ENTRY FOR THE PLOT BUNNY CONTEST
Story Name: Visions of Light
Word Count (not including header/author's note): 6,762
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A/N: Stephanie Meyer owns everything Twilight. I was given the following prompt, and this is my story. Hugs and smooches, as always, to my beta and wifey, theladyingrey42.
Plot Bunny: AU - Instead of being turned by the psychiatrist at the institution, Alice was attacked by James. Like Victoria, he sensed that she could be useful and turned her instead of killing her. How does Alice take to her life as a member of James' coven?
"Mary Alice," Cynthia whispers excitedly, jumping into bed with me and snuggling down under the covers until we are nose-to-nose. "Tell me what you see."
It is always like this, my little sister trying to get more information out of me. And, because I admittedly coddle Cynthia, I always give in.
"If you ask him, he'll say yes," I answer, knowing she's already suspected as much, but wants to be certain before she asks.
"He will?" She tries to look surprised, but I can see the start of her smug smile even in the dim light.
"Of course, silly. But be certain he's the one you want to bring to your debutante ball before you ask. There may be other possibilities."
"Really?" Her green eyes widen and the familiar tingle returns. I shut my eyes before the vision blurs my normal sight. In my mind's eye, I see her laughing and smiling on the arm of another.
"Yes, choose him," I whisper before opening my eyes again. "You will be happier."
She smiles and hugs me close. "What would I do with out you, sister?"
"You'd probably never have the courage to ask any boy," I deadpan, trying desperately to keep the smirk off my face.
"Are you kidding me?" Yes, I am kidding. There is no containing her. She is so full of life and energy that, although I've tried, I can never keep up.
It's only one week until her debutante ball, until she comes out as a woman to the world. And, as tradition, she gets to choose her date, although there will be plenty of other boys there to dance and drink punch with. But, he will be special, her choice.
I remember my ball fondly, although I can't say I've had many prospects since then. I am almost 18 and I have had many a suitor, they just never felt right. But that's impossible to explain to my parents who have, until recently, been very patient with me.
Cynthia knows. She knows my secret, the visions that come to me unbidden, and she made me swear to never tell a soul. People wouldn't understand, she says, and I know she speaks the truth. Whenever I consider telling anyone else, I can see my own future morph. I am filled with darkness and loneliness, never knowing warmth again. I shudder whenever that future falls over me, like a waking nightmare.
I squeeze her tightly against me in the dark of my room, treasuring the remaining nights we'll have together as sisters. I know she will be married soon and it saddens me even as I am joyous for her. She falls asleep against me and I quickly follow, knowing we both need sleep for tomorrow will be busy.
The entire week leading to her debut is indeed busy, filled with caterers and florists and many preparations. I help as much as I can, making sure her dress, shoes and jewelry will all be perfect. My sister will look nothing but her best if I can help it.
The night of the ball, I help dress her and straighten her flowing dark hair to lie in soft waves over her shoulders. I help slip her tiny shoes onto her feet and place a chain of delicate links around her ankle. Cynthia turns her foot in the light, watching the silver twinkle over the lace of her stockings.
"What's this, sister?"
"It's my gift to you. No one can see it, but with that anklet you know that I'm always here for you. I love you, sister."
"I love you too, Mary Alice."
She sweeps me into a fierce embrace, and even without my visions, I know tonight will change everything between us.
I stand at the side of the dance floor, watching my sister and her latest partner, Lee, twirl effortlessly to the music. He really is the better choice and I can see her being happy with him for a long time. Perhaps not forever, but as close as we can get. I smile when my sight is suddenly obscured, dancers replaced by a sunny garden, three children running around a tree, my sister lounging on a blanket with Lee holding her hand. Her face is the picture of serenity and happiness and I want that so much for her.
I'm thrust back into the present as a hand grips my arm.
"Mary Alice," a deep voice addresses me and I turn to see the tall, blonde son of the wealthy plantation owner on the outskirts of town. "May I have the pleasure of this dance?"
I blush and nod before placing my hand in his. He leads me to the middle of the floor and places a hand in mine the other at my waist. He begins to move and I follow his every step, amazed at his skills and wondering why we had never danced together before.
We are exchanging pleasantries as he stares down into my eyes, the intensity contrasting with the lightness of our conversation. I start to feel those tingles in my belly, the ones that Cynthia has told me about countless times but have eluded me so often.
