Author's Note: This is my first attempt at a published fanfiction. I have written other fanfics, as well as some original fiction. However, this is the first time that I have ever posted anything this big online. I have worked hard to research all of the concepts that I introduce to the story, and stay true to cannon. However, there are some things that have been modified to fit the story, hence why this is a work of fiction. I am a perfectionist by nature, so if there is anything that you find that is inaccurate or can be improved, please review and let me know. I will not be offended by constructive criticism, however, if all you have to say is negative critique without a suggestion for improvement, then please do not bother to review. If everything goes well with this fanfic, then I will be posting some of my other works.
Disclaimer: All recognizable Twilight characters, places, and themes are the property of the awesome Stephanie Meyers. No copyright infringement is intended.
Alice Cullen was rarely seen away from her husband, and lifelong mate, the love of her existence, Jasper Cullen. But today was special. Today was Jasper's birthday and Alice was planning a surprise present for the one she loved. It had been a little over a year since Bella Swan Cullen had joined her family in every sense of the word. She had never been happier in all her existence than she had been throughout the past year. While Bella and Edward had continued to get know each other more and more every moment of every day, she and Jasper had been trying out a few of the classes at the local community college. But for the most part, Bella and Edward's miracle child, Renesmee, had monopolized most of the Cullens time. It was fascinating watching her grow and learn at such an accelerated pace. Already, she could pass for a ten year old in appearance, a 15 year old in behavior, and a 40 year old in intelligence. But that's not what Alice should be thinking about right now, she should be thinking the reason she had skipped her afternoon classes, the gift for Jasper was ready.
Walking at a quickened pace from her car to the non-emergency entrance at the Forks Memorial Hospital, Alice blended in nicely with the other humans in the area. It was early December and the air was chilled with a light flurry of snow. No one was aware that her hurried pace had more to do with the excitement she felt than with the cold weather. After all, Alice didn't feel the cold, and if there hadn't been so many people watching, she probably would have been moving much, much faster than the snail's pace she was forced to endure so as not to attract too much attention. Smiling giddily to herself, Alice added a quick skip to her pace, not hindered at all by the high heel designer boots, and modest length skirt she was wearing. Bursting into her adopted father's office on the third floor of the hospital only minutes later, Alice could no longer contain her excitement and proudly exclaimed, "It came, Carlise! I know it did! I saw it." Bouncing over to the desk, Alice gingerly leaned forward across the wooden structure to look Carlise in the eye. "Where is it, Carlise? I didn't see where you hid it thanks to Professor Jones and her silly question about the Russian Revolution. Anyway, I can't wait to give it to Jasper! I know he's going to love it!" She grinned broadly at her adopted father, allowing a small sparkle to gleam in the corner of one of her golden eyes.
Carlise looked up from the report he was working on at the sound of his adopted daughter bouncing into his office. He chuckled to himself as he heard her exclamation. The excitement Alice was radiating would be impossible to miss and he didn't have to have Jasper's ability to feel it or to be infected by it. Nor did he have to have Edward's ability and read her mind to know exactly what she was thinking at that very moment. Unable to prevent his own grin from spreading across his face, Carlise bent over and reached into the bottom drawer of his desk. Sitting back upright, he presented Alice with a small rectangular box. "I know he'll love it too, Alice, and I don't even have to see the future to know it."
Alice snatched the box from Carlise's hand in a flash, no longer worried about anyone seeing her abnormal speed. The gesture wouldn't bother Carlise. What would be perceived as rudely grabbing the object of one's desires to a human, seemed like a simple handoff to the Cullen family. "Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for letting me get it shipped here. I couldn't risk Jasper receiving it, and Emmett would have told him, if he had received it…" She said it all so fast, it would have sounded like a hiss to normal human ears, but Carlise would understand every word.
"You're welcome." Carlise said at a normal speed, as he watched Alice hurriedly open the box, inspect its contents and re-close the box so perfectly no one would ever be able to tell that it had been opened before.
"It's perfect!" Alice breathed when she saw the object up close. "Just like I knew it would be."
Carlise studied his daughter for a quick second, made a decision and opened his mouth to speak. In the same instant, Alice forced herself to calm down enough to take a seat across from his desk. He chuckled to himself at the quick response time between his decision to speak and Alice foreseeing that they would have more of a conversation than a simple hello and goodbye. "Alice, I know we've had this talk before, but are you still convinced that your visions aren't some form of self-fulfilling prophecy? For example, just now, you knew Jasper's gift would be perfect, and yet you inspected it anyway. I'm willing to bet that you had a vision of yourself opening that box and looking at the gift. Are you sure you would have acted the same, if you hadn't had that vision? I'm guessing you probably wouldn't have."
