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The Circle Game

Summary:
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)


Notes:
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.


4. Part 4/4

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3925   Review this Chapter

Alice stared at Bella, completely unsure of what to do. Bella stared back, glaring angrily. All the while, Jasper tried his best to keep the atmosphere calm.

“Emmett’s not in Mexico for Carlisle,” she repeated as a statement now. “He went down to Mexico because you asked him to.” She moved her angry stare to Jasper. “Edward’s down there, isn’t he?”

“Bella-“

“Is that what this is really all about? You coming here?”

“No, Bella, that’s not-“

Bella continued like she hadn’t heard Alice say a word. “Because I can already tell you it doesn’t matter what Emmett told him to get him to get on that plane and come back here. He made it perfectly clear how he felt about me.” The bitterness of her words couldn’t mask the pain she felt as she said them, and her eyes welled with tears once again. She brushed them away angrily.

“Bella, are you listening to yourself?” Alice said, grasping her by the shoulders. “Edward loves you.”

“Then why did he go through all the trouble to make me believe that he doesn’t?”

Jasper knew exactly how to answer that. “Would you have let him leave if he hadn’t?”

Her bottom lip trembled. She shook her head.

Taking advantage of her undivided attention, Alice kept her voice soothing as she said, “Bella, I wasn’t lying when I told you that Jasper and I came here because we were worried about you. We were. We are.” She looked to Jasper for acknowledgment and he nodded.

She continued, “But what I didn’t tell you was that you weren’t the only one I was having troubling visions about.”

Bella’s entire body stilled as she stared at Alice with wide eyes. Jasper wasn’t sure how wise of an idea it was to tell her this, but if it could finally convince her that she was wrong…

“What do you mean?” Bella asked quietly.

“I mean that I was Seeing Edward too. And Bella-“ She shook her head. “He’s in just as bad a state as you are. If he wasn’t throwing himself into something else just so he could try to forget, he was alone, and completely and utterly devastated. I wish I could let you see. Because if there was ever any doubt in your mind as to just how much he loved you, once you saw what I saw…you could never doubt him again.” She gave her a sad smile. “No matter what he tried to tell you.”

The tears were falling freely now, and Bella let out a small cry before throwing her arms around Alice’s neck. Alice put her arms around Bella’s waist and simply held her while she cried. She and Jasper exchanged a glance. He could tell they were hoping for the same thing – that Bella would finally believe, even just a little, that Edward still loved her.

Bella pulled back after a time and sniffled. Rubbing her eyes, she said, “So, Edward’s really coming back?”

Alice smiled. “Really. He’ll be here tomorrow night.”

Bella bit her lip, and a wave of nervousness mixed with her earlier distress.

“It will be fine, Bella,” Alice said, taking both of her hands. “I promise.”

She nodded, still not completely convinced, and then sighed. “I should get home. Charlie will be wondering where I am.”

Alice kept her arm around Bella's shoulder as she walked her to the door. "So, you'll be back tomorrow, right?" She asked, turning to face her once they reached the doorway.

Bella's answering pulse of nervousness grew stronger, but she nodded. "I'll be here.”

Jasper tried to calm her, knowing it wouldn't do her much good by the time she got to her car. She gave him a grateful smile, then waved to the both of them and walked out the door, shutting it quietly behind her.

"Well," Alice said with a frown as she watched Bella's truck pull away. "That went a lot worse than I'd expected it to." She turned to Jasper and clasped his hand in hers. "She really believed that he doesn't love her. I can't believe she actually believed him."

"Edward can be quite convincing when he needs to be, and I think that Bella's always thought herself unworthy of his love," Jasper said, pulling Alice into his arms.

She let out a breath of indignation. "Well, that's ridiculous," she said, and looked up at Jasper. "I've never seen Edward happier then when he's with Bella, I've never seen him-" Her words dropped off and she closed her eyes and took a breath.

When she opened her eyes, she smiled. "Well, hopefully now, she knows better, right?" She leaned up and kissed Jasper softly.

Jasper could tell that despite Alice's confession about her visions of Edward, Bella still hadn't been sure what to believe. He could only hope that the two of them could work things out for themselves when Edward came home tomorrow.

He sighed. "Yes. Hopefully."

---

When Bella didn't show up by late the next afternoon, Alice looked at Jasper. She was more than just a little confused.

"I was sure she would be here this morning," she said, frowning.

"Maybe she got sidetracked by something," Jasper said, thinking Alice was being paranoid. "She'll be here."

"No, I saw her, I - what?"

"Alice, don't you think you're being a bit...obsessive?" Jasper asked, hesitating before he voiced his concern. He knew Alice could easily take his words the wrong way.

Alice huffed and crossed her arms. "I just wanted to make sure she would actually come like she said she would. What would Edward think if he showed up here and Bella was nowhere to be found?"

