This one shot was purchased by RobotMoose in the Support Stacie Auction.

She let me have free reign with this. I'm giving her a little Jasper because I know he's her favorite.

I hope you like it TSMw!

(I think this fic is different from my norm, JSYK.)

Disclaimer: The quotes nor Twilight characters are mine.


Pretzel: The ends of a long strip of dough are intertwined or brought together and then twisted back onto itself in a certain way.


~Bella Swan

"There is nothing that makes a person feel quite so lonely,
as to be in the company of others laughing and enjoying each others' company;
and yet to feel completely left out of their joy."

My head pounds as I stare up at the ceiling and all that runs though my mind is how? How did things gets so complicated?

Life should be simple and sweet and just... easy. Especially this year, being a senior. I mean all I should be worrying about is graduating and then college and life.

Instead I'm worrying about Alice and Jasper, not Alice and/or Jasper. I mean Alice-and-Jasper and what all this means.

Have my actions cracked the foundation of our once solid friendship? I don't want to lose Jasper, my lifelong best friend.

Or my other best friend Alice.

Surely she understands though. There's been a Jasper and I long before there was ever an Alice and I. That's just how it is.

Jasper and I are tight... two peas in a pod, tight. Or mac and cheese tight, the good Velveeta kind.

We belong together.

Growing up as next door neighbors bonded us for life. Night after night spent together in our tree-house-that-wasn't-in-a-tree molded us into a couple. Not a couple as in girlfriend-boyfriend couple, but more as a couple of kids that always relied on each other. We were a couple of teenagers who experienced firsts together just to avoid the awkwardness of firsts with other people; a couple of almost-adults who were soon to separate after fifteen years of us spent... just being us.

Things had gotten complicated fast and now I feel guilty about it all.

Alice Brandon moved to town the middle of our Junior year. I was instantly drawn to her. She was so small, and innocent, and scared, like a lost puppy. I wanted to take her home and cuddle with her and protect her.

So that's exactly what I did.

After introducing myself and instantly befriending her at school, I invited her over to hang out. She spent the night with me and we were soon cuddled up under my purple comforter. It was very innocent cuddling. It was like I'd found the sister I never had. I loved her.

But that's where the plot thickens.

Everyone knows that two's company and three's a crowd.

But I couldn't choose. I was selfish. I pulled Alice into mine and Jasper's world, it was always us three and no one seemed to mind. I just didn't see that Alice was falling for Jasper, and never once did I stop and think of how Jasper felt or what he wanted.

Alice was always dropping hints, "So, have you and Jasper ever...?" "Have you ever dated anyone OTHER than Jazz?" "Has Jasper ever had a girlfriend?" Etc, etc, etc.

I just thought she was being nosy, but I answered her questions.

Sorta.

Me and Jasper are hard to explain. I love Jasper, not in a brotherly way. Not in a lover kind of way either. I guess like a best-friend-with-lots-of-benefits kind of way.

I especially enjoy kissing him. He's an excellent kisser.

And when I'm sad and blue, Jasper knows how to make me feel better. He knows the exact way to touch me to make me relax and forget about all my problems.

Things are never strange with him either. We know what to expect from the other. We can spend the night with each other and fool around or... not, and the next day everything's all good.

Perfect. Like said macaroni and cheese.

So when Alice asks me those things, I don't lie to her. I just don't tell her the whole truth. I tell her that all Jasper and I have ever been is best friends and yes, we've fooled around a little, but it's nothing.

That's what I convince myself it is – nothing.

It. Is. Nothing.

Last night at Jessica Stanley's Halloween party we all drank too much and we couldn't help but joke about Alice's costume.

Last year, at my party she'd dressed up as moose. Pointy antlers attached to a headband and a long stick-on brown nose. A strange looking tail and brown shirt and shorts that made her look sexy and all grown up.

But no one guessed that she was a moose.

I said reindeer, Jazz called her Bambi. Lauren said she was an antelope and Mike guessed an elk or a caribou.

"I'm a moose you dickheads!" She screeched. "Like Bullwinkle! A freaking moose!"

Between our liquor induced giggles I overheard Jasper apologize to her and admit she was the cutest moose he'd ever seen.

And the nickname stuck. Moose. The tiniest female moose in all the universe, but a moose nonetheless.