"You're right Carlise. We have had this conversation before." Alice started with a laugh. "And my answer hasn't changed. I'm still relatively sure that the visions adjust themselves to account for any self-fulfilling prophecy effect. If I was going to decide not to open the box when I saw the vision of the perfect gift, then I wouldn't have had the vision. And my decisions can't be based solely on the visions, because then I wouldn't have a vision of the action, until I had a vision of the action to prompt my decision. I don't know how else to explain it. I just think there's more to it than I see a vision and purposefully orient myself in the direction it indicates. My decisions, just like everyone else's decisions are based on independent data. I just have a little extra data thanks to the visions. In this case, I was so excited to see the perfection, that I couldn't help myself. And yes, part of the excitement was because I had a vision of the perfection, but in that vision, Jasper was opening the box, not me. The one with me opening it came later, after the excitement had a chance to build. Thus, this praticular vision and my subsequint actions do not fit the criteria of a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Carlise tilted his head to one side, amazingly understanding and following everything the bubbly, rambling Alice just said. "I see…" he said in a tone that even a human would have thought was slow. "I just worry about you, Alice." The doctor knew how to choose his words carefully so he wouldn't offend the girl.
"Don't. Carlise. We've had that discussion before too. You don't need to worry about me."
"Oh, don't I?" Carlise asked with one eyebrow raised, remembering a time not all that long ago when Alice had been mislead by one of her visions. It had caused a lot of confusion and nearly gotten three of the members of his family killed. But he didn't dwell on those dark thoughts for long.
Alice simply rolled her eyes knowing exactly what Carlise was referring to. "One time. Once. That's it. Besides, I learned a valuable lesson and I don't draw conclusions that quickly anymore. And I'm definitely not opening my mouth about visions until I have more details as often as I did before that."
"I know Alice. I'm sorry I brought it up. It's just that something doesn't feel quite right about everything just now. It's difficult to explain. I've never had premonitions before. And certainly not this strong, but something is going on and I can't help but think it has something to do with your visions. Just promise me you'll be careful. And don't do anything rash."
Alice gave Carlise a concerned look for a minute, searching into the near future to attempt to discover something that would be causing his unease. Coming up empty, she sighed needlessly, and gave him a reassuring smile. "I'll be careful. As long as the wolves aren't involved, I'll see anything coming long before it happens. We'll all be fine. I promise."
"Don't make a promise that you can't keep, Alice. It would break Esme's heart, so to speak." The doctor countered.
"Right. I'll be careful. That I can promise." Alice said with a serious smile. She would never do anything to hurt a member of her family, especially Esme. After a fractional pause, Alice looked to the doorway of the office as a vision of a nurse needing Dr. Cullen's help filled her mind. "I should go now." She said simply.
"I'll see you at home. I won't be late." Carlise said as Alice rose to take her leave.
She paused for an instant, smiled, and nodded at him. "No, you won't." She confirmed easily.
As Alice headed for the elevator, she couldn't help contemplating Carlise's warning. He had never shown any tendency toward a special talent the way she, Jasper, Edward, and Bella had, except for his uncanny ability to resist blood, and even then, Bella had shown a very similar resistance. Shaking her head, Alice tried to clear her thoughts of Carlise, so she could focus on the future and discern if there was any need for her to use extra caution or if it was a needless worry. Before she could get a fix on her mixed visions, Alice was distracted by a quick movement out of the corner of her eye. Reacting on instinct, Alice reached out to catch the bouncing object. Opening her hand to stare at the bright pink ball, she didn't notice the young girl approach. "Wow!" The girl child said in awe as she studied Alice. "That was great! Amazing! You were so fast!"
If Alice could have blushed, she would have. It wasn't like her to be so distracted she would make the mistake of not controlling her reflexes. "Instinct." She said quickly with a shrug. "Is this your ball?" Alice continued when the girl nodded. "It's very pretty." She wished she could remember if she ever had a toy like the rubber bouncy ball when she was a child, before she had been locked away in the asylum, after all she couldn't have always lived there. This wasn't the first time that Alice had wondered such things, and the incident with James when she learned of her human past had only prompted more speculation.
"Are you suppose to be here?" She asked suddenly when the girl's appearance finally registered with her. Why hadn't she noticed the hospital gown before? She really wasn't as focused as she should be. Carlise's warning invaded her thoughts again, and Alice blinked a few times to get it out of her head so she could focus on the girl.
Cassandra West hesitated slightly before answering the beautiful older girl. "Well, normally I stay on the fifth floor, but sometimes the nurses let me come down here because the hallways are bigger and less crowded, so I have more room to play with my ball." She began.
"Ah." Alice said with understanding, and after a tense second she forced herself to visibly relax. There was no point in frightening the child who had been so fascinated by her a moment before. "I'm Alice. My dad is Dr. Cullen. You know, you really should be a bit more careful about where this ball bounces." She told the girl with a smile, and handed the pink object back to its owner.
