice. A girl. These past months, I had been mourning them both. I loved them both.
"I thought," I said, "I thought you were a sister to me. I thought that was why I missed you so much. Because you were the sister and best friend I never had."
"You don't know how hard I tried to be only a sister to you," she said.
Knowing it wasn't right, or fair, I pulled Alice close to me and put my arms around her. "What if I'm not gay? What if I find out I'm straight and break your heart? And what about Edward? What's he going to do if you bring me home for Christmas?"
"He's going to own up to the fact that he let an amazing girl go," Alice said, "a girl who has every right to date me if she wants."
"I hate dances," I told her, "if we date, are you going to make me go to them?"
She smiled. "You know the only reason I was so insistent on you going to prom last year was so I could dress you up for it."
"And see me in a bra?" I blushed.
"Oh God," she sighed, "when we took showers together after you broke your leg, I hope you don't think...but I mean...I should've said no but I figured I'd be less embarrassing than...and I couldn't exactly ask Rosalie so..."
"I know," I said, "it's okay. And...remember you told me that you saw us together, in one version of my future?"
"How could I forget?" she asked.
"Right...well...how together were we exactly?" I asked. "Are we talking like...romantic walks on the beach together or are we talking...uhm..."
She started rummaging through her overnight bag. "A bit of both."
"Am I..." I sighed, "okay?"
"Of course," she said, "I'm not going to kill you making love, Bella. My control isn't quite as good as Carlisle's but I mean..."
"No," I said, "I mean...am I okay at doing it?"
"Oh," she said, "oh! Wow...I must really not be paying attention because I did not see that coming. You really aren't afraid of us at all, are you?"
"I've always been a lot more afraid of being alone," I said.
"Off the subject," she said, "what do you think of these?"
She held up an outfit that looked like it cost at least $200. There was a deep plum sleeveless tunic with ruffles at the collar and a fancy belt in the middle. The pants were dark-washed skinny jeans, a style I had never worn in my life, and the jacket had a high collar and flared at the bottom.
"Wow...they're...Charlie's going to wonder where I got that."
"You haven't seen the shoes," she fished a pair of high-heeled Patton leather ballet shoes out of the bag, "they're a low heel because I don't want you that much taller than me."
"Heels?" I asked. "I can't wear heels. I can barely walk in vans."
"Okay," she retrieved a similar pair that was completely flat, "I brought these just in case."
"Why just in case?" I asked. "You knew exactly how I'd react to seeing heels."
"I know," she said, "just wanted to plant the seed in your head. These are a pretty good first pair of heels."
"What's the point of me learning to walk as a human?" I asked. "You yourself said I'm going to be a vampire someday anyway, and then I'll be able to climb trees in heels."
"I don't want you to become a vampire because you think you aren't good enough as a human," she said.
"I want to help you have self-esteem as a human before you decide to give it up forever," she said, "either way, to me you look like Bella. I don't care if you're a glittery Bella or not. Now try these on."
I took the outfit from her and she was polite enough to turn around without me having to ask. We had showered together before, but it was a bit different now that there was possibility between us.
I heard knocking on the door and wondered if I should try to hide Alice. Just in case, she ducked into the closet.
"I'm awake, Dad," I said. "I'm getting ready."
"Were you talking to someone?" he asked.
"Uhm..." I opened the door. "Alice called. I was talking to her."
"Oh. Wow, Bells. I don't think I've seen that outfit before."
"Alice uhm...lent it to me. Yesterday," I said. "You know how she is."
"Well you look good," he said, "anyway I just wanted to make sure you were up."
I felt embarrassed at the fact that my father had to help me get up these days, like I was in elementary school.
Alice and I spent most of the day at school together, with Jasper tagging along a bit. By about lunch time, I asked him, "is this weird for you?"
"Of course not," he said, "what happened at your birthday was a total slipup and Bella I promise I..."
"No, not that," I said, "this. Me with your...Alice."
He raised his eyebrows with obvious interest. "You didn't tell me she accepted," he said to Alice.
She responded before I had to try. "She's still thinking about it," Alice's tone was cheerful as usual, with a subtle hint of frustration.
I liked seeing Alice happy. Alice could make anyone feel happy. In the moment, I wanted everything: Edward, Jasper, my depression, this whole school and the whole world except the patch of it we inhabited to go away so only she would matter in my decision. She started talking to Jasper, laughing at something he was saying, and I felt my heart flinch a little bit.
"Alice," I said softly.
When she turned around, her attention focused entirely on me, like what I was about to say was the most important thing in the world. "Yeah?"
"Can we talk...somewhere? Anywhere?"
She nodded. "We'll be a few minutes, Jazz."
He grinned. "How many."
"About seven and a half, give or take twelve seconds," she responded without much interest and followed me to the hallway outside the cafeteria.
When we reached the hallway, I felt my hand take Alice's before I realized what I was doing. "I...I hate being alone and I hate feeling like I owe it to someone else to be miserable all the time."
