Word Count: ~2,400
Rating: Teen (PG-13)
Warnings: None apart from shifting POV
Author's Note: Thank you to the mod for running such a lovely challenge and to my recipient for asking for such a unique request. I genuinely hope they enjoy this story as it was quite a ways off from my usual writing style.
Twilight –that strange nothing time that both Jasper and Edward loved so much- was creeping in on their idyllic summer day. Summer was already such a strange time. It emphasized wholly the wondrous nature of immortality; every day a holiday, no pressures that could not wait until tomorrow and no end of tomorrows in sight. The Cullens had used their summer with Bella to relearn what it was to appreciate living. Alice watched Jasper with worried eyes, wishing the light to shine only a few more hours.
"You may ask, you know. I shouldn't have to prompt you."
Jasper spoke quietly out of respect for their family's enjoyment. No need to spoil their day simply because Alice was feeling...out of sorts. Her visions were only getting worse the longer the summer continued. It was only love for Bella –and seeing Edward so happy after waiting so long- that had kept her silent until now.
"When?" Jasper returned, his golden gaze flickering from Bella to Alice in confusion.
"When are you leaving me?" Alice clarified.
"Don't be silly."
Alice took in his quiet scoffing and allowed him to return to watching Bella rest against Edward's chest. Bella was a pretty girl; beautiful even in some lights. Her hair was a mixture of shades that all hinted at autumn and a strange grace that had nothing to do with gracefulness lent itself to her slight frame. She was an amalgamation, Bella. Alice suddenly resented her with every ounce of her own compact form.
Suddenly she had Jasper's full attention. She had nearly forgotten the strange intensity of his gaze it had been so long since she'd captured his time so completely.
Disoriented, Alice nodded, "Yes. She's very special. I know that of course. I don't blame you. I only want to know when. I can't see that part. The when. It's strange to not know, Jasper."
She couldn't look at him. The sky bled as the sun lanced its way deep through the horizon and slowly out of sight.
Jasper fought back frustration and the dull ache in his head from keeping Alice's raging emotions stable. Bella and Edward deserved beautiful, idyllic days during their summer; he was willing to suffer a little headache to ensure they got the days they deserved.
"You saw me leaving you?"
It wasn't a real question.
"I saw you leaving," Alice agreed.
Bella laughed –softly for her, a human girl- and the sound rang in his ears gloriously. He couldn’t resist the thrill of accomplishment that came to him from knowing that he, Jasper, was in some small part responsible for that happy sound.
Turning back to Alice, Jasper nodded towards the tree-line meaningfully. A strange distance had settled between them of late, but they were still capable of speaking without resorting to sound. He wanted to help her to her feet but she had already scampered away nimbly before he could make the offer. After one last look around at their family, Jasper rose and followed her.
Alice felt colder than even immortality warranted in the shade. Her invulnerable skin prickled with unease under Jasper's gaze. She perversely wished for a taste of indifference simply to find a little calm before the storm she sensed coming.
"I could go with you," she offered, the words sounding small in her soft voice.
Jasper sighed and looked away from her. The forest seemed larger, the distance between them greater without his eyes on her, linking them together in the moment.
"Or we could ask Emmett and Rosalie to go along. Leave Edward to play teenager with Bella and let Esme and Carlisle have their domesticity here. We could go wherever you like. Back South even."
He still wasn't looking at her. Her voice trailed off with a surprised sob. Honestly, Alice had never anticipated he would say yes, but she hadn't imagined it being this hard. They had spent precious little time apart since finding one another. She had never seen this.
"What can I do to make you happy? Why aren't you happy, Jasper?"
"They are so happy, Alice. The two of them shine with it brighter than the sun."
Through the foliage, Jasper watched the blue sky bleed to pink and orange then finally the palest of purples before the black of night consumed the last vestiges of color from the daylight. He had always had a fondness for watching the passage of time. Alice had a little understanding of that interest as she herself had only begun to live once her life had stopped.
"Edward and Bella?"
She didn't understand this though. Jasper had thought she would. He had grown accustomed to her easy commiseration; it was strange to realize their thoughts could be so different when the topic was so familiar. He couldn't think of a single thing to say to explain it. Instead, Jasper waited patiently for Alice's own patience to run out, watching the night crowd in above them through the trees.
"Their happiness makes you unhappy? Why? You don't want her. You can't. I would have seen that much I think."
Jasper smiled brightly, his movie star looks catching her by surprise all over again, before looking back up to the sky. Alice realized she was amusing him with this. Her heart was breaking and he was amused. She wanted nothing more than to scream at him, rail with all the passionate outrage in her heart, but she couldn't. She couldn't because he wasn't letting her. Alice took a deep breath and forced herself to adjust to the unwanted peace Jasper was blanketing her in.
"I can't believe you haven't thought it yet. I suppose it's a silly thing to you. As an oracle, my complaint will likely seem utterly foreign. I had never thought of that before. I'm too used to you understanding, Alice."
He was talking in circles. She bit at her lips and focused on relaxing the tension from her hands which were starting to cramp she'd clenched them so tightly.
"You mean I should have seen this? I told you that I had. I saw you leaving. Not when, but I saw you leaving. It shows me events, Jasper, not reasons. Not really. I'm not Edward."
I'm not Bella either remained unspoken yet no less pointed between them. Alice wiped at a stray tear. Even as her heart was breaking in her chest she could not find it in her to hate Bella. Somehow she knew this, none of this, was really about her.
"I don't understand that part. I've truly never thought of leaving. I am content, Alice."
It was a bitter word. A horrible word. Why had she never realized what a horrible word it was before? Content.