"Sorry." She said with an apologetic smile as she accepted the ball back. "I'm Cassandra. I don't think I know Dr. Cullen. I usually see Dr. Milligan whenever I'm here."
Another piece of the puzzle clicked into place for Alice and she couldn't stop the gasp from escaping her lips. Thankfully, she managed to make it quiet enough that Cassandra's human ears wouldn't be able to pick it up. Fifth floor. Dr. Milligan. Terminal leukemia. It was an easy diagnosis given the details and observations Alice had made. She forced a smile for the child's sake. "Why don't I see you back to your room Cassandra?" She offered trying to stay friendly.
"Ok." Cassandra said in agreement. She reached out to take Alice's hand with a smile and without a second of hesitation. "You know, it usually takes people a lot longer to figure it out."
"Figure out what?" Alice asked, hesitantly taking the child's hand, shocked when Cassandra didn't pull away at the cold touch.
"Figure out what's wrong with me. Or ask me. But you knew as soon as I mentioned Dr. Milligan."
Alice mentally cringed. She had tried so hard to mask her reaction, but something must have shown on her face just the same. Either that or Cassandra was abnormally perceptive for a human child. "Well, it helps that I know his field of expertise." Alice said absently, following Cassandra's lead and keeping the serious topic as light as she could.
"Oh. What's it like?"
"Being a doctor's kid. What's it like? I mean, knowing exactly what's wrong with someone as soon as you know how the nurses treat them, what floor they're staying on, and the name of their doctor."
Alice hadn't even considered the fact that the nurses were allowing the child to play on the administration offices floor. "Well," she began not sure exactly how to answer the question without sounding too weird. Alice chose to simply answer on instinct, like she did in most uncomfortable situations, when any other actions and words would seem severely awkward. "I'm use to it, I guess."
Cassandra shrugged in answer. "You don't have to come with me back to my room you know. I know the way just fine."
"I have no doubt about that. But my dad wouldn't be very happy with me if he found out that I just left you."
"Oh." It didn't take long for the pair to reach Cassandra's room once the elevator deposited them on the fifth floor. "Bye, Alice. Come visit me any time." The younger of the two offered before they separated.
"I can't make any promises, but I'll try to come visit and check up on you when I can." Alice said with a smile as she watched Cassandra disappear into her room.
As soon as Alice was sure that she was alone in the suddenly too narrow hallway, she threw herself against the opposite wall, and slid her body down to the floor in a very human gesture. She half hissed, half growled, before burring her aching head into her palms. The visions of several possible futures bombarded her without warning and without respite. The episode lasted for several long minutes and left Alice breathless and panting. This moment, this chance meeting, it was the catalyst Carlise had warned Alice about without knowing it. And she had been so busy searching for danger that it had snuck up on her. This was a danger much greater than the Volturi, and much greater than even the wolves, the danger of a simple human girl child. This wasn't what it was like with Bella. With her it had been easy. Bella wasn't dying, she was destined to become one of them. But Cassandra was fated to die, and she was too young to be turned. Even if she was old enough, Carlise had promised never to do it again. He almost did for Bella, for Edward, but that was different. He would never turn Cassandra. Humans were born to die. The Cullens were unnatural, they defied all the conventional rules. Cassandra would never be a Cullen unless Alice found a way to turn her herself. But Alice quickly discounted the unbidden thought. She could never do that. Besides, even if Alice could manage to change Cassandra without killing her, it didn't solve the problem of the child being so young. Unlike Renesmee, there would be no escape from the Volturi for Cassandra. She was going to be forced to die, just like a normal human. In the 80 plus years of existence that Alice remembered, she had seen human death plenty of times, even been the cause of it on more than one occasion. So why did Cassandra's human death seem to bother her so much? She had only known the girl child for a few short minutes, but already something inside of Alice's unbeating heart had been triggered, some forgotten or long buried emotion had been stoked like the dying embers of a fire. She was changing, she could feel it, and she wasn't sure if she liked it or not. Jasper. She had to get to Jasper. He could help. If anything, at least he could manipulate her emotions enough to stop the flood of unwanted and confusing visions. If she couldn't find Jasper, then she would find a wolf. Their strange quality of keeping her visions at bay was their one and only good use as far as Alice was concerned, at least when she didn't want the headache of watching too many futures at the same time.
Pulling herself to her feet, Alice winced at the damaged wall behind her. She would have to tell Carlise about that and pay to fix it from her savings. At least that was one good thing about living forever, you never ran out of money because it always kept rebuilding itself with each new business venture. Her last dress shop earned enough profit to build an entire hospital, so the one repair on the one wall wouldn't even leave a mark. Money had no meaning to Alice.
