Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight and all that suchiness.
Author: Paige Turner.
Summary: AU. A/B. C/Es/ R/Em. E/J. 'Bella sometimes wondered how her life would have turned out if she had stayed home that day, if she hadn't met Alice.'
It was a surprisingly sunny day, that Tuesday. Surprisingly sunny and hot. Everyone seemed to be outside enjoying the weather; kids playing in their yards or in the streets, women lounging on their decks or on their lawns trying to get a tan, families strolling down the sidewalks out just for a walk.. It was usually cloudy, so everyone was taking advantage of this rare bright occasion; laughing children and smiles on everyone's faces as they handed out their hellos to passing people. Everyone seemed particularly happy.
Well, everyone but Bella.
No matter where she went, inside or out, there were people. Talking people. Kids who wanted her to play. Grownups asking if her parents were at work or free to get together. She couldn't get a second to herself, which was starting to really upset her considering the fact that she was desperately trying to read, and you can't read with someone yammering in your ear every minute and a half. She had to leave the house to get away from Renee and her insistence that the two go shopping, and had to leave the yard to get away from the neighbor, Mitchell Notwen, who wouldn't leave her alone any day, and even had to leave the public library in town because it was crammed with people coming in and out to buy a soda.
There was no escaping these people, for Bella. Huffing to herself as she got to her feet and picked up her book, Bella declined the offer to play Frisbee with a few kids from school. She wiped her sweaty hands on her black pants and readjusted the suspenders over her white blouse. Bella was notorious for her clumsy streak, and therefore couldn't wear a dress without falling even more than usual, and had to resort to wearing overalls and pants. They were usually a little too long, having been hand-me-downs from her older brother, Josh, but they were still better than a dress.
After scanning the busy streets and yards, the crowds of people heading into town and out of it, Bella decided to try the part of town she had never been before. She made her way across the park and across the street, going down past the town square, returning peoples' hellos every now and then, and came to a street she had never been down. Her mother had always told her to avoid going down this street; the people that lived on it 'weren't doing as well as the rest of the town' and that was all her mother ever said about it. Kids at school said things about there being a girl who lived on the street that was a witch, others saying that she was crazy, but Bella had never really believed them.
Standing there at the end of the street though, Bella wasn't sure what she believed. The street was different, and she wasn't sure if it was because of all she had heard about it, or if it was just the street itself. It certainly wasn't as busy as all the others. In fact, as far as Bella could tell, it was deserted. Shrugging to herself, Bella started down the street to find the perfect place to read.
The houses along it were basically just the same as the ones on her own street if only a little smaller and a little dirtier. The yards too were the same, maybe just longer grass and more brown spots. There were even dogs on this street, Bella could hear one barking away like crazy a couple of houses down.
The closer Bella got to the barking, the more scared she became. That wasn't playful or friendly barking. Just as Bella was about to turn around and head back home to see if Renee had left yet, she spotted the dog. It was very big, very very big, and black. It's ears were pinned back against it's head, it's lips curled back over it's snapping teeth, drool and saliva dripping from them.
But it appeared that the dog had heard Bella as well; it's green eyes shooting over to her as it whipped it's head around. Bella froze, her breath catching in her throat at the crazed look in the dog's eyes, and she put that together with the foaming mouth to deduce that this dog was sick. The dog crouched low to the ground looking ready to spring out at her. She was certain that she couldn't outrun it; she'd fall flat on her face and she wasn't very fast at all. But the fence gate door was a yard or two ahead of her still. Bella was fairly certain, though not certain enough, that if she closed it, the dog couldn't get out of the yard, or it would at least stall the thing long enough for her to race to someone's house and bang on the door.
The stare down and silence was shattered by a small tinkling voice that screamed "Now!"
Bella jerked forward at the same time the dog launched itself towards her. Her whole body was shaking as she reached into the yard and to the door of the gate, her fingers brushing against the wood before she gripped it and started yanking it closed. A scream broke free from her throat as the dog approached her speedily, barking like mad. She frantically pulled the gate closed and was knocked back on her butt as the dog hurled itself against the gate door.
Her heart was pounding in her chest achingly hard, blood rushing through her ears making it hard to hear but still she could; the dog was just as loud, her hands were shaking, actually, her whole body was shaking. After catching her breath, she slowly got to her feet and nervously dusted off her pants, looking around for the source of the voice.
Her book lay in the middle of the road, though that was hardly important anymore even if she was bound to have a fit over her perfectly good book now ruined. The dog was still barking on the other side of the fence while scratching at the gate, but other than that, she couldn't see any movement. That was odd. She could have sworn she heard someone else. Had she been the one to yell earlier? No. It most certainly wasn't her voice.
Feeling more than self conscious and foolish, Bella decided to call out to see if anyone would answer. "Hello?" She asked, her voice even shaking.
There was a tinkling laugh that matched the tinkling voice from before and Bella furrowed her brows. She still couldn't see anyone. She listened harder and realized that it came from the other side of the fence… Which would mean that someone was watching their crazy dog almost kill her, or they were stuck on the other side with it. Bella was positive she hadn't seen anyone else in the yard with the dog before though.
"Hello?" She tried once more, just to make sure.
"Hi." The same voice from before said. It sounded rather chipper for someone stuck with a snarling, angry, beast of a dog.
Looking around, Bella spotted someone's wagon on the sidewalk in front of the next house over and raced off to pull it over to this fence. Once in position, she carefully stepped on and hoisted herself up on the very tip of her toes to look over the fence. Her eyes just barely made it over, but at least she could see.
Yet there was still no one there!
…Wait. The dog was over by the large tree in the middle of the yard, looking up and barking and snarling once more, digging it's claws into the trunk. Bella squinted and could make out someone's shape on a branch, hidden mostly by leaves. Whoever it was, they were awfully small. "Are you alright?" She asked curiously.
"Peachy." Came the reply, albeit a little sarcastic.
Bella frowned. "Is this your dog?"
"If it was my dog, do you think I would be hiding up in this tree?" The person asked.
"Well how should I know? This could be some game you're playing with your dog." Bella snapped.
"How fun could being eaten by a mad dog possibly be?" The voice asked, though there was a hint of genuine curiosity.
Bella's mind flashed to the children at school talking about the crazy girl. "Are you the crazy girl?" She blurted out, biting her lip as she blushed.
