Summary: With one slice of her finger, Jasper lost his whole life and vowed she would lose hers, too. However, the light of day revealed Bella Swan to be the least of his problems. J/B
Author Note: I'm glad you're joining me on this new story. Thank you so much to my pre-reader Merina Green and to my betas JaspersDestiny and Maxipoo1024. All recognizable characters are the property of SM.
"Where are you going?" Alice asked as I stood at the back door. She had finished decorating the living room and was getting ready to set out a stack of cake plates I hadn't even realized we owned.
"I'm going for a quick hunt. I shouldn't be more than hour," I said, not taking my eyes off the plates. I sincerely hoped I wasn't expected to use one of those plates tonight. Just the thought of eating cake was nearly enough to turn me off the hunt.
"Why are you going hunting? You went two days ago. There's so much to do around the house. Your eyes look fine. Do you think I need more flowers?" she said without pause.
I chuckled at her. "Everything looks great. I just want to get in a quick hunt before Bella gets here."
"Oh," she said, her face turning to a cute pout. "Jazz, she's a part of our lives, and you can't always run to hunt before her every visit." She came to put her arms around my waist. "You aren't giving yourself enough credit. Have a little more faith. Everything will be fine," she said with her head on my chest.
"Do you know that or are you just saying that?" I asked.
She didn't lift her head, but I could tell she was frowning. "Jasper, I don't have to look for your future or Bella's to know there won't be a problem tonight. You were fine the whole way to Phoenix in that small car with her, and you were even fine in the ballet studio with her blood."
She sounded so confident, but mistakes happened when you became lax about things. "Could you just take a quick look for me?" I asked.
She turned her face up. "No, you don't need it. I've been on my best behavior, and I'm trying to let myself be surprised."
"You surprised?" I chuckled.
"Yes, I'm trying to let Bella's reaction to the party be a surprise," she insisted.
I laughed even more. "Didn't you see it when you decided to start planning a party?"
"That's not the point, and I'm trying to forget about that little preview."
I scoffed at the idea of her trying to forget anything. "Still, I would feel better—"
"Everything will be fine," she repeated. "I'm tempted to think you just don't want to help set up for the party."
"Well, there is that." I winked at her, and she playfully slapped me.
"Very well. Don't hunt, but if you are worried about being around her, go lie down and center yourself."
"Center myself?" I laughed at her.
"Don't laugh! Just go do whatever you need to do to feel better about it."
I smiled at her and kissed her on the head. "Fine. I'll go 'center myself.'"
"Good. I need to finish up. Bella will be here in about an hour," she said as she flitted toward the kitchen.
I shook my head, knowing she could finish whatever she needed to do in less than five minutes.
Lying on our bed, I tried to focus on all the happy feelings of anticipation as Alice readied the house for Bella's eighteenth birthday. It was the first time our family had celebrated a birthday, so it was a big occasion.
The mood shifted, though, as I heard Edward enter the kitchen.
"Are you leaving now to go get Bella?" Alice asked.
"Yes. Alice, I don't want to talk about this again."
I assumed he was replying to something in her thoughts. There was silence for a few moments before Alice spoke.
"It would be the perfect birthday gift."
"Don't," he warned.
"Nothing would mean more than the promise to change her," she insisted.
The emotions were tense, but I trusted Alice could handle him without my needing to step in.
"This is the way things should be—with her getting older, growing."
"No, I disagree."
"If you would just talk about it."
"I'm not discussing this with you."
Their conversation was the normal dance between spoken and mental dialog, and I tried to ignore most of it until Carlisle returned home and interrupted them.
"Alice, I don't think it's our place to interfere in the issue," he said.
"Fine," she huffed. "I need to go find more ribbon anyway."
I heard her speed to the hall closet.
"Thanks," Edward said as he started to open the garage door.
"Of course. There is one thing I would like to say before you leave."
The knob stopped turning.
"Do you mind if I'm blunt?" Carlisle asked.
"Well, you could try not to be, but I would always hear otherwise," Edward said.
Carlisle chuckled. "True. It's just that, you either have to be the bravest or the blindest man I've ever met. I'm sorry. I know I told Alice we shouldn't interfere, and that's what I'm doing."