It was agonizing for Alice to move at a human pace as she made her way out of the hospital and to her car. Once in her car, she would be free to move as fast as she pleased. Quickly checking to make sure she wouldn't be caught, Alice pushed the gas pedal to the carpeted floorboard of the car. The speed helped, it always did, and in a very short time she was pulling into the Cullen's oversized garage. Rosalie was there as usual, tinkering with Emmet's Jeep. "Hey Rose. Jasper inside?"
"You have to ask?" The blonde countered.
Alice thought for a minute, then answered confidently, "Nope." She smiled as she saw herself running into Jasper's arms in his study. Running to her love's study at top speed, a blur to the human eye, Alice's vision became reality in less than a second.
"What's wrong, honey? What is it?" Jasper asked concerned as the wave of overwhelming emotion crashed over him when Alice flew into his arms. He fought the urge to send a wave of calm to her in response. Alice didn't like it when he manipulated her emotions without asking first. It interfered with her visions, she had told him once.
Alice could only shake her head as she wrapped her arms around Jasper's waist and buried her head in his chest. Jasper wouldn't break like the wall had and he wouldn't get tired of holding her up. If Alice could cry, she would. "Help me." She whispered quietly, desperately, so that only Jasper would be able to hear her.
He didn't have to ask. Whatever had happened had upset, hurt, Alice so much that now she was begging him to take away her visions, take away her real emotions, help assuage the pain, and replace it with something, anything, else. Jasper did as she asked, absorbing all the various emotions that radiated off her small body and sent only love and calm to his wife. They stood together, a bubble of love, cam, trust, comfort, and hope, for what seemed like hours. Maybe it was only minutes, but it felt like so much longer and there was an unspoken promise between them to not let each other go forever. "Thank you." Alice said in the same small whisper as her visions came to an abrupt halt.
"That wasn't me. I mean, I'm helping, but I don't have full manipulative control over your emotions yet. So, if your visions are gone then it wasn't me." Jasper told her reluctantly. As much as he wanted to claim responsibility for taking away her pain, he couldn't lie to her. All he had been able to do for her was keep her calm and focused, ease the impact of the troubling visions that he knew plagued her despite not being told the content of those visions. "Jacob's here. It was him." He confessed almost silently.
"How?" Alice croaked with a bewildered expression.
"I feel the emotional side of his imprinting every time he thinks about Renesmee and I'm getting a pretty strong reading right now. I can always feel that before I smell him."
Slowly tearing herself away from Jasper, Alice gave him a curious look. "Does Bella know that? That you can actually feel the imprinting?"
Jasper grinned slightly. "No. And Edward promised not to tell her. He was a little creeped out by how intense the imprinting is and he doesn't want to freak Bella out by it."
"Wait. You let Edward hear that? Did you broadcast it to him as well?" She used her pet name for the emotional manipulation Jasper had been gifted with.
"I…It slipped. But Edward said that it was ok, he'd already been reading Jacob out of curious protectiveness. It still bothers him a little, but I think he's started to accept it." Jasper admitted. In fact, he knew a lot better than the rest of the family just how well Edward had accepted the truth of Jacob and Renesmee. His anger was considerably lower than it use to be when Jacob was around and his trust had increased exponentially. His protectiveness of his daughter was at an all time high, but his faith in Jacob was just as high.
"Well, this is one time I'm not going to fight him. Let's go say hello." Alice was doing a lot better now that the visions had disappeared, but Jasper still gripped her hand like the world would shatter if their connection broke.
Alice glided down the stairs with Jasper right beside her. She forced a smile as she saw Jacob talking to Bella in the living room. Taking an unnecessary breath, Alice couldn't stop the laugh as a flood of unpleasent odors assaulted her senses. "Well, I can't say that the cheap cologne did much to mask your stench." She told Jacob.
"Ha. Ha." The Quileute boy responded sarcastically. "I'll just take Renesmee out today if that's the way you feel."
"No! I mean, it's ok. I'll deal with it." Alice really didn't want the dog to leave. No matter how bad he smelled, at least he kept the visions away. "Besides, what would you do if you went out? Renesmee and I went hunting yesterday and it's too cold for her to be out for any other reason." She argued logically.
The thought of Renesmee being cold convinced Jacob. He knew that he would be able to keep her plenty warm, but if the leech wanted him to stay that bad, then he would. He turned back to Bella, "I won't wake her, Bells. I'll just sit with her. We can play with her puzzles when she does wake up. Didn't you say you got that thousand piece one of the Eiffel tower that she wanted?"
"Yes, I did. It's in the top of her closet. Thanks, Jake." Bella said with a smile for her best friend.