"Would I know I was crazy if I were?"
Bella huffed, her toes starting to ache. "You ask a lot of questions."
"Just as much as you." The voice giggle. "Now, do you think you could be a pal and help me get out of this yard?"
"How?" Bella asked curiously.
There was a short pause. "Well if you hop up onto the gate and open the door, the dog might run out and you can close it again with he dog on the other side and we could sneak away down the back."
Bella glanced at the narrow surface of the top of the fence. "What if I fall?"
Bella faltered and blushed again. "I fall a lot. I'm terribly clumsy. It's why I don't wear dresses."
There was another pause before the tinkling voice sounded shocked. "Never?"
Bella shook her head. "No."
"Okay, well, you won't fall. I promise." The voice said.
"And how do you know?" Bella asked skeptically.
"I just do." She could hear the grin in the voice.
After chewing her lip for a few moments, Bella nodded to herself and crouched down. She wiggled her sore fingers and toes before she sprang back up, pulling herself up on top of the fence with a leg over each side. She leaned forward on her belly, shaking and froze until she was steady. With a little jiggling, the gate opened up.
The dog barked again and raced to the gate, looking up at Bella and growling. She gripped the fence as tightly as she could, praying she didn't fall, and waited for the dog to start cirlcling her. When it did, she waited for it to get on the other side of the gate, and reached out to swing the gate closed again. She wobbled, but managed to close it before the dog could get back in, and then rolled off the gate and into the yard below.
"See? That wasn't so hard."
"Speak for yourself." Bella huffed, panting.
She watched as the leaves and branches in the tree shook, and seconds later, a figure jumped from them and landed on the ground below. It was another little girl about Bella's age, just much shorter. She had long hair, the colour of the ink in all of Bella's books, and very white skin. Her eyes were a shocking blue that matched her dress, surrounded by thick black lashes, and pearly whites flashing in a grin. The little girl danced over to Bella and helped her to her feet. "I'm Alice."
Bella smiled slowly. "Isabella, but call me Bella."
Alice smiled too. "Bella it is." She looked to the gate and then to the tree, turning to Bella with a grateful look. "Thank you, by the way. You have no idea how long I was waiting up there for you." Bella furrowed her brows, but Alice continued. "Actually, I've been waiting for you for a couple of months now." At Bella's confused look, she elaborated. "We're going to be the very best of friends, silly."
Bella was most certain that this was the girl all the kids were talking about, but there was something off. They had all said she looked funny, all grotesque, and that she ate squirrels and such, yet here this innocent looking girl stood, smiling at Bella without a care in the world. Alice didn't seem like the type to eat squirrels. She was just a little…weird.
"Great friends." Bella agreed, still a little unsure.
"And they say I'm the weird one." Alice groaned, looking at Bella's dresser. "Honestly Bella, you need a dress. At least one."
Bella rolled her eyes and set her papers and book down on her desk. Alice had come over after Bella was done at school like just about every other day, and like every other day, she was complaining about Bella's 'fashion sense'. "I'll wear a dress the day I can walk in one." She mumbled.
Alice skipped over to Bella, sitting on the desk in front of her as she gestured to herself. "Like this one? I made it myself from the fabric Renee gave me last month for my fourteenth birthday. She says that one is very important."
Bella smiled. "She says all of them are important. Remember my fifteenth last year?" She laughed and Alice soon joined in. "But yes, I really do like it. You know, Mrs. Maple is looking for help in her shop. You should ask if she will hire you."
Alice's smile faltered. "You know I can't, Bella."
Bella frowned and grabbed Alice's hand. "I didn't mean to upset you. I just think that she would have to be crazy to not hire you. Your work is very good."
Alice looked out Bella's window and shrugged. "Even if by some small miracle she did decide to, mother would never let me. She's been getting more and more angrier with me lately. I-I heard her and father discussing sending me to a place to make me better last night."
Bella's eyes widened. "What! But nothing is wrong with you! They can't do that! I'll-I'll tell Charlie! He can stop them, right? You can move in with us if you have to-"
Alice put her hand over Bella's mouth. "It's alright, calm down. Father is still refusing right now, so I'm not going anywhere. I'm just…sad that mother has no faith in me getting better."
"That's because you can't get better." Bella said and Alice's face flashed with hurt. Bella pulled her into a tight hug. "Because nothing is wrong with you."
Alice clung to Bella tightly. "Thank you." She whispered.
After a few minutes, Bella pulled back smiling gently as she wiped the few tears from Alice's cheeks. "So, what do you want to do today?"
Alice thought for a moment, absently fiddling with the suspenders of Bella's pants. Though she would never admit it because then she'd never see Bella in a dress, she rather liked that Bella was different. She wasn't sure that you could be Bella and wear dresses and heels and bows and clips. It wasn't her personality. Bella was a good, reliable, sturdy pair of pants that were comfortable and made you feel warm.
"How about a walk." She said, taking Bella's hand and pulling her out of the room.
Bella nodded, calling out a goodbye to her parents and brother as they left. It wasn't uncommon, the girls were always going on a walk somewhere, or over to Alice, or to town. Alice wasn't known for liking to sit around all day doing nothing.
They walked down the sidewalk talking about this and that, saying hello to people passing by and crossing the street to walk on the other side when they saw someone who was a little more verbal about their dislike for the 'Brandon Witch'. Bella looked over to Alice who was staring ahead with a blank face. She pursed her lips before wrapping her arms around Alice and tickling her.
It worked though, Alice was soon giggling, and the giggling turned into full out laughing and gasping for Bella to stop as she wriggled around in Bella's hold. Bella was laughing to, but stopped to let Alice breath and both of them were grinning at each other, chuckling.
Alice stopped to look in the window of the Ice Cream Parlor and gasped. "They have blue ice cream now!" She screeched. She turned to look at Bella with wide eyes. "What flavor do you think it is?"
Bella shrugged. "Wanna see?" She asked.
Alice tore off into the store followed by a laughing Bella who counted the coins in her pocket.
And then they were off again, walking across the park to the swings with their blue ice cream. They stayed there for a very long while, long after they were done their ice cream, long after supper time, long after all the other kids left, until the sun was just barely peeking over the horizon. They were on the swings, neither of them trying to get any air, just pushing back and forth a little bit with their feet planted on the ground. Bella never spoke unless she had something to say, and Alice enjoyed sharing Bella's silences.
