A/N: Chapter 78!
It has taken four years (literally), but here's the final chapter of Lost in Orbit.
A huge thank you is in order – to my readers, reviewers, to those who added alerts and favourites, who messaged me about the story, I wouldn't have finished this without you. Thank you as well to Stephenie Meyer, who made this possible in the first place…
Finally, the biggest thank you goes to those who helped me edit/beta and iron out plot points when I was struggling. You guys know who you are, and I love you.
To save this getting soppy, I'll end with: I really hope you've enjoyed Jasper and Alice's story as much as I did writing it.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.
Chapter 78 – In the End
29th August 2010
The room was silent.
The familiarity of it was ironic, considering it being this room, in this house, that my mind had aptly decided to dig deep, instead of spending what little time we had left of the evening with my friends.
No one was passed out on the couch across from me, and there was no drunken Alice about to stumble in and fall asleep on my lap, yet my current state of affairs was all but the same.
I had a lot to think about then, and I had a lot to think about now.
Tomorrow, Alice and I were getting on a plane and not returning for another four months. Beginning the next step of my life with Alice was exactly what I wanted, but at the same time, it was absolutely fucking terrifying.
The past few months had been a push to prepare myself for what was to come. To be certain that when the day arrived, I wouldn't be digging in my heels. Now we were here on the eve, I knew I would get on that plane, I just didn't quite know how I was going to manage the bits in between.
The goodbyes. I didn't know how I was going to say goodbye.
My hand went for the chain that had long since been returned to its original place around my father's neck. I'd worn the ring for only a few days, but I'd spent nearly every waking minute either reaching for it, or simply feeling it resting against my heart, and since then, I'd had the inexplicable sense that something was missing.
In a way, I suppose something was. For when I gave it back to him four days ago, I'd felt a trace of what I had when I'd done the very same ten years before.
Despite Alice's tremendous effort to assure me he would return, there had still been a lingering point of fear. Seeing him come back, and passing the ring from my hand to his had allowed me to liberate some of that darkness.
In its place, I allowed that spell of happiness to fill me. I embraced it for what it was, and a day later, I gathered my parents together and finally told them I wanted him to move in with us permanently.
Aside from kissing Alice that day in the rain, no decision had ever felt more right than that.
I was placing the final piece into our family portrait, knowing that it really was okay to leave Mom and Emily. It erased the deep-set worries of being left behind while they recreated what we once had. Nine months ago, when Emily was just getting to know her father, I never would have expected to be the one to bring us all together.
It was a peaceful thought, to know that.
When Alice sought me out, I was still staring off into space.
"Everything okay?" she asked as she slid into the seat beside me. "The others were asking if something was wrong. I got a little worried when I realised I couldn't answer them."
"I'm fine," I replied honestly, my voice surprised at the truth of the statement. It was such a bizarre feeling to know that everything really was okay. I couldn't remember the last time I'd ever felt like that, to be certain that every aspect of my life was perfectly content.
"Jas?" I turned, noticing her slight amusement. "You were miles away again."
I smiled and took her hand. "Sorry, I was just thinking how true that is, about everything being okay."
She snuggled down against me, happy with my response. The fact she was worried when, for once, she really needn't be was virtually unheard of, and I had to take a moment to try to absorb the new sensation.
"It feels weird," I admitted with a laugh. "Ever since I was thirteen, things just got from bad to worse, but now? It's as if…everything is finally falling into place. My mom is happy, my dad is back, and Emily is settled. I said goodbye to Maria and things are great with Peter and Charlotte…
"Then there's you…"
She was the key to my happiness, the catalyst that started the long and gruelling road to mending my heart. I couldn't imagine letting her go any easier than I could have avoided her when we first met. It simply wasn't possible, and in spite of all the pain and heartache, every moment spent with her was worth it a hundred times over…
…and it always would be.
The end of the night was drawing to a close, and though we needed our sleep for the long day that lay ahead of us tomorrow, none of us were quite ready to say goodnight. It was obvious we were stalling, but now that Edward's parents had gone to bed – their room just across the hall – we knew we couldn't put it off any longer.
"What time have you set your alarm for?" Rosalie asked. Aside from Jasper, she was the one who hated goodbyes the most, and right now, she was the one putting in the most effort to keep us from going to bed.
Jasper and I remained silent; I didn't have an alarm and I knew for a fact Jasper didn't bother with them. He had a knack for waking up when he needed to.
"Mine's set for seven."