This was rational reasoning, even Jasper could admit that. "All right, but if you saw her here now, then where is she?"

Alice let out a breath, clearly annoyed, closed her eyes, and went still. A few tense moments passed before she opened them again and said, "She's still at home. She was on the phone with someone, telling them to meet her at the house. She said she had something important to tell them." Alice froze and slowly, her gaze met Jasper's. "You don't think..."

But Jasper knew exactly what Alice was thinking, because he was thinking the same thing. "I don't think. I know." Jacob was coming to meet Bella. She was going to tell him that Edward was coming home.

This was not going to end well.

Jasper took Alice's hand and together, they ran out the door and through the woods towards Bella's house. While they were moving, Alice cast her mind to Bella's future, and let out a frustrated yell.

"I can't see her, Jasper," she said, resigned. "I see her pacing, and then she's gone."

"At least this confirms our theory on your visions and werewolves," Jasper said, hoping this would lend her some small comfort.

Alice simply looked at him.

The two of them stopped when they reached the woods at the edge of Bella's house. Jasper could tell that Alice wanted to rush forward, but he placed a hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her.

"This is something that she needs to do," he said. She glared at him, wanting to disagree. Eventually, she nodded, and they stood back and watched.

Bella was pacing back and forth outside of her house. She was obviously nervous and quite impatiently waiting for someone.

When a very tall boy with russet colored skin walked through the trees, Bella’s movements finally stilled. This had to be Jacob.

“Jacob,” Bella breathed, confirming his suspicions. Jasper exchanged a glance with Alice. “Hi.”

“What’s up Bella?” Jacob said, sticking his hands in his pockets. “You said you had something important you had to tell me.”

“I do. And I didn’t want to tell you over the phone, because it’s something that should be said face to face.” Bella took a deep breath, then came right out and said, “Jacob…Edward’s on a plane. He’s coming back to Forks. Tonight.”

Bella seemed to be holding her breath as she waited for Jacob’s reaction. He seemed disbelieving – at first. Then, his face twisted in fury, and Bella took a shocked step backwards.

"So, what you're telling me is that Edward is on his way back to Forks right now?"

Bella nodded, her eyes wide.

Jacob's entire frame shook. Jasper took a step forward, but Alice placed a firm hand on his arm, holding him back now. She shook her head. "Wait," she said. He nodded.

Jacob's hands were balled into fists at his sides, his anger palpable, and Bella was frozen in place. Jasper could tell that she didn't know what to do.

"And I suppose that you're going to go running back to him as soon as he gets here and throw yourself back into his arms like nothing happened?"

Bella took another step back and reeled like she had been slapped. Hurt washed through her. "That's not fair, Jake!" she snapped.

"No, you going back to him and pretending that nothing is wrong - that's not fair. It's not right, Bella, and I thought you knew better!"

"He loves me, Jacob," Bella whispered, and now, it was Jacob's turn to step backwards. "After all this time thinking that he doesn't, that he never did..." Her eyes met his, and they were shining with tears. And bright with determination. "I can't let him go if there's a chance that he loves me. I can't!" Softer, she said, "I'm sorry."

"No," he said bitterly, "Not yet. But when he breaks your heart again, you will be."

The tears overflowed, and as the two of them looked at each other, Jasper realized something that he should have picked up on before.

Jacob was angry, hurt, and in pain, but underneath it all flowed an undercurrent of love, thick and strong, and all for Bella. Bella's love for Jacob was not as tangible - she probably didn't even realize it was there yet - but it was there nonetheless, and Jasper had to turn away from the both of them to keep from grabbing Bella and spiriting her away.

Because Edward would come back, Bella would go back to him, but this would be far from over. There would be so much more pain in the near future, an endless circle of one hurting the other, and a part of him wished he could go back in time and force Edward to stay in Forks and make everything so much less complicated.

Alice chose that moment to walk from their spot in the woods, and Jasper followed her. Jacob tensed immediately, his nose wrinkling when he saw the two of them come up behind Bella.

He glanced at them, then back at her, and spit out, "Goodbye, Bells," before sprinting off into the forest.

Bella stood frozen in place as she watched him leave. Alice put a hand on her shoulder.

“Well,” she said finally, “That went a lot worse then I’d expected it to.” She couldn't have known that Alice had said the exact same thing about her reaction yesterday. The irony was not lost on Jasper.

Then, her face crumpled.

“Bella-” Alice started.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Bella said softly, cutting her off. “I just want to go back with you to the house and sleep. Can I do that?”

"Of course," Jasper said, before Alice could try to say anything else. "Did you want to run with us or take your truck?"

"The truck," she said firmly, surprising Jasper by handing him the keys. "If Charlie comes home and sees the truck but not me, he'll wonder if I've run off somewhere again. That's the last thing he needs."