But finally she had to break it. "I had another one of those dreams again."
Bella looked up from the ground to the swing beside hers with a raised eyebrow. "Yeah? The one with the family of golden eyed people?" Alice nodded with a thoughtful look. "You think they're going to move here or something?"
Alice shook her head. "No. Their house is so different. And there's a bunch of trees surrounding it."
Bella thought about it. "Are we going to see them?"
Alice internally grinned. Not because Bella was inviting herself, because there was no invitation needed; it was fact and automatic that Bella would be in Alice's life forever, the two were attached at the hip and always would be. "Maybe. Not any time soon though; I'm only getting snippets and they're kind of fuzzy."
Bella nodded, deep in thought about it yet again. The reason the children had made those rumors at school all those years ago, the reason most people in town were...anti-Alice, was because she was different. No, she wasn't a Witch, nor was she crazy...well, no more crazy then Bella or Renee who were seen as a little wacky and goofy sometimes. Alice, since she was little, had unique dreams. Sometimes her dreams would come true and that scared her parents and other people.
And she was so open about it. The very next day of their newfound friendship, Alice had straight out told her. Bella thought it was a joke or something, until she proved it. Even then though, Bella just couldn't bring herself to turn the other way and ignore Alice like all the others. She really liked Alice, and if Alice could dream the future, well that was just another part of her that Bella liked.
It had taken a while, a very long while, but eventually people came to terms with the fact that the two were friends. That if you wanted Bella, you also got Alice, and that there was no separating the two. As a result, Bella's friends were on the sparse side, but that didn't seem to bother her in the slightest.
"Well, I suppose we should get home now. It'll be dark real soon." Bella grunted, getting to her feet and offering her hand to Alice who immediately took it. "You wanna take the long way or the short cut to your house?" She asked. Bella always walked Alice home, making sure she got there. She didn't actually think anyone around here would stoop so low as to try and hurt Alice, but there were a few boys at school who were a little shifty.
Alice looked up at Bella. "Actually, both mother and father are at a social and won't be home until late, and Cynthia is spending the weekend at a friend's house. Do you think Charlie would mind if I slept over?"
Bella beamed. "Of course not, but in that case we better hurry; no excuse for being late now."
Alice giggled and the two took off, racing home; Alice prancing and dancing and Bella trying not to fall flat on her face.
"The creek? We haven't been here in years!" Bella said joyously, letting go of Alice's hand to run over to the small creek that ran through the woods. She crouched down, scooping up a hand of water and letting it fall through her fingers. She had always loved the creek, the water was so clear and cool and nice, and the forest around it was so vibrant, the little clearing so green and soft and peaceful.
Alice giggled behind her hand, shaking her head at her friend's childlike glee. "I thought you'd like this graduation gift." She said.
Bella grinned over her shoulder at her friend. "I love it." The rest of her gifts were very lovely; Mrs. Stem had given her a lovely dress that she promised she'd wear to the little gathering at her house afterwards, which she did and actually liked it. Alice had ben ecstatic. And she absolutely loved the book her mother had got her, and the notebook her father had. She also got a necklace, a ring, money, and other things like that, but she liked this one the best.
A breeze ran through the clearing, bringing with it the floral and nature smell of the woods, playing with Bella's hair and Alice's skirt. Alice tucked her skirt in and sat down on the soft grass, patting the spot next to her for Bella who obliged and sat down right beside her. "So, have you thought about what you're going to do now that you're out of school?" Alice was a little jealous; she didn't like that Bella was two years older than her for this very reason. Alice would be stuck at school all day long without her, and she was worried Bella would make new, better friends in that time.
Bella shrugged her shoulders, laying her head on Alice's shoulder. "I'm not too sure yet. I want to write, I know that, but let's face it; it won't put bread on the table."
"You could write on the side while you're not working, or heck, if it's a boring job; then while you're working." Alice said, feeling Bella shake with a giggle.
Bella nodded, looking up at the sky. "Yeah, I guess I could." She bit her lip. "Hm. Maybe I'll work at the pub - day time hours of course otherwise we'd never get to hang out. I think they're looking for someone too. I'm not sure if Charlie would approve though..." She trailed off in thought.
Alice was quieter than usual, also deep in thought. Her bright blue eyes darker than usual, circles forming underneath them, her nails chewed which was startling when Bella noticed. Bella continued her scan. Alice's hair wasn't perfectly brushed either, it looked like she just quickly ran a brush though it; her clothes scuffled and mismatched. No heels.
"Alice, what's wrong?" Bella asked, a little alarmed now that she finally noticed her friend's state.
Alice's eyes teared up immediately and Bella wrapped her in her arms. Alice was shaking and started sobbing into Bella's shoulder. "He-He agreed. Bella, he agreed!" She cried.
Bella was at a loss for a second from the sudden subject change; trying to figure out who agreed to what. That's when it hit her. There was only one thing that would make the cheerful, happy go luck Alice cry like this. "They're...they're sending you?" She whispered. Alice nodded mutely, tears falling down her cheeks. Bella's grip tightened on the smaller girl(while Bella and the rest of the kids all shot up, Alice stayed the same height.) as she shook her head. "No. No; they can't!" She growled.
Alice smiled a watery smile. She knew what was to happen, how it would all play out for the next few months, and though she was terrified, she had a gut feeling that it was supposed to happen. But even if she knew it had to happen, that didn't make it any less scary or sad. Who knew how long it would be until she saw Bella again. Her heart clenched at the thought of going two days without seeing her. "It has to." She whispered.
Bella was still fuming, her thoughts going a mile a minute on ways around this, but she paused to listen to Alice. "What? How can you say that? It doesn't have to. We can run away! They can't send you if they can't find you!"
Alice shook her head. "No, Bella. We can't run away. It must happen this way; we can't stray from the path."
Bella's own eyes started to tear up. "Why not?" She demanded.
A slightly hysterical giggle bubbled up out of Alice as the realization that this was really happening settled in. "I'm setting up our future. Everything must go according to the plan."
Bella's lip trembled. "Tell me the plan. Let me help somehow. We can make it better without this."
"I can't tell you; I've only seen snippets of it." Alice sniffed and cleared her throat. "Have a little faith in the future, Bella."
