A/N: …Insert worthless excuse here?

Nah. I'll be honest. I've had to write about a trillion and a half other things lately (for school, friends, distant relatives, bug-eyed monsters from Pluto, etc…) and it didn't really give me much time and creativity left to continue this story. So I tabled it (temporarily), 'cause all my free-time has been spent: a) learning French (long, weird, funny story), b) writing bad poetry, c) sleeping, or trying to.

I originally started this story waaaay the hell back when I was dating someone and felt all cutesy about it, then kept writing it and started publishing after she dumped me, 'cause, despite the logic that would tell someone who's heartbroken that they shouldn't be writing romance stories, it was the greatest therapy ever. Now, I'm in that awkward "I-have-a-raging-crush-on-a-girl-who's-probably-straight" phase (again), and I guess I need more therapy.

Or maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment.

Whatever. Point is, this story's my heart in text form. I'm not exaggerating. I know where it's going, how it's gonna end, yadda blah blah. Just bear with me.

(Completely random fun-ish fact: As I write this, I'm about 30 minutes away from Forks. It's also Christmas night, although this probably won't make it up for a bit since I don't have internet, but still. Merry Christmas!)

Disclaimer: Maybe if I owned Twilight, "girl-who's-probably-straight" would like me.

Chapter 18: Come to my Rescue

When you're a vampire, time means something utterly different than when you're a human. I've watched people around me for years, how the passage of months, weeks, or even hours can take its toll, tiny instances dragging out into a limitless stretch of infinity. Have a child sit in the corner for five minutes and it becomes five years. Or maybe someone's husband calls several hours late, turning each tick of the clock into another subtle gut-wrench. It's grim, yet fascinating, I suppose. But in the world of immortals, a day is a millisecond, a week is an eye-blink, and the only way you can really keep track of anything is to look at things by decade, or, if you're even older, by century.

I guess that's another thing Bella changed. I'm not sure if it's the fact that she's a human, or just the fact that, since she came in my life, I've been paying a bit more attention. But, whatever the reason, time seems so much more significant than it was before. Instead of decades or years, my life is lived day-to-day. Time, I realize now, is a gift. And as I lay in a heap on the floor, it slowed even further. I measured the time spent recovering not in hours, or minutes, or seconds…but instead in the deep, gentle breaths of my human as she held me with infinite patience.

Honestly, I wouldn't be able to tell you if I laid there for 5 minutes or 5 years. I didn't care either way. My body, so jolted, so frantic, slowly returned itself to a state resembling normal. When the last of the shakes stopped and my tears had run dry, Bella shifted slightly, her fingers gently running through my hair. I opened my eyes and looked up at her, focusing on her beautiful face to keep myself grounded. I lifted my hand to brush her cheek absently, and she smiled gently at me. I smiled back, moving my fingers to trace the outline of her lips.

"I'm sorry," I whispered softly. She shouldn't be here. She should be at the bonfire, with her friends, having a good time. Not worrying over something like this, my pathetic freak-out over something as trivial as a memory…

She shook her head. "You're apologizing to me for trying to discover who you are?"

I sighed, looking at her with a pained expression. "No. I'm apologizing because you're worried. Again."

Her fingers moved from my hair to my forehead, her gentle, heated touch soothing the phantom ache that still lingered. Slowly, I closed my eyes, submitting to the feelings of exhaustion that threatened to overtake me. Even if I was sorry she was here, I was still infinitely glad that she came.

"You stupid vampire," she said, tracing patterns across my face, her finger leaving a trail of dull tingles on the surface of my skin, "I love you. Of course I'm going to worry about you sometimes," her hand dropped from my face and reached down to take my hand. "And I'm going to be there for you when you need me," she raised our joined hands and kissed mine softly, "always."

I smiled at her words and gentle touch. "Thank you…" I was trying hard not to think of what I'd just experienced and focus on her instead.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked, as if she could read my mind.