As Bella replied, we simultaneously looked towards the clock. If her alarm was going off at seven that meant we only had six and a half hours to go…it also meant we had to get our sleep.
"We have to leave around eight thirty, so just make sure you're up and ready by then," Edward said, the finality in his voice was enough to say we were finally calling it a night. "You guys know your way around – spare rooms as always. I'll see you all in the morning."
He went towards the door, but Emmett stopped him. "Wait, aren't you going to tell them to rule of the house?"
He looked perplexed for just a moment, but chuckled when he realised what Emmett was talking about.
"No sex in the house," he said, looking at Jasper and me. I blushed but tried to laugh it off as the others looked at us, Emmett's grin wider than usual. "Really, though, this time I'm completely serious."
"Make sure you really sink your teeth into that one, hey, Jasper?" Emmett called out, winking in my direction.
Like Bella and Rosalie, I couldn't work out what the hell he was referring to, but one look at Jasper told me everything I needed to know. It must have been a personal joke he wanted Emmett to drop because his expression was murderous as he flipped his middle finger.
Fighting a grin, Edward shooed him out the room. "Get out of here before he kills you."
It was a wise move as Jasper was still scowling by the time we ventured into the hall. Luckily, Emmett was nowhere in sight.
"You two can stay in that one," Edward said, pointing towards a room I hadn't been in before. I took one look inside and exclaimed my surprise at having a double bed aloud.
He smirked. "It's not my fault you guys took the only single bed in the house last time you stayed over."
When Edward disappeared into his own room, I turned back to our room, waiting for Jasper to return.
"What was that all about with Emmett?"
He shrugged noncommittally. "It's nothing."
I thought about pushing him for the truth, but ultimately decided to let it slide. If it was important, he would have told me. The fact he wasn't, said it was probably best I didn't know. Thankfully, his expression had a perceivable difference as he perched on the edge of the bed to remove his shoes.
"I've never slept in a double bed with you before," I said casually, closing the door behind us.
He looked up, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes as I moved towards him. He arched an eyebrow as I leisurely straddled his lap, pressing our bodies together.
"I mean, we've always squeezed into our little single beds," I went on as lightly as I could whilst kissing along his jaw. "Not that I'm complaining, of course…"
He groaned faintly as my lips moved to his neck. His grip on my hips tightened, so I gently dragged my nails along his back.
"Alice…" His voice strained perceivably. "I don't think this is a good idea…remember what Edward said."
I placed my forefinger on his lips. "Don't worry, I have very good restraint."
For a moment, it seemed he was going to give in as his hand roamed my body, but my hope was dashed the instant I let him speak.
"I don't think that's going to be enough…" he said, yet making no effort to put a stop to it.
My eyebrows rose as I pulled back. "Are you questioning my restraint?"
He chuckled lightly. "No, I'm questioning mine."
I laughed, shaking my head as I climbed off his lap. He had the nerve to look disappointed, but soon replaced it with something else when he saw me reaching for my bags.
Jasper pushed the rules by insisting on helping me change. His reason being that if we were only using the bed for sleeping, then he needed something in lieu.
However, it took him twice as long as it should have done, and he ended up using his lips far more than he should have. By the end, I didn't dare offer to do the same for him, and instead, quickly snuck to the bathroom in hope he changed while I was gone.
When I got back to the room, Jasper was lying back shirtless, the covers around his waist.
My eyes narrowed. "Why aren't you wearing a shirt?"
"How many times have you seen me wear a shirt in bed?" he replied, completely perplexed as he took in my narrowed eyes. I grumbled something he didn't quite catch as I climbed into bed and shuffled closer.
"You have the whole side to yourself, yet you still squeeze next to me," he teased as his fingers searched for me under the covers. I forced my expression to be affronted as I pretended to huff and roll over to the far side, keeping my back to him.
A moment later, I felt his silent laughter as he shifted over and gently pulled me back towards him. When I was about central in the bed, he settled beside me, my back flush with his chest.
"Old habits," he said softly, pressing his lips to my shoulder and pulling the covers over us.
I fell asleep with a smile on my face, revelling in the weight of his arm across my hip.
30th August 2010
The first thing I registered as I awoke was the sound of Jasper's gentle breathing beside me. I could feel his body heat radiating against my back, but we made no physical contact.
Making sure not to jostle him, I stretched out and turned to face him. He must have rolled away from me in the night as he was now on his back, one arm splayed above his head. Given the size of the bed, I wasn't surprised he'd moved; it was the first time either of us could do so without knocking the other to the floor.
