"You shouldn't go back there," Esme said worriedly, fixing Alice with a disapproving stare. "You promised Edward. We all did."
Alice shook her head angrily. This was not the first time they'd had this discussion, though it was the first time that Alice had gotten as far as packing a bag. The two women were seated across from one another in the kitchen at the round pine table Esme had recently finished. The bag in question sat by the door, dark and quietly accusing in the otherwise cheerfully decorated room.
"Esme, you don't understand. Bella is imiserable/i!"
"Alice, we cannot meddle in Bella's life anymore. That includes watching her future," Esme said pointedly. "We've caused her enough trouble as it is."
"I try not to see her future, but sometimes it just happens. I'm too close to her now. The visions just come to me," Alice said defensively. "If you could see her, you wouldn't try to stop me."
"Her sadness will pass, Alice." Esme's voice was reassuring but her face betrayed her uncertainty. With the stubborn exception of Rosalie, the entire Cullen family knew what Edward would not acknowledge: Bella would never get over Edward. "She's only human."
"For now!" Alice burst out. Vampires were not given to fidgeting, but she suddenly felt like pulling her hair out in frustration. Instead she pushed away from the table and began to pace. "That vision hasn't changed. Bella iwill/i be one of us one day."
"Not if we honor Edward's wishes and stay away from Forks," Esme insisted, turning away from the table as well but remaining seated. She tried to meet Alice's eye, but Alice avoided her gaze and continued to pace. "Edward doesn't want that future for her."
"Why does it only matter what Edward wants?" the younger vampire demanded. "Bella has the right to decide for herself. She wants to be like us!"
"She doesn't understand what that means. Not really," Esme murmured. She gave up trying to meet her daughter's eye and instead focused her attention on her hands. "Edward is your brother, Alice. He is my son. We have to support him in whatever he thinks is best."
Alice sighed. Giving up her pacing she returned to her seat and studied her 'mother.' She knew that it had not been easy on her either, leaving Bella behind. Esme gave her love away easily, which was her strength as well as her weakness. Abandoning Bella went against every mothering instinct Esme possessed.
"This is not what's best, Esme," Alice stated with quiet certainty. "Not for Bella, and not for Edward either. You know that."
"What do you see, Alice?" Esme asked, lifting her amber eyes to Alice's once more.
"She is…," Alice struggled to find the right word to describe Bella's condition. "Listless. iLifeless/i. All of her decisions revolve around hiding her depression from Charlie. She doesn't talk to any of her friends anymore. And… she has nightmares. I don't know what she dreams of, but she wakes up screaming almost every night."
There was a long moment of silence while Esme absorbed this new information. Alice had never told anyone besides Jasper about Bella's dreams. She hated the visions that came to her in the evening, when Bella decided to go to bed. It broke her heart to see the agony that would soon become her friend's reality, knowing every night was much the same.
"Edward," Esme began, but Alice cut her off.
"This isn't what he wants, Esme. Not really! The only one more miserable than Bella is Edward." Her words made a visible impact on Esme. Alice knew that Edward's suffering hurt Esme as well. He had spent so many years living half a life, brooding and blaming himself for the darkness in his past. Loving Bella had changed him. Esme had flourished along with him, finding happiness in her son's happiness. The fact that he would not even allow them to help him grieve only added to Esme's sorrow.
"Bella is my friend, Esme," Alice continued, her voice suddenly pleading. She reached across the table to take her mother's hands. "She's all alone. Edward won't let us help him, but I can help Bella. She needs me."
"We gave him our word," Esme repeated guiltily. "If you went to Forks and he found out, he might never come home again."
Alice withdrew her hands. She had thought of this as well. It was the one thing that always kept her from actually going.
"What do you see, Alice? What will happen if you go to her?" Esme asked suddenly.
"I don't know!" Alice growled in frustration. The hair-pulling feeling was back. "I don't know! I haven't been able to make the decision one way or the other. The visions that I get are foggy, incomplete. I ithink/i I would be helping her, but…"
The two women fell silent, their thoughts turned inward. Stillness pervaded the house. Alice took to watching the specks of dust that floated in the air, defying gravity with their strangely beautiful dance. The sun completed its short journey across the Alaskan sky and sank below the horizon. The brief twilight lent them a certain amount of calm.
They did not stir until the wind carried the scent of their family members through an open window. Alice sighed in relief, her arms suddenly aching to embrace Jasper, and leapt to her feet to meet him.
