Stupidly Long A/N: Okay, kiddos. This here is a little side-shot from Bitemarks & Bloodstains, and it's all about Alice. Don't like Alice? Don't care what she was up to and what she was thinking? Then don't read it.

Spoiler level is... eh. Probably pretty high. It's probably best to have read B&B first anyway, otherwise some of this won't make sense.

There will be at least one more of these, and all I'm going to tell you about it is that it's a future-take. :-P

Beta'd by SweeneyAnne and pre-read by aerobee82 & AlexisDanaan (FFn won't let me put the period in her penname and it always irritates the ever loving hell out of me.)

For Annie – Because she kept me sane and on the straight and narrow all throughout Bitemarks & Bloodstains, and she kept reminding me that there was someone out there who 'got' Alice. Thanks, Annie. :-)

Do not own the Twilight.

I Was

It's wisps of fog tumbling before her eyes.

The snap of the neck, the ruby-tinted shine of his irises... blood flowing and spilling, and it's all so sickeningly red as it shifts and spins in bold colors and sweetly delicious phantom tastes coating her tongue.

It fades into a young brunette pretending to sleep with arms wound tight around her middle and a chill flowing through the open window—and then it shifts again and it's a tall blond man with an angry posture, curiosity shining in his eyes, and a... she thinks it might be a smile...

It's flashes, memories, and memories of flashes all thundering in from every direction—and when reality solidifies around her she finds that she's standing in the middle of the hospital lobby, and she isn't quite so sure she remembers how she got there. It's like she always sees but never sees.

It's losing everything in the time it took him to take a single breath—in decisions she never wanted to be his to make, but he always seems to figure out how to grab hold of them anyway.

It's pictures of fleeting fingertips trailing over pale skin spinning all around her. Of Bella's teeth pressed firm into her bottom lip and Jasper's mouth kissing her neck.

She decides to fight for him, and it's slow motion flickers meandering by of a hundred conclusions she never wanted to come.

She resolves to let him go—the images come quicker and harder and throttle her where she stands. It's her everything falling to pieces in the middle of a hot and sterile space. She wonders if fighting a losing battle is preferable to laying down arms, and she knows what he would say to that; the vision of him mouthing 'fuck that shit' is clear as the fading sunlight casting her shadow onto the floor in front of her.

In the end she shoves pride aside to beg, but it does nothing but slow the stream of visions weaving through her, all with one thread in common; Jasper is leaving. And it becomes a long and lonely car ride with chocolate colored hair spilling over her blouse while Bella sleeps, and so much weight on her shoulders.

The silence stifles, the tension is thick. There's an intruder in her head and her only friend on the line—and it's always 'Ask Alice, ask Alice, ask Alice...', as if she's a mountain standing firm against breaking winds, as if she never needs for herself. When Bella insistently whispers that she deserves to know the truths behind the circling shadows that all lust for her life there's a flash, and she'd like to hate the girl for it, but she doesn't even know which of the hundred certainties floating through the clouds is the one destroying the path she carved out for herself from granite.

The light in her black is fading away moment by moment, and she knows there's nothing that can save them now. It's over; the only variation in the visions is the why and the how.

She decides that if she's going to lose them both, then she wants the chance for at least one of them to come back to her someday—and she's selfish enough to leave him before he can really leave her.

She chooses to release her grip and let him fall tumbling into the abyss, because she knows that no matter how far the way down is he always lands on his feet. It's the first time she's chosen for herself without getting what she wants, and it almost feels like letting water settle in her lungs as she lets the undertow pull her under. She wishes she were a phoenix, and hopes that someday she'll be able to see beyond him, when he's all she's ever been. Ever since before the beginning it was always Jasper storming his way through her head, violent and destructive, obliterating all that could ever be.

She thinks that maybe if she tries hard enough, really tries, then she might be able to eradicate him from her sight. It's not like he's ever really wanted to be there, and if she continues trying to keep him chained he'll destroy everything his tether can reach. He'll keep eating away at her vision and eroding her ties—and for those brief moments where she manages to wrench her eyes wide open she can see that there could be more out in the world than just him.

