The Circle Game
New Moon AU - When Alice has some troubling visions of Bella, Jasper offers to return to Forks to check on her. When he finds her in a worse state then any of them could have imagined, he and Alice, with the help of Emmett, decide to take matters into their own hands - and bring Edward home. (Takes place just after Ch. 14 of NM)
A huge thanks, as usual, to Katie, for not telling me I was crazy for starting Yet Another NM AU. Written for the prompt "It's an endless circle" for twilightathon over at LJ.
2. Part 2/4
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3086 Review this Chapter
Alice's plan consisted of driving to Bella's house and sitting in her living room until she got home. Her reasoning for driving instead of running was that if Bella saw the car in the driveway, she would be less inclined to have a heart attack when she walked through the door and saw them sitting there. There wasn't really any danger if Charlie came home first - she had always been able to charm Bella's father. Then, they would simply talk to her. They hadn't yet figured out what to do about Edward, who Alice had seen holed up in a crawl space somewhere, looking like he was simply focusing on keeping himself breathing. She was sure he'd given up on tracking Victoria days ago.
"I can't see her right now," Alice said, a little too calmly - a pulse of frustration betrayed her, and Jasper put his arm around her shoulders from the driver's seat. "But from what I can remember seeing, she works on some Monday afternoons, and its Spring break, so she may even be off. If she's not home now, she should be there soon."
He nodded and pulled into Bella's driveway, but paused before getting out of the car. Turning to Alice, he said, "What exactly are we going to say to her when she walks into her living room and sees us sitting there?"
She shrugged, suddenly anxious, and pulled the handle on the door. "That all depends on her reaction."
Jasper frowned. Her answer, and her nervousness, was not at all comforting.
Alice used the key under the eave to unlock the door, and as Jasper stepped over the threshold, he could immediately smell Bella all over the house, stronger for him than Alice, he was sure, since her scent was all but burned into his mind since her birthday. Even while mixed with a scent that, he assumed, could only be Charlie, she permeated everything.
Alice reached for his hand, and her comforting presence was enough to allow him to step further into the room. While she sat down on the couch and prepared to wait, Jasper explored the room. He took some amusement in examining the pictures lined up of Bella as a child with her father, the old school photos. There was only one fairly recent shot, one that had been taken right in front the house. Bella was leaning against the door of her old truck, smiling, her brown eyes shining with laughter.
Jasper sighed, wondering when had been the last time Bella smiled.
"Jasper." Alice's voice broke through his thoughts. Her face was turned towards the window, anticipation flowing off of her in waves mingled with anxiety. The mix made him uneasy, and he sent a few calming bursts of energy her way. She sent him an apologetic but grateful glance. "She's here. Her truck just pulled around the corner."
Jasper nodded and walked over to the couch. He leaned against the arm, and waited.
A strong burst of conflicted emotions moving so fast they made his head spin heralded Bella's arrival - first shock, then disbelief, then hope, then an anguish so crushing, it was no wonder she was walking around so unfeeling all the time. Then, her emotions cut off so abruptly, he had to glance out the window to make sure she was still standing there.
If that was her reaction to seeing the car, then what would happen when she saw them?
The door creaked open slowly, and Jasper stood very still as Bella stepped into the house. Alice came to stand beside him, just as quiet.
Bella looked straight in front of her as she walked towards the living room. She put her bag down. She closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, and Jasper had to fight the urge to take one with her as her scent was suddenly almost overpowering - Alice reached over and squeezed his hand.
Then, Bella took a few steps towards them, turned her head, and opened her eyes.
Bella stared at Alice and Jasper for a few very long moments. She blinked. Jasper was afraid to say anything - she looked completely shell-shocked, like one false move would send her tumbling over the edge she clung to.
Alice inhaled sharply, took a small step forward, and said, "Bella -"
That seemed to be the magic word, because suddenly, Bella flew across the room, threw herself into Alice's arms, and burst into tears.
Even Alice had to take a breath before putting her arms around Bella, who shook and sobbed as she cried in her arms. Alice shot him an annoyed glance. He knew she wanted him to calm Bella down, and he wished he could, for all of their sakes.
But even in her hysteria, Bella wasn't allowing any emotions to come through her protective shell. There were sporadic bursts of sadness, but other than that, there was nothing but the same emptiness he'd felt when he first saw her last night. There were no emotions to manipulate. It was unnerving.
Jasper shook his head at Alice, who seemed to understand exactly what he meant - her eyes widened and she tightened her hold on Bella. "Oh, Bella," she whispered.
Bella quieted after a few minutes and finally loosened her grip on Alice. She pulled back to look at the two of them. "Why..." Her question trailed off.
The two of them exchanged a look, wondering if they should tell her the truth.