The vision hits me as a sudden storm and it's only my dance partner's grip on me that keeps me upright. His voice fades into nothing as I watch the chandelier above the dance floor crash onto the unsuspecting dancers, shards of glass and blood coating the floor. Unending screaming.
A lifeless body.
I come back to reality with a scream in my throat and his stuttered questions at my obvious change of mood. I look over my shoulder to watch in horror as my vision is on the verge of becoming reality. I shake the boy loose and run for Cynthia, shoving her and Lee out of the way, all three of us tumbling onto the ground with the force of my collision. She looks at me with fearful, questioning eyes as Lee glances between the two of us. At that moment, just as he's about to ask what happened, I feel the whoosh of the chandelier crashing behind me, and I duck my head instinctively as flying shards of glass slice my skin.
There is a moment of silence.
Then the screams from my visions start. I stand and Lee helps Cynthia to her feet. She instantly wraps her arms around me and holds tight before pulling back and looking at me with love and kindness and tears standing in her eyes.
I know what the tears are for. I pushed her before anyone could have known what was happening. I look and see the recognition in my parents eyes, the suspicions they may have waved off in private now in full view of the entire township.
I collapse as my waking nightmare descends on me once more, despair and darkness clutching at my heart. Glaring red eyes standing over me as I cower in fear.
I wake in my own bed listening to whispered, fervent voices outside my bedroom door.
"This is the only way." My father's voice is firm, but my mother starts to argue in spite of that.
"I don't think any one saw-"
"Everyone saw everything!" he interrupts. "We could live with it before, but not if she's going to be labeled a witch by the entire town. We would be shunned as well, you know we would. And honestly, I'm not so sure they're wrong."
I bury my face in my pillow, trying to drown out their voices, but I already know what's coming; my future is already set. I hear my mother's muffled sobs as the door to my room opens.
"Mary Alice," he calls to me and I sit up in bed. "We have to go." His voice is gentle but there's a sternness behind it that I recognize. There will be no arguments here.
I dress quickly while my mother throws some things in a bag for me. We climb into the car and I stare quietly into the dark as my father drives to the outskirts of the city. We pass through the large wrought-iron gate, the word "Asylum" along the brick wall almost glowing in the moonlight.
This is it.
I will never see the light again.
My parents leave without a word. Not a glance.
I'm taken to a small room with white walls and tile floors. My bag is wrenched from my hands. I'm ordered to strip and put on a plain white hospital gown.
When the woman returns, she places me in a chair, I grimace when she secures the straps around my ankles and wrists, but I don't resist. I whimper when the scissors first contact my hair, my long black tresses scattered on the white floor. My youth and innocence sheared from me in firm strokes.
Finally I'm led to an even smaller room with a cot and a bucket. There is a small stool in the corner with a brush and a washcloth on it. There is a single sheet on the cot and no pillow.
The door closes with a clang and the lock is shifted into place. I curl up on the cot and stare at the wall.
My future spreads out before me; these walls and darkness are all I see.
The days blend together, meals delivered to me in my cell, the bucket taken once a day. Once a week, I leave to visit a serious man with dark hair and dark eyes. He is sympathetic but doesn't understand. He tries to cure me.
Solitude doesn't cure me.
Pills don't cure me.
There is no cure; this is just me. But I don't complain, because there are worse things than solitude and numb. Straps and pain and men holding me down.
There is always worse.
A year has passed with no signs of my family. It's as if I never existed in the outside world. No family, no friends, no life.
There is a new doctor who seems different. I barely noticed the change except that he calls me by my name. He speaks to me as if I am a person, not a deviant, a witch, a pariah.
We talk at least twice a week, and I begin to savor these moments more and more. Even though my future looks as bleak as ever, I see a small, shimmering beam of light illuminating what was once completely black.
I begin to hope.
There is another change to my routine. One of the orderlies has begun talking to me when handing my meals through the door, his beautiful yet husky voice resonating through the steel. First just small greetings, then questions and statements about his job.
He doesn't come every day, but when he's there my time passes a little more quickly. He brings me a small slice of variation in my otherwise monotonous life.
Over time, he pauses for longer at my door, sitting on one side while I listen to his voice on the other. His name is James. I tell him I'm Alice.