And so the swirls in the fog become shades of wrapping paper, and she allows her guidance to become haphazard at best. She tests the waters by slackening the grip of her fingers by just the smallest amount and then splays them wide to let him fall into the night with the strange human girl who has made apparent just how little contrast exists in the space connecting her to Jasper.

She wishes she could see how it will all turn out in the end—if, like with her, Jasper will only fix Bella enough for her to realize how much he's breaking her; or maybe it will all somehow be different with this time around. She sees the way he looks at Bella in fog and in clarity, and he never looked at her like that, like he wants to know.

She thinks that Bella deserves so much better, but by some miracle Jasper has become the lesser of two evils in the stand-off between him and Edward, and she's starting to learn that it's Bella's mistake to make either way. There's nothing she can do to stop it now.

And it's always been visions of Jasper floating through her mind—but now that he's gone, they somehow come harder and faster than before; or maybe it's just that she kind of misses his scowl and the way he radiates irritation. Or at least he used to, until there was Bella.

An image of them driving down the highway cartwheels through her thoughts, and then spiteful black hair flowing through the wind like ink in water. There's a man fading in and out of a dozen scenes—never clear, never allocated a purpose, just there. There's Emmett and Rose, Carlisle, and a vision of a miserable her curled up next to Esme on the couch.

She hasn't been parted from him like this since she found him. It's been so long since the constant images of him pounding through her head have been so far away, and it's like a balloon expanding in her chest and threatening to make her explode.

She doesn't think she'll ever be able to stop loving him. Not when he obscures so much. Not when she sees these flashes of smiles he never gave her and little touches she never received. Not when the image of her best friend and the man she loves twisting sheets is so permanently scarred into her sight.

She thought it would hurt less if she let it happen, but days go streaming by and everything is overshadowed by images of Jasper and Bella. There has to be some way to stop seeing him everywhere she looks. She doesn't want to watch the echoes of the procession she's already been subjected to moments and days before.

There's Edward, angry and confused, storming his way through even the most hopeless of leads in his attempt to find something to vent the pressure building inside him—and there's Emmett on the phone with a grim expression on his face and a vindictive pleasure radiating through the surrounding woods that shift into a warmer scene littered with taller trees and brighter sun.

She could tell him, she could spit it all out in the middle of this mirage of a deep, unfamiliar forest and watch as he flounders to process it. He'll rage until he's dragged himself to a place where he'll let her do what needs to be done—but then there's still him painted all over her future, and a young vampire with brown hair and sad, worried eyes watching the way they argue with each other.

It comes to her that maybe she's not the one who has to let him go. Maybe it's the other way around, because no matter what she does they always come back to each other in some way or another, and even if Jasper's returns are all coated in anger and irritation the fact remains that they are still tied together, and those chains need to be ground into dust if she is to have any hope of surviving.

And then she sees the unnamed man and Edward. There's rage and hurt and pain coming fast over the horizon; Jane strutting onto the scene with a smile—always a smile—and it ends so bloody she wishes she could rip her visions out of her soul and cast them aside never to be thought of again.

If she's going to lose everyone, she can at least make sure that never happens—and who's to say which answer is preferable. She doesn't know, not anymore; everywhere she looks all she sees is misery until a moment when she stumbles on a decision that's slightly less catastrophic than all the rest. At the end there's Jasper with that alien smile on his face and a serene landscape pulsing in and out of focus with the rage and anger she's gotten so used to. She thinks that maybe she can do this one thing for him; because she knows that this time really will be the last.

So it becomes her giving quiet reassurances to build something back up with her best friend while she stalks through the forest and makes plans that will destroy everything she's ever had with the man they both love. It's such a fine line she has to walk, a tightrope she needs to stay balanced on where she betrays one more than the other, where at the end of the line it's Edward with hatred shining in his eyes as he's led to a salvation he doesn't want or care to recognize.

It's all for the best, and she hopes that after they've all had time to heal they'll see that.

And it all shifts and pulls away again, until the cold glass of the Mercedes window against her temple comes back into focus. Carlisle shoots worried glances her way from the driver's seat and all that remains is the scenery littering the route from Alaska to Tennessee whizzing by.