When she arrived at Jess's house last night in an all silver get up; a short skirt that ballooned out with silver bloomers underneath, weird looking silver bands wound around her arms and her throat, and a top that was really tight and made her boobs perky. I guessed she was an alien.

Mike asked if she was the mom from the Jetson's.

Jasper stood in front of her and grabbed her hand. He raised it to his lips and stated, "She's a robot, guys. A Robot Moose." He kissed the back of her hand and winked a wink only meant for Alice.

And for just a brief moment, I was jealous.

But I had no right to be.

So I drank more and tried to care less.

It worked.

But with my over drinking came my over flirting. I sat in Jasper's lap and ground myself into his 'pre-dick-ament' knowing that I was being cruel, knowing that Alice was watching, knowing that I still wasn't happy, and knowing that I shouldn't be this way.

But I did it anyway.

Jasper's hands curled around my waist and held me still many times and I felt proud. I was proud that he was showing me attention now.

He kissed me once. It was lazy and sloppy and fueled by Budweiser and shots of jagermeister. But it was me that he was kissing. His lips were soft and warm against mine. My stomach knotted with that passion that sometimes followed those kisses.

But that time, it was just one kiss. Nothing more.

Hours later, Alice and I sprawled on the couch as the guys played pool. The room had quit spinning quite so much and I was feeling less drunk and more... empty. Again.

"You're so lucky, Bells." Alice sighed.

"What the-? Whoooorrr... Wha..?" I slurred.

"Jasper." Alice said all breathy and moan-ey. "He cares about you. He shows you so much attention. You. Are. So. Lucky Bella."

It was like I'd been slapped in the face and I wasn't sure why.

But it suddenly didn't feel okay anymore and I was confused as hell, because this was how it'd always been. Jasper. and. I.

She knew this!

I tried to sit up and the room tilted, so I laid back down.

It didn't take much to push me back onto the ledge of sobriety.

"But moosey, you know it's not like THAT right?" My throat locked down with emotions. "He doesn't love me... like... that."

"But he does love you..." It was like she wasn't even talking to me anymore. "...what I wouldn't give to get half of that attention. Ahhhhh, I think I love that boy."

I wanted to throw up.

Alice loved Jasper.

My Jasper.

My best friend loved my other best friend.

Shit.

I loved Jasper in my own way. He was the one who'd always been by my side. Through thick and thin, death and weddings, divorces and sickness - Jasper was always there.

For me. Only ME.

Sure, I knew that one day someone would come along and my Jazzy would fall in love. But I figured I'd have someone too by then and we'd already be... separated.

Well, separated in whatever capacity that was going to be, college or whatever.

I assumed that in high school it would be just... us. But not JUST us, because we casually dated others and fooled around with other people. We just didn't involve love, or caring, or other best friends.

I wasn't angry though, because hell...This was ALICE.

I loved her. I still love her.

She's my best-girl-friend. She's worthy. I approve of her in every way, but being WITH Jasper?

It's like I know he's going to break up with me even though we aren't "together-together".

I'm going to lose him. Maybe not completely, probably not for good, but he won't be just mine anymore.

I see it.

I see the way he watches her, not with amusement like he does me, but more with admiration.

I see the way he always sides with her when the three of us disagree.

I see the way he behaves around her, like he wants to impress her.

And I see the look in his eyes when she walks into the room. His face somehow relaxes, his expression mimics hers and he takes a deep breath. Then his eyes zero in on her every move and it seems that at any second, if needed, he's going to ride in on his white horse and save her from whatever.

Jasper never looks at me that way.

He doesn't ever think of saving me.

I want to dismiss it. I want to blame it on curiosity. Maybe Alice is just the new toy getting all the attention.

But I'm pretty sure that Jasper's attention has grown to fondness, and I'd bet my lonely heart that now it's full-blown love.

Jasper and Alice.

Alice and Jasper.

Just Bella.

Thinking about it makes me feel lonely. Alice isn't here, neither is Jasper. I lied to them both last night telling them I felt sick and that I was going home and straight to bed.

Which I did.

I just haven't slept. Not a wink.

I have to talk to Jasper. I have to tell him that I know. Jasper and I don't keep secrets. Our relationship has been built on brutal honesty. He tells me when my breath smells like death. I tell him when he needs to have his gangly hair cut and whiten his cigarette stained teeth.

But instead of getting up and washing my oily hair, I curl up into a ball and cover my head with my purple comforter.

I think of Alice.