"Why are you here, Alice?" he asks, his melodic voice full of curiosity.
"Because I'm crazy," I state blandly, my answer almost programmed into me.
"No you're not," he says quietly but emphatically. "I've met a lot of crazy, and you're not."
I lean against the door, hoping and wishing that what he says is true. But after a year of hearing about how I'm either crazy or incurable or possessed, I don't know what to believe.
"Thanks, James. I appreciate what you're saying, but I'm not certain it matters. I'm not getting out of here alive." I know this last part with certainty. I would die here in this cold small room. Alone.
"I could get you out of here." His voice is so low I barely hear him through the steel.
I sit in silence, unwilling to believe this man on the other side of the locked door. I know the doctors and the director are the only ones with keys.
"I have such plans for us, Alice. You and me together," his whispered voice explains.
"How? You don't even know me," I reply, fear and hope mingling in my belly.
"I know you're special. I know that we could do incredible things together."
I almost believe him, that I could escape with him. I rest my head back against the cold hardness of the door.
Then my small room is gone, replaced by a sudden vision, and I gasp. I see a forest, sunlight, a beautiful smiling man with golden hair and amber eyes standing in front of me. I feel such love pouring from me and I see the same reflected in him.
Just as quickly as it formed, the vision disappears and I ache with its loss.
I then know what I must do. I must trust this faceless voice; I must trust James because then, and only then, do I see my future filled with happiness. Without James, I have nothing.
"Okay," I whisper. "You and me."
He gives me instructions then, saying he needs to prepare but he'll be back for me in three days. I agree, and I hear his quiet steps echo down the hall.
Three days. Three days until freedom.
The next day, the doctor visits me in my room asking many questions. Asking if I've had visitors. I don't tell him about James as I don't think he really counts as he's an employee.
Plus, James is the only other person here who really talks to me or listens to me.
He's my secret.
He's my way out of here.
The doctor visits every day for the next three days, increasing my "treatments," and I begin to get nervous. My thoughts are starting to scatter with the increased doses of pills and I have trouble keeping order to anything in my head. I haven't heard or seen James during this time, and although he told me it would take that long to get me out, I didn't think he would be completely absent during that time.
I begin to doubt, sure that I have only imagined him in my desperation to be away from this place. But when I think of my future, there is still sunlight and green, still something beyond unending black, and I still have hope.
On the third night, there is a light knock on my door.
"Alice?" James whispers softly.
I leap from my cot and place my hand on the door, my breath catching in my throat. "Yes?" I squeak, internally cursing my nerves.
"Back up from the door. I don't want you to get hurt."
I back away slowly, unsure of what he means. How is he-
My thoughts are cut short as the door bends inward, rending through the middle as his hands pull the metal apart. I stare in disbelief as he widens the gap, molding the steel like paper. When there is a space large enough for me, he offers his hand, silently asking me to follow.
I nervously place my fingers in his and I'm quickly yanked through the door. I see dirty blonde hair, square features, and deep red eyes. Quicker than I can think, he hoists me into his arms and runs, skirting down the hallways past rows and rows of metal doors.
Suddenly, the cool night air is like a slap to my face and I taste the first few breaths of freedom.
His arms hold me tighter as I start to shiver in my thin cotton gown.
"Not much further," his gruff voice whispers in my ear.
The trees become a blur as we speed through the night and branches catch on my gown, small tears in the fabric and my skin.
"Fuck," he growls. "You're bleeding." The last words are more a moan and I feel his nose press against my neck as he inhales deeply.
For the first time, panic grips me. What did I get myself into? Unbidden, the image of the beautiful man smiling at me in the glowing forest surrounds me again. Calm and warmth seep through me even as James slows in front of a ramshackle cabin of leaning boards and missing roof.
"Here we are. Home sweet home," he says, setting me on the ground lightly.
I follow him inside to find that there is only a small cot and one chair inside.
"Why are we here?" I question, wondering what his plans are.
"We need to wait for my partner. It's not safe without her here," he states simply before settling into the one chair.
"What's not safe?" I inquire softly as I turn and take in the position of his chair in front of the only path of escape.
"You'll see soon enough. Now stop asking questions and sit like a good girl."
I'm about to protest that I am no longer a girl, but his cold, stone face makes me rethink that one. I sit on the edge of the cot, nervous but exultant. I am finally free of my prison.
