Author note: This is another un-beta'd chapter, so please excuse any errors. I am sighing a big sigh of relief now that NaNoWriMo is complete. Congratulations to anyone else who finished their novels last month. I'm looking forward to jumping into the revision phase with mine.
In this chapter, we're jumping back a bit to see what's been going on with B.
"Bella," he called softly. Perhaps his tone was supposed to be soothing, but it just sounded patronizing. All it was missing was a pat on the head. I'd obviously fallen out of line with what it was to be a "good human."
"Edward, now isn't the time." I was standing out on the back porch, just trying to be away from them, even though I knew they could hear every miniscule movement I made. This was the only semblance of privacy I could get with them here. I'd tried other rooms of the house, but I knew they were just watching me. It didn't seem exactly fair that I should seek solace by being outside in the freezing cold.
"Can you at least come inside? We'll leave you alone."
I turned to look at him, and the look he was giving me felt like a slap in the face. It was amazing how such a small expanse of his body could show such emotion. I'd been witness to his mask, so I knew he was letting me see his feelings so clearly. The look flashed between concern and one of what I could only guess to be wonder. I couldn't say love. There were seconds where he looked at me as if I was the only thing he ever wanted to see. It disgusted me. How could he look at me with that face when he'd once told me I didn't matter to him? He had thrown away the right to look at me like that.
I could see him holding himself back from moving closer. I wondered what my face looked like to him. What did I want him to see? Could he see how angry I was at him—for leaving, for coming back, for coming back at the wrong time? Could he see how pained I was? No, I didn't want him to see that. I would never want him to see the pain I felt at what had happened to Jasper, at our current distance, at the fact that no one in his family was willing to change me so that I could be with him. I would never want Edward to see any of that pain and think even a portion of it was over him. I was angry with him, yes, but every bit of love and worry I had for Jasper eclipsed anything I had ever felt for Edward. I could almost laugh over how being with a human had taught me more about vampire mates than he ever could.
I decided the only thing I would want him to see on my face was indifference toward him. If he wasn't willing to help me, I wasn't willing to give him anything of myself. Still, I was willing to go inside. He could stay outside in the cold.
I walked into the living room and could hear Alice, Emmett, and Rosalie in the kitchen. There was no need for them to be in there or talking so I could hear them, other than to let me know they were close by but not hovering—like Edward was.
"Do you want to talk about this?" he asked as I toed off my shoes.
"I don't know what more there is to say. You already said no. You all said no," I said, knowing everyone heard.
"You don't understand, Bella." Why did he always have to say my name? It was as if someone had once told him that was what you did when trying to deescalate a situation. I would not be deescalated, and it infuriated me that he would make assumptions about what I understood.
"I think I understood just fine," I said, walking away from my snow wet shoes in the middle of the floor. I looked at him, daring him to pick them up and put them somewhere more appropriate. Just like I expected, he couldn't resist something out of order.
"I don't think you do understand." I turned and looked at Rosalie as she stepped out of the kitchen, but she didn't come any closer. I glared at her; they were all just one big team right now. Seeing my expression, she held up her hand. "We weren't saying no. We were saying not yet. There's still too much we don't know."
I shook my head. I didn't know what to believe. I just wanted to be with Jasper so badly. My face crumpled, but I quickly resolved myself not to cry. I felt a cool hand on my shoulder and made the mistake of turning to look at Edward. The look of sympathy on his face was nauseating. Did he really think I was going to let him comfort me right now?
"You're always swooping in," I muttered.
"Pardon me?" he asked, and I stepped away from his grasp.
"You're always swooping in," I repeated, as if he hadn't heard me. "I just—" Everything was confusing. "You always want to play the hero, but only when it's convenient for you. There were so many times . . ." Earlier. Before. "There were . . . I felt like I always needed saving. I think you wanted me to feel that way, too, despite how much trouble I seem to attract on my own. Did you just need someone to rescue? I hated that feeling. I hated that I was the damsel. I hate feeling that way now. Always swooping . . . Why couldn't you have swooped in a little earlier in this case?" If he'd only been a little earlier, I could be with Jasper right now.