Now I was awake, I didn't feel like sleeping again. While I was sure I'd regret it later, I decided to perch on my elbow and take the time to study Jasper instead. My eyes roamed his body, starting at the trail of hair peaking out from beneath the bed cover.
It was one of my favourite places on his body…I loved that dip just below his navel. I moved upwards from there, over the steady rise and fall of his chest and along his neck. My gaze lingered on his unshaven jaw before finally resting at the unruliness of his hair.
He really was something, and the sad thing was I couldn't be sure he truly understood just how hard he could make a girl fall for him on looks alone. Luckily for me, I had him all to myself, and in a bed like this…it was certainly something I could get used to.
But as that thought manifested, it dawned on me this was going to be the last time we woke up together for months. Tears sprung unbidden in my eyes at the realisation.
I quickly settled down beside him, so close my nose touched bare skin. Even then I wanted to be closer, but to do that I'd have to wake him up, and I didn't want him to see me like this. While I knew he would comfort me, I still didn't want him to see me getting upset over something as simple as waking up together.
It was stupid to cry. I felt ridiculous as the tears silently leaked out, but I couldn't seem to stop. We'd spent so many nights together in the past few months – probably more than we had apart, and now we had to flip one eighty. I hadn't paid it much thought before, trying not to think about the coming goodbyes, and now the thought of losing something with Jasper was finally catching up with me.
An impromptu sob escaped, and though I rushed to stifle it, the movement was enough to wake him.
His voice was thick with sleep as his hands sought me out. I hastily tried to wipe away the wetness on my cheeks without him noticing, but my lack of response tipped him off, and he repeated my name with more awareness.
I still didn't respond for fear my voice would give me away, as if I somehow hoped he wouldn't notice my silly tears. Which was absurd because Jasper wasn't blind, and had a knack for sensing something was wrong without even looking at me.
In the end, it didn't matter either way as he moved down to my level. Concern washed across his features the second he edged my hands away from my face.
"Alice, what's wrong?"
Whether it was his voice, or just the way he was looking at me…I simply couldn't answer. I'd lost my voice amidst the overwhelming emotions that formed so suddenly; all I could do was wrap my arms around him and bury my face against his neck, feeling utterly pathetic.
"What's brought this on?" he asked as he sat upright and pulled me into his lap. He continued to console me until I finally responded with a mumble against his skin.
Jasper sighed quietly. "I'm sure it isn't if it got you all upset."
He had to prompt me again before I finally turned to free my mouth. "I was just thinking how nice it was to wake up with you, and then I remembered we were leaving…and how I wouldn't be allowed in your room at night and I-"
A sob hiccupped out of me and I had to stop. For God sakes, Alice, get a grip. It's not even as if you're moving to different states.
Jasper was silent as he continued to run his hands along the curve of my spine. I allowed my eyes to flicker shut as he persisted; this was what I wanted, this right here.
Was it selfish of me to want to get away from it all and go somewhere, just the two of us? We would be able to wake up when we wanted; spend the day in bed if that's what we desired.
We'd go for long walks, or just curl up and watch a film together. I'd cook for him because I know he'd be useless in the kitchen if I didn't. We'd be alone, no interruptions, and no drama…just us.
"I think about that, too," he finally said, just in time to stop my thoughts from becoming more pronounced. "About not being able to fall asleep with you in my arms, or not waking up next to you. Sometimes I wonder how I'm going to do it…I kind of dread it."
I felt his arms tighten around me. "But you know what makes me feel better? It's knowing I'll see you every day, and even though you won't be the last thing I see before I fall asleep, we'll still be able to say goodnight to one another. You know what?" As he paused, he placed a gentle kiss on my forehead. "I think that'll be enough to keep me going."
"Every night?" I asked quietly, feeling a little less pitiful.
"I'll always find a way, I promise."
I smiled gently and settled against his chest. Our relationship was never one sided; it was never just me comforting him when he needed a reassurance, or the other way around. It went both ways and I marvelled at how easily we fitted into our roles. Only last week it had been in reverse when he had the issue with his father.
There was a knock at the door, and Jasper quickly acknowledged them. Edward's voice came through the door to tell us everyone was downstairs. I was grateful when I heard him leave; right now, I didn't want to face anyone else.
"Do you want to go down?" Jasper asked, but I shook my head.
"Can we stay like this instead?" I asked. "I just want to be here with you."
I couldn't help but smile as he lay down and tucked me against his chest, pulling the covers over us. Warmth surrounded me. I revelled in it, storing the small details to memory for when this just wouldn't be possible.