I opened my eyes to meet hers. The look on her face was one of concern and understanding. Her hand gripped mine tightly, a touch I was grateful for. I bit down on my lip, then shook my head.

"I…don't think I can right now."

She nodded, playing with my fingers absently. A thought occurred to me.

"How did you know?" I whispered softly.

She moved our entwined hands to her heart. My eyes opened wide as the sound of her frantic beats reached my ears. I was so used to the steady rhythm in the background that I hadn't even noticed it skipping in double-time. I watched her face closely as her eyes fluttered shut and she let out a deep sigh. Gradually, her heart rate decreased. "That's how I knew," she answered as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

I sat up quickly, staring at her in amazement.

"I knew what it meant," she said softly, gently stroking my hand where it rested on her heart, "I knew I'd have to find you as soon as I could."

I blinked, astonished. She leaned forward and carefully wrapped her arms around my waist. "How did you get here so fast?" I asked in confusion. She had been all the way in La Push when I'd been retrieving my memories.


"You were at the fire. Miles away," I clarified. Her look of confusion changed to one of understanding, and then of discomfort.

"What?" I asked.

"Alice…" she bit her lip.

"Bella, please tell me," I begged, twisting so I could look at her.

She sighed heavily. "Esme…said you were out for almost an hour."

An hour!

What the hell did that mean? Even my longest visions never take more than a few minutes. This one, although far more vivid, shouldn't have been an exception.

Bella seemed to read my mind. "It wasn't a vision. It was a memory. Maybe that made the difference?"

"God. I don't even want to think about this now," I groaned as I leaned back against the wall. Part of me realized how strange it was to be having this conversation on the floor of Carlisle's study when there were chairs not five feet away and a bed in the other room, but the other part of me felt like moving as little as possible. Bella didn't seem to mind. She moved to lean back against the side of a bookshelf beside me.

"How was the fire?" I asked suddenly.

Her eyebrows went up a little at the sudden subject change, but she didn't comment. "Parts of it were interesting," she said slowly, "Like the legend of the tribe's history, the story of how they became werewolves. That was pretty fascinating." She looked away from me.

"I sense there's more."

She growled. The sound was so out of place that I stared at her in astonishment. "When I went to leave, he tried to stop me," she spat venomously. "Tried to tell me I was being ridiculous, that I was just trying to find an excuse to leave. As if he couldn't hear my heart hammering in my chest…" She paused, her eyes sliding shut slowly. "I wouldn't listen to him, of course. The idea that he would try to keep me from you is just maddening."

I moved closer to her then, and she automatically put her arms around my waist. I purred in contentment before responding. "Let's not be too hard on Jacob." Must I keep defending the wolf boy?

"I think I have every right to be hard on Jacob," she scoffed. "And up until then I was being perfectly nice to him."

"He really likes you, you know." Traitorous mouth…

She sighed softly. "I know. But that doesn't give him the right to treat you like this. Besides…I don't feel the same way, and he knows that." She looked down at the floor, her words now coming out in mumbles. "Part of me feels horrible for trying to keep in my life. That same part really feels like I shouldn't, because it's hurting all of us, and I can't stand to see him look at you the way he does. But...the other part of me can't let him go because, for a while, he was all I had." She sighed, "I know, I'm not making much sense."

I shook my head. "I know what you mean. Despite everything…he was once a very good friend to you. I can see how this would be frustrating."

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do about him."

"I don't think you have to know. Very few of us seem to have any ideas about what we're going to do anymore."

She chuckled without humor. "I guess not. That reminds me, how are Edward and Jasper?"

"Esme is going to –" I cut off, receiving a quick vision. "Huh. Scratch that. Rose is going to go to Seattle and bring them back. Esme apparently wants to stick around after what just happened."

"Can you blame me?"

I turned to look at Esme, who was now standing in the doorway, her posture tense. Her eyes were full of worry, but her smile was warm. Suddenly, I needed my mother.