Jacob gave Alice a playfully mean look as he passed her on his way up the stairs to see Renesmee. But when Alice didn't return the glare, Jacob started to understand the reason behind her speech about it being too cold to play outside. The only time that Alice didn't return that look was when she was fighting a vision, a vision that she didn't want to have, a vision that evaporated in his presence.
"So, Bella, are you going to help me put up the decorations, or did Edward convince you to go with him to pick up the tree?" Alice smiled at her own ironic imagery. She had already seen that Edward could pick up the perfect tree with a single hand and not damage any of the branches. "And don't give me any of that 'I can't decorate,' stuff because that only applies to humans. I bet you're a great decorator now."
"Ok. I'll help." Bella said with a laugh that was almost as musical as Alice's. "What should I do first?"
"First we get the decorations out of the basement. Jazz, honey, I think I'll be ok now. Why don't you go tree hunting with Edward and Emmett and give Bella and I a chance to talk." She said, turning to her silent lover.
"You sure?" Jasper asked concerned. "I can stay and help you. Decorate, that is."
The pause in his speech was subtle enough that human ears would never have been able to hear it, but Bella had. She now looked between Alice and Jasper for an instant before drawing her conclusions. "So that's why you wanted Jacob to stay. How bad is it, Alice? The Volturi? Charlie?" Those were the only two things that she could think of that would have Alice begging for relief from her visions.
Alice just shook her head, refusing to answer. "Don't worry Bella, you aren't part of it. It's just me. Something I'll have to deal with. And it's not threatening to my existence." She told her concerned sister. It wasn't the entire truth. If she had to watch Cassandra die…a girl who could have been her daughter…No, Alice refused to think like that. Rosalie already thought like that enough for the entire family. It had been different since Renesmee had been born, but occasionally Rose still looked at children in the park with a wistful intent.
Bella stared at her curiously for a second before speaking. "I don't believe you." She announced. Bella had gotten too good at being able to tell when one of the Cullens was telling a lie, even Edward, the best liar of all of them.
"Just trust me, Bella. Now, let's find those decorations." Alice knew exactly where the boxes marked "Christmas" and "Holiday" were in the basement, but it would give her something to focus on besides Cassandra.
"Distractions won't work. We will come back to this." Bella promised.
Alice knew that from the look on Jasper's face, he would want to be part of the conversation when she finally revealed her visions. To not tell Jasper meant that it was much more serious than what she was pretending, and the whole family would be able to make that connection. Maybe she should just tell him now, and avoid pressure from everyone else. Once Jasper knew the truth of her visions, the rest of the family would know they didn't have to get her to talk about it. Jasper would tell everyone else if it was something they needed to know.
Ignoring Bella's promise and her own mixed thoughts, Alice leaned in to kiss Jasper lightly on the cheek and wished him good luck in finding the perfect Christmas tree. "And don't forget about tonight." She added mischievously before gliding away from him and Bella and toward the basement stairs.
Alice was very aware of the passage of time as she and Bella started decorating the Cullen house. Jacob never spent more than five hours with Renesmee. That's all the time he could spare away from the pack. The closer it got to the five hour mark, the more nervous Alice felt. The decorations were now almost complete, aside from the few choice tasks she was saving for the boys. Carlise had gotten home right on time just like he had promised, and was in his study with Esme. Jasper, Edward and Emmett still weren't back from their tree finding expedition. The best trees were always in Canada, but Alice had insisted that they wouldn't have to run that far. Not that it was really that far, but it would take extra time, too much time. She didn't want Jasper to be away from her for that long. Unfortunately, since the guys weren't back yet, she had a feeling that they hadn't heeded her advice, and had run to Canada anyway, but without her visions, she didn't know anything for sure. And she had promised not to call them unless it was really important.
"Hey, Bells, Alice, I have to go." Jacob announced as he came down the stairs into the living room exactly five hours after he had made the opposite journey. He glanced at Alice seriously for a moment before continuing. "I can send Seth by, if you want me to." His voice was full of concern, nothing else, just a genuine sense of caring.
Bella opened her mouth to assure him that they would be fine without wolf supervision, but Alice beat her to the punch, knowing the real reason for Jacob's offer. "Actually, yes, Jacob, that would be great. Tell Seth we would appreciate it."
"Ok, I will. And I'll stick close by until he gets here." Jacob hesitated, debating about taking a step forward to hug the two girls goodbye or not. Finally, he decided not to and instead spun on his heel to exit.
"Thank you, Jacob." Alice whispered slowly knowing that Jacob would hear her anyway. The tension that still existed between the wolves and the Cullens was getting less and less every day. Terms like 'dog' and 'leech' had become less frequent and were said with more of a teasing tone than a hurtful tone, but somehow the two groups still couldn't call themselves friends, the type of friends that would hug to say goodbye.
Bella scrunched up her eyebrows as she considered the interaction between Jacob and Alice. "Oh." She said as the realization hit her. "Look, Alice, you're going to have to face the visions eventually."