Like most mornings, I felt him slip his hand beneath my shirt, taking its customary place at the middle of my back. I already knew just how much I was going to miss this, but that wasn't the only thing.
"Is it stupid that I feel like I'm going to miss you?"
He considered his response. "Maybe to others," he said, shifting so we were face to face. "I know what it's like to miss someone, even when you see them every day – maybe more than you realise."
There was a level of intensity in his eyes as he stared at me. It wasn't hard to absorb the meaning behind his word as I trailed my fingers across his cheek. He missed me when we were apart, and it went without saying that I missed him just as much.
My point was easily proven as I thought back to the start of the month. It was the first night in two weeks that we were sleeping in separate beds. For two hours, I'd tossed and turned, picked up my phone, only to put it down again a moment later. I hadn't wanted to text him; I wanted to prove to myself we could go a night without one another. Besides, if he'd managed to fall asleep, I didn't want to wake him up again.
It turned out Jasper had been having the same problem, and surprisingly, he'd been the first to give in.
I can't sleep without you.
After that, we gave up trying to sleep and started texting back forth. As three in the morning approached, we'd given up the pretence of spending a night apart and Jasper had trekked across town in his sweats and an old t-shirt he'd pulled off the instant he reached my room.
Needless to say, we fell asleep within minutes.
But after today, no matter how hard it was to fall asleep, we couldn't give up and crawl into bed with one another. In all honesty, I wasn't sure how we were going to do it.
"Don't disappear on me, now," he said, his lips brushing my cheek. "I'm the only one allowed to do that."
I blinked, my eyes narrowing as he offered me a lazy grin. He leant down and kissed me before settling onto the pillow. I snuggled closer and closed my eyes, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in my chest.
If the others were downstairs, it meant we had to leave soon.
"We have to get up, don't we?" I said quietly.
He nodded. "It's nearly eight."
I swallowed heavily, burying my face into his neck. It took me a moment to soothe my sudden anxiety; breathing in his warmth helped, and finally I sat up.
Jasper followed me, but didn't get out of bed when I eventually willed myself to move away from him. One look at the time on my cell told me we were later than Jasper had let on.
Knowing I wouldn't be able to get ready with him beside me, I grabbed my things and went into the bathroom. Five minutes later, I wandered back into our room to find Jasper perched on the edge of the bed, exactly where I'd left him. I stepped towards him, coming to stand with our knees together.
"Are you going to come downstairs?"
He snapped out of his faraway gaze. "I'll be right behind you."
I nodded, sensing his need for some time to himself. Leaning my forehead against his, I closed my eyes and whispered, "Thank you."
I wasn't even sure what I was thanking him for – everything, anything – just being here. He seemed to understand what I was thanking him for as he reached up, tangling his fingers into my hair. His lips brushed mine, telling me more than words could.
I love you…
The last thing I wanted to do was pull away, but the clock on the wall said we had twenty minutes to go.
"I'll see you downstairs."
He nodded, letting his hands fall to his sides. I looked back at him for a moment as I reached the door, and then slipped outside and headed for the stairs. Emmett met me at as I reached the bottom step.
"I was just coming up to see where you guys were," he said. "You two all right?"
I sighed and looked away. "It's just hard getting used to the fact we're all leaving today."
"This shit's hard to get take in. The first day is always gonna be weird." He threw him arm around my shoulder and nodded towards the kitchen. "Come on, Edward's mom is on breakfast duty."
I received a similar question from Bella as Emmett and I entered the kitchen. I waved her off, and told them Jasper would be down soon. While I waited for him to join us, I picked at the toast Edward's mom put in front of me.
Jasper was dressed and ready when he came down five minutes later. I gratefully grasped his hand when he held it out to me under the table. We were all equally as quiet, and Rosalie wasn't eating at all.
The last ten minutes went by quickly, and soon enough we were all splitting to go home and prepare the last minute details. Unlike last year, we were all going to the airport to say goodbye, and our flight was one of the first to go out.
All the expected feelings were brewing in my chest as I thought about what was to come. I was scared but excited, nervous but expectant. Most of all, I was ready. Ready for this, and more than ready for my future.
So much had happened in the past two years, and looking back on it now, I still wasn't sure how we'd all gotten through. I'd seen the darkest, ugliest parts of myself, but seen the best, too.
My years spent with Robbie felt like a lifetime ago now, and in a way, I guess they were. But I was never going to forget them. He'd been a huge part of my life, and had been equally as impressionable in the months following his death.