Silence fell over the clearing. Bella stared down at her hands for a long time while Alice watched her. Neither of them said anything for a while. Bella fell back against the grass with a sigh, looking up at the grey clouds above her. Everything looked so dark and bleak now, like the nature was reflecting her emotions back to her. Alice too fell back beside her, their hands finding each other's.
Bella bit her lip, dreading the answer of her next question. "When will I see you again?"
Alice turned her head to look at Bella, offering her an apologetic grimace of a smile. "Not for a while."
Bella's chest felt tight again. Restricting. She couldn't breathe properly. "A couple weeks?"
"More like months. As far as I know. Could be longer."
Bella whimpered. "I can't." She said, squeezing her eyes shut and turning her head the other way. "I can't go that long." Alice squeezed Bella's hand waiting for her to continue. "How... I just...What will happen after?"
Alice sat back up, shrugging her shoulders. "I'm not sure yet."
"You know, for someone who can dream the future; there sure is a lot you don't know!" Bella snapped. She hadn't meant to, she was just angry and sad and angry and hopeless about the whole situation and she needed something to take her anger out on. She hadn't meant to take it out on Alice.
Alice flinched. This was the first time she could ever remember Bella getting upset with her. Sure, she had seen Bella flip out on Mitchell Notwen and a few other guys at school, sometimes even people on the street who felt the need to voice their distaste of Bella hanging out with Alice. But Bella had never gotten mad at Alice, like Alice had never gotten mad at Bella.
But now Alice was upset. She knew that this would affect their friendship somehow, and already it had. Fighting means distance, distance means a chance to lose someone, and Alice didn't want that. She didn't want it at all. "You know, for someone who doesn't care about anything; you're getting awfully mad!" She yelled back.
Bella sprang up to a sitting position, a scowl on her face. "What are you talking about?"
Blinking the tears from her vision, Alice continued yelling. "You don't care about anything. You don't care about your grades or fashion or drawing or boys or board games or music or anything. I bet you don't even care about our friendship; you just don't want to be alone!" Alice cried, not even caring anymore about the tears running down her flushed cheeks as she yelled at her friend.
She was nearly out of breath as she stared at Bella whose scowl had been wiped off. Her chocolate brown eyes were wide with shock and disbelief that soon turned into an almost hurt look. When she spoke, her voice was no longer loud and angry, but soft and timid. "How... How could you think that?" She whispered.
Alice wiped her cheeks with her fists, a light pout to her face. "Because it's true."
Bella shook her head. "But it's not. Alice, I might not care for a lot of things in this world, but there's one thing that I've always cared about and always will no matter what, and that's you."
Before she could chicken out, she pressed her lips to Alice's very softly. "I love you."
It was Alice's turn to be wide eyed, staring at Bella with utter shock as the brunette pulled back. The both of them were blushing madly, their eyes locked even though they wished desperately to look anywhere but at each other.
"I've - I've seen this... And others like it - but... I didn't know they were those dreams - I always just thought...I didn't think that you - I thought they were just regular wishful dreaming." Alice muttered.
A small smile started to pull at Bella's lips before Alice attacked them with her own.
Winter had always been one of Bella's favourite seasons. Renee and just about everyone else she spoke to thought it was just cold and dead, and she supposed that this was the beauty of death. Because it was beautiful, very beautiful. Lawns and roads and houses and the park and school, the market place, town square, and even the library were all covered in a perfectly white sparkling blanket of snow. Honestly, how could you not see the appeal? The earth was literally sparkling. Ice hung like crystals from roofs and tree branches, windows were glowing from the flame of the fireplace, children laughing and playing in the snow, their noses pink like their cheeks, people skating on the frozen ponds.
But it was very cold; she would give her mother and all the others that. Even in a long, heavy coat, a scar, mittens, and a hood; Bella was shivering. She was on her way to the library, about to open up for the morning, but Charlie was already out with the car. Sure, Garret had offered her a ride. So did Mitchell, Tom, and Nick (boys…yeesh) but she had declined all their offers. Although, now that she was out in the snow, she was wondering if putting up with their constant flirtations and propositions would have been easier than this. Warmer, at least.
The air was knocked from Bella's lungs as her back met the snow covered sidewalk. That was another thing she liked about winter; everything was padded. She lay there for a moment, looking up at the white sky, feeling the snow sticking to the back of her arms and legs. In a moment of impulse, she began sliding her arms up and down, her legs side to side in the freshly fallen snow. She hadn't made a snow angel in years.
Looking back down at her work, she frowned. Bella's snow angels always turned out a little mangled and funky; Alice would always laugh at them and proceed to show her how to make a perfect snow angel.
It had been three years since she was sent to the asylum. Three very long years. No matter how many times Bella would stop by, or ask, demand, and cry about visitations; they wouldn't let her. They said she would just set Alice back in her treatments. Would just prolong her stay. And Bella, respecting Alice's wishes of letting her try to get better, backed off.
But that was three years ago. She was sure Alice didn't think it would have taken that long. So Bella decided that by Christmas, if they still wouldn't let her see her friend, that she would do something about it. Bella had been saving up a lot of money, and she would break Alice out of the asylum and they would run away if need be.
Of course, this was all just words. She needed a plan, and really, Bella had no idea how to go about breaking someone out of a mental institute. There were no books on it in the library she worked at, nor were there any stories in there involving anything like that. She couldn't exactly ask around without raising suspicion, either. So, day after day, she sat at her desk at work, trying to come up with a plan, a fool proof plan, to break Alice out.
Bella turned the key and pushed the large door to the library open. Inside, she shivered once more and closed the door, making her way to the lights. She pulled off her hood and scarf, setting her things down at her desk, and took off her mitts to wiggle her fingers around in the warm room. The lights were at the back of the room, which she had always found ridiculous, but today was worse. She had a feeling in the pit of her stomach, and really didn't want to head through the maze of shelves full of books to the back.
Biting her lip, Bella shook off her childish fears and marched towards the back of the large room. She tucked in chairs here and there as she went, picking up the books she could see that were left on the tables and pencils on the floor. People always made such a mess. Bella shivered again as a chill ran down her spine, not sure if it was the cold or not. She continued on, nearly to the back now and strained her eyes to look for the light switch as to not waste any time feeling around for it.