"I know. I'm just not ready yet." Alice hurriedly explained, brushing off the comment.
"Tell me about the visions, Alice. It'll help."
"No. Not yet, Bella. No offense. I'm just not ready." Alice didn't shut her out to be mean, but she couldn't help feeling a little selfish. Maybe she should share her visions and she knew Bella would understand how she felt about Cassandra, but if Alice was going to share these visions with anyone other than Jasper, of course, it would have to be Carlise. After all, Carlise was the only one who could do anything about it. And if he couldn't change the future of the visions, then she didn't want to dwell on them any longer than she had to. Jasper's comfort would be enough to get her through it, at least she hoped it would be, and only if she didn't think about it too hard or for too long.
Before Bella had a chance to push the issue any further, the front door swung loudly open, and Emmett's voice boomed throughout the Cullen home. "Did someone order a Christmas tree? Extra large with full branches, and bright green needles?"
Alice clapped her hands together and grinned as she carefully inspected every inch of the tree that the three boys had chosen. It was perfect. "It's great! I hope you didn't go all the way to Canada for it. No matter. You did exceptionally well this year, boys. Let's set it up over here." She announced excitedly and supervised as Emmett held the tree steady while Edward screwed it into the base and Jasper spread the tree skirt around the bottom. "Excellent! Excellent!" She continued to applaude the progress that the decorations were making. "Edward, your turn to do the tree this year. Remember, we're using the red and white ornaments, and the '57 Angel. Emmett, you're on candle duty. And Jazzy, you can start hanging the bows and wreaths." She ordered the group, and watched pleased as they each started on their assigned tasks.
Later that night, after the decorations had passed final inspection, Alice sat with Jasper in their room. With an excited smile, she presented him with the rectangular box that held his birthday gift. "Happy Birthday, Love." She said with another giddy grin.
"Alice, you really shouldn't have." Jasper protested, but Alice knew that it was just out of politeness. Bella was the only one Alice had ever met who truly hated getting presents. Opening one end of the white box, Jasper gasped with surprise and happiness as he saw his gift for the first time. "Alice, this is wonderful!" He gushed.
Inside the box was a small pocket knife. Well, small wasn't entirely accurate. The knife part itself was small, but all the extra accessories the blade came equipped with made the entire object quite large for a pocket knife. "Alice, it really is great! Where did you find it?"
"Germany." She answered honestly. It had taken a month of internet research to find, track down, and order. "It's one of only 200 ever manufactured." She bragged.
"Oh, Alice, I love you!" Jasper exclaimed, overjoyed, and leaned in to kiss his wife. Emotional waves of love, and passion, passed between the couple for several hours as they spent the night together in the only way that seemed appropriate since neither one of them could sleep. At one point during the night, Alice grew serious and told Jasper all about meeting Cassandra and the horrible flood of nightmarish visions that the meeting inspired. He was encouraging, but didn't offer any solutions beyond those that she had already considered.
They were lying together in the early morning hours when Alice sensed that the flood of visions would be returning to her soon. She could no longer smell Seth's presence. "Oh." She moaned as soon as she realized what would be happening soon. Her mind was going to try to play catch up. It always did when she had been around the wolves for any length of time. She gripped Jasper's hand more tightly in anticipation of the flood, but it didn't come like she had expected it to. It was such an unusual occurence that it sparked her curiosity.
"What is it, hon?" Jasper asked concerned.
"It's morning, and Seth's gone. I should be starting to get my visions back." She said simply.
"Do you want me to…" He trailed off, allowing her to fill in the blank for herself.
"No. Um….nothing's happening. At least not yet. I don't see anything."
"Are you sure he's gone then?"
"Take a deep breath." Alice watched as Jasper did as she asked, and realization filled his face. The wet dog smell was strangely absent in the air.
"He didn't say goodbye." Jasper feigned disappointment.
"No, he didn't." Alice was thoughtful for a moment, knowing she wouldn't be able to see whatever the wolves were doing that prompted Seth's departure, but she didn't want to invite any of the other visions inside her head. Then finally, after several tense minutes, she caught a glimmer of something, just at the edge of her mind. The first vision that came back to her was of Carlise. He was walking in the front door of the house, and kissing Esme hello before apologizing for being home so late. "Carlise's going to be home late tonight. He'll be held up talking to Dr. Milligan, but at least they're going to have a breakthrough for…Cassandra." The last part came out as a gasp. Cassandra hadn't known Carlise, so how did Carlise know her, and what was the breakthrough he would be telling Esme about when he got home late? A million thoughts began to run through Alice's head at once, and they all led back to Carlise. Carlise was the key. He was up to something, and Alice was going to figure out what it was. "I have to go talk to him, Jazz. I'll be back here in time to get ready for class." She told Jasper before leaning over to kiss his lips gently, and then running out the door of their room and down the hall.