Soon there is a light step on the porch and we are joined by a wild, red-headed female.
"She's the one?" she sneers at me.
"Yes," is James' simple reply.
"Well, I'm here now," she continues impatiently. "Let's not waste time."
Without another word, James stands and stalks toward me. I back up on the bed, terrified of the hungry look in his eyes. He suddenly leaps at me, pinning me to the thin mattress, his red eyes glowing as they hover over me.
"I'm not going to lie, Alice. This is going to hurt."
Terror grips me as he lunges at my neck and I feel a slight pain then a strange pulling sensation. Then I am floating with no feeling in my limbs. I watch, numb and unable to move, as the red-head pulls him off of me, a look of primal ferocity covering James' face as he resists. When he turns on her, his face softens.
"I knew you could pull me back," he says while smiling at her and kissing her on the cheek.
"I'm here for you always, James," she responds, wiping a small amount of blood off his lip.
I watch their interaction in slight awe and equal apprehension about how that blood came to be on his lips.
And then the burning begins.
And the screaming.
I have no idea how long I burn in that dark cabin on that pathetic excuse for a mattress. Every nerve is on fire, every synapse firing in excruciating, tormenting pain while I writhe and scream wordlessly.
I watch the world brighten and darken as I lie in my hell.
Then I notice a shift. The pain is seemingly less, the burning ceasing in my fingers and toes. As it concentrates in my chest, an image comes unbidden to my eyes, obscuring the light in the room. The burn almost disappears as I focus on the soft blonde hair and smiling golden eyes of my vision. I somehow feel calmer, more ready to face my future whatever it may hold.
With that image cemented in my mind, I endure my last painful breath and my last stuttering heartbeat before there is only silence.
And then I hear everything. I open my eyes and see everything.
And yet, I remember nothing. I don't know what I am, what I was, how I got here.
There is nothing.
Nothing but the image of that beautiful man with the amber eyes.
"It is done," a high-pitched, yet sweet voice echoes in the small space.
I am immediately aware I am not alone, and I leap to my feet, standing above two unfamiliar figures on top of the small bed. Instinct takes over and I realize, even as I crouch, that I am outnumbered.
"And she's fast," a deeper and melodious voice adds.
I look between the male and female standing before me, tasting their scents on the air. He spreads his arms in a gesture of peace and I flinch. I am prepared to run, to fight, but I don't feel that they are really a threat. There's something familiar...
"Do I know you?" I ask slowly, testing the words.
They exchange looks before the male approaches me slowly, arms still spread wide. "I am James and this is Victoria. I saved you and now we are your family."
A picture flits across my mind of blurry faces and I feel a sudden warmth in my chest.
"My family?" I tilt my head, trying to hold on to something from my memories but nothing is solid, nothing is as real as what is before me.
"Yes, we're going to take care of you," James' soft voice whispers to me, coaxing my shields down.
This registers somewhere in me as well. Caring. This is a good feeling.
I step off the bed, somehow trusting the two creatures before me. James smiles and takes my hand gingerly and I know I will be okay.
And so my new life begins. James and Victoria immediately explain to me that I am a vampire, but once I was human. I don't recall anything before the moment I opened my eyes in that cabin; there are occasional, brief glimpses of dark hair and loving green eyes, but I never feel more than creeping sadness when I see them. James assures me that this is normal, that the past can be a bit blurry. But there is nothing. I try to recall what I had been doing before, what kind of life I might have had, if I had anyone who loved me. All I see are blank spaces and darkness where I'm sure there should be something.
The only flashes of familiarity are the images that I can see in my mind of events that shortly come to pass. James explains that certain vampires have extra abilities and it seems mine is some sort of fortune-telling. And yet it is something more. Most of the time I only see the immediate future, but at times I get glimpses into the distant future, and I'm not entirely sure if it's mine.
We leave the small cabin soon, heading for the closest city. The first part of my training with James and Victoria is learning to hunt, learning to kill.
"The only thing that stops that burn in your throat is blood," he whispers in my ear while we are approaching a small town, and I feel the fire intensify. "Your first hunt is always the best. Nothing ever tops it, although I've tried."
