A/n: I know its been a while. Please don't hate me! *hides*
Also you know the drill I own nothing other than the plot and characterization. Yadda Yadda...all rights belong to Stephanie Meyer...Yadda please don't sue me.
Alice rotated her hips and in an instant was airborne. Her legs released their grip on Kate's upper body, an alternative to wrapping her legs around her throat in an attempt to kill her, and her moment of free fall was cut short when she landed a short distance away. Kate was barely down for a second and launched herself at Alice's legs.
It had been two weeks since Bella had marked her and the smoothness of the air slipping past the bite mark on Alice's neck still made her shiver. She lost her concentration for a second too late and Kate had tackled her to the ground and had her lips far too close to Alice's throat for her own comfort. She bucked beneath her until Jasper came closer.
"That won't do you any good Alice," Jasper's voice radiated disappointment. He sidestepped Kate who had Alice trapped between her knees with her fingers digging into her shoulder. The area pulsed in a tiny rhythm that swelled her small frame with rage. Embarrassed again. Her head snapped back into the dirt and she tried to remain calm. She rolled her head to the side and caught Bella's thoughtful gaze. Her mate was crouched low ready to pounce. She was safe.
Alice felt the fight go out of her. She glanced back at Jasper and rolled her eyes at his grin.
"Alright, what did I do to get myself killed this time?"
Jasper crouched down beside her and set his hand on Kate's shoulder when she tried to move away.
"This will be good for both of you," he said then stepped away.
Kate never took her eyes off Alice's neck while most of her weight was relaxed. The intensity terrified, Alice. The blonde vampire had mostly seemed sweet aside from Alice's earlier mistrust of the entire Denali clan. Her shoulder still pulsed and it only served to remind Alice that they were all of them a family of killers if only for the fact that they were all vampires. That Kate only appeared demure worried her further. What if this were only a small glance at her skill and strength? How could Alice ever help them in a battle?
"Kate, you've got Alice down. You're going in for the kill. Why is your body at ease? Every part of you should be tensed."
"Why?" Kate asked, her intensity waivered for a moment. Alice caught Jasper's eye again and watched his hand tilt from side to side like the motion of a boat rocking in the water.
Alice shifted automatically and without Kate's pressure grinding her into the ground she was able to knock her off balance enough to escape her grasp. She was on her feet and in a defensive stance before Kate rose from the ground. Now she was at an advantage.
"Until you've ripped their head from their necks your fight isn't over. Never relax. Even after your opponent is decapitated and burning your fight isn't done. This is an army of uncontrollable killers coming after you, they will show you none of the mercy you are capable of showing them."
Kate nodded. "Acknowledged."
"Again!" Jasper shouted. They went at each other for three more rounds, clashing in sharp cracks of thunder and growls for another hour before he sent them to the sidelines.
Bella nudged her arm when Alice flopped down beside her on the ground.
"You were magnificent," she said. Long strands of hair whipped around her with the wind. Autumn had passed them by while they had been at the house. The leaves kept dying and the grass pricked at her hard skin. She already missed the early summer from whence she was born. The heat that bore down on them was barely enough to make her feel the slightest bit warmer. The clouds passed overhead and the light hit Bella's face just right. Her skin lit like a thousand blinking diamonds.
"You're the magnificent one," Alice said. She leaned forward and brushed their lips together. Her need crashed down on her and she marveled at how each time they touched she felt like an electric current were rushing through her making her numb to the feeling of falling. Bella's arms wrapped around her, grounded her, and the feeling sharpened her emotions. When they broke apart no one commented though Jasper looked disturbed.
"I apologize," he said once Bella took up a match against Esme. Alice didn't deign to rise to speak with him and he didn't bother to sit down. Their silence wasn't uncomfortable it just existed. Alice supposed he didn't mind her especially since she felt no animosity towards him since the marking. She had mostly avoided Edward and with those two glaring means of hating each other gone they had actually started speaking more often.
He instructed her in matches rather than let her fall on her ass. She listened more than growled at him.
"What for?" Alice asked.
"My empathic abilities get away from me when the fighting starts. I'm mostly able to shut down and give people their privacy but when I'm around any sort of violence it's too difficult to try and keep everything out."
Alice shrugged and kept her eyes on Bella. Her mate was more of a head on fighter than Alice ever could be. Her lithe frame moved with grace along with Esme's. While Bella was more aggressive and offensive, Esme was merely defensive. She backed away for each strike Bella handed out. Her mate grew tired of it quickly.
"Seems like everyone has had some problems with their gifts," Alice said.
"Yes. Because we help each other from time to time," Jasper said. "I'm not half the monster I was when I got here any more. Most of that is due to Edward but a lot of it has to do with the family as well."
It was difficult but Alice managed to tear her gaze from Bella's match to look up at the family's military advisor. Her eyebrows rose. "Why, Major, are you asking us to join your little vampire family?"
Jasper grimaced and Alice saw the reality of it right there. The idea was an awkward one at best. She glanced back at Bella whom had started to play Esme's game of keep away herself. Esme was put on the offensive and failed to keep Bella from slipping beneath her and slamming her into the ground.