Dashing into Carlise's office, Alice met his gaze seriously before speaking. "How are you involved with Cassandra's case?" She demanded.
"I'm not, or at least I wasn't until yesterday. Dr. Milligan asked me for a consultion on her case. We plan to work on it again today." Carlise told her easily. "How do you know about Cassandra?"
"I met her. Yesterday. At the hospital when I came to pick up Jasper's gift, which he loved by the way." She rambled.
"I'm glad that Jasper liked it. But back to Cassandra. You know what's wrong with her?" Carlise concluded, but waited to have it confirmed by Alice before continuing.
"Well, Milligan specializes in cancer. She's on the fifth floor. It doesn't take a genius to know what's wrong with her. Terminal leukemia, right?"
"Not exactly. It's a little bit more complicated and more rare than a basic leukemia. In fact, Milligan hasn't ever seen anything like it before. That's why he brought me in as a consultant. He thought that maybe I would see something that he didn't see like I so often do. Alice, Cassandra is…she's very sick. And if she survives…"
Alice interrupted, already seeing a spark of hope in what Carlise was saying. "If she survives, but she's on the 5th floor. Terminal patients. If she has any chance at survival…"
Carlise held up a hand to silence Alice. "Don't get too excited. Terminal simply means that survival isn't likely, but miracles do still happen. We just don't expect one in Cassandra's case. We hope to be able to give her a slightly higher chance of surviving, but it'll take time, and right now…. Anyway, if she survives, she'll never have a normal human life. I think that's why you felt so drawn to her and her to you and why you can't get her out of your head."
"Wait, how did you know all of that? About us being drawn to each other and me not being able to get her out of my head?"
"The same way I knew that something significant would happen to you yesterday." Carlise paused as if trying to decide if he should continue to tell Alice the entire story. "It's acutually a rather long explanation, but I think that you're ready to hear it. We can come back to Cassandra in a minute, because there is still more to discuss that concerns her. But it will help if you know this next part first. Renesmee has changed the way I think about us. I've spent so much of my existence studying human medicine and physiology, that I haven't really studied us as much as I should have been. I've been trying to remedy that for the past few months and I have made some incredible discoveries."
"The attic lab. Esme said you were spending a lot more time there lately."
"Yes, I've been experimenting on myself. Edward's been helping. I haven't been able to tell the rest of you about it because I wasn't sure how you'd all react to the news. But now I know that you at least will be ok with it."
"What sort of experiments, Carlise? You aren't making much sense."
The doctor took a deep, unneeded, breath before beginning a more detailed explanation of his work for the past few months. "Well, you know that humans have 23 chromosome pairs and thanks to several recent worldwide endeavors, we now know almost exactly what each of those chromosome pairs control and what will happen if we turn on or turn off certain genes within those chomosome pairs." Alice nodded her head in comprehension. She had heard all of this before. "Well I was curious if I could do the same thing for us. I started with the 23 chromosome pairs of ours that are the same as humans, and for the most part, everything they control is identical. Body temperature regulation being the biggest exception I've found so far. In fact, I would wager that during the transformation process, our original chromosomes are perfected to fix any problems such as acne or other physical and mental imperfections. The chromosomes would then be frozen just like everything else to prevent any random manipulations from certain genes turning on or off in response to environmental elements. Anyway, I've focused most of my research on the extra two chromosome pairs we possess. One of the two controls things that are more or less equal between all of us, such as speed, and strength. The other is for controlling an individual's special abilities, like yours and Edward's." Carlise paused for a brief instant, trying to find the best way to word the next part of his explanation. "I discovered that, in Edward's case at least, only a small portion of the 25th chromosome pair is activated. I've been activating small parts of my own 25th chromosome pair to discover how it affects different abilities. I think I found a way to combine several abilities into one. If it continues to work as well for me as it has been so far, Edward's agreed to let me try manipulating his. Of course, it will be different for him, since he already has a pre-existing ability. Hopefully, that ability won't change no matter what I do. The process of gene manipulation for us is much more difficult than it is for humans. Since we aren't suppose to change, it's like going through the transformation all over again. It doesn't last as long, obviously, but it's very painful. Anytime you mess with someone's genes, ours or a human's, you're asking for trouble, but I have a feeling this research is too important to ignore. It's worth the risk to me."
"Wow. Carlise. The implications of this are incredible." Alice started in awed excitement, forgetting for the moment that she should be upset with Carlise and Edward for keeping this from her. "If you could turn on the right parts of the 25th chromosome pair, maybe Edward would be able to read past thoughts like Aro can. And maybe, I would be able to see through the wolves and Renesmee. This is incredible, Carlise, you have to experiment on me too! I don't mind the pain, really, not if it means being able to see beyond the wolves."