He looked at me with that damned face again, and I just couldn't stand it. Without another look at him, or toward Rosalie across the room, I walked purposefully up the stairs. I stopped at a room I'd only briefly seen before, pausing at the door before walking into Jasper's study. I took in the room and tried to see him in it. I tried to picture him sitting at the writing desk against the wall. Which chair did he favor when he was reading? I couldn't do it. I thought coming into this room might bring me some comfort, but Jasper wasn't this room. I felt no nostalgic pull when I looked at the books stacked on the end tables or on the shelves. It just felt impersonal.
I needed to get out of this house. Without Jasper here, I didn't really belong anyway. I needed to go home. Charlie would expect me at some point; I was only supposed to be gone for the weekend. I didn't want to be there either, though. Where I really wanted to be was at Jasper's, his human home. I could laugh when I thought of how much I wanted to see the black bear pillows on the couch and all the pine and plaid. I just wanted to be around my memories of Jasper, and this room held none of those.
For a second, I tried to think of where my truck keys were, but then I remembered I didn't come to the house of my own accord. Edward. I would have to ask someone for a ride. No, I would call Charlie to come pick me up. There was no reason to stay here if no one was going to be of any help.
I didn't even get to the door before there was a knock.
"Can we come in?" Alice asked.
"Who is it?" I asked in a humorless tone.
"All of us," Emmett replied.
I sighed. "No."
"All of us but Edward," he amended. "He didn't think you'd appreciate him around right now. He went for a run—a long one."
That was only marginally better. It was humorous that now Edward was considering my feelings. "Okay," I said begrudgingly.
I sat down in one of the leather chairs as the three came into the room. Rosalie took the other chair, and Alice and Emmett both sat on the floor, even though they would have been happy to remain standing.
"Have you changed your minds?"
Emmett smiled faintly. "You left the room as soon as you heard the word no, B. You need to let us explain."
"I didn't leave when I heard no," I asserted. "I left the room when Edward exploded into a fury of Absolutely not and It's out of the question. Apparently Edward still gets to have some sort of claim on my mortality."
The smile didn't leave Emmett's face. "Can we explain then?"
I looked at him in silence, waiting for it.
"Why do you want to be changed?" Rosalie asked.
I didn't even have to think about it. "I want to be with Jasper—always. I don't want to be without him, and I don't want him to be without me."
"Why right now, though?" she asked.
"I . . . I don't want him to be alone. I was there for him when he became human, and I want to be with him now."
"But you'd be a baby vamp, yourself," Emmett said. "You don't know what they're like, Bella. It would be too much. We just need a little staggering."
I felt myself growing angry. "So I'm just supposed to be without him, then. How long will it be before he can be around humans—a year? Two?" I couldn't even thing about that.
"We don't know what Jasper will be like when he wakes up. He may be just like he was before. He may be just like a newborn. We really were saying not yet," Rosalie explained. "There are things we need to know first, and we should, at the very least, wait until Jasper wakes up."
"It's happening soon." Alice spoke up.
I nodded, happy that we might have at least one question answered.
"Can you see what it will be like?" Emmett asked her.
She shook her head. "It isn't clear yet, but it's coming much faster than a normal transition. Much faster."
"That sounds like a good sign," Rosalie said.
"Even if it's too much . . ." I started. "Couldn't you take me to Alaska? Would they do it?"
"You'd still be apart from Jasper." I looked at Emmett, not wanting to admit he was right.
"But maybe not for long." And we'd still be going through the same thing at the same time.
"Let's just wait a little while," Rosalie said, and I could tell she meant it. "I don't want to hand you over to the Denali clan anyway. You belong with us." Her voice was strong, and I was touched by her conviction.