"Think about it," Jasper drawled. "You need us just as much as we need you."
Carlisle edged around the field in front of them to be closer to Esme. Alice glared at him while he blocked her view of Bella.
"He won't be a problem if that's what you're thinking," Jasper said. He earned another shrug.
"He can hear you, you know."
"I know. And he knows he's treated you unfairly since you've arrived. He wants to apologize," Jasper said.
"Certainly he does," Alice said. Carlisle turned his head to look at them. For a brief moment Alice thought he might actually adopt a kind face and speak to her. Instead he scowled and shuffled forward to help Esme to her feet. She resisted the urge to growl when Esme hugged Bella instead of shaking her hand.
"He's not overly accepting of new people."
"You don't say!" Alice exclaimed.
"I heard he served you fresh animal blood that he hunted down himself on your first day. Then he patted you on the head and called you son right off the bat," Alice said. She tilted her head to the side feeling not in the least bit trusting at the moment. She'd trust them when they had her mate's back on the battlefield.
"As I said, think about it. The future seems less bleak when you have people around that care about you. I know that better than anyone," Jasper said.
Alice snorted then replied. "I'm sure I know myself and Bella better. We're better off alone once the threat is clear. It's a fact. I've seen it."
"The future is never as clear as it seems," Jasper said.
Alice watched him walk back to the field and ask Esme what she thought she could have done to prevent the literally back splitting defeat.
"Well, I do suppose I could have not allowed Bella to put me on the offensive," Esme said. She groaned through the pain of her body healing the fractures.
"True," Jasper said. "However, someday you will have to go on the offensive, sticking with your strong suit doesn't help."
After Bella's matches Alice had become accustomed to following Eleazar out of the training area and either into the house or, more recently, further into the woods. Without the long separation from her mate and the boxed in feeling of being locked in a room with him, she felt more at ease. She supposed Eleazar felt less like she'd leap across the room and take his head off.
In the forest she preferred climbing rather than standing. So, she picked a tree with a substantial but low branch and perched there. Eleazar remained on the ground, which suited her just fine. Just like in her matches, distance from her opponent gave her leverage and power. Not a bad deal, at all.
"Let's begin with your breathing exercises," Eleazar said. His smile still made her eyes roll. For the life of her she couldn't imagine why he got such amusement from their sessions.
"It's stupid," Alice responded. He shook his head. She knew the answer before he spoke, so that when he was silent she huffed and ignored the argument.
She inhaled deeply and slowly, as he'd taught her. It was something that was once natural to her body but difficult to learn in her current form. She forced herself not to exhale too quickly. After her first aspiration she felt her body relax slightly.
"That's it. Focus on your breathing, let it draw you further in," he said.
Alice complied. This was better than the shock of being dumped inside her mind. Less terrifying than being thrown into her own scene of death or Bella's. Her body relaxed fully until she had slumped against the large tree trunk. She could hear the rhythm of the forest and felt it in her fingertips. In the distance she could hear the matches and could still smell Bella as she trained.
"Let go of the present, let your mind wander, just feel," Eleazar said.
Alice tried. Part of her gift was letting go of her current self and whatever was happening around her. It was allowing herself to just exist while the world still turned. It also meant being blind to everything else, vulnerable if someone found her unconscious. Eleazar theorized that was why her first visions were so harshly delivered. She was unable to relax into them but the proximity of the events was so near that her mind forced her to experience them immediately.
"I can't," Alice said. She exhaled quickly and sat up straight. "This is foolish and it isn't working."
Eleazar shook his head. "It has worked before. If only for a moment."
He was correct; she'd give him that. "Yes, two days ago I saw Bella and I hunting in the woods in the same attire we're wearing today. And we went hunting this morning, how wonderfully important to our situation!"
Eleazar sighed and moved closer to the tree so that he was staring directly at her. "This is practice."
"This is folly!"
"You heard me! What happens when I'm laid out somewhere and Maria attacks?"
"That won't happen," he said. His calm tone was about as comforting as Kate's fingers digging into her arm had been.
"Oh, goodness, are you able to see the future, too?" Alice asked. She straightened her back and placed a delicate hand over eyes.
"Tell me my future, oh great Eleazar Denali. Will I burn to ashes while incapacitated and breathing deeply and needlessly somewhere on this property?"
"You're being very inappropriate. Are you proud?"
"Very much," Alice said without hesitation. "Eleazar, there has to be something better to my gift. If I can see the future by way of someone making a decision while I'm concentrating on them then why can't I see someone making a decision in a fight?" She asked.
She dropped down next to him and shook her head. "I wish there were a defensive quality."
"There may yet be one, but we'll never access it if you don't learn to control yourself and your emotions," he said.
"What the hell do my emotions have to do with anything?" Alice asked.
"The breathing is as much to focus you as to calm you," Eleazar explained. "The calmer you are the easier it is to connect to your gift, I've seen it many times."
"Like with Kate?"