I think of Jasper.

I miss them both already.

I debate with myself if I'm all right with being their third wheel. If I can be satisfied as their 'tag along.'

The truth hurts because I know... I can't. It's not in me to be like that.

I know things will get even more complicated.

I know that I'll be jealous of Jasper and his affections.

I know that I'll be jealous of Alice, and not being her number one will hurt.

I'm already jealous and they aren't even "together-together" yet.

Tears sting my eyes as it hits me that ...maybe they are?

The bottom feels like it's falling out of my stomach.

I don't want to know.

But I do.

I left them both last night at the party. I could practically be credited for being their Cupid. I gave them the perfect opportunity to get to it over with, to get together, declare their feelings, run off to Vegas – whatever.

Then I cry and I can't stop. I'm stupid, I know this. But I cry anyway.

In my heart I know what I have to do.

I'm going to let them go.

Maybe someday in the future, when things are settled and for certain. When the sting of losing my two best friends to each other doesn't hurt like a bitch, we'll be reunited and be together again. Even if it's only for a short time.

I love them both so much that I want them to be happy. They shouldn't have to worry about appeasing me, or holding back because of me; or anything that has to do with me.

So after hours of tears and sobbing under the covers, I search out my Dad downstairs. I swallow the knot of guilt and worry and tears and snot that's ballooned in my throat.

Seeing my tear-stained face his forehead wrinkles with worry, "Bella, what's wrong?"

"Daddy, I think it's time that I go visit Mom for a while."


~Jasper Whitlock

"Some emotions don't make a lot of noise. It's hard to hear pride. Caring is real faint - like a heartbeat.
And pure love - why, some days it's so quiet, you don't even know it's there."

It's been four days since I last talked to Bella. I'm worried. We've never went this long without at least talking on the phone. Ever.

At Jessica's Halloween party Bella was all over the place. First she was giggly and happy. Then she was tipsy and mellow. Then she was drunk and sad but pretended to be happy and tipsy.

I saw right through it.

I know Bella better than I know myself. Something's bothering her.

Charlie said she's sick. But that doesn't excuse why she won't at least take my calls. Or why she won't come to her window when I throw pine cones at it? Or why she never came to the door when I knocked with our secret knock which is really just shave-and-a-haircut?

But still...

Four days?

I felt it, the shifting of everything around me. The change.

When Bella left Jess' party early, Alice and I stayed and hung out. We talked 'til the sun came up.

Then the next day we talked on the phone for hours.

Sunday, we went out to eat.

Monday, she held my hand, more than once.

Just an hour ago, I walked her to her car after school and I kissed her. Her lips were sweet and hot and she tasted of Juicy Fruit gum.

My favorite kind.

It was different than when I kissed Bella.

Bella was comfort, and warmth, and it made me wanna snuggle and nap.

Alice was fire, and mystery, and excitement, and I wanted to run laps after our kiss.

Alice makes me smile, Bella makes me sigh.

I tried to keep my feelings for Alice at bay. I tried because Bella and I have this unspoken agreement. We are to stick together through high school and then we'll go our separate ways and never look back.

I'm her rock. She's my better half.

I'm her protector. She's my guide.

I love her. I love Bella.

But I feel things for Alice, things I don't feel with Bella.

Alice makes me nervous, and jittery, and curious. I want to read her mind and know why she skips when she walks fast. I want to wrap my arms around her and hold her for hours. I want know her favorites, and her goals and aspirations. I find myself day dreaming of us riding horses and watching sunsets.

Corny but true.

Then I feel remorseful because of what all those feelings mean.

I don't want to leave Bella out.

I can't recall how many times I prayed that whatever prick Bella was on a date with would do something to turn her off.

I selfishly want her just for myself.

I even try to channel emotions within myself. I want to be in love with Bella and her in love with me. I want us to exchange class rings and doodle each other's names on our binders. I want to know that when we were together, we were together.

Not just friends.

Not just bffs.

Not just fuck buddies, but lovers.

It won't work.

I feel things for her, just not the things I want to feel, not the things I try to feel.

To no avail I try to force those feelings away from Alice and direct them toward Bella. I really, really try not to like Alice so damn much.

But now it's too late. I'm falling for her other best friend and I'm falling fast. I've denied it as long as I can.

And after this weekend, I no longer believed it when that little voice in my head said, "Alice doesn't like you like THAT."