As soon as the last word leaves his lips, we are close enough that I can hear the heartbeats, the pain increasing in my throat. My sight is momentarily replaced by a vision of myself drinking deeply while holding a man in near lover's embrace. Turning quickly, I run down a narrow alley and find him alone at the end. Wrapping my arms around him from behind, I snap his neck as he falls to his knees and then latch onto his pulsing artery, allowing the sweet nectar of his life to slip down my throat.
James and Victoria approach cautiously, but they both have satisfied smirks on their faces. Suddenly, they are replaced by a vision of two vampires leaping through a wild forest, both attacking deer and feeding from them, their golden eyes looking over the quivering beasts at me.
I drop the man at my feet, but I've already drained him. Killed him.
There is another way, a better way. I want to scream and fight and run. I lift my gaze from the corpse at my feet and glare at the approaching vampires.
I decide I won't kill another human, and a vision of clouds my eyes of my own death and the deaths of countless others, flames licking my skin while Victoria laughs. James is practically sauntering over to me and the look of satisfaction has not left his eyes. I briefly close my eyes and know I don't have any choice.
I will stay. But not forever. I will bide my time and only escape when I know everything is safe.
The next few months, we flit between small towns as they teach me to hunt and to move with my new strength and speed. James is obviously pleased with my progress, and after one session, he absently strokes the top of my head like I am an obedient dog.
I bite back the growl that I want to unleash, seeing flashes of his fury if I allow my anger or displeasure to show. Instead I smile up at him and I watch the visions shift before me.
"You are special to me, Alice. With you by my side, I will be the best hunter this world has known."
I frown, wondering what my part in this will be. His plans change almost daily, but for now, my job is to find him a hunt worthy of his skills. A challenge that will bring back the excitement that he felt in those first kills. At first I steer him towards the destitute and forgotten, but he soon tires of the repetitiveness.
I find him greedy business men, corrupt men, rich men. But he soon bores again.
"I need something bigger, Alice. Something more than this child's play."
I take an unnecessary breath as new images flash across my vision, trying to decide if they represent what he's looking for. I have been having visions of groups of vampires. One in the north made of several couples with golden eyes, living together with so much love and respect between them. Another in the south, always changing, forever killing and maiming, only lust, vengeance and pain in their minds.
The ones in the north, they are my secret, my 'other way' if I can ever make my way to them. But I know the southern vampires will intrigue him. For him, having to fight for the right to hunt the humans, controlling large cities and defending what's his would be the ultimate test of his skills. Killing humans is easy, but fighting vampires for the right to hunt could be his challenge.
I tell James of my visions, and I'm right, he immediately latches onto the idea of the southern vampires, their war and their bounty. He begins asking more and more about them, requesting even the the minute details over and over.
Through all of the visions of death and carnage, I see that the beautiful man of my future is somehow involved. His angry visage is often there, viciously tearing apart vampires and lighting the pyres. I see him killing me more often than not, but rarely, I can still see a glimmer of us running away together. But these options are always tangled and buried beneath images of a woman with black hair and an army of death, ruining all in her wake.
The more James asks, the more I see, and the more I'm certain we will become embroiled in the same web of hate and war. As my visions solidify, I also know James will not let me go willingly. He'll need me even more if he wants to battle vampire armies and keep the spoils. Occasionally I allow myself to imagine another future, one of peace and golden eyes, but whenever I make the decision to leave, I see only despair and pain as James blazes a path of death to find me again.
So, I continue to help plan the attack on the South. We build our numbers, creating vampires and recruiting nomads, lured in by James' promises of an easier life and my talent. They eagerly join our cause, to free the south, to have ready and waiting hunting grounds all to themselves.
As the months pass and I become more and more deeply entrenched in James' scheme, my visions become darker and darker, my light and my hope smothered by the coming night. The only images I have of my beautiful man result in my death.
And where once the blonde man and my happiness were my dream and hope for my future, now I am eternally awake, living only in the nightmare.
That summer, in the blinding heat, James makes his move. We gather near Houston and I know this is the moment. His plan will only work if the timing is precise.
And if the timing is exactly perfect, then my plan has a chance as well.
A large coven led by a vampire named Maria has just suffered a major loss, and if we attack now, she won't have time to rebuild her newborn army.
He looks to me and I nod minutely.
"We'll move at dusk," he announces to our group of ragtag vampires, driven half mad with the lust of war and James' guarantees.
