I carried Alice down the stairs sliding on the couch just as Carlisle opened the door for Charlie to come in. Renesmee ran right up to greet him as he walked in, a huge smile plastered on her face with Bella right behind her, as Jake stood in the kitchen doorway, a gentle smile on his lips. Charlie was boldly smiling clearly having missed his only granddaughter. Edward shook his hand but then quickly looked at Alice and nodded, a motion Charlie missed. She looked up at me with a smile then shut her eyes and fell limp in my arms. I jolted with concern for one minute before realizing she was pretending to be asleep.
"How are you, Charlie?" Carlisle asked gently as he led him into the kitchen, Nessie trailing behind eagerly.
"I'm good. Good. Glad you guys are all home safe..." He was trying to hint that he was curious about Alice, about why we left home in the first place. He was probably wondering where she was too since he didn't see me when he walked in. I didn't sit there strategically but I realized it was a good place. It gave me a straight line to the stairs and a decent view of everyone in the house so I could signal them if anything started going wrong.
"Alice..." Bella trailed off from her spot behind Charlie. Edward looked at me from behind her, and I nodded, tell him whatever she's awake, and she'll remember. He nodded, and took easy control of the conversation.
"Jasper and Alice recently went on a small vacation to a small island off of South Africa. Unfortunately Alice contracted something while away. An unknown virus, which had a drastic effect on her immune system. Jasper was, as always, prepared for anything so once he realized how bad it was he prepared a way for them to come home immediately. Unfortunately the government would not let her back into America for fear of spreading something potentially dangerous. But, there was a way for us to fly her to a top of the art medical facility in Volterra, Italy. Carlisle knows some of the doctors there because of seminars they all attended together. However the doctors at the facility would not let us stay for more than two weeks at a time. So we would go for two weeks then come home for one. After about our third time coming home we got a call that something happened to Alice upon our leaving. She was kidnapped. Taken by a nurse who had just begun working there, who wanted to set up a ransom. Alice was not completely well from the disease, so we got in contact with the authorities very quickly, and because the man who took her didn't think everything through it was fairly easy for them to find her. We were given permission to bring her home, since Carlisle would be able to care for her and see how she was progressing to get better." Edward stopped suddenly, and looked over at me, eyes wide, I could feel the fear he was sending my way. I knew something was going to go wrong very soon, but I didn't know what. Give me a cue. Carlisle glanced at Edward's face then stepped toward Charlie, ready to pick up where Edward left off, as he saw the silent communication that was happening between the three of us
"She has been progressing, but not eating very much, and sleeping a lot. I'm sorry we were so skeptical to invite you over, it was simply because we didn't know how she would handle it. We also weren't sure how contagious she was until recently. She has been a bit unresponsive at times, and has been forgetting where she is and growing very anxious at times. We didn't want to harm her further, or upset you if she responded poorly. We did prepare her for your coming though."
Charlie nodded, and I was surprised at the fact that he actually believed everything that was being told to him. Edwards' head snapped up again, but this time Alice's did too. She clutched my shirt as a distant look filled her eyes. I shook her, trying to be near silent, getting her attention from her vision. Charlie still hasn't seen us
"Alice, Ali, what do you see?" Her panic hit me like a brick... no harder. Her eyes met mine, for only a second before they were trained on the door. Edward was at our side in a second, moving far faster than he normally would have in front of his human father in law.
"Get her upstairs." He hissed, and I ran up at a human speed, as not to confuse Charlie. I quickly went into our room, and sat on the bed, rocking her gently as she pulled at my shirt. I could hear Charlie's concern from downstairs and did my best to tune it out. Carlisle was working to placate him as Alice let out a shrill squeak of terror. I had to keep her from screaming.
"Alice, love, hon? What is it?" I was trying to pull her out of the vision, thankfully Edward came up, and knew just what she was seeing.
"It's not real Alice." He said, loudly, looking at me rocking her. "Fight back. She's trying to hurt you." I looked at him quizzically, but the pain on his face hit me, and suddenly Alice's fear was getting to me. I closed my eyes, trying to pace my breathing. She yelped, then her eyes opened, and she pushed away from me, falling to the ground, still terrified. Without thinking I reached to pick her up, she shoved away from me again, before giving up and letting out a small whimper. She then threw her arms around me, and fell into me. The turnaround was quick and I don't know what broke her out of it, but I merely held her and rocked her as she continued crying into my shirt. I focused on calming her down before a sob escaped through my mouth. I turned my back to Edward not wanting him to see me like that.
"Alice, honey. What is it?" I asked gently, brushing through her hair with my hands. I was struggling to continue sending the calm her way. I was losing my control over the emotions, and Edward wasn't making it any easier.
"It's not real. She knows how to hurt you." Edward's warning tone filled the room, and Alice squeezed tighter. She was whimpering helplessly into my shirt as she was beat up by the visions that kept coming, or replaying in her head. I couldn't tell which one.
"Alice. Focus." Edward commanded sternly. Her hands loosened their grip on my shirt, and she slowly opened her eyes. She looked at me nervously, before pushing herself into my chest, as if she was trying to disappear inside me.