I know better.

It was in each touch of her dainty fingers, the twinkle in her eye, and the whisper of her lips against mine.

She likes me.

But I love my best friend and I want to know that this is all right with her. I need to hear her say the words.

I don't want to have to choose.

I can't.

I miss her.

So here it is, Tuesday night, nine o'clock. I sit down on the edge of my bed and look out my window toward Bella's house. It looks silent and somehow, sad.

I decide to go over there and let myself in through the front door.

I'm glad Charlie's cruiser is gone.

Then I hear a familiar rap on my bedroom door. "Dun.. dun.. ."

Before I can respond and tell her to come in, my door slowly opens and it's her.

I'm relieved and glad.

But then I see the redness around her lids and the puffy skin under her eyes, and I know.

She's not sick. She's been crying.

Four days?

And I know that she knows.

The change.

I feel so low and shameful, I feel selfish and unworthy. I don't want her to cry, especially over me.

I need to make this okay.

"Hey," she whispers and her voice cracks.

She starts walking toward me and as soon as I can I reach for her. I pull her to me and curl her up in my lap. I hold her close and a thousand words try to rush out of my mouth at once, so I bite my tongue. This is a delicate dance of emotions and futures and friendships.

I don't want to be out of step.

"I've missed you," I hum into her neck through her thick hair, and she sighs.

"You too."

Then she pulls away from me, but I don't let go of her hand. I scoot back in the bed, my back resting against the wall where there should be a headboard if my mother wasn't so cheap.

I pull her with me.

Her eyes are full of tears, and I see her try to blink them away.

I want to make this work somehow.

"What do you want me to do?" I ask because I need to know. I'll do it. I'll do it for her.

"Just kiss me," she says as she crawls into my lap.

I let my lips and my hands and hard cock tell her whatever she needs to hear. It's all I can give her and it's all she takes.

Right now, in this blip in time, it's just us. That's good enough for her and all right with me.

As much as I can't wait to be with Alice like this, I realize I'm going to hate it like hell when I give this up with Bella.

Then I feel like a piece of shit, a selfish son of a bitch.

Bella's on my lap riding me slow and for a short while, we are one. Her fingers twist in my hair, her moans make my fucking night, and I know I want it all.

And I can't have it.

I wrap my arms around her bare waist and pull her flush with me. This is familiar, this is casual, this is everything I've ever known, but I feel the change as it swirls around us. I notice how Bella is distant even though she's right here.

Then that change lodges right in between Bella and I as we lie on my bed. She's wearing a pair of my boxers. I'm still naked. It's too quiet between us and I don't know where to start.

"I.." We both say in unison.

Then we both shout "Jinx!"

The giggles come and it feels better. For a minute I forget that we're different. It slips my mind that the earth has shifted and life has rudely come in between us.

"Jazz," she says so dejectedly that I close my eyes. "I'm leaving."

I freeze in my spot because it's worse than I thought.

I force open my eyes and look at her. It hurts and I really don't know what to say except for "don't go."

"Just hear me out please." She practically begs and I barely nod my head in acknowledgment.

"I'm going to stay with my mom for a while. I need some independence. I need... space. I need this fucking heaviness to get the fuck off my shoulders, Jazz. I can't stay here. But I...I need to know that you're happy. That you don't feel bound to me in any way. Now or... in the future. I need to reassure myself that in seven months when we graduate, and it's time for us to move on, that I can..."

Her sentences are choppy. Her breath is ragged, choked by her tears and I still haven't the slightest clue what to say to her.

"...I'm scared Jasper. I'm scared because I don't love you like that, but I know that I can't fairly share you either. I'm scared that you're a crutch for me, like now I don't have to ever worry about having dates or guys or going stag to a party or a dance because I have you. But then it dawns on me that really... I don't."

I want to interrupt and tell her to shut up. I don't want her to leave me. Period.

"I'm scared that I'll hurt Alice's feelings and that I'll be the worst friend ever. I don't want that either."

Our eyes finally meet, and I briefly think of trying to love Bella again. I mean, if it'll get her to stay...

Then my phone chirps with a text message. I look. It's Alice.

I don't open it up. This is Bella-time, but it reminds me of why all this is happening.

"It doesn't have to be this way, Bella. We can make it work." I have no doubt that we can. Things will have to be different, but it... us... doesn't have to end completely.