"And...there's more," I said, "this isn't just going to end in me whining I swear."
"I know," she smiled.
"So do I still have to say it?" I asked. "Since you know already."
Realizing we were blocking hall traffic, she pulled me to the side. "You conveniently have a dentist's appointment today," she said, "so you can tell me somewhere else."
"A dentist appointment?" I asked as she dragged me out by the arm. "What?"
"Me already knowing everything you're going to say before you say it kind of ruins the fun for you," she said, "so I have to make it up to you somehow. Get in," she motioned to her car.
"Your truck is at my house," she said, "where it will stay safely hidden in the garage until you're supposed to be home from school."
I shuddered, putting my seatbelt on. "You would make an excellent kidnapper."
"What else is new?" she asked. "You must think all of us are completely creepy. How many of us have kidnapped, stalked, or tried to kill you now?"
"Only three," I said, with a nervous laugh. "I think."
"I'm sorry," she said, "you were about to tell me something and I ruined the moment."
She slammed the car into reverse and I said, "if you expect me to have a conversation with you, you need to not give me a heart attack."
"Sorry," she sighed and pulled out of the parking lot at twenty miles per hour. "I don't know how you can stand driving this slowly."
"Before I came to Forks I wasn't...used to getting noticed. And when I am noticed, it's usually by people I'm not interested in like Mike who probably hit on everybody. Edward's interest..took me completely by surprise. So did Jacob's. But somehow a girl, and not just any girl but you liking me is more shocking than all of that combined."
"I don't really understand why you think I'm too pretty to like you," she said, "I guarantee you if I dressed you up in something nice and took you out someplace, people would say 'what a cute couple.' They wouldn't wonder what I was doing with you."
I was relieved when she got onto the highway that didn't go to the mall. "Any chance you'll tell me where we're going?"
"We're getting you some lunch," she said, "if I ever forget that you need to eat, please smack me or remind me or something."
"You and Edward were my favorite people," I said, "probably in the whole world. You were right when you said that the van incident was what made me fall in love with him. I thought he could take care of me, but in the end I was the one taking care of him. It only just recently occurred to me how badly I need to be taken care of. For as much as I trip all the time, I think I might be in more danger from myself than from any van or vampire out there."
"I want to find a way to support you without holding you back from learning to take care of yourself," Alice said, "for that exact reason."
I nodded. "Edward needs someone who can be strong. And I've always been strong. I took care of Renee and I took care of Charlie, but I've never known how to take care of myself."
"But you can, Bella," she said, "you need to stop believing that you need someone else to make you worthwhile. If you want to be pretty, loveable, worthwhile, you don't need Edward or me and you certainly don't need to be a vampire."
"But I want you," I said, almost defensively, "I don't care what it says about me."
We seemed equally surprised at how her words had pushed out the confession. She took one hand off the wheel and set it on mine. "This is really scary for you, isn't it?"
"No," I said. "I'm not afraid of you." How many times did I need to say it?
"You're scared to admit you're scared."
The restaurant we pulled into was one I had never seen before. She ordered food and was excellent at discretely hiding more and more food in a to-go box she brought in her purse. Neither the waiter nor anyone else seemed to notice.
"So how does this work?" I asked as we pulled in to her apartment complex. "Us dating? It was always hard to know with Edward how much it was okay for us to touch or kiss or anything."
"Sometimes it's hard for us to tell too," she said, "especially since you were the first human Edward ever dated. I probably have a somewhat better idea of what is and is not safe for me than he does, but generally speaking if it's a bad idea I'll tell you."
"Are you sure?" I asked. "I thought vampires couldn't stop once they..."
"Foresight," she said, "so anything you're thinking, I'll pretty much know ahead of time if it's going to set me off or not."
I exhaled slowly. "This sounds doable."
I moved closer to her first, and a cold hand brushed my cheek and pushed my hair away just as I started to freeze with nerves. Her kiss was unafraid, something I had never experienced before. I could feel the pang in my chest, telling me I was betraying Edward and somehow it felt good. I was a horrible person, and I wanted to keep betraying Edward as badly as I could. When she finally stopped me, I was panting.
"You okay Bella?"
"I..." I said. "We'll have to try that again when I'm not crazy," when I saw her expression change, I said, "not...that I'll make you wait that long."
She gave me another peck on the lips and I followed her inside.
"You'll have to go home soon," she told me, while we sat in silence on the couch.
"I know," I said.
"Are you sure you feel alright?" she asked.
I wasn't exactly sure what I was feeling, so I tried it again. This time, it was less intense. Less angry and less desperate, all around better. I had lost Edward but I had Alice. Alice was mine. There was relief, lust, excitement, confusion, pride, giddiness, and just downright vengeance in my kiss. Some of those feelings were for her, and the rest seemed a bit unfair. But I couldn't think about it. I was too happy to care.