A floor board creaked off to her side and Bella froze. Her heartbeat picked up tempo as her muscles stiffened. She hoped desperately that she was wrong, tried to convince herself that it was her head playing tricks on her, but sometimes you just know things. Instinct. That's what it was, and right then, Bella's was telling her that she wasn't alone in the room. She couldn't hear them; there was no noise anymore, and she couldn't feel them; no body heat rolling off them, but she could sense them. She was aware of their presence in the room with her.
She squeezed her eyes shut and forced her legs to move, walking to the back still in search of the lights, hoping that whoever it was would leave, or was just waiting to take out a book. Again; she knew that wasn't the case.
When the lights flicked on, Bella whirled around to face whoever it was, and faltered. No one was there. There was no trace of anyone being there. No creak, or anything to suggest that they moved. Nothing.
But Bella could feel their eyes on her and she peered around the room, under tables, around shelves, up at the front by her desk. Nothing. She cleared her throat and laughed nervously, stepping forward.
Only to be shoved back against the wall by an impossibly strong hand. Another hand that was freezing and made her flinch, covered her mouth and scream. Bella kicked out her legs, crying out as they collided with a wall. But that wasn't right…
The hooded figure in front of her laughed a sick laugh that had Bella's stomach curling. Ruby red eyes peered at her curiously from under the hood, pale lips pulling back over elongated canines into a smirk. Dirty blonde hair hung down in the red eyes and Bella could tell that it must have been long in the back. The man spoke in a deceitfully friendly voice. "Hello, Miss."
Bella tried to struggle again, but it was utterly hopeless. The man's grip was too strong and it wouldn't budge an inch. She went to kick at him again, but thought better on it, not wanting to break her foot. Instead, she settled for glaring at him.
This just seemed to amuse him even more. "My, my; you're quite the grumpy little human, aren't you?" He laughed. Bella was baffled by this. By the way he used the term human. As if he weren't a part of that classification. As if she wasn't the same as him. "I suppose that's understandable though, isn't it? I mean, here you are, opening up your little library for a day of hard work, and in comes me, having to impose on you for breakfast." Bella didn't like the hungry look in his eyes. Said eyes widened. "Ah! Forgive my rudeness, where are my manners? My name is James, it's a pleasure to meet you…"
His hand slid from Bella's mouth and she let out a scream..
Bella blinked the dizziness from her head, reaching a hand up to the back of it as pain shot through her. James was standing over her and she was shocked to realize that she was now on the other side of the room, slumped by her desk. He had…he had thrown her that far! That wasn't possible! None of this was possible! James was frowning with disappointment. "Now look what you've gone and made me do. No one likes a bruised peach."
This was a dream. That's what it was. There was no way it was anything but a dream. This kind of stuff just didn't happen in real life, it belonged in the realm of dreams and it needed to stay there. Bella would have pinched herself just to make sure she was awake, were it not for the fact that she was already in pain, a great amount of pain that would have woken her up. Still, she wasn't absolutely certain that this was real. Maybe something happened when she fell. Maybe she hit her head when she fell and now she was in a coma and couldn't wake up. Perhaps that's what happened.
James watched Bella curiously. It was clear that she was deep in thought, possibly trying to make sense of this, possibly trying to figure out how to escape. He was hoping for the latter. It had been a few months since his last good chase and this girl seemed the type to challenge him. He always liked the smart ones who could think and fight with their heads. All the burly ones thought they could fight with their muscles, and of course they were no match for him. It wasn't even fun with those ones.
"What do you want from me?" Bella asked finally. She couldn't take the silence any longer, it was suffocating her. She felt like she could drown in it.
James grinned, crouching down to look her in the face. "Not much. A little game perhaps."
Bella raised a skeptical eyebrow. "That's it?"
James frowned. "Well of course your life too. I thought that was a given."
He laughed as Bella's face lost what little colour it had and terror filled her eyes. She swallowed down the bile that rose in her throat and tried to clear her head. If she kept him busy long enough, someone was bound to stumble upon the two and save her. "You won't get away with it. My father is the chief of police here. He'll find you."
James donned a thoughtful look. "He would hunt me? How curious. A new game. Provoke the family by hunting their kin and force them to hunt me? I could lead them all over the globe, and when they finally give up hope, I can turn the tables and give them chase. You are a sick little thing, but I like the way you think."
Bella gagged again. "That's not what I meant!" She couldn't believe that she had just planted a seed that had grown into that. "He'll kill you!"
James laughed again. "You're much too fun to mess with."
Bella felt tears running down her cheeks as she shook her head side to side.
"Don't cry. I hate it when they cry; it puts a damper on the atmosphere." He reached out like he was going to wipe the tears off her cheeks but at the last minute shifted and gripped her neck instead. He slid her up the wall by it, a predatory look entering his eyes as she began to struggle once more. "I'll tell you what, since you've done me a favour by teaching me this little game of yours," He smirked as Bella glared at him. "I'll end this quickly right now. I won't even involve your father, how's that? Aren't I nice?"
Before Bella could answer, he was biting into her neck, his teeth sinking into her skin like a knife through butter. Her scream was strangled and only hurt her throat more, and she violently thrashed around, no longer caring if she hurt herself trying to kick and punch him. She heard something crack in her left hand as she smashed it down on his shoulder, and her knee throbbed from getting him in the thigh, but none of this deterred him in the slightest.
Her strength was dwindling, her eyes dropping with the sudden weight of them, and her flailing arms slowing in pace. She pried her eyes open to see that she was on the wooden floor of the library and that James was still over her, his teeth still stuck in her neck. She could feel herself fading as her arms and legs and whole body slumped. Fading into nothing. Big, black, lonely nothing.
There was no more pain. There was no more frustration and worry about the situation with Alice. No more anger towards Mrs. And Mr. Brandon. No more anything. She was floating. Floating on a cloud surrounded by numbness. It was peaceful. Nice. Relaxing.
Bella was jerked out of her peaceful state and her eyes shot open briefly. She caught a glimpse of someone tackling James to the floor before her eyes fluttered shut again. She could hear growling and snarls. Yelping and more growling. It sounded like a fight between lions. There were no lions around Biloxi though. That was impossible. But so was James, and he was there in Biloxi. Who knew?
There was something again. Something keeping her from sinking into that deep abyss of nothing. A throb. A throb running through her entire body that soon turned into an ache. The ache increased with every beat of her heart, soon turning into pain. White hot searing pain running up and down her body. Fire.. She was on fire. That's what it was. She was burning. It was hot. Too hot.