"No we can't, Jazz. It's better this way." She lays back down beside me, her head on my chest.

I wrap my arm around her shoulder and trace little circles on her bare skin.

"Do I not have any say in this?" It almost angers me.

"Please don't," she begs.

"What about Alice? Don't you think this will hurt her? She loves you." I'm grasping for straws. All I hope is that I can eventually say the right thing that will make her reconsider.

She shakes her head. "She loves you more."

Bella sits up and grabs her shirt. She pulls it on over her head. "Jasper, I've thought of everything already. And this-"

"Bullshit!" My voice starts to rise. "You're just being a selfish bitch!"

I scramble off the bed. "You're not considering Alice's feelings or mine! How could you?"

I stumble over my boots that are on the floor as I struggle to pull on my jeans.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Bella shouts as she jumps off the bed, brushing past me. "Your feelings and Alice's feelings are ALL I've thought about!"

She paces in the small space of my room, her hands flying around. "I'm trying to do the right thing here."

I can't lie to her, I won't lie to her. "I don't believe you," I say, and it leaves a bitter taste in my throat.

She stops her pacing and looks at me. Her eyes tell me what her words can't express. Under her anger this hurts her too.

"Thanks for making this easier." She says in a tone that is cold and harsh and sends a shiver down my spine.

"Bella," I reach for her again as she bends down to pick up her pants and shoes off the floor.

"Don't," she says through clenched teeth as she pushes me out of her way.

She stomps over to my bedroom door, and swings it open. Still holding onto the knob, she pauses, "Goodbye Jasper." Then with a slam of my weak door, Bella Swan walks out of my life.

=X=

Bella nor Alice is at school today. Alice sends me a text saying that they're together and I know that Bella's giving her the same fucked up speech she gave me yesterday.

I'm still pissed. I don't believe she'll be gone for long. I'll give her two weeks.

Regardless, I've decided to not give in to her. She probably wants me to beg her to stay. Well, she can forget it. If she wants to leave, she can leave.

She'll be back.

Alice is waiting for me on my front porch when I get home from school. She's been crying and her shoulders are still trembling when I pull her into my arms.

I drop my backpack and lift her up. She wraps her legs around my waist and I carry her inside. She weighs less than a sack of potatoes.

We sit on the couch and she pulls away to sit beside me. "I can't believe it," she whispers.

It pisses me off even more that now Alice is upset. Can't Bella see that she's making this worse?

"She won't be gone long," I confess. "Give her a couple weeks to clear her head. She'll come back to us."

Alice snuggles into my side, I lift my arm to pull her close. I like the way she fits right beside me.

"I don't think so Jasper. She says she's going to travel with her Mom and Phil. She's going to finish her classes through correspondence courses." Alice sniffs.

"Is that what she said?" The disappoint I feel inside flip-flops again because she didn't tell me any of the details.

"Yeah. She said she'd try and be back for graduation at least. I'm going to miss her so much." Alice wipes the tears off her face and I pull her to me a little tighter.

"I'm sorry darling." I kiss the top of her head and wonder again if there is anything I could say to Bella to make her stay. "I'll try and talk to her before she leaves. I promise it'll work out."

Alice quickly pulls away from me and sits up straight. "Jasper," she shakes her head and her eyes are wild and confused and fat tears over spill down her beautiful cheeks. "She's already gone."


~Bella Swan

"There are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion that if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secrets spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together."

It's been five weeks since I left Forks. I call Charlie every other day or so but I haven't spoke to Jasper or Alice since.

Before I left I disconnected my cell. I only had a local plan that had no roaming. Phil since bought me a new one but I gave Charlie specific instructions to not give my number out, not yet.

I miss everyone terribly.

Sometimes the loneliness is overwhelming, especially at first.

I cried for two weeks straight, in my new bed. Then Phil had a ballgame in Cincinnati, so we went out on a road trip and it took my mind away from the hurt.

Every day it gets a little bit easier. There are times I hear a song on the radio that makes me think of one of them or... both. I wonder how they are, or if they've professed their love for one another yet?

I wonder if they even miss me?

Alice told me that day we skipped school about their weekend together after the Halloween party. The way her eyes glowed when she talked about Jasper confirmed that I was doing the right thing, regardless of what Jasper might have said.

So, I'm giving them each other, with no Bella-strings attached. I won't weigh them down or be in the way of their blossoming relationship.

Out of sight, out of mind.

