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The More things Change

Summary:
The Cullen family undergoes many changes--some people leave, some people arrive. Marriages, babies, and imprints confuse the issue even more.


Notes:
This is a sequel to "Home"...you don't have to read that to totally understand this, but it would probably help alot! Yeah, I know I sound like I'm begging for reads, but I'm just trying to be helpful! So go read "Home" if you get confused...


5. The Vision

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2289   Review this Chapter

She sat down on a porch swing, and gently pulled me down beside her. And she would not stop that intense staring! I just looked out at the trees and sky, waiting for her to say something. When she never did, I chanced a sideways glance at her face. Her expression was unfathomable, somewhere between curiosity and hopefulness. Her eyes were wide, and staring intently at me. That same look I’d seen on her face the very first time I’d seen her in Charlie’s house. The same look she’d given me a week or so ago when we’d been out here on this very same porch, me telling her about my past. Like she was afraid. Afraid both of seeing me, and also deathly afraid that I would leave. And like then, I couldn’t take it.

"Stop that!" I exclaimed, causing her eyes to widen even more. "Please," I added more gently. "I-I can’t take it when you stare at me like that! I said I’m sorry for running off...do you want me to get down on my knees and beg for your forgiveness? I’m sorry! I can’t stand the thought that I caused you pain! Please forgive me, Alice!" I was pleading now. I buried my face in my hands, the desire to crawl back under a rock strong in my mind.

Alice reached out and touched my shoulder, and I jumped slightly. "Why did you leave?" she asked quietly.

I sighed, and began to tell her. I felt like a fool, having to explain this to her, especially after what Carlisle had told me at the bus station. How could I have hurt her like that? How could I have misunderstood? But at the time, it had been so clear—like she and Jasper were getting back together. When I finished, I glanced at her, and smiled sheepishly. She smiled back, a light radiating in her eyes that I couldn’t quite understand. And yet, it scared me a little, too.

"I understand," she said softly. "I can see how you’d maybe think that. But trust me—that isn’t going to happen." She sighed, and continued. "I have to tell you, Sean, but I can’t. I have to show you." She turned to the door way, and called, "Edward, could you come out here, please?" He appeared before she was done talking, still looking angry with me.

"Edward,’ Alice said. "Please show Sean. Show him what happened before he came. Show him my visions, and how I felt. And how I feel," she added, looking back at me and smiling again. Edward nodded, and then my mind was full of sights and sounds and emotions that weren’t mine. It took me a few moments, but I finally figured out they were Alice’s. And what I saw totally changed my world, and everything in it...

Alice’s POV

Six weeks earlier...

I awoke from my vision with a gasp. Jasper held me close, asking me questions, but I only herd his voice faintly, as if through water. I turned to him, my face blank. His concerned, perfect visage, which I love so dearly. How? How could he...? Would he? Had he? I ran through my vision again—that which was to come. It had the clarity, the sureness of one that could not be changed, or even prevented. The decisions involved in it had already been made, and would not change. But still I had to try. Somehow, this particular vision mustn’t come true. It just couldn’t!

The image burned in my memory—my dearest Jasper, with glowing crimson eyes. But thought terrible in it’s own way, this was not the worst part, the part which made me sob and turn in his arms, pressing my lips to his in a fevered, impassioned search for validation. For the girl in his vision, the girl who gazed unflinchingly into his bloody eyes, who silently buried the corpse, who held him to her, kissing away his nonexistent tears—that girl was not me! She was taller, curvier, with long auburn hair falling down her back in soft, rippling waves. Her skin was darker than mine, as if she had a slight tan beneath the pallid complexion of a vampire. She was so different than I, my complete opposite in everywhere but one—the golden eyes which marked her as a vegetarian.

Later, when my family went hunting, Edward and I stayed behind. He because Bella was with the mutt, and he wanted to be near her, able to fetch her at a moment’s notice; I because I sought my brother’s guidance. I knocked quietly on his door, though I knew he would’ve heard my approach. With his permission, I entered, sinking cross-legged to the floor before him, where he lounged casually on his sofa. He slid off to sit beside me, at my level. His expression of concern, so reminiscent of Carlisle, bade me explain my presence. He could tell something was very wrong, but my thoughts were in such a mad, swirling jumble, that I supposed he couldn’t make sense out of them.

Silently, I showed him my vision, then voiced my fears. He frowned for a moment, pondering upon my dilemma. Finally, after a moment so agonizingly long it put a crack in my fragile heart, he spoke. I agreed wholeheartedly with his simple plan: to ignore the vision, and reduce the chances of Jasper meeting any new vampires wherever possible. I thanked him, and ran to meet my husband as i saw their decision to return home.

However, Fate is cruel, and has a way of beating whatever plans we may put in place to thwart it. As I skipped down the hallway and reached the stairs, I saw something that completely shattered my long dead heart.

Carlisle, holding the door open...for a tall, slim vampire. Esme, welcoming the strange woman to our home. Emmett, laughing at her melodic words, accompanied by a gesture from her dainty, manicured fingers. Rosalie, admiring the girl’s beautiful hair. And, worst of all, Jasper--gallantly taking her arm to lead her on a tour of the house, adoration subtly hidden in his eyes. Suddenly I felt as though I was falling, falling to the dark, painful depths of Hell itself, as my beloved introduced this stunning stranger, this mysterious newcomer, this intruder, into our home and lives. And yet, crushed and desperately sad as I was, I could not bring myself to hate this auburn-haired heart-stealer. She would bring my Love joy, wash away his guilt, cleanse his soul of all the sins that I, with my innocence and lost past, could never completely erase. She would make him happy, and after all—that was all I’ve ever wanted.