Bella released me as I sat up and reached both hands out to the doorway as if I was five. She crossed the room and lifted me up effortlessly, cradling me in her arms. Normally, I'd be protesting such an undignified position, especially with Bella in the room. Tonight, I didn't care. I hid my face in her hair and breathed deeply.

"Bella needs to go home, honey."

"What?" I whined, "Whhyyy?" I really was quite the toddler today. But I couldn't stand the thought of Bella leaving me right now.

"Emmett's watching her house, and he called and said that Charlie's getting nervous."

Bella sighed and stood up. "He's been like this ever since the reports of the wolves started coming in. I'd better go…"

I raised my head and peeked at her over Esme's shoulder. She giggled. "You're such a baby vampire."

I growled dangerously, but she wasn't fazed. She leaned forward and kissed me lightly. When she pulled back, her face was more serious. "You're okay, right?"

I nodded. "I'll be fine."

"I'll take good care of her, Bella," promised Esme.

She nodded gently and left the room. I clung to my mother as she went, a motion that was not lost on her. She rubbed my back softly. "You want to talk?"

I sighed heavily, considering that for a moment. I'd have to talk about what I'd seen sooner or later, so I nodded. She turned and carried me down the hall to my room.

"It was terrible," I whispered, "I don't understand why they'd do all that to me."

Esme sat on a chair beside my bed. She had listened to me intently as I recounted every detail of my memory, her face shifting from shock to anger to sadness.

"Oh, honey…" she sighed, "I was always afraid something like this might happen."

I thought about that. "I guess I now know why my mind repressed that stuff. It wasn't even that helpful. I mean…he said that was my first treatment…that couldn't have been my whole human life…could it?"

She didn't answer. I continued rambling, my frustration growing.

"I had to have gotten there somehow; I had to have had a family and a life beforehand. That's what I want to know! I figured the asylum had to have sucked. I didn't need any proof of that!" I paused to pinch the bridge of my nose with two fingers before blurting out, "And I still have no fucking idea who I was!"

Esme lay a gentle hand on my arm. I looked at her, my body shaking slightly with rage.

"You have every right to be angry," she said in a level tone. Despite her words, I felt all of the anger drain out of me. I fell back against the bed, feeling almost defeated.

"Maybe I do. But I don't want to be."

"You've been incredibly strong, Alice," she remarked, her hand now rubbing my arm soothingly.

"Not lately I haven't…" I sat up slightly, leaning back against the headboard. "I barely recognize myself anymore."

She looked at me sympathetically. "You've been going through an awful lot of changes lately. That's never easy."

"I love Bella, mom. I really do."

She smiled. "I know. I'm glad you have her right now."

I looked at her guiltily, "I kind of thought you'd be mad at me."

"Why would I be mad at you?" she asked, frowning.

"I really hurt Ed and Jazz. I helped to drive them away."

She was shaking her head before I'd even finished speaking. "You had absolutely no obligation to stay with Jasper. You need to do what's best for you, Alice."

I bit my lip and turned away, debating on whether to say what I hadn't told Bella. She noticed.

"What is it?"

"I…I tried to fight it, mom," I admitted. "I felt the pull instantly. I tried so hard to fend off the feelings, because I knew that if I acted on them, I'd screw everything up. Pretty soon, I couldn't even pretend to be with Jasper anymore. I just…couldn't fight it. Part of me felt terrible for giving in, but my instincts wouldn't let up. I couldn't stand to be without her."

"You shouldn't have to deny your own feelings, Alice. You're both obviously crazy about each other."

I couldn't help but smile, and I leaned across the bed to hug her again tightly. Something else suddenly occurred to me.



"It doesn't bother you that she's…a girl, does it?"

Esme chuckled softly. "I admit, honey, it's a bit unorthodox, but then, so are you." I laughed along with that one. "But really, don't worry. I've never had a problem with it. I don't think any of us have."

I opened my mouth to respond to that one before I was taken into another vision.