The sun begins its slow decent to the horizon and I crouch at the periphery, watching the other vampires. They all know I am the key to our success. When I say move, they move. When I say stop, they stop.
Tonight, I will say move, and, one way or another, my darkness will end.
We top the small ridge leading to their camp and we avoid the sentries, although one of them will be catching our scent in roughly 30 seconds. But, by then, the warning will be too late.
As we approach the camp, our party spreads out amongst the scraggly trees and scrub brush, hoping to keep our numbers a secret. I know that one of our newest "recruits," as Victoria calls them, is about to stumble over a guard, but that can't be helped at this point.
"Now," I state quietly to James and he sends up the call. As one, we sprint at the camp in the valley, knowing that the element of surprise will be crucial for an overwhelming victory.
I burst from the scrub and veer to the left, narrowly missing the newborns pouring from the dilapidated building they have been staying in. I need to time this perfectly.
I will have only one chance.
One chance at my forever.
I round the building and step behind a large rock as a group of three slightly older vampires speed by me.
He will be near the back, directing and waiting for his opportunity. I have to be there before Maria shows up, before he can begin fighting for her, before she can whip him into a frenzy. I sprint as fast as I can, escaping detection by fractions of seconds so that I will be there in time.
And then I see him. His back is to me, but I would know his lean form anywhere, and the draw on my body and soul is unbearable. My visions and memories of him are the only things that have kept me sane these long years, and I must be at his side. Now.
I step behind him and he spins, both fierceness and surprise evident in his wide, crimson eyes. I flinch at the sight, but I know he's not my golden-eyed lover yet.
He tenses, ready to fight, but then relaxes before cocking his head to the side.
"You are not afraid," he states matter-of-factly.
"No. I would never be afraid of you," I reply with confidence and calm, sending him all of my surety, my faith in my visions of us.
"Who are you?" he whispers, taking a small step back.
"I'm Alice," I say as a brief explanation, knowing he'll want more, but I'm quickly running out of time. "I'm so sorry I didn't get here sooner." My draw to him is a buzzing along my spine, a need to wrap my arms around him and never let go.
I glance up and notice a slowly spiraling vulture in the clear blue sky. She will be here soon and then I will lose him forever.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he says, but this time he takes a step toward me, and the tingling energy only increases.
"Yet you can feel it, can't you?" And I can't even really explain what 'it' is, but I know it is futile to resist. His pupils dilate a fraction and that is my sign.
"Come with me," I request softly. "Come away from this."
He hesitates and my visions pulse behind my eyes as his choices change by the moment. I am running out of time.
"Why?" he asks, and his eyes are begging for answers I don't have time to explain right now.
"Please," I beg. "I can show you a different world, a kinder world, one without fear and anger and war. Just trust me."
"I do," he whispers in his soft drawl. "I don't know why but I do." He stares into my eyes and then he slowly reaches forward and touches my cheek. I close my eyes as my future solidifies in front of me, my happiness and his assured.
Now all we need to do is escape.
I take his hand, instantly relishing the jolt of electricity, of life, that passes between us. He starts but then smiles at me, an unfamiliar gesture for him, and it may be a far cry from my vision, but it's a beginning.
We rush through the edges of the battle, but I have a fleeting glimpse of James and Victoria both fighting for their existences. We keep running until the sounds fade and yet I keep running, always north. As we run, I explain my past as I know it and how I found him, and he listens with calm intensity. Each moment between us, I can feel our connection growing stronger, and we never let go of each other's hands. We finally stop running in Montana, mountains and glaciers at our feet.
"Where are we, Alice?"
"We're about to meet our future, Jasper. There." I point to a secluded cabin deep in the valley a few miles away, light streaming from the windows onto the ground. "Down there is our family," I whisper, feeling a foreign warmth in my chest with this idea.
"Family?" he chokes out in disbelief. "You've lost me again."
"The Cullens live there. They don't hunt humans, only animals. We will be happy with them." I can see us moving with them across the country, cold, rainy places becoming the norm after so much heat and sun. We will be happy. Eventually.
He looks at me, raising one eyebrow. "But will they be happy with us?"
I laugh and he smiles at me. "Not all of them at first, but eventually, yes." I begin to descend the mountain eager to meet them, but he pulls me against his chest.
"Wait, can't we just have a little time to ourselves? I mean, we just found each other." There's such an ache in his voice that I immediately wrap my arms around his waist, trying to hold him together.