"So it really is not yet?" I didn't want to hope too much.
"Yes," she breathed. "You belong with Jasper, as whatever he is." She paused. "When I think that Victoria could have killed him . . . I'm genuinely grateful he's becoming a vampire again. I think I need . . . I need my family to not be so fragile." It was the most vulnerable I'd ever seen her. I was amazed at how these months had changed Rosalie, softened her. She looked at Emmett and back to me. "I want you and Jasper to be able to have the same happiness I have—what I'll have forever."
Emmett looked at her softly, as if he was relieved she'd finally seen what he'd always known about their life together.
"We have maybe an hour," Alice said suddenly.
"That soon?" Emmett asked. "Wow."
"See," he said to me. "We'll know more soon. We won't keep you hanging human forever."
"Do we need to make plans to go to Montana?" Rosalie asked Alice, standing up.
Alice's eyes unfocused briefly. "It's still too early. Carlisle and Esme will let us know. We might, though."
"If that is the case, let's get in a hunt first. We wouldn't all leave you," Emmett stood up, and he and Rosalie headed to the door. I was glad for his promise.
"I'm going to stay for a little while longer," Alice said. "If that's okay with you." She looked at me questioningly.
I didn't really want to talk to her. I had so many unresolved feelings about her disappearance and silence, but she was the only one who held all the answers. I nodded and Rosalie and Emmett where gone.
I didn't know what question to ask first, but I didn't have to worry about it, because Alice just started firing answers at me, seeing my questions in her mind.
"Edward killed her. He wasn't gentle about it either. He couldn't stand to stay around the smell of your blood so thick in the cabin. He really does love Jasper as a brother." She took a breath. "What's next?"
I tried to let all that sink in.
"Those were the big ones I saw. I don't know what else you want to know."
I did want to know what had happened to Victoria and why Edward had needed to get us out of the cabin so quickly. I wanted to know more about those things, too, but we could always come back. I just had so many questions. They all started to come out in a stream.
"How long did you know? When did you see Victoria? Why didn't someone come to stop her? Did you see my whole relationship with Jasper? Where were you? Were you talking to Edward the whole time?" I finally stopped to let her answer one—any of them.
"I told you what I saw, with the family heartbroken if I came home. I didn't see Victoria until it was too late."
"You did see us," I accused. I knew she was hiding something.
"I . . ." she started. "Let me get to the rest," she said pleadingly, stalling. "I really didn't see Victoria in time, and I came as soon as I did. I truly did go to New York, and I didn't talk to Edward."
"So he just accepted Jasper as human, just because he saw him in your thoughts?" I didn't buy it.
She waited before answering and moved from her spot on the floor to the seat Rosalie had vacated. "The way my gift works, the way Edward has seen it over the years . . . he didn't have a lot of time to question it. He saw you in danger and just had to trust my vision. There was no time for second guessing, and he would have seen it in Victoria's thoughts once he got close enough to her, too."
I couldn't believe that. Not even Jasper could accept he was human. How could Edward just see Alice's vision as the truth? Did their thoughts work that quickly?
"You'll have to ask him that," she told me. If that was the case, then I would just choose to believe what she was saying.
"The heartbroken explanation—I don't buy that either." Alice had to know we wouldn't accept such a flimsy reason for disappearing with no word. Maybe everyone else was okay with believing her visions without question, but I certainly wasn't.
"I honestly saw everyone like that," she asserted, leaning forward. She looked like she had more to say.
"But that's not all you saw." I said, knowing it was true. "His becoming human, did you truly not see it? You never seemed surprised that we're together, either." What was she hiding?
Her whole face lit up and her answer burst out of her. "Bella, you're going to be so happy."
Did she just have another vision? "That doesn't—"
"You looked so happy . . . you both did."
She had seen us. "When?" I asked curtly.
"Some things are better left unanswered."