"Is Charlie still downstairs?" She asked in a small voice, I cracked a smile. Always my worried Alice.
"He's downstairs." I confirmed, looking at her disappointed face.
"Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't realize that, I pulled you guys away from him." I looked at her. Her eyes were trying to hide what she just saw. She wanted to pretend as if the vision never happened.
"What's wrong?" Her eyes widened at my question, and she grabbed my shirt again.
"They want to hurt you now." She whispered, laying her head against my shirt. "Can you promise to stay safe?" Edward closed his eyes, and rubbed his head. I imagined her thoughts were all over because that's where her emotions were. Before talking I focused on touching her in the places that relaxed her. I began to rub in gentle circles just below her collar bone, kissing the top of her head lightly.
"Darlin', stop. Relax." I turned her toward me and planted a kiss on her lips, hoping she would calm more as I did so. Thankfully, it worked. She pulled away, and breathed in a deep sigh, for the first time looking and sounding like the old Alice I knew and loved.
"I promise." I said, kissing her again. Then I stood up and slowly began to walk towards the stairs. We were down on the couch again acting as if nothing was remiss, as Charlie came over to say hi, she nestled in and continued her sleeping facade.
I gently rubbed her shoulder with my free hand that wasn't holding her, just as he sat next to us.
"Darling, are you awake?" She took in a deep steady breath turning into me further slowly blinking her eyes open. Edward cracked a smile watching her. She's good at this. He winked at me, nodding. "Good job, love. Remember that we told you Charlie would be coming today?" Her hands rubbed at her eyes as she opened them looking at me with the most endearing face I'd seen on her in a while.
"Jazz?" She questioned slowly. Edward rubbed his hand over his face to hide his smile. She was almost playing with us. Which was only less funny because it seemed believable with how bad off she had been. But she was taking everything Edward and Carlisle said and milking it up.
"Yes love. Remember Charlie, that we said he'd be coming today?" She nodded against my chest and looked at him for a long pause before smiling and recognition.
"Hi Charlie." She said in a whisper. I pulled her in close to me, kissing her forehead, as Charlie brought a hand down and ruffled her hair, smiling sadly. I sent him a calming wave doing my part to make sure nothing looked unusual and Alice didn't give anything away accidentally.
"How ya doing kiddo?" He asked her softly. She let a small smile appear on her lips. She blinked slowly at him,processing his words. This was no longer an act on her part, it was me affecting her.
I feel guilty, does she know I'm doing it? I was making her tired, sending her waves of peace and lethargy that she wouldn't be able to withstand. Edward shook his head from behind Charlie, but gave me an approving look. It was the right thing to do.
"Oh I'm awesome, never been better I think." He laughed quietly at her sarcasm, growing slightly concerned at the way her tired words slurred together. His eyes then traveled up to me.
"Jasper, son. It's good to see you back with the family." He said politely. He was ways wary of me, especially since he saw my and Alice's wedding photo. Alice had brought it down from our rook to show Esme and see if she could paint a replica. It just happened that Charlie was planning to come by and Alice 'forgot' that he shouldn't see the photo. Evidently he didn't think we were old enough to be married... Or have a picture from that time period. Alice still laughed about it, which is how I knew it was intentional.
"Charlie, it's good to be back. It's been a long time, and so incredibly difficult." I responded honestly, sending more waves of peace over him. Alice turned her face into me to stifle a giggle at Charlie's discomfort around me. I sent more exhaustion her way as Charlie made more small talk.
"And for people so young. I'm sorry that you both have to go through this." He glanced around the silver wedding band on my hand, as well as the glistening diamond that rested on Alice's. "You're both strong though," he added almost as an afterthought, and I could feel pride swelling in him. I felt a smile touch my lips as I realized how deeply he cared for Alice. I nodded my thanks to him unsure at what the right words to say were.
"Feeling a bit tired there kiddo?" He asked her, setting his hand on hers, his heart filling with intense relief as she smiled at the touch, albeit weakly.
She picked her head up off my chest trying to respond, able to hold it up for only seconds before it would fall back down. She was growing delirious with exhaustion, which wasn't exactly what I was going for, but it probably helped with our efforts to claim she was not remotely healthy. Charlie looked over at her, beginning to grow more concerned.
"You look like you could use a good resting there, Alice." He spoke slowly to her, as if talking to a small child. She tried to hold her head up again before it fell back into my chest.
"Okay darling. No more. Don't move." She giggled at me tiredly, her eyes only half open, unfocused but still looking up at me. Edward gave me a small smile, as Charlie watched our interaction curiously.
"Jazz, Alice." She kept saying, tracing her hands over my chest, only half conscious. "Jazz?" She stopped tracing as her hand got too heavy for her to lift, setting it instead on my arm.
"Yes Alice?" I knew Charlie was still watching, and I hoped she wasn't going to say anything questionable. I waited, glancing down to make sure she was still awake. Seeing her open eyes I said again. "Yes Alice?"