"Yes, Jasper. Anything," I reply earnestly, thinking I should have know this was too fast for him, but I can already see the forgiveness in his eyes.
I grasp his hand and, as one, we turn away from the valley and the small cabin and run a short distance into the mountains. I stop when I've found a small cave to provide shelter for the coming nights. He follows me into the dark, but flinches when I touch his arm unexpectedly. He apologizes and my heart aches to think of how his life must have been. And my heart almost breaks when I realize I couldn't have saved him any more quickly.
"There's no need for apologies, Jasper. I'm sorry I didn't find you sooner. But, now, we have plenty of time." I touch his cheek tenderly and he leans into it, but I can still see the pain in his eyes.
We settle in for the night, Jasper moving to sit across the cavern from me, his long legs in front of him. I sit near him, sliding closer until I feel him stiffen minutely. I know he's only known pain and anger for his entire life, and this will be a slow process. But now that I've found him, that he's here with me, I can't be away from him any longer. I scoot away until he relaxes again and I try to only concentrate on my feelings of happiness and contentment and not the slight hurt I have at his moving away. He just smiles sweetly back at me.
We talk through the night and he tells me about his tortured half-life. He tells me of his empathic ability, although I had already known, and how killing humans was always a duality of pleasure and pain. I tell him more of my visions and my time with James and Victoria. The awkwardness between us fades slowly and as the sky lightens in the east, I realize our legs are almost touching. He smiles when he notices and I can feel his happiness.
I stand quickly and extend my hand to him, grinning widely when he takes it.
"Come on, Jasper. We need to try this kind of hunting."
He cringes slightly, but follows my lead. Not far from our cave, we stumble upon a herd of elk, taking down a few each before our bloodlust is slaked. I find them truly repulsive, but they'll do as sustenance and I know over time the taste will become somewhat manageable.
Jasper throws the large bull he had been feeding on to the ground, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. He toes the carcass and looks up at me with skepticism. "The emotions are not there, but I... I just don't know, Alice."
"It'll work, Jasper. You'll see." I try to put confidence in my voice, but I know he can feel that I'm not quite as sure as I sound.
He nods and begins to walk back toward our cave. I sigh and follow but then he turns, stretching a hand towards me, an invitation. I leap over to him, eager as always to feel his skin against mine, but I am overjoyed that he is initiating this contact. He wraps his arms around me and, for the first time in years, I feel warmth permeate my entire being.
"There's something I want to try," he explains, the deep rumble of his voice causing my skin to tingle in anticipation.
He gently lowers his mouth to mine, placing a single chaste kiss upon my lips and it is suddenly too much. The fresh blood running through my body, my overwhelming knowledge that he is my everything and my surety in my feelings for him all come together at once. I can't hold back any longer. Want and need and desire and love blaze through me and I hear him gasp before his arms tighten around me.
"Jasper," I whisper, my mouth barely separated from his, the hoarseness of my voice suprising me. "Please tell me that you feel this, that you want this, too."
"Yes," comes his strangled reply. "More than anything in my existence."
We both fall to our knees, hands and mouths tasting, exploring, touching, feeling everything. My mind and heart are both filled with Jasper, and he's all I can feel with any of my senses. We are soon naked and rolling on the moss under the pine trees, the difference of his granite skin and the stone under me a delightful contrast on my skin. He holds my face in his hands when he enters me, love and desire evident in his gaze before we both close our eyes with pleasure.
He begins to move and it is like nothing I could have ever imagined; even my visions did not do this moment any justice. It is love. It is perfect. It is ours.
As we both climax, falling and soaring together, my sight is blinded by a bright vision. Jasper is before me, his golden hair shining in the brilliant light, his skin sparkling and his amber eyes filled with love and laughter. The sunshine is filtering through the green leaves overhead and I know that I am surrounded by love and beauty.
The vision continues and I hear a soft feminine voice and turn to find the Cullens smiling at us, love radiating from them as well. Then there is an answering male voice next to me, and I turn back. There is Carlisle, the preacher's son, holding a ring.
Jasper is holding another, placing it on my left finger.
"I do," he whispers.
I smile as I return to the present knowing that, even if my past is only darkness and fear, my future is filled with light and love. And Jasper, who will always be my hope and my everything.