The door slammed suddenly, and Jasper's fiery eyes turned to meet Edward's. Anger was evident on both of their faces.

"Why did you send him out!" bellowed Edward, shooting off of the bed he had been sitting on. He was in as much disarray as he had been the last time I'd seen him in a vision. Jasper didn't look much better off. "We have to keep him near us as much as we can!"

"Oh?" countered Jasper, "That sure as hell didn't seem to bug you before." His Southern drawl was becoming more prominent, a sign of his agitation.

His answering growl was low and dangerous, "Stop it."

"No. I'm not willing to forget it."

"I'm not talking about this."

Jasper crossed his arms tightly. "You know what? You're not the only heartbroken one, Edward."

"Exactly! Neither of us are ready to deal with this!" He stalked closer to Jasper, and the two of them began circling each other.

"So what? We just pretend that didn't happen?"

"I'm not like you, Jasper."

"Oh, fuck you!" he slammed Edward hard against the wall, pinning him. "I can feel all of your emotions right now. I know you're full of shit."

"And I can read your mind! Every thought! It's sick!"

He tightened his hold, "You little hypocrite…"

Edward's breathing spiked and he closed his eyes tightly. Jasper smirked at the reaction and leaned in, his face inches from Edward's. "You ready to talk yet?"

Just then, the door burst open and in ran a very furious Rosalie. She grabbed Jasper and threw him across the room, sending a web of cracks across the wall. Edward, too shocked to move, was quickly thrown against the adjoining wall. The blonde stood in the center of the floor, fuming with rage as they both sprang to their feet.

"Don't. You. Dare. Do that again!" she screamed at both of them. They flinched in unison.

"Rose –"they started to say as one, but she cut them off.

"Both of you have 30 seconds to gather your shit and get in the car."

A pair of rapid footsteps sounded in the hall and the door opened further. Before the figure could be revealed to me, the vision went black.

I blinked at the light of my room and turned to face Esme, who watched me with a vaguely worried look on her face.

"Everything alright?"

"I…um, don't know," I answered, trying to piece together what I'd just seen. "Uhh…I saw Ed and Jazz. Rose just got to them."

"That's great!" She paused, seeing my expression. "Right?"

I shook my head. "Something weird's going on with them. They were having a fight before she came in."

"Is Seth alright?"

I nodded. "I think so. I'm pretty sure he came in at the end, because the vision cut off." I tried to force the rather disturbing image of an enraged Jasper out of my mind. I couldn't remember ever seeing him like that before.

"And you?"

I thought about that.

"I'm alright, for now. I should probably hunt."

She smiled and kissed me on the cheek. "That sounds good. Edward and Jasper should be here soon."

I couldn't tell if that was a reminder or a warning. Maybe both. "I know, thanks."

She left the room, and I sighed and crossed to the window, looking out at the trees. Normally, I would have put on shoes out of habit, but right now, I didn't care. I dropped to the ground effortlessly and tore across the yard and into the forest, giving in to my simpler instincts. I welcomed the chance to turn off my brain, if only for a little while.

A/N: I wrote it on Christmas and I'm posting it on New Year's. Call this the holiday chapter. Ha.

Anyway, ( and I know my A/N's are longer than usual, bear with me or skip them…) for those of you who have me on author alert, two things. 1) I love you. 2) You'll notice that I'm posting another fanfic. I don't know if any of you read Vampire Academy, but if you don't, do, and if you do, check out my other fic. It is a Lissa/Rose ONE SHOT, (at least for now), because this story is and will remain my baby.

Also...I'm thinking about using a beta? Maybe? I admit to having absolutely no idea how one finds a beta, as well as no idea how the beta process actually WORKS, but I'm wondering if I should consider it.

Again, apologies for the long hiatus. I don't know where my brain goes sometimes. Christmas night, the little spot in my head where Alice lives decided to poke the rest of my brain incessantly and told me to go write this chapter. So you can all thank her, not me.

Regardless, I'd love some reviews. Happy New Year! :)