As sad as it was, if Robbie and Maria were alive, Jasper wouldn't be beside me today. Had Maria recovered, and Robbie not been in that accident, Jasper would never have left Texas, and we'd never have found each other.
But that was okay, because we would have been with the ones we loved, and neither of us would have needed the other to heal.
Deep down, I knew Jasper felt the same. I'd watched him grow from the broken, isolated person he was when we first met, to the Jasper I knew and loved today. The distance he'd travelled, alone and with me, was staggering. Now, as I looked at him sitting beside me, I knew he was finally ready, too.
Emily was huddled beside him, gripping his other hand tightly as she looked around the crowded departure hall. She was old enough to understand her brother was going away to study and wouldn't be back until Christmas. But I wasn't completely sure she was prepared to let him go.
To be honest, I wasn't sure he was ready to let her go, either.
I could only deduce that was why he kept leaning down to whisper something into her ear. I wasn't sure what he was saying to her, and I wasn't going to ask, but she would nod silently and he'd sit up again.
Emmett was the first to leave. He kept his goodbyes short, knowing it was going to be hard the longer he dragged it out. A few minutes later, he'd disappeared beyond the security check. Rosalie joined us after Emmett's family said goodbye and went back home.
Rosalie and Edward's flights weren't until later that afternoon, so they were here alone. Bella's flight was due about half an hour after ours, so that meant we were next.
I wasn't particularly looking forward to saying goodbye. The only thing I held onto was that, while saying goodbye was going to be hard, Jasper would be at my side straight after.
When the time finally came, there weren't many tears, unlike last time. Hugs were passed around and last reminders came from our parents, but the hardest part had to be watching Jasper say goodbye to Emily.
She'd remained glued to his side as he'd said to goodbye to everyone else, and in the end, she was the only one left. I gave him some space as he crouched in front of her.
"Breaks your heart, doesn't it?" Rosalie said, looking at Emily. "It's just horrible to see her looking so distraught."
I nodded because the lump in my throat was preventing me from speaking. Jasper had Emily in a tight hug, and though I could tell she was trying to be strong and not cry, her bottom lip was trembling.
I joined him as he stood up. He sought out my hand straight away, giving it a gentle squeeze.
"This is it," he said quietly. I was certain no one else heard him. But, then, I wasn't sure he'd meant it for anyone but me.
Brief hugs were given once again, and I tactfully looked away when Jasper said a final goodbye to his father. He hadn't admitted it, but I knew he'd been dreading this moment. He'd never said goodbye to his father before, not like this; not when he was going away for a long time. If the tight grip he had of my hand was anything to go by, I was almost certain he was fighting his inner demons, the ones that told him to pull back and avoid it.
In the end, they merely held one another's gaze before Jasper nodded once and turned away. They had embraced earlier with the initial goodbyes, but now that everyone was focused on us, I knew Jasper wouldn't do it again.
The security queue was busy, but people moved quickly, and it wasn't long before we were at the front and handing over our IDs. We paused once we were through and looked back.
I waved as Jasper stood and stared at his parents, Emily crying quietly between them. When I looked up at him, I spotted the uneasy, anxious look he'd been harbouring for the past week.
His grip on my hand tightened as I placed my free hand on his chest. "They're going to be okay."
He finally tore his eyes away to look into mine. The emotions faded a little as he nodded. "I know."
I waited for him to make the first move to progress further. He looked back at his family again, the crease between his brow signifying he was fighting an inner battle once again – the choice to either move on, or to back out and return to the safety of Forks. I couldn't force him to make that decision…all I could do was wait, keeping my hand in his, telling him I was here, and no matter what he chose, I'd always go with him.
After a moment, he closed his eyes and exhaled. When he opened them again, he was looking at me, and for the first time that day, his clear blue eyes were no longer clouded with apprehension.
"Let's go," he said simply, his gentle smile lighting his whole face. I returned his smile with one of my own, and nodded, allowing him to turn us away. In that moment, I couldn't have been more proud of him.
A year ago, this just wouldn't have happened. Had I told him to come with me, he wouldn't have given it a second thought before telling me it wasn't an option. He wouldn't have left, and I wouldn't have been able to leave him.
Yet here we were, doing the one thing that hadn't seemed possible. Of course, I wasn't going to tell him just how proud I was of him. He didn't need to hear me say it.
At any rate, I was certain he already knew.
I looked up at him, knowing he knew my answer. "Ready as I'll ever be."
At my response, excitement slowly edged into our smiles and we looked towards our designated gate.
With Jasper at my side, I was ready for just about anything.