A whimper escaped her lips as her body shrunk in on itself, curling up into the fetal position as tears streamed down her face faster than ever. So much pain and fire. She couldn't make it stop.
Cool hands were on her cheeks, trying to rouse her to open her eyes, but Bella couldn't. Even that hurt too much. They softly caressed her forehead, brushing hair out of her face. Bella's eyes fluttered again as she looked up. Her astonishment was a momentary life raft pulling her from the sea of fire.
Alice was hunched over her. Her white skin seemed impossible whiter, her lips blood red or red with blood, her eyes no longer the shocking blue, but a vibrant red not unlike James's. Thick black eyelashes surrounded them, batting against her porcelain skin with every blink. Her ink black hair was no longer long and wavy, but cut short and all in her face like she hadn't brushed it in days. But despite that, she was still inhumanly beautiful. Even more beautiful than the last time Bella saw her, and she thought that wasn't possible.
But then she was plunged back into the fire pit and the screaming began. She felt cold arms wrap around her as she was whisked away out of the library into the cold winter morning.
"Are you sure this is it?" Bella asked.
The two were sat in a bar. They were in a little town down south, just outside of Texas, in the middle of nowhere. The bar was packed full of humans; meeting friends, on dates, just there for a drink, applying for jobs, all just there. They had been there all day yesterday too, and it had been just as busy. All the booths were crammed full with people, save theirs way at the back. Everyone else avoided that one, rather cramping around a table or just standing. Bella was glad. Though her control was spectacular, according to Alice, she didn't feel like testing it out right then. She hadn't fed in a few days, and she could feel the twinge of a burn in the back of her throat.
"Of course I'm sure." Alice grumbled, scowling as she fixed her eyes on the bar at the front. She saw this bar. It was definitely this one. The same chairs, the same bar tender, the same stain on the floor by the very last stool. This was it. She just didn't know exactly what day the cowboy would walk in on.
Bella cooed at the scowl on the little pixie's face, pecking her cheek. She glanced at the bar as well, then the door and windows, and back to Alice. "Well maybe you saw him because he's someone we've got to avoid."
Alice waved that off. Bella was a very paranoid person. She didn't hand her trust out to just anyone. Actually, no one on the planet was still alive that had her trust other than Alice. It wasn't her fault though, it's just how she was when she was changed, and that feeling would be with her, whether in the back of her head or at the forefront, for the rest of existence. It's why most people like them were like that; they were changed when they were feeling like that. And since most people were changed because of an accident or against their will, they'd be forever angry and bitter. Alice was thankful for her gift, knowledge was power in every sense of the word in this case, and she was changed knowing everything to come and accepting of it.
"We're not leaving Jasper, Bella. He needs us." She said, patting Bella's thigh. "Besides, you'll simply love him. You two will be the best of friends, I can see it."
Bella frowned still, crossing her arms on the table. "I thought you and I were supposed to be the best of friends." She grumbled.
Alice winked at Bella. "That and more, my love. But Jasper will be the brother you never had. He will complete the family we're to join, you know."
Bella just nodded. Half the time, she wasn't sure what Alice was talking about, but she listened and agreed all the same. It was much easier than trying to keep up. The future was a very complex thing and would hurt your head if you tried to understand it like Alice did.
"Is that him?" Bella asked, raising her head and nodding towards the bar at the front.
A tall man was stood there, looking like he was in pain. He was quite tall, definitely over six feet, and was as pale as the other two. His hair was curly/wavy, and a mix of blonde and gold and honey, hiding underneath a big black cowboy hat. His face was twisted in pain, with scars running through his left eyebrow down to his lip, and a whole bunch running up and down his neck, but it was still exceptionally handsome. His eyes were that ruby red Bella could remember from her human memories of James and it put her on edge. His white shirt was all dirty and torn, but hidden underneath the long black cowboy coat, his blue jeans all muddied up and stained with blood, his cowboy boots worn from all the running.
This couldn't be a coincidence. It had to be Jasper.
Alice nodded furiously, a face splitting grin taking place on her lips as she grabbed Bella's hand. Dragging the taller girl behind her, she skipped over to the bar and took a seat on the stool next to where Jasper was standing. Bella stood behind her with a hand on her shoulder, sizing Jasper up. "Jasper, you've kept us waiting." Alice chimed.
Jasper looked over at the other two vampires with a raised eyebrow, happiness and confidence radiating from the small one, while caution and a fierce sense of protection rolled off the other in waves. He could feel no ill will towards him from the two and offered them a smile; his curiosity peeked at their golden eyes. "My apologies, ladies." He said in a thick southern accent. The two didn't have one, he assumed that the taller one didn't, which meant that they weren't from around here. It had him wondering what they were doing here, and how they knew his name.
The short one stuck her hand out towards him and the taller stiffened. "My name is Alice." She said.
Jasper took her hand, hearing the warning rumble of a growl from the older brunette and sent out a wave of calm. "Jasper Whitlock."
Alice beamed. "I know. And this is Bella."
Jasper turned to Bella with a friendly smile. "Pleasure to meet you both, and you've got nothing to feel cautious or worried about, Miss Bella. I'm a friend not a foe."
Bella was surprised that he was able to guess how she was feeling, but at the tinkling laugh that came from her mate, she raised an eyebrow. "What am I missing?"
Alice looked over her shoulder up at Bella with a smile, grabbing her hand and kissing her knuckles. "Jasper is an Empath. He can feel and manipulate others' emotions."
It was Jasper's turn to be surprised as he looked down at the tiny vampire. "And how do you know that?" He asked. These vampires were becoming more and more intriguing by the second.
Alice giggled again. "Because I saw this months ago, Jazz." She smiled. "I can see the future based on present decisions. I saw all of this back when you decided to travel through here."
Jasper's mouth was hanging open. Vampires had always thought his gift was a real kicker, but seeing the future? Yeesh. It made sense though, there was something different about the pixie. You could see in her eyes that she knew things others couldn't, she saw the world and it's occupants differently. "That's pretty impressive. You should be careful or the Volturi will snatch you right up."
Bella tensed again, pulling Alice from the stool and into her arms. "Who?" She growled, looking around the room as she wrapped her arms around Alice.