Jasper must have sensed my despair, because he suddenly stiffened, and glanced to the stairs. Seeing me, the look of anguish on my face, the happiness left his eyes, and he looked horribly sad. I shook my head. I would not be the cause of that pain I saw clearly on his features. He was torn, the poor man. Torn between me and this newcomer. Torn between his soul-mate and the one who had put him back together. Suddenly, I knew exactly how Jacob and Bella felt. I was Jacob, and Jasper was Bella. My heart went out to Jacob, dog that he was, now that I knew exactly how he must feel. And Bella, torn between Jacob and Edward just as Jasper was now torn between this stranger and I. Well, I would not act like the dog! I would let Jasper go, and be happy for him, and wish him well, no matter how dead I was inside. I would not try to get him to cling to me, to selfishly try and force him to pick me over his soul-mate.

Easier said than done, Alice, I told myself. Then I realized that Jasper was still staring at me, as were the others. And the stranger was looking from Jasper to me and back to Jasper. My family’s eyes were filled with sadness, and I forced my emotions down, and smiled as bravely as I could (which wasn’t much). A hand fell onto my shoulder from behind. I jumped slightly. It was Edward. I’d been so caught up in the scene below that I hadn’t noticed his arrival. I turned to him.

I am so sorry, Alice, he thought. His face mirrored some of the pain I felt, which he’d obviously seen in my mind.

I nodded. I can’t face them right now, Edward. Can you please distract them for me? I pleaded. He smiled sadly, and nodded. He started down the stairs, calling out to our family in mock delight at their unexpected early arrival, while I slipped into my room, and out the window. I had to get away for a while.

I ran blindly for a few minutes, not really knowing where I was headed, until I found myself standing in front of Bella’s house. Of course, I would come here. My friend, my sister could help me. I noticed that Jacob’s car was still in the driveway, but I didn’t care. I could ignore the smell for once. I had to see Bella.

Charlie answered the door, and even he could tell something was wrong. He invited me in, saying that Bella and Jake were watching a movie, and asked if I wanted to join them. I shook m head, and said I needed to talk to Bella, but I would wait until Jacob left. He led me into the kitchen to talk. As I passed the living room, I could Jake and Bella on the couch, looking at me. Bella wore a puzzled expression, while Jacob scowled at me. But now that I was in his position, I couldn’t bring myself to be angry or respond in kind. So I just smiled sadly at him, which caused his eyes to widen in surprise.

Charlie, obviously concerned over how I looked, tried to get me to eat and drink, but I told him I wasn’t hungry. He also tried to get me to talk, to tell him what was wrong. I told him that there’d just been a death in the family. An old, favorite aunt had just passed on. He was so sympathetic. Charlie is a dear, sweet man, and I hated lying to him. But then, I couldn’t very well say, "Oh, my vampire husband of the last 60 odd years is leaving me for another woman," either. Besides, it wasn’t a total lie—there had been a death in the family...the death of Jasper and my relationship.

Charlie finally lapsed into helpless silence, while I stared blindly at the table. Without warning, Bella joined us, sitting down next to me and putting her hand on my shoulder. I turned my head to her, and she gasped at the look in my eyes. If eyes really are the mirrors of the soul, then she surely saw the utter pain and desolation I felt.

"Alice, what’s wrong?" she asked, her voice panicky and high-pitched. I realized the reason for her fear, and quickly told her that Edward was all right. She visibly relaxed, but then worry crossed her face again.

"Jasper?" she asked. "Is he okay?"

"Jasper?" I responded. "Yes, he’s well. In fact, he’s very well. In fact, he’s great!" My voice had risen, and I laughed somewhat hysterically. "He’s totally happy!" I went on. I was on the verge of loosing it, when I noticed the looks Bella and Charlie were exchanging. Then I suddenly started to sob. I vaguely heard Bella tell Charlie that she was taking me up to her room for girl talk, and the next thing I knew, we were sitting on her bed. I continued with my dry sobs for several minutes, just clinging to Bella while she whispered soothingly into my ear.

Finally, I was calm enough to tell her the whole story. When I was done, Bella’s face was nearly a copy of mine. "Oh Alice, I am so sorry! How could Jasper do something like that to you?" I shook my head.

"He didn’t DO anything, Bella. Please don’t be mad at him! It’s just the way it is. I love him, and I know he loves me, but this girl...she’s his soul mate." I sighed. "Bella, I’d never purposefully do anything to hurt you, so I hope what I’m about to say doesn’t bother you too much. But now I know exactly how you and Jacob must feel. He loves you and you love him, but Edward is your soul mate, not Jacob. I never really understood it before now. So I’m sorry if I was ever rude to you about it."

Bella sighed, too, looking out her window. "That’s okay, Alice. I still don’t really understand it myself. And I’m so sorry you had to have this happen! What are you going to do? You aren’t going to leave now, are you?"

I opened my mouth to respond, but suddenly froze. My eyes glazed over, and my body went rigid. It was another vision. Carlisle once said my body’s response to the visions was like a seizure of sorts. When I didn’t respond, Bella looked back at me. I saw it, heard her frantic calling of my name, and I would have loved to respond. Anything but what was coming over me. My mind was screaming out that I’d been through enough, and didn’t want anymore. I couldn’t handle anymore today! Wasn’t loosing the love of my immortal life enough? What more could fate possibly do to me? But Fate, while she could be a cruel mistress, was also not completely without mercy. Wrapped in Bella’s arms, I could only watch the images as they began to bombard my sight...