This is it, folks. The end! :( I just want to thank every single one of my readers and reviewers... :) (blah blah, I still own nothing!)
This fic has been a particularly cathartic experience, and I'm so touched that others have enjoyed the journey.
This last chapter is dedicated to my friend's Dad, who sadly lost his short and brutal battle with cancer last month. x
"It's back Jasper. The cancer's back."
The hand that was moving calming circles on my back suddenly stopped, and Jasper's eyes darkened.
"It's back, Jasper. It is. Even since before Bella's wedding…I've been so tired, and…"
"Babe that could be anything. Stress, lack of sleep…"
I shook my head vehemently.
"No! Jasper I know what it feels like. I still remember…" I felt a lump forming in my throat.
"It's back, Jasper."
He sighed. "We should talk to your dad…"
"No." I tried to stop my voice from trembling as a tear made its way down my cheek.
"I don't want to ruin their Christmas".
"Hey…ssshhh." He cupped my face in his hand, his thumb stroking away the tear on my cheek.
His arms wrapped around me, pulling me close as my resolve began to crumble.
Jasper spent the rest of the evening in bed with me, whispering calm, soothing words in my ear. I didn't hear a word – it was as if I was seventeen again, it was all so familiar, but at the same time, just as daunting as before.
"I need to get blood work done." I said quietly.
"I want to know how advanced it is before I tell them…"
Jasper ran his hand up and down my arm.
"You're sure you don't want your dad to know? I don't know how he'll take it if we just tell him later."
"I know…" I sighed. I was torn. Part of me knew that Jasper was right, but I didn't want them to feel that horrific, clawing worry that was eating me up. Not until we knew how advanced it was.
"I just want to do this."
"My guess is that they're worried already, Alice. You sort of disappeared and we've been up here for hours. Maybe we should at least make an appearance…"
His eyes searched mine as his hand caressed my cheek. I knew he was right, but summoning the courage to go downstairs and make small talk to my family whilst this was weighing on me seemed nearly too much.
"I'll come down with you, it'll be ok."
I took a deep breath, letting Jasper pull me up and wrap his arms around me.
I swear I must have been crushing his hand as we headed down the stairs, but he didn't say anything. My mom approached us almost immediately.
"Alice, darling, there you are. Are you two alright? You disappeared rather quickly."
"Don't worry mom, they're married. They were up there do – "
"Emmett!" Rose elbowed him, smirking.
I forced a sheepish smile onto my face.
"Emmett's right. Sorry we disappeared…"
My mom blushed, apologising. I felt awful for lying to her but remembering her reaction to my initial diagnosis made me not feel like such a bitch.
My Dad spoke up as we all headed to the family room.
"Who wants some wine? Red or white."
"Red, please." I spoke. I knew I wouldn't be able to drink again when I was in treatment, so I figured I'd make the most of it now.
He smiled, handing me a glass.
"What does everyone have planned for tomorrow? We'd like to have a big brunch at about noon."
"That sounds nice." Bella smiled. "We're totally free."
I squeezed Jasper's hand as I spoke.
"We were going to go for a walk, maybe before brunch." Jasper's hand squeezed mine back, and I knew we were on the same page. This way, we could go to the hospital and get some tests done before having to break any news to them.
I woke early the next morning. I'd been dozing on and off all night, unable to actually let myself rest until we knew more. Jasper was taking a quick shower when Rose walked in with Matthew.
"Hey…gosh you two are up early. Going for a walk now?"
I smiled, reaching out for Matthew's little onsie-glad feet and making him giggle.
"Yeah. We just figured we'd be too full and lazy later on."
Rose looked down at my leggings and t-shirt.
"Leggings, Alice? For a walk? There's snow on the ground and you're going to freeze your butt off in leggings?"
I froze, letting go of my nephew's foot.
She raised her brow, shifting Matthew on her hip.
"Alice what's going on? Jasper was looking pretty spooked all night and you're clearly not going for a walk."
"We're uh…we're going to the hospital."
Concern covered her features.
I took a breath, willing my voice to remain steady.
"I think it's back, Rose."
Tears quickly clouded her eyes.
"Wh…why? Why do you think that? How long have you thought it?"
"It just hit me yesterday. I've been feeling off since before Bella and Edward's wedding, and it's just…I remember what it feels like but I didn't want to say anything until I was sure…until we know more."
She bit her lip, cuddling Matthew close.
"I get it. Just...just go and get checked out. You might be worried about nothing."
I managed a small smile.
I watched as Rose left down the hall with my nephew. Every fibre of my being hoped that she was right, but part of me knew better than to be hopeful.
I relaxed a little as I felt Jasper's arms snake around my waist.
"As I'll ever be."
The oncology waiting room was uncomfortably familiar. It was fairly quiet given the holiday season, which I was thankful for. Jasper's hand held mine, stroking in calming motions.
Although it had been five years, I could recognise Dr. Young anywhere. His smile was inviting yet sad.
"Alice…I wish I could say it was good to see you…but I doubt you're happy to see me."
I stood, smiling softly as we shook hands.
"Not really a pleasure, no…"
He noticed the wedding ring on my hand and Jasper's hand on my back.
"I see you two made it official. Congratulations."
Jasper locked hands with me.
"How do we proceed?"
Dr. Young spoke, looking to both of us.
"The nurses will run some tests…full blood work, urine tests, a CT to be sure…and we can discuss the results. We want to keep on top of this. Once this results come through we'll schedule you for a bone marrow aspiration."
I could only nod. I remembered it all too well.
"You two can make your way to room 120, the nurse is waiting for you, and when she's done, I'll meet you back out here. Does that sound ok?"
I nodded again, maintaining my vice-like grip on Jasper's hand as we made our way to room 120.
The blood and urine tests were quick enough, but we had to wait for me to be taken down to CT.
"We can do this." Jasper spoke softly, coming to sit on the exam table with me. I smiled, leaning my head on his shoulder.
"I love you, Jasper. So much."
I lifted my head again.
"We can do this. Together." I reached in, our lips meeting in a chaste kiss.
Jasper wasn't allowed in the room with me for the CT, but I could practically feel him fidgeting outside the door.
"You've got a very attentive husband there." The nurse smiled.
"How long have you been married?"
"Aw, newly weds. Let's hope these results are clean." She spoke kindly.
We'd arrived in the hospital over two hours ago, and we were finally sitting back in the oncology waiting room. I hoped my parents weren't too concerned about our very 'long walk' and I was hoping that Rose could think quickly on her feet if they brought up how long we'd been gone.
We hadn't been waiting long when Dr. Young approached us again, this time with a second doctor. Jasper's hand tightened its grip on mine. This couldn't be good.
They took their positions in the seats directly across from us. Dr. Young spoke. "Alice, Jasper…this is Dr. Emma Wills."
"It's a pleasure to meet both of you." She smiled kindly. I merely nodded as she shook our hands. I just wanted them to get to the point.
She smiled at Dr. Young before speaking.
"Your blood-work showed the presence of hCG. Do you know what that is?"
I shook my head. I gazed to Jasper, who looked just as perplexed.
"It stands for human chorionic gonadotropin. It is a glycoprotein hormone produced during pregnancy."
"Pregnancy?" My voice sounded small…disconnected from my body.
Dr. Young smiled widely.
"You are still cancer free, Alice. And you're pregnant. Congratulations."