It helps that Renee's a riot. She's always singing at the top of her lungs and her favorite thing to do is dance around in the RV while Phil drives.

There will be times he has to ride with the team in a plane because of time restraints, and then it'll just be Renee and I.

The school work from the course I'm taking to continue my diploma is so elementary. Most of the material I already know and it only takes me a day to finish an entire week's worth of assignments.

Another bonus.

Tonight we're in Houston. The sky is clear and the stars are just beginning to show.

I stand and stare at the statue of the cowboy riding a bucking horse outside of the steakhouse and I know. I know right now is the right time to call him.

Sometimes the hurt of missing him aches more than everything else combined.

I laugh as I approach the cowboy. He looks a lot like Jasper. His boots and the wrinkle of his jeans under his knees are the same as Jazz's. The way his hair wisps out from the back of the large cowboy hat on his head makes my fingers twitch.

I pull my new phone from out of my back pocket and take off in the direction of the RV.

I don't know if I want him to answer or not.

But when he does, my knees almost give out. "Jazz?"

There's a lot of rustling around in the background and I pull the phone away from my ear because it's so loud. "Ohmygod! Bella?"

I huff, "Yeah, it's me."

"Bella." He sighs and I swear I feel the warmth of his breath through the phone. "I miss you."

"I miss you too, bestie. How are things?"

Slow happy tears roll down my face as Jasper and I talk for hours. He tells me about some of the neighborhood gossip and the things that have happened at school since I left.

I tell him about traveling with Renee and Phil and how I'm genuinely enjoying it.

We laugh, we joke and it's like it used to be. And for just a minute I think that maybe I made the wrong decision.

That is until I mention Alice. "So, tell me the juicy details. How are you two love birds getting along?"

Then he tells me about how much he loves her and that he didn't know that he could ever need a person so fucking much. That they spend every day together and they're already looking for a place to move in to together, and now I know for sure that I did the right thing.

Even though it's been how many weeks? There are hundreds of miles between us, and I'm still jealous.

But not as much as I might have been if I was still there.

I'm happy for them. They make a perfect couple. But I know that if I was still there, I'd be more miserable than I am away from them.

It's relieving in way.

The silence hangs thick through the phone line. It's so unlike us.

But things have changed, forever.

"Bella," he says, his voice quieter than it was before.

"Yeah?" I answer as I grip the phone tighter.

"We could have made it work." He's always the optimist.

"I don't think so, Jazz. I did the right thing. It's worked out great." Am I trying to convince him or myself?

I sigh.

Silence again.

"I wish you would have waited on me and told me goodbye, ya' know? That hurt." The sadness in his voice gives me chills.

Tears sting my eyes again and I swallow hard and try to keep them at bay. " Jasper," I whisper. "I did tell you goodbye. The night before... in your room. If I would've waited, I might not have left."

"I know. That's what I was banking on."

I fight the urge to break down because I'd like to think that I've grown up in the past months, that little by little I'm a stronger person and more independent.

"Are you going to call Alice?" He finally asks. "She misses you too."

I sit down on the curb and hug my free arm around my knees. "I am. I miss her. I miss her a lot actually."

I pull my shirt sleeve down over my fist and wipe my face dry.

"Are you coming home?"

I squeeze my eyes tight. "No." I mutter.

I hear him take a deep breath and blow it out against the phone. "I miss my best friend."

"I know. I miss you too. Renee's a nutcase and this life is a whirlwind, but this – this is good for me. And I'm sure Alice, she's good for you."

"She is. But still..." He sounds rejected.

"Jasper, we might as well get used to it. This is the way it's going to be when we go away to college."

"I still don't like it." Then he laughs again, but it's an unsure laugh.

I don't call Alice when I'm done with him. It is too late when Jazz and I finally get off the phone, but I promise myself to call her when I think she should be home from school tomorrow.

=X=

Jasper, Alice, and I talk to each other every few days. It's good to feel like I'm a part of their lives again.

But I can't fight the fact that even over the phone, I still feel like an outsider and it's not in a bad way, I mean, this is where I chose to be. So I resign to keep the distance between us.

I create a new email address so they can both email me and we can chat online. I email them both a few times a week, but I never answer their replies right away. And I reserve to only allow myself to chat with them on days I'm either really bored or extremely sad and lonely.

