Maybe this is what everybody would feel if they could actually remember their birth, the confusion of entering the world and not knowing what got you there. A series of drabbles describing moments in the strange life of Alice from the beginning of what she can remember. Gen + some Jasper/Alice.
I wrote these short fics to accompany an Alice fanmix I posted on my LiveJournal, which you can see and download here: http://flowrs4ophelia.livejournal.com/68137.html .
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I. She Woke Alone
She is in a blind darkness like the inside of a womb, not completely black, with the warmth of some light source around the edges. She doesn't know if she is alive or dead. She doesn't know where she is. But the universe is unraveling before her behind her closed eyelids and if she opens them it may go away, and then she might be completely lost in the dark. She doesn't know.
There are faces. Cities. A kaleidoscope of spinning colors and lives, there and then gone in flashes of light. Anguished crying. The rumbling blue electricity of building storms. Honking car horns, sounds she has never heard before but somehow can identify. The blood flowing in a million people's veins as loud to her as great, running bodies of water. Laughter. The inevitable, grinding, constant ticking of clocks. And...
—there. Them. She knows those faces, somehow. These people are the same as her. They will soon see her, too. She already knows more about them than they do about themselves.
She opens her eyes, sees sky. The foliage of trees. She can hear birds.
But who is she?
They have been traveling together for two months. Jasper's eyes are now inky black with the smallest tint of wine red around the edges. It's strange: his voice sounds so gentle and benign, almost like a young boy's, but his eyes hold the shadow of something very sinister, a trace of ferocity. Something she knows he has been running from.
"You really don't remember a thing?" he asks her curiously as they are sitting against a wall on the roof of a tall building at night, as if looking down at all of the tiny people in the city below has brought this into his mind. "Not even a vague recollection of how it was different being human, if not any specific memories?"
She shakes her head. "It's as if I was just born. Maybe this is what everybody would feel if they could actually remember their birth...The confusion of entering the world and not knowing what got you there."
He laughs softly. "That would be something." Then he shakes his head. "I just can't imagine...You must have felt so lost."
She rests back against the wall, rolling her head to the side so it is leaning a little toward his shoulder. "Not anymore."
She thinks of what she sometimes sees in his eyes—how he would like to forget his former life and she wishes she could remember hers.
III. Some Things Gold Can Stay
"What's the longest you think anybody could live without being ready to die?" Alice asks Jasper thoughtfully one day. It is October 1967, and they are just sitting watching leaves drift down from trees in the strong breeze, and she realizes they could sit here and watch the leaves change colors and die again an infinite number of more times. It has been almost thirty years since they last talked about such a thing, and it is always a little curious to her how all of their feelings about immortality change and don't change the more time they spend learning what it's like to never change.
"I don't know," Jasper says. "If my life never got to be worse in some way, I don't think I'd ever want it to end."
"You don't think you might just get tired of it all?"
"No," he says easily. Then he looks up at her from where he is leaning over in her lap and grins beautifully. "You think I'd ever get tired of being with you?"
She smiles back warmly, running her fingers through his hair, which is the same color as the golden autumn leaves around them and will always stay that way. Suddenly, she can imagine it easily: an eternity to live, always with a lot to explore and discover and worth staying around for as long as they do not lose each other. Even after the sun will burn up the earth and countless other lives will be gone, she can see them still clinging to each other and drifting in space, their skin sparkling as brilliantly as the stars around them and their love outshining everything else in the surrounding blackness, lasting even after the oldest star burns out.
It's clear to all of them that Edward really cares about this human girl, because he has never acted this way toward Alice before. He practically seems to be blaming her for what she saw. The gaze of her eyes seems to remind him of something he doesn't want to face, and he avoids looking at her a lot of the time.
"Thank you for making her feel so welcome," he says after he has been fooling around with a melody on the piano with everyone else standing around in quiet conversation. He doesn't sound very thankful at all. After saying it, he looks up at Alice for a second.
"You think I was too nice?" she guesses. He doesn't answer. "I can't help it if I already know we're going to get along," she goes on innocently. "And I want her to know that she's a welcome addition to our family."
This, of course, is exactly what he doesn't want to hear. Esme, standing close to them with her arms crossed, looks over at Alice meaningfully, realizing the implication of the words.
"Don't say that," Edward says angrily. "You are always telling me yourself: the things you see can change."
"Not this. At least not in a way that is in your power to change." She walks closer to him, leaning against a side of the piano so that he cannot avoid looking at her face while she talks to him as conspicuously. "My gift can't be used to evade everything you don't want to happen. What you can do, knowing what's coming, is accept it. Allow me to make it easier for you to face it."
He looks back down toward the piano and starts playing again with a kind of loud determination. She can tell she hasn't helped at all.
V. How a Lion Becomes a Mouse
The asylum is not the same inhumane institution it must have been at the time she was held here. Even so, it's a very old, dreary place where sounds echo off the walls easily like in a dungeon. She can imagine much more clearly while being inside here what kind of suffering so many people have been put through here, what a dark and empty life she must have been living.
Nothing about it is familiar. But as one of the employees takes her up an elevator to help her find the records she needs, they pass by the door of what she knows is a padded cell, and she jerks her head away from it quickly, uncomfortably.
Just for seeing—something. That was what Mary Alice Brandon had this done to her for. She is reminded, for some reason, of a poem they studied in the last English class she had, with Bella; they and Edward were the only three in that class who had already read nearly everything by Emily Dickinson. "They Shut Me Up In Prose—" Her perfect memory of it brings the image of the page to her mind. "Because they liked me 'still.'"
This part of the story she does not know: Did they manage to make the visions stop? Did she want and try to make them stop? Did they take herself away from her?
VI. When You're a Stranger
The others have always found it remarkable that someone like her, who has no memory of being human, has chosen the life she has. Sometimes it seems strange even to her. But even though she can hardly identify with them at all, she cannot see humans as nothing but prey. She watches the complex motions of their short lives and sees the great mistakes they will make, the things they will find out too late, the losses they will have to endure. They are such weak things. But they are beautiful. She does not have the envy for them that Rosalie has, but perhaps some kind of unique understanding of their world. They are so different and fascinating in their fragility.
She only knows people she encounters everywhere from afar, but could tell them things about themselves they have no idea about. Perhaps she is drawn to them through an instinct to have something reciprocated - something, some day, given to her from them that she cannot give herself. Because they are her past. They are what she does not have.
And this is what is missing, the thing that still makes her feel such a long distance away from their world even as she knows so much more about it than most of the others in her family. They will always still be strange to her, because she is a stranger to herself.