Alice leaned back against Bella, looking up at Jasper curiously. "A bunch of vampires in dark cloaks?" She asked. Jasper nodded with furrowed eyebrows as he felt the little spike of worry enter the small vampire. "We'll be running into them sometime in the future."
"Why do I feel like I'm part of that 'we'?" Jasper asked, shoving his hands into his pockets as he looked uneasily at the two.
Alice's smile was back. "Because you are, silly." She chimed, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Jasper lifted the hat from his head, running a hand through his hair, and put it back on with a sigh. "The last coven I was in was made up of nineteen of us. This sure is going to be different."
Bella raised a curious eyebrow. "Nineteen?"
Jasper gave her a nod. "The war." No more was needed to be spoken. Most vampires, if not all, were well aware of the Vampire War that had just ended.
"Well in that case, I can assure you this will be very different. The only battle you'll have to face regularly is when Alice tries to drag you shopping whenever we pass a city." Alice huffed, frowning up at Bella. Bella smiled down at her. "It's true and it's not even like we've got the money to spend, love."
"We will." Alice scoffed, mostly to herself.
Jasper chuckled at the two, the closest thing to a laugh he'd had since he was changed. Perhaps joining these two wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.
"I'm so excited!" Alice squealed, bouncing in place.
Jasper tried to block out said emotion that she was practically blasting at him as he read the welcoming sign of Manchester. He was still a little reluctant to enter the city premises. Sure he had been with Alice and Bella for three years now and they had been so helpful and good on keeping him to the diet; he hadn't slipped up once yet, but there was still that constant fear that he might. The what ifs. What if someone got a nose bleed while he was walking past them? Someone got a paper cut or stabbed their finger on a pin?
Bella's free hand that wasn't in Alice's, squeezed Jasper's shoulder as she saw the absent frown forming. She knew he was scared, but she had faith in him. "You'll be fine."
Jasper smiled and looked to Alice, her certainty and confidence was his strength. Alice nodded seriously. "You'll be fine, Jazz. We wouldn't have come here if you weren't ready."
With that, the three began their trek towards the house surrounded by woods. Alice would know it when she saw it, and Jasper could track the vampires' scents, and the two focused on that. Which left Bella with nothing but her thoughts. And just like that, her embarrassment and awkwardness from that morning came back full force, causing Jasper to chuckle and Alice to look over at the two curiously. If Bella were human, she would have been blushing, and it only caused Jasper to laugh harder.
He had gone for a hunt that morning, and when he came back to the hotel room where they were staying, he walked in on them in... compromising positions. Bella hadn't been able to look at him since.
"It's perfectly natural for a couple to cons-" He began.
"Shut up!" Bella hissed at him, her eyes darkening and narrowed to angry slits.
Jasper held up his hands in the universal surrendering motion. "Don't be like that; I was joking. If you're still so tense, why don't you have Alice-" Bella made towards him and he skipped to the side. "Sorry - I'm done now, I promise."
Bella grumbled, walking back over to Alice, and hid her face in the crook of her neck, still embarrassed.
By the time the three finally ended up in the right area of the woods, it was raining cats and dogs out. They were drenched from head to toe, dripping wet as they stepped out of the trees and into the yard of a huge victorian styled mansion. Alice had a knowing look in her eyes and a giant grin on her face. "This is it."
The three stopped when they were a good ten feet from the house, watching as five others made their way out cautiously. The first, who Bella assumed was the coven leader, was a tall blonde haired man. He had the same pale skin and golden eyes as Bella herself, though his were wide with surprise. The next was a woman who, judging by her place at his side, was his mate. She had a heart shaped face, warm golden eyes, and long caramel hair. The next was a younger boy who was around Alice's age, with unruly bronze hair and frustrated gold eyes that were shifting back and forth from each of them. Then there was the mountain of a man whose arms were as thick as one of Bella's thighs nearly, short dark hair, and big gold eyes that were dancing with excitement. The very last was another blonde, long flowing blonde hair, hard gold eyes narrowed in a scowl/glare.
They all looked exactly how Alice knew they would. And because she was so familiar with them, she was the first to speak, stepping up to meet Carlisle with Bella and Jasper flanking her and Carlisle's family flanking him. "Hello, Carlisle." She beamed at him, smiling wider when he looked shocked. She smiled and nodded to the rest of them. "Esme, Edward, Emmett, and Rosalie."
Carlisle was the first to recover, glancing at Edward who shook his head with a frown. "Greetings. Might I ask what brings you here and how you know our names?" His voice was calming, but for extra measure, Jasper sent out an exceptionally strong wave of it.
Alice giggled and looked to Edward. "Don't you know? Have you not read it?" Again, the Cullens looked shocked, but Edward shook his head. Alice frowned before turning to her mate. "Bella, are you covering us?"
Bella shifted, looking down at Alice. "Well, yeah. You didn't tell me not to, so I assumed you wanted me to."
Alice waved it off, wrapping her arm around Bella. "Of course not. We're with family."
With little hesitance, Bella lifted her shield from both Jasper and Alice, watching as Edward gasped. After a minute, he looked at Alice with a knowing smile. "My, how very...different." He turned to Carlisle and the others. "Alice here can see the future,"
"Based on current decisions." Alice interjected.
"While Bella can shield herself and others from anyone's gift, and Jasper can feel and manipulate people's emotions." He finished.
Carlisle's eyes were wide as he took in this information. "You're all very gifted." He said, making it sound like a compliment.
Emmett's voice cut off anything Alice was about to say as it boomed throughout the yard. His grin grew as he pointed and started bouncing. "No freaking way! Atta boy, Eddie!" He yelled, slapping his hand to Edward's shoulder. Edward hardly noticed as he stared into the golden eyes of Jasper, both of whom seemed to be completely oblivious to everyone else.
Alice giggled behind her hand as the rest of the Cullens once again, looked shocked. Esme broke into a radiant smile, muttering something along the lines of "Finally." While Rosalie seemed amused and Carlisle seemed just as happy as his wife.
Lacing her fingers with Bella's, Alice began pulling the taller girl with her towards the house. "Bella and I will be finding our room, and I suggest the rest of you head inside as well; it's about to rain and these two love birds will be out here for a while." She chirped over her shoulder.
"Room?" Rosalie asked, slightly defensive as she blurred in front of the two.
Bella stepped in front of Alice who had a sheepish face. "Forgive her; she sometimes forgets that not everyone knows as much as she does." Bella said, trying to not flinch back from the glare Rosalie was leveling at her.