Now was not the time to be cryptic. I wanted answers. That was the whole point of this conversation. "This isn't one of them, Alice. When? When did you see us?"
The smile didn't leave her face. "Why did you think I left in such a hurry?"
That wasn't the answer. "When?" Why couldn't she ever just answer a question?
Apparently she saw that I sincerely wanted the truth. "The night of your party. I didn't see that Jasper was going to attack you. I saw him rushing toward you, and the next thing I saw was the two of you together—happy. I meant it when I said I didn't see what happened in between. I just knew you'd be happy if I stayed away."
I looked at her face, trying to see any signs of dishonesty, not that she couldn't hide it from me if she were. I wished I had Jasper's gift, though I couldn't think of why she would still hide the truth if this wasn't it.
"And you didn't mind it—us together?" I asked, seeing if maybe there was one more hidden reason. I shifted in my seat while I waited for her to answer.
"I love Jasper." For a second, my heart froze before she continued. "He's the best friend I've ever had, but he's your . . . he's yours." My heart stopped again, just thinking of how true those words were. "I just want him to be happy. I'm lucky that he's happy with you." She smiled warmly, looking truly content.
"What does that mean?" I couldn't help but ask.
"That means I get to keep both of you. I get to keep my family. If Jasper's destiny was someone else, there's the chance he would leave us all behind, and even though we weren't meant to be together forever, we were meant to be together while we were."
It made me sad to hear her words—that she had left for his happiness—when I thought of how abandoned he'd felt. I supposed everything had to happen for a reason. I wouldn't be so lucky in finding out that Edward had left to make me happy.
Alice continued, "I would miss him, and I would miss you if you chose another path. With as much as I've seen all of our paths change over the years, you would think I wouldn't give much stock in fate and destiny, but I can't help but give a little nod in that direction in this case. I don't know how it all happened, but I don't need to know how; I know why. That's good enough for me."
"Me, too," I said quietly. "But you did see us happy?" I asked, thinking about how desperate I felt to be with him now.
"Yes, Bella. I wish I could show you."
I thought about for a second and smiled. "I will see it," I said firmly. My future with Jasper was just about to start. "Can I ask how you saw us, if you didn't see him as a human?"
Her mouth quirked in a way that always preceded a cryptic answer. "Remember when Rosalie said not yet?"
"Not yet," she replied with a wink. She stood as if she was going to give me a hug, and I wasn't sure how to react. For months, I'd spent so long focused on being angry at her, but then I remembered how concerned I'd been about her in the beginning. After everything she'd just said, I supposed I could handle a hug. I didn't get the chance to accept one, though, as she began to stare unseeingly at the wall behind me.
"What do you see?" I asked nervously, grabbing at the arms of my chair.
Her eyes came back to mine. "He's awake." I held my breath, and her eyes unfocused again. Her lips were moving, but I couldn't hear anything.
"Alice?" I begged, wanting to know what was happening to him, but not being able to move from my seat.
"Oh, I just . . . it's been a while since I've seen him with red eyes."
I wanted to tell her this wasn't the important information, but I was surprised to hear his eyes were red. Of course they were red, I told myself. I felt foolish to have expected him to come back with amber-colored eyes. How long? I thought.
"How is he?"
"Thirsty," she answered simply. "I didn't see much before he threw himself out the window."
"He what?" I interrupted, jumping up to stand in front of her.
"It was the quickest exit." She didn't seem bothered by this information. "He's hunting, and until he decides to do something else, I won't see what else he's doing, though Carlisle and Esme are on his trail."
I hoped they'd taken him far enough away from any humans. "Do you think that's normal?" I asked.
"Perfectly normal," Emmett answered at the door. I hadn't heard them come back.
"He's awake then?" Rosalie asked, wrapping her arm around Emmett's waist, both of them standing just outside the room. She seemed just as nervous as I was.