The three of them piled into the truck, Jasper at the wheel. Bella was silent the entire way there, her head resting on Alice's shoulder. He could tell she was exhausted, both physically and mentally, but her eyes just couldn't seem to close.

By the time they got to the house, Bella was dragging herself up the stairs. Jasper was tempted to tell Alice to carry her, but he didn't think Bella would appreciate the gesture.

"You look like you're going to pass out," Alice said, putting her arm around Bella's waist to help her stand. "Why don't you go lie down upstairs for a while?"

Bella stiffened at the implication that she should go upstairs and sleep in Edward's room. Even with the possibility of Edward coming home tonight, that still wasn't something she was willing to face just yet.

"You can sleep in our room," Alice said, and Bella relaxed instantly. "Do you remember where it is?"

"I think-"

"I'll show you," Jasper said, and Alice shot him a look of confusion. He knew she would just look ahead and see for herself, so she didn't bother explaining.

Jasper led Bella up the stairs, keeping behind her the entire way. Twice, she tripped and he put a hand on her shoulder to steady her. Once he was sure she wouldn't fall, he pulled his hand away.

Bella lay down as soon as they reached his and Alice's room, but she stared at the ceiling and said, "I don't know if I can sleep."

Jasper had known that might happen, which was why he came up with her. He walked over and put a hand on her arm. Her eyes closed almost instantly.

"Thanks," she whispered blearily before rolling over onto her side. Her breathing evened out and she was asleep in moments.

When Jasper walked downstairs and into the living room, Alice was sitting on the couch with her legs crossed, a smirk on her face.

"That was sweet," she said, and she smiled serenely. She walked over to him with a swing in her step.

Jasper rolled his eyes and put his arms around her. "I knew you would be watching."

"Well of course," Alice said haughtily. "You know how much I hate being left in the dark." Then, she kissed him before either of them could acknowledge the irony of her choice of words.

Jasper heard the door open slowly, and Alice pulled back. First, she glanced at the doorway, where Emmett and Edward had just walked through. Then, she looked at him, grinning ear to ear. She took off in a flash. Jasper walked more slowly, smiling. Her enthusiasm was infectious.

Alice bowled into Edward with a hug that, had he been human, would have been bone crushing and knocked him flat. “Welcome home,” she said, her face crushed to his shoulder.

Edward chuckled. “Happy to see me, Alice?”

Alice glared and slapped him in the head playfully.

“What about me?” Emmett said, pushing his way into the room. “I distinctly remember you saying something about – oof!”

Alice threw herself at Emmett. He twirled her around in his arms before setting her back down on her feet with a grin. “Hi, Alice.”

Jasper was glad for this distraction. The realization that much had happened these past few days that Edward didn't need to know about just yet had set in, and he had to fight to keep his mind blank.

Edward looked at him, suspicious at his lack of thoughts, but Alice took his hand and dragged him into the house. Emmett followed behind them.

With the door shut behind him, Edward started to feel uncomfortable. He ran a hand through his hair and cast his eyes around the room. It was obvious to Jasper who he was looking for.

“She’s upstairs sleeping in our room,” Jasper said, answering his unasked question.

"In your room?" Emmett asked. Alice flashed him a dark look. The determination was plain in her eyes - she was having as difficult a time keeping her mind clear as he was.

Jasper was fighting hard to keep the image of Bella, emotionless and broken, out of his head, but something must have slipped through the cracks. Edward turned to him, his face, if possible, paler than usual. “You couldn’t feel her emotions?” Edward asked him, a look akin to horror on his face.

Alice and Jasper exchanged a glance before he sighed, defeated. "No. Not until yesterday when she finally let herself break down."

Edward was still staring at him in shock. Emmett put a hand on his shoulder.

There was a pause, before Edward let out a strangled cry of shock and whipped around to Alice. "You couldn't see her?" The panic was plain in his face.

Alice winced. Apparently, she hadn't been planning on explaining this to him just yet. "No, but that isn't your fault." She ran a hand through her hair. Jasper could tell she was flustered. "Apparently, Bella has taken it upon to befriend werewolves in our absence."

Edward looked sick. "Werewolves?" He choked out. "How? Who?"

"Her friend, Jacob Black," Jasper answered. "She's been spending a lot of time with him, and according to her, has only been a werewolf for a couple of weeks."

"Oh, a young wolf! Perfect!" Edward said, sarcasm dripping from his words. He turned back to Alice. "What does any of this have to do with your visions?"

"Apparently, I can't see werewolves," Alice admitted begrudgingly. "So, whenever Bella was with him or another member of the pack, her future would disappear."

"That poses a problem," Emmett stated obviously, and then he grinned. "Werewolves, huh? Can't that girl stick to the human species? Ow!" Alice had slapped his shoulder.