"I do value your opinion, Carlisle, but know my decision won't change."
"It rarely does," he replied. "You've seen many of my memories from my time without a mate. It was a long, and until you came along, somewhat monotonous existence. Once I found her and I knew I could have her, there was no way I could have gone without her for all of eternity."
Edward sighed, and I could just imagine him pinching the bridge of his nose or some other ridiculously Edwardesque gesture.
"I can appreciate that you felt that way—that you feel that way looking back, but things are different. You acted in the moment and didn't have the same opportunity to contemplate it as I have. You were saving Esme's life."
"And if you had to—" Carlisle started.
"No. Even if Bella was dying, I couldn't be so selfish. If I couldn't save her life, I would at least save her soul."
"I see. I would just urge you not to close your mind or your heart completely. From what I know of vampires, it's impossible for us to face forever without our true mates."
There must have been an additional mental exchange, because without another word, Edward was in the garage and starting up his car to go get Bella.
When Edward returned to the house with Bella, the house was once again filled with happiness. Everyone, except for Bella, seemed to really enjoy celebrating her birthday. Even Rosalie was feeling slightly mirthful, though it might have just been at the expense of Bella's discomfort.
All of those feelings came to an abrupt halt when Bella grazed her finger too quickly along the wrapping paper of one of her gifts.
Instantly a jumble of feelings assaulted me from across the room. Annoyance. Embarrassment. Worry. Fear. Bloodlust.
I could hardly see the injury to her finger, but once I felt the brief flame of Edward's thirst I couldn't see anything. All conscious thought fled as I saw him stare at her hungrily.
A possessive haze dominated my mind, and I instinctively lunged at them. I had barely grasped what was happening to my body when Edward shoved Bella behind him and she slammed into the table, glass shattering everywhere.
The thick smell of blood seductively burst into the air, and my eyes closed in appreciation. Before I could take another step, Carlisle and Emmett latched on to my arms.
"Get out. Everyone out!" Alice yelled.
Even to my eyes, the following actions were nearly a blur. Carlisle and Emmett had me miles from the house, and Alice was right on our heels.
"This is far enough," she called. "He won't go back."
"Are you sure?" Emmett asked, hesitant to let me go.
Alice nodded, and they loosened their grip on my arms, seeing that I wasn't struggling.
"I need to go tend to Bella," Carlisle said before he sped off.
The three of us were quiet for a minute before Alice told Emmett he could go back to the house as well.
After he'd gone, the silence seemed to stretch before Alice began to sob pitifully. I instantly went to comfort her, but she held up her hand, stopping me. She raised her face to mine with a glare.
"She was dead, Jasper. Dead!"
What was she talking about? Bella was clearly alive when we had left. Had it all been too much for Edward? If that was the case, why was she yelling at me?
Seeing my confusion, she continued. "I saw it. Before Carlisle and Emmett got to you, I saw her dead on the floor. We were all crushed, and Edward was sobbing over her body."
"Where was I?" I asked without emotion.
She scoffed. "You were just standing there with a look of shock on your face. You at least had the decency to look saddened by her death."
"Did I drink from her or did I kill her some other way?" I asked, knowing that until she talked out the whole vision, she wouldn't be able to move on.
"I didn't see what actually killed her, just the aftermath."
I nodded, and tearlessly she began to cry again. "She's my best friend—my first friend. I can't believe you almost took that away from me."
She looked so small and pained. I just wanted to make this better.
"Alice, I'm sorry. I don't know what happened in there. There were so many feelings at one time. I don't even know which feelings were mine. Everything was so intense."
She shook her head and wouldn't look at me.
"I can't even recall the conscious thought of wanting to drain her. All I know is that the mood of the room exploded when she cut her finger. My only thought after that was mine. I've never felt such possessiveness, but the feeling must have been purely instinctual, because I swear I don't remember deciding to bite her."
I hoped something I'd said would appeal to her. Ever since Alice had been clear about her feelings for Bella, I had only ever tried to not hurt her.
"I can't believe this," she said.
"No." She waved me off. "I can't believe that after fifty years, we're still dealing with the ramifications of your thirst. I know things were at one point different for you, but how long do you need?" she ranted. "I know we've all had our moments, but come on, Jasper!"