"Woah, woah, slow down, Alice. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I still have many more experiments to run on myself before we can even begin to think like that. I'm nowhere close to being able to understand all of it. And I do still need to investigate the first 23 chromosome pairs in more detail. This was only my first trial to determine if it was possible to turn on abilities that one of us wouldn't normally possess. I don't have any idea how this will work out in the long run. I could be decades away from any real progress. I will have to keep studying human medicine as well to keep up our cover. I'll keep in mind your offer, but I thought that you were more concerned about Cassandra at the moment. And now that you know about this first long term project concerning our physiology, I can tell you about a second long term project that I've been working on since before I changed Edward, and it is ready to be tested. It's a project that may actually be of some use in helping Cassandra." Carlise paused to make sure that Alice had calmed down enough for him to continue. "I have a theory on how to help her. We'll have to use a combination of radiation and venom. Diluted venom, of course, so that it won't change her. That's where my second project comes in. Edward and I have been working for some time now on the practical implications of our venom as a healing agent. As long as it's diluted enough, we've found that it can be quite effective. At least in theory."
"I just can't believe the two of you have been working on all these secret projects and I haven't seen any of it. The wolves aren't here that often." Alice was starting to show a little of her anger and resentment at not being included before this.
"We've been…careful." Alice crossed her arms in frustrated disgust, but refrained from interrupting again. "Cassandra will be the first practical test, and therefore, we'll have to plan very carefully for it, and we'll need you to watch the situation very closely. We can't risk having anything go wrong. I don't like playing Russian roulette with Cassandra's life, and I'm hoping that you'll be able to help take a lot of the guess work out of it. I wouldn't try it at all, but there's just something about the way the Leukemia is progressing that makes me think that it will work. We could go up to my lab and I could explain all of this in more detail to you." He knew that Alice would be able to understand the science behind his theory as well as any doctor. After all, she had been studying medicine off and on for nearly 50 years. All of his children had attended medical school at least once.
Alice thought through her answer for a minute before responding. "No, that's ok. I trust you. If you say it'll work, then I believe you."
"There is one more thing. If it doesn't work, if for some reason something goes wrong, and she starts to change, then I'll be forced to euthanize her. I can't let her survive unless she remains fully human."
"No! You can't do that! I won't let you!"
"She's too young, Alice!" Although he didn't raise his voice, Carlise's words came out a lot stronger than he had intended.
"I know that. But you can't just kill her." Alice said sadly. "If her changing, even just a little, is a possibility, then maybe you shouldn't try. It's too much of a risk. If you can help her, then do it. But if you can't or you only think you can, then don't. Just let the Leukemia run its course."
"Alice, you don't understand. If I let the cancer run its course, she'll be left with a fate that's worse than death. It's better to at least try helping her, and if it doesn't work, then give her the gift of eternal rest."
"What do you mean, a fate worse than death?" Alice was a little unnerved by Carlise's words.
"You're familiar with the creatures of Haiti." It was a statement, not a question, but Carlise waited for Alice to nod her understanding anyway.
"You mean zombies?"
"Yes, and no. You see, the Haitian people believe that the soul can be separated from the body. A zombie is created when a witch doctor steals someone's soul. The person's belief in the witch doctor's power over his or her soul is so strong, that he or she literally becomes a vacant shell. Everything seems to indicate that if Cassandra's leukemia continues to act the way that it has been so far, she'll become an empty shell. She'll end up with massive brain damage, and every day will be a struggle for her. For all intents and purposes, she'll become a zombie, unable to function independently, soulless. I can't allow that to happen to her. Either Cassandra dies or I euthanize her, there is no other way. And I can't in good conscience euthanize her without at least trying the venom theory. It's her only chance. The diluted venom shouldn't lead to a transformation. Do you understand what I'm saying Alice?"
Alice swallowed hard, then met Carlise's eyes. "Yes, I understand. And I'll help any way I can. I can't let her go through the treatment alone, and if it comes to it, I'll be prepared to euthanize her myself. It is better than the alternative, I suppose." Alice vowed, knowing that Cassandra didn't deserve to have any of this happen to her. She knew that it was best to follow Carlise's lead and keep Cassandra from a life as a mindless zombie, and from the wrath of the Volturi, should she begin to change.
"I hope you can keep that promise," Carlise whispered to himself as he watched Alice turn away and drift out of the room.
Author's Note: Yes, I have introduced a lot of story lines, and yes, I know which ones I will use, and which ones I will spend less time expanding. I have a general outline for the rest of the story and may eventually take part of it and turn it into a sequal instead of keeping it all together. Everything will be explained in time, so just be patient. In the mean time, please review, and I'll work on getting the second chapter ready for posting.