Alice pipped up, looking around Bella. "I'm terribly sorry. But I have seen us joining your family, and we greatly thank you. Not to worry, though Rosalie, you will learn to trust and love us. As it is, I'm the only one here who would willingly go shopping with you every weekend."
Rosalie looked utterly confused and turned to Carlisle for help. Carlisle shrugged, looking to Edward and Jasper and then to the girls. "They're welcome to stay with us."
Alice called her thank you once more and pulled Bella inside the house and up to the second floor.
Alice's unseeing eyes flickered side to side as she watched the scene of another time. They instantly darkened from a warm golden to a cold, deep black. A low, rumbling growl erupted from her chest as she bared her fangs at no one. Bella waited patiently for her mate to return back to the present.
They were in the living room of their new house way out in Forks. This had been the second time staying here for Carlisle, Esme, Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett. But the first for Alice, Bella, and Jasper. They were all in the living room, Jasper and Emmett playing the X Box, Carlisle working on his paper work, Esme doodling with some new house designs, Rosalie reading, Edward at his piano, and Alice sitting in Bella's lap on the couch while she watched her brothers play. They were all killing time before the first day of school and work tomorrow.
Blinking, Alice growled once more, crossing her arms. Bella looked at her curiously, watching as pools of golden started spilling into the black again. "What's wrong?" She murmured, though she knew everyone in the room could hear.
Alice huffed. "Michael Newton." Something stirred in Bella; a sense of familiarity as a hazy memory tried to resurface. She tried to pry it from the murky depths of her human memories, but soon gave up, wanting to know the rest of what had Alice upset. "No matter what I do, he can't get it through his thick skull that you're mine." She hissed.
Trying to comfort the angry vampire, Bella pulled her closer. Emmett scratched the top of his head. "Do you try just straight out telling him?" Alice nodded, snuggling back against her Bella. "What about PDA?"
"No matter what I decide to try and do, he still spends the year asking her out whenever he can. At this point, I'm afraid I'll have to use violence." Alice replied.
"Alice!" Esme reprimanded. "We don't use violence against humans no matter what the cause."
Alice ducked her head. "Sorry, mom."
Edward hummed. "Perhaps you should voice your insecurities to Bella herself."
"What?" Bella asked, looking to Alice. Insecurities? Since when? What insecurities could Alice have?
Glaring at her brother, Alice looked over to Bella. "It's nothing of consequence."
"I wouldn't go as far as to say that, Alice. It's been bothering you since your first vision of this Michael Newton." Jasper chimed in. "And it's enough to get you this upset with the whole ordeal. Maybe talking to Bella would be wise."
"Alice." Bella said, lightly turning the smaller girl's face to hers. "What's going on?" Alice, again, went to deny everything; not wanting to play the part of the insecure girl. She wasn't used to it; she was always so confident. However, Bella knew that there was no chance of Alice saying anything in front of the rest of the family. "Let's go for a run." She said.
Hesitating for half a second, Alice nodded and got to her feet. Bella joined her at the front door. "Don't be out too long girls; school is in a few hours." Esme called after them.
With that, the two blurred off across the back yard and into the trees of the woods.
Bella slowed down once she knew they were far enough away from the mansion that the rest of the family wouldn't be able to hear them, but when Alice just sped up more, she poured on the speed and followed the speedy little pixie. Alice looked over her shoulder to Bella, flashing her a playful smile and shot off in a new direction. Bella felt traces of a smile pull at her own lips as she weaved in and out of the trees after her.
They ran for a good while through the forest, taking turns chasing each others, or just silently running to think. When Bella knew they would have to be heading back soon, she slowed down to a stop, shoving her hands into her pockets as she waited for Alice to backtrack to her. She did so, mostly unwillingly with a frown on her face, and perched on a log, looking down at her shoes.
"I suppose you want to talk now." She mumbled.
Bella nodded. "Yes, I think that would be best." She went and sat on the log next to Alice, taking her hand. "What really has you upset, Alice?"
There was no reply right away. They sat there for a few minutes before Alice finally muttered her answer. "Just the same old fears." She said, somewhat bitterly. "I'm sorry."
Again, Bella had to lightly grip Alice's face in her hands to make her look her way. "Fears of what?" She asked.
Alice forced a smile, closing her eyes. "Everyone says that vampires are never changing, set in stone. That we all stay the same as the world changes around us... But it's not true. We change right along with the world, perhaps not on the outside, but on the inside." She looked up into Bella's eyes, searching them for something Bella wasn't sure of. "A long time ago we had a discussion much like this one. I was upset that you didn't like drawing and music and things like that. Now I'm afraid that you do. You've changed to much Bella that-" She broke off, her eyes no longer meeting Bella's.
"That..." Bella urged, griping Alice's hands.
Alice bit her lip. "That your interest in material things wasn't the only interest that changed. That your interest in me might have." Alice looked at Bella. "Please don't be angry at me. I just - I've seen this Michael ask why you're with me and all you do is shake your head and walk off."
Bella blanched. She smiled lovingly at Alice, shaking her head. "If this Mike is anything like how you've described him over the weeks, then I most certainly can see myself replying to his silly question like that." Alice brows furrowed. "He's a hormonal teenage boy, Alice. Even if I sat down and tried to tell him, he still wouldn't be able to comprehend my love for you. And I assure you, it is the one thing that never has and never will change about me."
Alice chocked out an emotional giggle. "Thank you, Bella. I needed to hear that." She sniffed and laughed once more. "I can't imagine what you think of me. I feel terrible for doubting your feelings."
Bella shrugged to herself, gathering Alice into her arms. "I know you, Alice. And I know that after your parents, you have a hard time believing that not everyone will leave you. If I have to convince you of that every day for the rest of time, so be it." She kissed Alice then, harder than she intended to, and felt her eyes go black. "It's you and me, no matter what."
Alice eyes too were much darker as she nodded. "I can live with that."
"Good, because the rest of time is a long while and I wouldn't want you to get bored." Bella smirked.
Alice giggled, unbuttoning the top button of Bella's blouse. "I'm sure we can find something to entertain ourselves."
Well, that's certainly the longest one-shot I've ever written in my life. I'm a little ify about it. I don't really like the ending but that's all I could make of it. Mreh.
Review please. ^^