He emerged from the forest smelling of pine and the hunt and iJasper/i. His eyes were the palest amber, clear and satisfied, though his eyebrows furrowed in response to her sadness. Instinctively he sent out a wave of contented energy, letting it wash over Alice and Esme. When she appeared in front of him Jasper was ready, arms open to receive her slender frame. She leaned her head gratefully on his chest and sighed.
They walked into the house together: Alice and Jasper, Carlisle, and Rosalie and Emmett. Esme had not followed Alice outside but met her husband with equal enthusiasm as soon as he stepped in the door. Somehow being together in the cozy yellow kitchen only reminded them all that someone was missing: Edward. The couples drifted slightly apart. Esme resumed her seat at the table, and Carlisle took the chair Alice had occupied for the last several hours. Rosalie and Emmett crossed into the living room, sat gracefully on the floor and began setting up a backgammon board. Alice and Jasper stood near the door where they had come in, facing the rest of the family.
"Carlisle," Esme began, "Alice wants to go to Forks, to see Bella. And I'm not so sure anymore that it would be a bad thing."
Rosalie scoffed with distain. "iWhy/i do you all insist on dwelling on the human?"
"Rose," Emmett warned, but she shrugged him off.
"Edward will realize soon enough that he never needed her, and then he will come home. The sooner we forget about Bella, the better for everyone," Rosalie insisted. It was obvious that she'd lost her patience with this particular topic.
"We have been over this, Alice," Carlisle reminded her gently, ignoring Rosalie's proclamation. "We don't know that going to Bella wouldn't do her more harm than good. To remind her of what she's lost would be cruel."
"How do you know that abandoning her isn't crueler still?" Alice pleaded. She could go against Edward's wishes—he was being completely unreasonable, anyway. She could even ignore Esme's better judgment. But she could not ignore Carlisle.
"Leaving Forks was Edward's decision, Alice. I'm sure he did what he thought was best for Bella." His expression was sympathetic but resolute, and in that moment Alice knew she'd been beaten. "Unless Edward says otherwise, we will stay away."
Alice nodded, disappointed but resigned, and left the room. As she retreated upstairs, she heard Jasper collect her bag from beside the door before following after her.
She had just stepped through the door to their bedroom when the vision came. iA dim, cluttered garage. The sound of rain on a tin roof. A collection of tools and motorcycle parts lined up neatly on an old tarp on the ground. Bella, pale but smiling… smiling at a young man with long dark hair, the son of the Quileute chief./i
"Jasper!" she called excitedly, even though he was standing right beside her. Alice grabbed his hands and led him in a silly dance around their room. Jasper laughed, surprised by the sudden shift in emotions that he sensed from his mate.
"What did you see, Alice?" he asked, curiosity getting the better of him. He drew her close as they continued to dance, the sudden burst of energy giving way to a contented waltz.
"She's not going to be alone anymore, Jasper," Alice whispered happily, laying her head on his chest. "We must tell Carlisle and Esme that they don't need to worry anymore. He's going to make her smile, and she won't be alone."
"Bella, of course!" Alice laughed.
"Who is going to make her smile?" Jasper elaborated, grinning.
"Jacob. Jacob Black."
bAuthor's Note/b: So here are some of my thoughts on Alice and her visions. Until now I've mostly avoided writing Twilight fan fiction because I found it way too intimidating to try and work around the challenges presented by Alice's gift. My line of reasoning behind of the events of this story go something like this: Alice was desperately torn between obeying Edward's wishes (for fear of losing him, not because she thought he was right) and going back to Forks to console Bella. She was in a stalemate; she couldn't make a decision one way or the other, so her visions of the future were murky at best. She tried not to see Bella's future, but because she was so conflicted and worried about Bella, visions would still come to her. As we all know, it still isn't smooth sailing for Bella after she starts up her friendship with Jacob. Why was Alice content to not to go back to Forks after this vision I've created? I have two reasons: one, because knowing that Bella wouldn't be alone finally allowed Alice to make a decision. Having made the decision to stay, she saw no immediate dangers in Bella's future (because she hadn't decided to do anything too stupid yet). Two, having made her decision and content that Bella wasn't hurting too badly, it was easier for Alice to obey Edward's wishes and stop watching Bella's future. Alice doesn't see ieverything/i, after all.
Whew! Hope that makes sense. Feel free to weigh in on all of this in your review!
iThanks to bFor the Kingdom/b and bAromene/b for their help and support!/i