Suddenly this room was too small for all of our feelings, and I needed to get out of it. I needed to pace in a space where I wasn't going to trip over piles of books. As soon as I took a step forward, Rosalie and Emmett cleared the path, and I barreled down the stairs.
"What now?" I asked Alice once I hit the bottom step. She was right behind me.
I looked out the black windows of the living room and tried to imagine what the scene would look like. Had Carlisle and Esme caught up to him? What would he find out in the forest this late at night?
"Still hunting, well, drinking at this point."
"Can you see him?" Emmett asked, joining us.
I didn't turn around to see her answer. "He isn't thinking anything beyond his meal, but Carlisle and Esme are deciding whether or not to let him catch more deer or whether one should go catch a couple and bring them to him, just so he won't run off again."
"What is it?" Rosalie asked suddenly, and I whipped around to see what would make her sound so alarmed.
"Calm down," Alice warned her, taking a seat on the couch.
"It isn't as if we can all see what you're seeing, Alice." Rosalie was a little jumpy.
Alice turned to me with a grin. "He's asking about you—or he will be, in about two seconds."
I let out a breath. "What do you think that means?" If he was a normal newborn would he be thinking about anything other than blood right now? This had to mean that thirsty or not, he was still my Jasper.
"I think it means that he's just as worried about you as you are about him." Emmett's words were a balm. "The last time he saw you, he thought Victoria was going to kill you. I can't imagine undergoing the change while worrying that my mate was dead."
Relief mixed with grief in my heart. I hoped it wasn't like that for him. Not that I wanted the pain to be all encompassing, but I hoped he was thinking of our happy memories together, not just the end.
"They're headed back to the house," Alice announced. "We can call in a couple minutes."
Tears pricked at my eyes at the thought of hearing his voice, really knowing he was okay. Not yet, Rosalie had said. Hearing his voice would put us one step closer to now.
"Bella, you should sit down," Rosalie said, motioning toward the end of the couch opposite of Alice.
"I just was sitting down upstairs." There was too much going on for me to sit through it right now.
"Please?" she asked, sounding worried.
I looked at her in alarm. Had Alice said something so that I couldn't hear it? Was Edward about to return home with another declaration about what I would or would not be doing now that Jasper was awake?
"There's nothing to worry about other than you," she said, trying to calm me. "I'm just worried about your injuries. You've been through so much and with as many bruises as you have, it must be tiring to stand."
I was about to contradict her, but my muscles were indeed aching after being thrown around by Victoria, and I felt like I was at turns too wired to even think about sleep and as if I could sleep for days in a row. It wasn't until I thought about it that everything caught up to me.
"Fine," I said.
As soon as I sat down near Alice, Rosalie whipped out her cell phone. "I'm done waiting," she said as she dialed. I held my breath while I waited for her to say something else.
"Well?" Rosalie asked someone on the other line expectantly. I still didn't know whose phone she had called.
"I told you that," Alice said in response to something, looking at Rosalie, who hadn't said or relayed anything else.
Was she talking to Carlisle? He seemed like the most likely person to call. "What did he say? Not all of us can hear without speaker phone." I said.
Alice scooted closer to me. "Jasper's awake—just like I said."
I didn't want to hear Alice.
"They just got back from a hunt," Rosalie said, moving her mouth away from the phone. "Like Alice said," she added before Alice could.
"So, is he like a newborn again?"Emmett asked.
Rosalie was silent, and I assumed everyone else had heard Carlisle's reply. This was maddening. Didn't her phone have a speaker? "Rosalie! If you aren't going to tell me what he's saying . . . Is Jasper there?"
"Is he?"she asked into the receiver.
"Well?"I asked impatiently.
"Everything's fine, Bella. Carlisle says Jasper woke up, went on a hunt, and they're back at the house now."
I let out a breath, even though this was all information I already knew. I stood up and walked over to her, reaching for the phone. "Let me talk to him. Ineedto talk to him."