I limit my calls to Forks and I refuse to talk to them more than once a day. Sometimes I even ignore their calls and let it go to voice mail.

And day by day, it gets easier and easier.

After three months of being away, I don't feel like I need them at all.

Mostly.

But I do get by just fine.

The phone calls become sporadic on both ends and we sometimes go weeks without talking.

The emails are even less frequent and the online chats are nonexistent anymore.

There are days when the sky is cloudy, and the scenery from the RV window is dull and lifeless and I long for the life I once knew. I long for the life before things were complicated and heartbreaking. I miss that.

=X=

I sit in the rental car for what feels like hours.

Alice's driveway is packed full of vehicles and the music is loud even down the street where I sit.

My heart is pounding in my chest and my hands are sweaty. I'm not sure why I even convinced myself this was a good idea. I hadn't talked to them in months. I go back and forth between what I should do right now; leave or stay, leave or stay.

Since I'm already here...

I missed the ceremony earlier but it seems as though I have made it back to Forks in time for the graduation party.

This is my first visit since I left seven or eight months ago. I didn't RSVP to Alice's invite so I hope she doesn't mind that I'm crashing her shindig.

I slowly exit the car and make my way to their house. It's cute and little and looks so much like them.

There's people standing out in the yard and they approach me and yell out my name. Most are old classmates of mine. I politely congratulate them on their achievements and move on.

I'm not here to see them anyway.

I take a deep breath to steady my heartbeat and step inside the house. I smile at the guitar Jasper has hanging over the couch, the cow skin rug on the floor, and the saddle stand in the middle of the room.

I look and still don't see Jasper or Alice.

I mill though the people standing around and head into the kitchen.

Jasper sees me before Alice does, and practically in slow motion, he unhurriedly rises from the table and makes his way toward me.

I all but jump into his arms and my tears are wetting his shirt. He has me wrapped up and pulled flush with him and I sob thinking about how much I miss this.

So much.

His scent is the same. His damn hair needs a trim. I knock his hat off his head as I knot my fingers in his hair.

He's taller and maybe a little skinner but he's still gorgeous.

"You made it," he murmurs.

He spins us around and I feel the air crackling with tension as everyone watches us.

But I'm lost in our reunion.

"I've missed you so much!" I bawl into his neck.

He sits my feet back on the floor and slowly I pull away from him.

Even after almost eight months, old habits are hard to break. I know what would normally happen right about now: he'd take his hands, put them them on my cheeks, lean down and kiss the fuck right outta me.

But that was pre-Alice.

Instead we settle for a fixed stare, our hands holding on to each other. The crowd packed into the house loses interest in us.

Then I feel Jasper back away, and momentarily I'm confused. His eyes narrow and soften. Then I feel a tiny hand on my arm.

Alice.

I spin to face her and we hug and twist and turn even more so than Jazz and I.

The days, weeks, months, miles, it all fades away in our embrace. I start to cry again.

We stand there in the middle of the small kitchen until my legs hurt and my arms ache.

She grabs my hand and we walk back into the living room and sit on the couch. The people have scattered and the music's turned down.

Alice tries to speak, but instead she clasps her hand over her mouth and shakes her head. Her eyes are full of tears and I feel bad. I never wanted to hurt her and I hope that she sees my actions for what they are.

"Congrats on the graduation," I squeeze her hand. "And on the great catch." I nod toward Jasper talking to some guy who's just as tall as he is.

She takes a few breaths and the tears are still streaming down her face. "I feel like I owe it all to you." Her voice is squeaky through her cries.

"You deserve him Alice. You two are perfect together." I bite my lip because that huge bubble of emotion is trying to rise up in my throat.

She shakes her head, "We may be good together, but we're not complete without you. We never will be."

"I'm sorry," I try to say, but instead I have to mouth the words.

We sit on the couch, not saying much to each other. Jasper comes by every now and then and asks if we need a drink or anything.

It stills feel wrong and I want to leave. And knowing that it feels wrong and that I want to leave is heartbreaking. It will never be right. It will never be like it used to be. And I don't think I can explain it to them so that they will understand.

Alice announces she's going to the bathroom and I get up to walk outside. I need fresh air, and space, and words. I need to find the right words to tell them that this isn't going to work. I shouldn't have come back.

Everything has changed, Jasper, Alice, and I, we all have. I have to move on without them. I'm not ready to be apart of their world.

It still stings too much.