Bella noticed - Jasper had forgotten just how observant she could be, a huge mistake on his part - and her eyes narrowed, a shadow of the old Bella. Jasper hadn't noticed how dead her eyes were until now. "The truth," she said, her voice firm.
"I was worried about you," Alice said, and then she amended, "We were worried about you."
"You don't have to be worried about me," she mumbled. "I'm...fine."
No matter how many times she had told this lie, Jasper was sure it wasn't any closer now to being true. He threw a sidelong glance at Alice and said, "Alice has been having some...worrisome visions of you, Bella."
Her heart beat a bit faster. Jasper closed his eyes and took a breath. "Visions of...me?" She shook her head. "What? When?"
"On and off since...September." Jasper could tell she hadn't wanted to say "since we left."
Bella nodded. "Oh," she said in a small voice.
Jasper didn't have to be able to read her emotions or her thoughts to know what she was thinking and feeling at that moment - if she's been seeing me since September, and she's really been that worried, why wait until now to come back?
Alice noticed too, and elaborated. "I wanted to come back, a hundred times Bella, but..." Her voice trailed off, and Jasper laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. The unsaid words "but Edward told us to stay away" hung in the air between them.
Bella wrapped an arm around her stomach and Jasper noted how frail she looked. He took in the paleness of her skin, the gauntness to her face, and realized, once again, just how bad of a state they'd left Bella Swan in.
"So, what made you come this time?" Bella asked as she sat down on the couch. She hadn't loosened her grip on her stomach.
Alice hesitated for a fraction of a second, wondering just how much she should tell her. She sat down next to Bella, put a hand on her knee, and opted for most of the truth. "I couldn't See you," she said.
Bella blinked. "What?"
"I couldn't See you. I tried and tried and every time I did, all I saw was nothing, and I didn't know what that meant. I had to wait for the visions of you to come. And I just got tired of waiting."
It was most of the truth - she was only leaving out the fact that he had come back first and even now was sensing as much emotion from Bella as he would from a dead person.
"So, what does that mean? That you can't see me when you try to see me?"
Alice shrugged. "I still don't know."
"So...how long are you going to be here?" Jasper could sense the desperation in her tone, could almost taste it on his tongue.
"As long as you need us to be," Alice answered. She then threw a pointed glance at Jasper as she said, "Wait right here. We'll be right back."
Alice all but dragged Jasper out the front door. When they reached the back of the house, she pulled out her cell phone and said, "So, I have a plan."
"Another one?" Jasper said, amused.
Alice glared, irritated. She ignored his comment. "Emmett and Rosalie are already in Denali, right?"
"As far as I know." His brow furrowed. "Why?"
"Because we need to be here for Bella, but someone needs to go down to Mexico and talk some sense into Edward. And if anyone can get through that thick head of his and convince him to do something, it’s Emmett."
Jasper frowned. "Are you sure this is such a good idea, Alice?"
"Once I explain the situation to Emmett, he won't refuse. Desperate times call for desperate measures." She grinned impishly. She was already dialing. "Rosalie's going to have a fit, but she'll survive." She sobered. Jasper could hear the phone ringing on the other end. "He needs to come back to her, Jazz. He needs to come home."
Her eyes were bright with determination as she walked off towards the woods, talking quickly into the phone. "Emmett, its Alice. You need to listen to me right now, because this is really important. I have a favor to ask you, and it’s not going to be easy. It's about Edward. Well, I'm sort of in Forks..."
As Alice walked further into trees, Jasper slowly made his way back into the house. He wasn't overly keen on being alone with Bella, but if the look on her face when they'd left had been any indication, she wasn't entirely convinced that they were going to come back at all.
Bella was standing in her kitchen arguing with someone on the phone when he walked back inside. He didn't mean to eavesdrop, but it was unavoidable.
"What do you want me to do, Jacob? Send them away?"
Jasper arched an eyebrow. Who was she talking to, and why would they want him and Alice to leave? More importantly, why would Bella have felt the need to tell him that they were here at all? He stilled and listened closer.
"Jacob - Jake, they came because they were worried about me, not because - " A pause. Then, Jasper was shocked to feel a strong pulse of anger, but was also pleased - at least there was some sign of feeling left in her.
"Well, you can tell Sam to mind his own business. And keep the pack out of this - I can take care of myself."
The pack? The furrow in Jasper’s brow deepened.
"Jake," her voice was pleading now. "Please. Don't you understand what this means to me?" Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I miss them. And they're here now. And they want to see me. And –“ If possible, her voice dropped even lower and broke on the way out of her throat. "And they're the closest to him I'm going to get."
Another pause, before she said, "I will," her voice still just barely a whisper. "I promise. As soon as I can. Bye." She hung up the phone carefully with shaking hands. Then, she dropped herself into a chair and lowered her head to her arms.