I stood quietly, knowing she needed to say her piece. We didn't fight often, but when we did, Alice just needed room to process.
She continued to yell for a few minutes, pacing back and forth, before stopping.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I know I'm being harsh, and maybe it isn't all that fair to you, but I need to work through these feelings."
"I know," I said, feeling ashamed. "It's okay. I know you're angry, and I would always rather you voice the thoughts behind your emotions so that I'm not stuck simply guessing. You know that, Alice."
She unfolded her arms and looked up to the stars peeking through the cloud cover.
"Over the years, I've seen so many flashes of a life that could have been for the two of us. So many wonderful things."
She sighed, and I moved to take her hand, but she stepped away from me.
"Maybe that's what's kept me motivated in the relationship, and that's not fair to you. It always seems like those visions are just out of reach, and that's not fair to me."
I wanted her to stop talking, but she continued.
"I wonder if for too long I've been in love with the idea of who you could be—who maybe I could unfairly turn you into—and not who you really are."
She was wrong, but the words kept coming.
"Maybe things will never be like in my visions."
Finally, I found the words I needed. "No. I refuse to believe that. I know you love me. I've felt it," I insisted.
My hand was still hanging in the open space between us, and she moved to grab it. She looked at me sympathetically. "Is that feeling different from what you've felt between Carlisle and Esme or Rosalie and Emmett?"
"Of course it is, Alice."
She looked at me pointedly and dropped my hand.
"I don't know how to explain it to you. Everyone's feelings are different. Every relationship has a different tenor to its emotions. I've always thought ours was deeper than theirs. We've transcended so many of the surface feelings of lust and infatuation. Don't you feel that way, too?" I pleaded, scared of what her reaction might be.
She looked pained to reply. "I don't think that's what it is. I don't think there's another level to our feelings for each other."
"I love you, Jasper. You're right. You have felt that."
I could feel so many "buts" waiting to burst through that statement. "Stop," I insisted.
She shook her head. "I just haven't loved you the right way."
"Do you think you need to lecture me about feelings?" I yelled. My fear of her words was quickly shifting into anger.
I hated that I needed to protect myself from Alice, my Alice.
"I'm not in love with you, Jasper," she said quietly.
"Stop!" I roared. I had never raised my voice like this to her, but I couldn't bring myself to care.
Why was she destroying us—over a human no less?
"You're just saying this because you're upset over what might have happened—could have happened—didn't happen—in there."
"No, I'm not," she said, looking at me sadly.
"She's fine, Alice. All that blood you saw, Edward did that. You can't punish me for things that aren't even real!"
I couldn't stand to see her looking so heartbroken when it was my heart that was being ripped out.
"I'm not punishing you. I'm just trying to be honest."
I turned away. I was done listening to her.
"Jasper," she said, coming to put her hand on my shoulder. "I will always love you, but not like you need. Not like you deserve."
My whole body tensed. For years with Maria, I had learned the best way to steel my body for attack. Unfortunately, the pain I felt at Alice's words wasn't physical.
"You'll come to see that I'm right. After tonight, I just don't think we should pretend anymore." She sighed, and I could hear her turn her head toward the house. "We're leaving."
Her words gave me some hope. If we could just get away from the family and put some distance between us and what had happened with Bella, maybe we could work things out.
"Okay," I said, turning to face her. "Anywhere you want."
She didn't seem to be listening to me, and her eyes were glazed over. "Edward's leaving Bella for her own safety. He wants her to live her life out as a human without the influence and danger of the supernatural. He will insist that we all leave her. He's doing it as soon as they get to her house. The rest of us leave tomorrow."
I didn't care what Edward was going to be doing or what would happen to Bella. I just cared about the two of us.
She returned her eyes to me and smiled sadly. "I hope you'll join us eventually. You are a part of this family, no matter what our status is. However, I think it might be best if we spend some time apart for a little bit."
Her words stung, and I knew she meant them. Her feeling of determination pushed on my chest like a weight.
"Goodbye, Jasper. I'm sorry." She kissed my cheek softly and retreated in a flurry of sadness and regret.
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