A/N THE END! ...for now.
No, really the end.
Or is it?
Yes. It is.
My vision snapped off, and I was whipped back into reality. I was no longer in the meadow, no longer watching two of the people I loved most in the world finally realizing how much they meant to each other. I was no longer hearing the still-echos of an impossible heartbeat. I was no longer home.
I was in Mexico, I was across from a rather tipsy, rather cute human boy, and I was kicking his ass at tequila pong.
"Ricky," his eyes fluttered open and met mine. A lopsided grin slid onto his face before his eyes fluttered closed again. Okay, so perhaps tipsy was the tiniest bit inaccurate. "Ricky, darling. Pull yourself together." I brought my hands up to cup his face.
I pinched at his cheeks.
I slapped him.
"Ugh. I am so not interested in dealing with you right now." I quickly flicked through his future, mental pictures flying past like a rolodex. I stopped when I saw Ricky safely sleeping his stupor off in his bed and smiled to myself. I helped myself to the pile of cash on the table between us, pocketing most of the wagers, but slipping a few bills into Ricky's shirt pocket. The poor darling couldn't have known that he was going in against an immortal who could only get drunk by proxy. For a moment I thought wishfully about those predatory vampires who would get humans drunk and drain them for a buzz. Not that I would ever do such a thing, but I could see the appeal.
I moved from the booth we were sitting in and joined the thin crowd at the bar. The night had just started; this wasn't the type of place most people chose to begin their evenings, though many people ended their nights here.
I slid onto a stool next to a slick looking guy who was nursing a drink with an umbrella in it. He eyed me up and down the second my daisy-duke clad behind hit the seat. Before I could catch the bartender, Greasy had angled his body toward me and slipped an arm over my shoulders.
"Hola, gorgeous." What was it with me and Texans? "You speak English?"
His thumb rubbed my shoulder and I could feel the heat of his clammy palms steaming through my light shirt.
"I saw you hitting the tequila pretty hard over there."
I waged mental war with myself as he took the liberty of buying me a drink. A sex on the beach? It took everything I had not to roll my eyes. The angel in me was thoroughly trumping the devil, right up until I saw him slip an unmarked white tablet into my drink. He held eye contact with me as he swirled the umbrella, stirring in the quickly dissolving drugs, shielding the glass from less observant eyes with a casually placed arm. He handed the drink to me, and my decision was made.
"Eengleesh? No…" My eyes were wide and my voice was dripping with an improvised, and somewhat over exaggerated, accent.
Greasy handed me my drink, which I downed instantly. As he watched, I let my eyes drift unfocused and my hands slide down my body. I muttered in Spanish to my self, and giggled when he placed an arm around my waist. He whispered in my ear about getting a hotel room nearby. My hand shot out and stopped him in his place.
"No," my accent had vanished, "Instead… Do you have a car?"
I left him ten miles from the border, carless and pantless. I took the car to get back to Forks. I took his pants for fun.
I could have flown back in less than half the time, but I wasn't in a hurry and it was a nice car. A really nice car. I took unpopulated roads back so I wouldn't have to worry about the sunshine.
I had plenty of other things to worry about.
I had checked my reception a dozen times. I had tried introducing myself up front. I had tried surprising her at the house. I had tried getting to know her and then revealing who I was.
Every future I tried created a distant and suspicious Bella who wouldn't trust me for years to come.
As I crossed into Forks (population 3,200- Welcome!) in the middle of the night, I had to slam on the breaks as a vision swept over me.
When it cleared, I was dangerously stalled in the middle of an intersection, though there were no other cars on the road as far as I could see. I eased off the break and continued creeping through the sleeping town. I couldn't help but look up at the sky and smile at the blessing my vision had given me.
There would be thunder tomorrow.
I watched from the trees beyond our backyard as Jasper opened the mailbox. For a moment, I was sure he could see me. I knew for certain he could smell me. Even from my considerable distance, though, I saw his lips curl as he read my note:
There's going to be thunder tonight. Meet me at the field? Bring everyone and bring the gear. Tell Bella not to wear those shoes, and tell Esme yes, yes, and no, in that order.
He turned to go inside, not bothering to hide his excitement. I could hear his shout, "Guys! Baseball tonight…I know…Alice is back..."
I hopped down from my perch and darted away. Even the first jagged forks of lightning couldn't dampen my spirits. The future in my mind was warm and fuzzy with love. I could see so clearly Bella's trepidation melting away. I could see her understanding as she imagined a world where she hadn't become a vampire, a world without Jasper. I could hear her whisper in my ear, "Thank you," and I could feel her squeeze my hand. I must have looked an idiot, running through the woods grinning to myself, but I didn't care.
For a moment, I was jolted out of my blissful run by the scent of some strangers trailing through the woods. At first I was concerned, but my run had taken me far north of Forks, and a quick dip into the future showed the strangers—it smelled like three of them—passing by without incident. I continued (what was quickly becoming a victory lap), undaunted.
We would play baseball and we would talk and we would be best friends. We would be family. And nothing was going to change the blissful future I had planned.
I was home, I was loved, and I was staring down the future with certainty for the first time in a long time.
We were going to be happy. Which, when you've lived as much as I've lived and seen as much as I've seen, is no small achievement. But we were happy and, I'm tempted to say, we were going to be happy for a long time.
Perhaps even ever after.