"I guess there was no point to me leaving then," Edward said, his voice deceptively steady. "I left so she could have a safe and normal life. I should have known that there is no safe and normal for Bella in Forks." He looked furtively at Jasper out of the corner of his eye. "You really couldn't feel... anything?"

Jasper tried to choose his words carefully, but then decided that the truth would be better. "Besides a few sporadic bursts of emotion, no."

"Edward, you have to understand," Alice said gently. "It was her way of protecting herself. She went numb so she wouldn't have to feel...anything."

Edward glanced helplessly from one to the other until finally, his shoulders slumped and he buried his face in his hands. "She believed me, didn't she? When I said I didn't love her..."

There was no sense in lying. He was going to find out the truth in a few minutes. "Yes," Jasper said quietly. "Alice and I tried our best to convince her otherwise, but..." He looked Edward straight in the eyes and fixed him with a piercing stare. "The rest is up to you now."

Edward simply stood there, his eyes blank, his anxiety thick in the room. Jasper tried his best to calm him down, but when that didn't do the trick, Emmett put his arm around Edward’s shoulders and physically turned him around.

"Come on, Edward," he said, beginning to walk up the stairs. Jasper and Alice trailed quietly behind them. "Bella's waiting. And you've both been waiting long enough."

When Emmett pushed open the door to Jasper and Alice's room, Jasper could see that Edward wanted to flee. Then, he looked at Bella sleeping peacefully on the bed, and his entire demeanor changed. He squared his shoulders and walked purposefully into the room.

Jasper could sense Edward's hesitation as he approached Bella's sleeping form. He knew it wasn't just that he didn't want to wake her - he wasn't sure how she would react to seeing him after all this time, after the way they'd parted. They'd done their best to convince her that he'd been lying, trying to protect her.

The rest was up to them now.

He watched as Edward sat down on the bed next to her and tentatively, ever-so-gently, reached out a hand to brush against her cheek. Even in sleep, Bella instinctively leaned up into the touch. She shifted just a bit closer to him.

"Bella," Edward said, softly, laying his hand on her cheek. "Bella, angel."

Bella let out a humming sound and turned onto her back. She held Edward's hand to her cheek. "Edward," she said, clear as a bell, and Jasper wondered if they were going to hear any of the famous sleep-talking that Edward was so fond of. From the amused look on Alice and Emmett's faces, they seemed to be wondering the same thing.

Edward smiled tenderly down at her and brushed her hair out of her eyes.

Which slowly opened at that precise moment.

Bella blinked a few times, then stared up at Edward. Her emotions hadn't been as stilted since her breakdown, but they moved so fast now that Jasper was sorely tempted to tell Edward to get up and get out. Anguish, shock, and hope ran through her in the time it took her to blink her eyes one more time.

Then, she sat up straight, and said, "Edward!" She ran her fingers over his face, and he closed his eyes, seeming to revel in her touch. She took a fleeting glance behind her at the three of them, then said, "Oh - oh. You're here. You're really here, aren't you?"

Edward held her hand to his face and chuckled softly. "Of course I am. Did you think you were dreaming?"

"Yes," she answered, her voice registering wonder, "But if I were dreaming, Alice, Emmett, and Jasper wouldn't be standing in the doorway. That's how I know this is real." She leaned her forehead against his. "That you're here."

As they continued to talk in quiet murmurs, Alice said, "Let's give them some privacy," and threw a pointed glance at Emmett. He nodded at her. The two of them walked away together.

Jasper reached behind him to close the door, but not before he caught what Bella said next.

"Tell me you love me," she said, and he paused. He could feel the desperation rolling off of her in waves.

"Oh, Bella," Edward said, and reached over to pull her into his arms, "I love you, Isabella Swan. I never stopped. I love you more than anyone, anything, more than life itself. What I told you the day I left..." The anguish Edward felt as he spoke was palpable, and Jasper wanted nothing more than to comfort him, both of them, but he knew this was something they would have to do on their own.

Edward ran his nose along the column of her throat, then pressed his ear to her chest, listening to her heart. "It was the worst type of blasphemy imaginable. The blackest of lies, and the look in your eyes when I realized you believed me... it nearly killed me, Bella. I nearly got down on my knees right there and begged you to take me back."

"I would have you know," she said, and ran her fingers through his hair. "In an instant."

He raised his head. "I know."

The love that poured from both of them was so heavy on the air that Jasper wondered how either of them could have ever doubted the other.

"I love you," Bella said as they stared at each other.

"Jasper," Alice whispered, coming up behind him and putting her arms around his waist. "Stop spying." She pressed a kiss to his shoulder. "Everything is going to be fine. I've seen it."

Jasper took one final look at Bella and Edward, who were sitting silently on the bed.

When Bella gasped, threw her arms around Edward, and kissed him, he knew that Alice was right.

Jasper reached behind him and closed the door silently. He didn't need to see - or feel - anymore.