"Why aren't you happy, Jasper? What happened to your happiness?"
"Things aren't always so simple. Things can't always be simple, Alice."
"Yes. Yes, they can," she argued.
Jasper noticed her hands smoothing her skirt compulsively. He wondered when she had lost the nerve to reach for him, to touch him however, whenever she liked. He couldn't remember the last time they had made love.
"I don't want Bella."
He said the obvious instead of any one of a dozen more incriminating truths. Jasper traced out a handful of constellations before taking his eyes away from the comforting heavens and turning back to Alice, his own kind of Heaven once upon a time.
"Then what do you want?"
She was crying. He had made her cry. Jasper wondered if this was what it truly felt like to die. He couldn't not be touching her anymore. In less than a heartbeat, he had swept her back into the hard circle of his embrace, crushing her to his chest as though he could squeeze her pain out and take it inside himself instead.
"Please no. Please don't cry, Alice. I have never meant for you to be unhappy. I've tried so hard to make everyone happy for them. For Bella and Edward and can't you see? They deserve it, Alice."
Alice shook in his arms, her tears soaking the fine linen of his shirt as he begged her to understand him with words she couldn't find it in herself to understand. He was so distant for the entire summer because he was trying to make everyone get along? All those headaches...she should have seen he was overexerting himself. She should have seen.
"Because they're special, Alice. In all the world, they found one another. Edward tries so hard and she smells so sweet. So very sweet. The choice. I can't imagine the choice to love so fully, Alice."
Her head tilted to look at him and Jasper relaxed his grip to allow her to move back if she so chose. Alice clutched at his sides and pressed closer instead. He had missed her arms around him. It was strange how safe he felt inside her embrace.
"You think they love one another more than I love you? More than we love one another?"
Jasper shook his head, his hair falling into his eyes irritatingly, "No. Not quite. They made a choice, Alice. A chance. We---we were inevitable."
"Inevitable? That's what you meant about my gift? You think you had no choice to love me since I saw us together?"
Alice was holding onto him so tightly, it would have killed a mortal man. She couldn't force herself to let him go. It was the worst fear she could imagine; if she let go, he might leave as she'd seen, then she'd know for certain why he'd gone. It would be because she'd driven him to it.
"This is coming out wrong. I thought it might. I'm not as good with words as once I was, Alice. Forgive me."
Jasper looked away but held onto her in his own right, his long, elegant hand sweeping calming strokes down the slope of her spine. Alice closed her eyes to appreciate his touch, his embrace. She could appreciate it more when she wasn't so aware that his gaze was elsewhere.
"You always had a choice, Jasper. My gift isn't so foolproof. You've seen me fail before. I've always said you put too much faith in my abilities. I did say I saw you leaving. Now I know why: you made your choice when you knew you had one."
Jasper's shout startled the few birds brave enough to light near them and he felt her jerk in his arms. Lifting her, gathering her closer still, he tried to hold her close enough to let her feel all his love for her.
She was breathless in a way he'd almost forgotten. It was a beautiful moment lost in the wake of a tragedy.
"I only meant that you and I were the sort of forever that comes together naturally. Bella and Edward are the forever that dreams are made from. Their love is the stuff of legends while ours is the way of things. We are one another's whole, Alice."
She was quiet for so long, he wondered if she had finally understood or if he'd managed to hurt her even more unwittingly. Her eyes were luminous by starlight. Jasper welcomed them with the fiercest love he could shine from his own.
"You've always loved me then? You're not leaving me?"
"No. I would have never. I simply...resent them sometimes. For having the choice, the chance to fail where I," Jasper paused for an unnecessary breath, "where you and I have always been each other's perfect compliment."
"You wanted things to be harder for us?"
Alice traced the buttons on his shirt as he held her aloft. She had no fear he would drop her. It had been such a long time since he'd held her, just held her, this way.
"I wanted to feel...young again. New again. We never really got what they have right now, you know? It's almost as if we came together midway in our relationship and missed all the best parts of young love."
He sounded so wistful. He had always been a romantic.
"Which parts?" she prompted.
Jasper cocked his head and considered her face. Alice felt herself give the closest approximation to a blush her cold skin could offer. She wondered, not for the first time, exactly what he saw when he looked at her.
"The getting to know one another part. The first touch, the first kiss, the first dance, all the firsts, Alice. We seemed to have already had them and then it was as though they were taken for granted because we were so well-suited that it hardly seemed right of us to have more than our compatibility."
Alice spoke without thinking, "I wanted to be angry with you."
"I'm sorry," he replied automatically.
"No. I mean. If I had been angry with you, this would have been one of our worst fights."
Jasper considered that until he realized her fingers were making swift work of his shirt buttons. He shifted her to catch her fingers in his own.
"One of our only fights, you mean."
She twisted her fingers out of his grip and went back to work on his buttons. Her body felt solid and real in his arms.
"That's right. You want a first, Jasper?"
He nodded, unable to answer as her nails scraped across the frozen scars on his chest. Jasper wished he could be perfect for her again. He wished they had been given even one perfect summer like Bella and Edward's.
"How about our first attempt at make-up sex? To celebrate that you're not leaving me."
Jasper kissed her, tasted the shape of her lips, the venom slicking her teeth making his mouth numb. She tugged at his hair to pull him away from her and he nodded again.
"Perhaps we should leave. Together. We could find some firsts of our own to celebrate. We don't have to be so settled, right?"
Alice's eyes twinkled as brightly as the stars above their heads.
"Alright. After Bella's birthday though, yes? I've been planning the party for ages."
They laughed together as he spun them in circles, reveling in their chance to explore something new from something totally inevitable.