"How do I manage to ruin everything?" she asked aloud. Her voice was hollow, but small waves of sorrow broke through, and Jasper automatically sent a responding wave of reassurance her way.
"Thanks," she mumbled. Then, she sat straight up in her chair. "Jasper!" she exclaimed. "I...didn't know you were there."
Jasper had a feeling if she had known he was there, she would have hung up the phone, or been a lot less open with her conversation. He stepped into the kitchen and leaned against the wall, crossing his arms. “Who was that on the phone? You sounded like you were upset.”
Bella stiffened just a bit. “Just…a friend, Jacob. Jacob Black. He’s a little angry with me right now.”
If her side of the conversation had been any indication, Jacob was more than a little angry with her right now, but that was not the point he was going to press. “A friend, hmmm?” Bella nodded, and he could tell she was suspicious.
“And why, exactly, would your friend not be happy about Alice and I being back in Forks?”
Bella winced. “You weren’t supposed to hear that,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize, but that doesn’t answer the question.”
She shuffled her feet and looked at the floor, silent for a few moments. She seemed to be debating whether or not to tell him something. Then, she sighed, her decision made. “Jacob’s… sort of a werewolf.”
Jasper's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "A werewolf? Are you sure?"
Bella seemed to be fighting against a shudder, and a tendril of fear reached him. "Positive. I was just at La Push today. I've seen them for myself."
"Seen what for yourself?" Alice said, walking back into the room with a swing in her step. Satisfaction rolled off of her in waves - things must have gone well with Emmett. She gave a subtle nod to Jasper.
Jasper gave her one in return before answering, "Apparently, Bella has taken it upon herself to run with werewolves in our absence."
Alice's mouth dropped to the floor in shock before she was able to compose herself. She turned to Bella. "Werewolves? Really, Bella, must you attract every non-human being within a fifty mile radius straight to you?"
"Jacob's only been a werewolf for the past few weeks," Bella mumbled lamely.
"Even better! So, he has little to no control, which means he's dangerous. And by the way, who's Jacob?"
"He's a friend," Bella said, voice firmer now. "And he's not dangerous. I'm perfectly safe with the pack."
Alice's eyebrow arched. "Are you really going to stand there and tell me that nothing has happened to put you in danger since you started hanging out with a pack of werewolves?"
Bella's eyes narrowed in a defiant glare. She crossed her arms over her chest and let out a loud breath, but said nothing.
Alice smiled triumphantly. "That's what I thought."
"I'm going to La Push tomorrow," Bella said, jutting out her chin. "I promised Jacob."
Jasper started, "I don't know if that would be such a good -”
Alice cut him off. "No, you most certainly are not." Jasper looked at her, exasperated. Telling Bella what to do wasn't going to get her anywhere.
"And how are you going to stop me? Charlie doesn't know you're here."
"I can change that," Alice said, and her eyes flashed fiercely.
"No, you won't. I'm going to La Push to see Jacob." Suddenly, her eyes fell to the floor and her body slumped. "Alice, you don't understand. Jake's the only one who's really been there for me the past five months. He's the only who...who really understands. He hasn't made me talk about anything if I didn't want to; he's just... let me be. He's known exactly what I needed, and now I've hurt him, and he's furious with me, and if I can fix that, even just a little bit, then I'm going to."
It was the most they'd heard her say since she walked through the door, and certainly the most emotional Jasper had seen her seem, besides when she had been on the phone. Her emotions seemed less cut-off where Jacob was concerned.
Alice sighed. "Fine," she grumbled. "Fine. I'm not going to stop you. Go see Jacob tomorrow."
"I was going to do it whether you liked it or not," Bella mumbled, her eyes narrowed.
"But," Alice said, "You have to promise us something in return."
Bella eyed her suspiciously. "What do you want?"
"Come to our house when you're finished in La Push."
Bella's heart sped up for a moment, and she swallowed, but she nodded. "All right."
"Good," Alice said rubbing her hands together, happier now. "It's settled then."
Jasper's wandering eyes fell on the clock, and he realized how late it had gotten. He voiced this concern to Bella. "It's getting late. I'm guessing your father will be home soon, and unless you were planning on telling him that we're here..." Jasper left the question open, but was inwardly hoping that Bella wasn't planning on telling anyone else that he and Alice were back in town.
"No. Charlie... Charlie is worried enough about me as it is. This is just another unnecessary stress that he doesn't need right now." Bella sighed and her face fell. "I guess that means you have to go." That same desperate tone crept into her voice, like she was certain that they wouldn't be there when she showed up at the house tomorrow.
Alice walked over to her, gave her a hug, and kissed her on the forehead. "We'll see you tomorrow afternoon."
"Promise?" Bella asked weakly.
Bella nodded and gave Jasper a small wave. He smiled and tried to reassure her, but was sure he was of no help.
He could feel her eyes on their backs as they left.