I feel like such a fucking baby. And a big fat loser because I can't handle two of my favorite people in the universe loving each other in a way where I get left out.

IT'S STUPID!

So I cry. It seems to be the only thing that I can do right.

I cry.


~Jasper Whitlock

"Love may exist without jealousy, although this is rare; but jealousy may exist without love, and this is common."

Alice is in the bathroom and I'm looking around for Bella.

I could tell she's about to freak out. The only time tonight she looked happy to be here was when she was in mine or Alice's arms.

And I have to admit it was nice to have her there.

I miss her every day. Forks doesn't seem like home without her here. I don't talk to Alice about it though. I wouldn't want her to get the wrong impression.

But it would be so easy to do, to confuse us all with my feelings for Bella.

I want to hold her like I used to, not because I'm in love with her, but because it feels right. I want the kisses and the sex and cuddling.

Don't get me wrong, Alice is more than satisfying in that department. But its not about the need, its about the want.

I still want the forbidden fruit that will send me straight to hell.

Old habits die hard.

But since I love Alice so damn much, I'm willing to keep trying. I don't want to want Bella anymore.

Yet, I have the slightest clue what to do about it.

I find her on the porch.

"Are you all right?" I keep my hands in my pockets and my eyes away from her lips.

She gently shakes her head no and looks down at the ground. "I'm not ready for... all this." Her hand makes a circle around us.

I lean back on the railing and cross my feet, and stare at them because it's easier than looking at her sad eyes. Or her lips.

"You know what, Bella? I'm not either." My answer is cryptic but honest.

"I'm not staying. I'm going back to Jacksonville."

The details.

I nod but she's still not looking at me.

"In the morning. I'm leaving in the morning." This time she wants me to know.

"There you two are!" Alice wraps her arm around my waist and I respond with a kiss on the top of her head.

It's awkward.

"Alice, Bella was just saying how she's leaving early in the morning, going back to Jacksonville." I state.

Bella's found something on the ground to stare at again.

"Boo! I hate that. Are you sure you have to? I mean, Bel-la you just got here." Alice pouts.

It dawns on me that Alice doesn't really get it. It's just between Bella and I. We're the one with the history. The uneasiness is only between us two.

I look up at Bella. I want her to meet my stare. I want her to read my eyes and know that I'm sorry that things are so fucked up between us. I want her to be able to read my mind.

I clear my throat.

It works. Her eyes find mine. Then I let my face and my body interpret my thoughts.

She smiles, just barely, but she doesn't look away.

"I'm positive, Moosey. I'll be leaving bright and early." Her voice is soft and caring. She's trying make the best of it.

"Well, Bella, I know this maybe totally inappropriate right now, but I have someone here I'd like you to meet." Alice is getting excited and bouncing in her red Laredo boots.

"Alice...Um...I don't think so." Bella stammers.

I know where this is going and I don't like it. I curse myself because Bella deserves a good guy in her life. I just don't want to fucking see it.

"Please, please, please. Just say hi, that's it! Oh, there he is. Edward, Edward come here!"

Alice and Bella move to the other side of the porch to meet Edward as he comes out the door.

"Bella, this is my cousin Edward Cullen. He just graduated med school. Edward, this is my best friend Bella."

I watch their interaction. Bella seems nervous and Edward appears to be interested.

The shooting pain of jealousy ripples through me and I walk inside because it's wrong of me. It is so wrong.

Tomorrow Bella will be gone again. Everything will go back to how it has been the past few months.

A small ball of emotions bounces inside of me. Sad, happy. Want, need. Wrong, right. Like, love. Friendship, lover. Jealous, content. Bella, Alice.

It may never be easy again between us three.

That sucks.

I pull the black velvet box out of my jean pocket and open it. I touch the small diamond and I think of Alice. I know she'll say yes and I want nothing more for her too.

I can't help but wonder if I'll ever get over the pull I feel from Bella. I know we're not meant to be. We've grown away from our old friendship. Life happens and we change.

I know I'll always miss her. Even when she's standing right beside me, I will miss her.


A/N: I need to thank Elena for the beta & Ali for the pre read. I desperately feel the need to explain this fic after you've read it & defend my characters & their actions but I'm not going to. So that way maybe you can take from it whatever you want, if anything at all. I'll be happy to discuss it other places: PMs/DMs/Twitter/Gchat/Email, whatever. You know where to find me.

~Stacy