"Exactly," he said. "Her gift manifested first when she was attacked by a nomadic vampire early in her newborn year. Fear drove her gift to act defensively and for a very long time fear was the only thing that brought it out. Eventually, on her own time and with me we figured out that if she could control that emotion and learn to be calm during a time when she's otherwise not be, she could use her electro kinesis as an offensive weapon. Not as a last resort."
"And how do I get to that point? Wait a thousand years?" Alice asked. This was impossible. She might as well go back to her physical training rather than this useless mess.
"Practice. You'll never be able to fully use your gift in battle before they get here but you will be able to predict how the fight goes, what Maria has to her advantage, and you'll be able to better prepare us all for what we'll be up against. That is invaluable. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
It was impossible to not feel a little deflated at his words. Even with her disappointment clear in her mind he was correct. It was irritating but true. She wouldn't trade being able to give Bella important information about Maria for anything. She flopped down into some of the leaves at the base of the trunk and closed her eyes to the world. Eleazar didn't speak but she heard his earlier instructions again regardless of his silence. It took five deep breaths for her to relax, and another two for her to let go of her surroundings. Everything disappeared but her connection to Bella, and it was her that she focused on immediately.
Again, she was in a hallway of possibilities, the strongest ones pulled her closer to their doors. Behind the strongest one, Bella was on the battlefield, attacking Maria with her father racing towards them, Alice herself was on his trail.
Alice watched her future self take Charles down but he didn't fight he only screamed. Bella was outmatched by Maria's strength but with Jasper's help they removed the head of his sire. Charles was still screaming and Alice lost her grip on him. She expected him to run to Maria but just as quickly as she was on her feet and following him again, he had bypassed Jasper and Bella and was on his way across the field. From beside her future self, Alice could see his line of vision. Tanya wasn't faring well with three opponents attacking her from all sides. She was already missing a chunk of her arm. The small group of vampires took out one of her legs and went for her throat.
Alice knew the vision was over when her future body kept moving with Bella beside her and she was yanked back, out of the room, with the door slamming shut before her eyes. There was something more pressing about to happen. Her body jerked when pulled toward the more demanding door, which flung open at her appearance. Alice fell through, and while it felt like she was falling she was merely getting closer to the scene below her where a man with dirty blonde hair stared at her future body from across the room. He was held between Peter and Charlotte but didn't try to get away.
Emotions bubbled up from within as she watched him lift his head and expose his blood red eyes. He slumped low between the couple and did fight when they pulled him closer to his progeny. Alice barely had time to expect her future self's reaction, she was concentrated on his face, and where his sadistic smile had once been was a solid line of determination. His eyes betrayed loss but no fear. Bella was beside Future Alice, running her fingers over her back in a circular motion.
"What do you want to do?" Bella asked her. Future Alice had no answer and present Alice had none either. In the future, she leapt forward in response and ripped him limb from limb. His sadistic smile was hers as if passed down genetically. Alice heard cries as she was pulled away from the scene, but they weren't James'. She saw him smile when his head was removed; the expression was permanently etched on his face when his head went into the unlit fireplace. The screams were the worst.
Unidentifiable but filled with desperation. James wanted to die and at her hand. In the hallway Alice dropped to her knees and closed her eyes. The sounds of the world came rushing back and she gasped as if she had been drowning. She was in the forest again; Eleazar was on his knees in front of her peering at her intently.
"Are you alright Alice?"
"It works," Alice said. She wasn't sure what to tell him about James or the battle. What decisions had been instrumental in causing those? She had been focused on Bella but what did she have to do with James? What did Charlie have to do with Tanya? Was he not going to be as much of a problem during the fight as they thought?
Eleazar smiled at her and tried to return it. He didn't ask her what she saw and she was thankful about that. She went through the events of her vision with James again. If she were only focused on Bella then it was likely that she had decided to bring James to her.
"Good news," Bella said. Alice scented her and accepted the wave of serenity that washed over her as she approached. Eleazar stood up and Alice mirrored him. Bella went to her and wrapped her arms around her body.
"Peter and Charlotte are moving closer to us. Jasper said he can feel them nearby and they seem to have brought Laurent and Irina," she said. Alice stiffened.
"Is that all that they brought?" Alice asked. Bella merely blinked. Her jaw tightened and Alice knew it wasn't her question. It was the answer.
"It's James," Alice said. "I know."
The world felt heavy again. She felt free from him but with the knowledge that he was on his way even if it were for her to kill him reminded her of the faint sound of chains clanking together in her mind.
"How long?" Alice asked.
"They should be here just after sundown," Bella said. "How did you know he was coming?"
"I need to be alone," Alice responded. Bella let her arms fall to her side and Alice regretting being the reason for the hurt on her face. She kissed her before she sped up the tree.
"She'll be okay," Eleazar said from down below.
"I hope so," Bella said. A breeze drifted past and they were gone. Alice tried to breathe and focus so she could see more but all she could see were his eyes. The expression before she attacked him was a look she'd seen in one of her visions, on Bella's face when a Future Alice had died.
"James had a mate," Alice said aloud. She sat until the sun began to set, trying to figure out whether that fact mattered to her or not.
A/N: Next chapter will be up by Thursday come hell or high water. I hope you liked it! Please review.