Without a hesitation on her part, she handed me the phone. For a second, I just had to focus on breathing. I was so ready to hear his voice, though. "Jasper?"
There was no immediate reply, and I frowned at Rosalie worriedly. Had the connection been lost?
"It's Carlisle," I finally heard.
"Oh," I said quietly. "Is Jasper okay? I thought he was with you? I . . . I really want to talk to him."My voice broke due to the power of how much I needed him. "Please, Carlisle?"
Everyone in the room seemed on edge without hearing from Jasper directly. I cast a glance at Alice, but she shook her head, not having any answers.
"Please?"I asked again.
There was just silence on the other line. Rosalie frowned, the look out of place on her pretty face, and I started to grow really worried. "Jasper? Are you there?"
"Bella, can you hold on for a minute?" Carlisle asked.
What could be happening? "What's wrong?" I asked, even though he'd asked me to wait.
"There's nothing wrong," Alice answered.
"I didn't ask you, Alice." I was glad she was trying to help, but hers wasn't the voice I wanted to hear right now.
Without a warning, Emmett announced, "We'll be right back, Bells."I turned my head, but he and Alice were already moving outside. What would make them leave the room? I started to panic, but Rosalie put her hand on my arm in a comforting gesture. She obviously wasn't leaving.
I cleared my throat and swallowed. "Are you still there, Carlisle? Is it the connection?" I was failing to keep the worry out of my voice."Jasper? Please!"
Still nothing. I sat back down on the couch, not realizing Rosalie had guided me back, and I roughly wiped a stray tear from my face. She rubbed my back gently before snapping toward the phone.
"I don't understand why no one's saying anything," I said with a sniffle. It had to be the connection, right? They were in Middle-of-Nowhere, Montana. I couldn't imagine there would be many cell phone towers around. I tried to reassure myself.
"I'm sorry," Carlisle finally said. "You're right, Bella, it's the connection. I can barely make you out. Are you there?"
Even if it was the connection, why would I be able to hear Carlisle and not Jasper. Why wasn't he saying anything? What weren't we being told? "Where's Jasper?"
"Bella?" Carlisle asked a little louder.
"Is something wrong?" I asked. Please, say no.
Rosalie's touch came just a little firmer on my back as Carlisle announced, "You're breaking up."
This couldn't be happening. Where was Jasper? "I can hearyoujust fine.Jasper, can you hearme? I . . . I love you. I . . ."
I didn't know what else to say to him if he could hear me. I wanted to tell him how hard I'd tried to stop his change or to change myself, how if it was up to me I would have been changing with him, how I wanted to change soon. Instead of saying those things, I wiped my nose and cleared my throat. "Jasper? Carlisle?"
I couldn't make out what Rosalie said, if she said something, but I heard the sharp exhale of her breath. Something was definitely wrong, and everyone was hiding it from me. I'd had just about enough of being kept in the dark—whether for my "own good" or not. I needed to know what was happening with him. I deserved to know.
I only wanted the answers from one person, though. "Jasper?"
There was silence, until there was a dial tone.
Author note: I'll give you my fic recs if you give me yours.
"Friend of the Family" by SweetUmami: When Bella moves to town to attend university, Edward is enlisted by their families to help her settle in. She avoids him until he makes a surprising offer. (E/B, AH, WIP)
"Easy as Pie" by Edward's Eternal: Edward Masen: successful actor, admired by many, desired by thousands; he had everything he could have possibly wanted, except … happiness. One night, while trying to escape his crazy life, he literally made a "right" turn, which led him to Little Bell. Could finding that happiness really be as easy as pie? (E/B, AH, WIP)
"Rescission" by GeekChic12: We met. We got off. We went home. We weren't lovers. We weren't even friends. We were f- buddies. It worked... Until it didn't. AH, ExB. (Complete)
"Five Times They Never Met" by TheFicChick: In the transition from human to vampire, Edward walks alone over the course of seventy years. Or does he? (E/B, AU, Complete)