She looked up at me confused. "Jazz?" I grew concerned as I shifted her so she could look at me easier, trying to ignore Charlie next to me or the looks I could feel from our family around us.
"Yes, Alice. I'm right here." Clearly forgetting that Charlie was there she slid her hand under my shirt tracing my chest, eyes still half closed. I pursed my lips, knowing that I would have blushed if I were a human, doing my best to ignore Charlie. Little help here, brother? Edward snickered, a soft sound I knew Charlie couldn't hear. On one hand that meant there was little concern, on the other it meant I could only grow more uncomfortable.
"Jazz I feel you under my hand." I saw Charlie crack a smile in my peripheral, just as I noticed Bella sitting on his other side, trying and failing to be a distraction from Alice's everything.
"That's because I'm holding you darling." I said pulling her hand away and slipping my fingers in it.
"You wear that ring. Michael doesn't wear rings." She mumbled, shaking her head. "Remember when we got married?" Her voice was incredibly soft but I knew Charlie could hear everything, I continued to not look at him. "I remember that," she continued without letting me respond. "Then we went on that far away trip, for so so many months. And I got to meet Peter and Charlotte for the first time… remember in the forest, and the cabin that we all built even though we had just changed our diet and they still thought we were crazy. But it was so fun and special. We should tell them we're home from our trip. I think they would be happy to come back and visit without worrying about dying with us. Like when we went to Brazil. We had to be sneaky with them so everyone wasn't following us." she was starting to blend together our first meeting and all our other experiences.
I looked to Edward for a sign but he was just smiling down at her. "And then you found me in that diner in Philadelphia, and I waited for such such long times for you there. And I almost drank the cherry coke but then it was the raining day and I just knew you would come for me." I dared to look at Charlie who was smiling down at her as well as she spoke. He either thought she was just completely delirious or considered this what Bella called 'need to know.'
"Yes Darling, I remember all of that. Hush now. Let yourself rest."
She swatted my hand so gently it felt like a tap. "Jasper interrupting is rude." That was one of her pet peeves, but only when she got interrupted. "Remember when we found the Cullens together and then we found family and then we got married again? The first time was better…" she mused on as Charlie shot one eyebrow up and glanced at Bella who shook her head and cracked a knowing smile.
Sucking up my insecurities and pretending Charlie wasn't sitting insanely close to me I cut her off with a chaste kiss on her lips. Well I intended it to be chaste, but she latched on to me with energy I had yet to see. I pulled back quickly as she shot me a bleary wink with unfocused eyes.
Edward laughed from where he was standing, as Charlie stifled a chuckle in his hand. She's not making any sense now is she? he nodded my way, shaking his head with a smile. She stared up at me for a minute before settling back into my chest whispering about our life again.
"Here. Let me show you what I did the other day." He walked over and scooped her up out of arms, sitting on the couch opposite to us. She was chewing on the tip of her finger looking at him, then back to me with just her eyes. Glancing at Charlie I noticed there was a smile playing on his lips as well. The rest of the family came in and settled on the couches, drawn in by the rarity of the calm atmosphere. Edward began to trace a straight line from Alice's chin to the base of her throat. She giggled at him, trying to push his hand away, but she was growing noticeably less awake as he did so.
"Goodnight Alice." He whispered to her as she snuggled against him.
"Edward, I'm not tired. Charlie came to visit." She mumbled, getting a laugh out of some of the family, and a swell of joy from Charlie.
"He can come again, or he can stay until you're awake. Does that sound okay?" Her head rolled against him as she stop trying to hold it up.
"Jazz?" She asked again like before, shifting her hand and trying to slide it up his shirt like she had done to me. Thankfully Edward laughed once and grabbed her hand quickly.
"No no, silly girl." She giggled into his chest. "You're not Jasper, Edward." She said with a huff. I finally felt myself relax into the calm laughing with the rest of the family at her antics.
"Hush Alice. No more about those people."
"But when he tried to get me to-" Edward covered her lips with his finger, leaning down to her ear and whispering to her. Her emotions dropped for one moment before love swelled in her.
I felt Charlie's concern spike as he processed what she must have been saying, but thankfully he remained quiet.
Edward resumed his tracing on her neck, whispering to her once more, before tenderly kissing her hair. She brought a shaky hand up to his cheek and rested it there like Nessie would do when trying to show him something. He smiled at her heavy eyes, took her hand in his and held it over his chest where his heart should be.
"Rest now, Alice. You're here with me. You're safe with Jasper. You are safe, and don't have to fear anymore." She twisted in to him, drowning in my sweater that fit her like a large dress, sighing in his scent. "I love you sweet girl." Edward whispered to her.
"love you Ed… 'night Jazz." she whispered as her eyes fell closed. And she rested into him. Asleep? I tried not to let the implications of that sink in too deep. Edward twitched one shoulder uncertainly. So different than Bella as a human. He dipped his head once in a nod. I didn't realize how relieved I was until I breathed out. She wasn't as bad as she was at first, and that was good, because this wasn't real sleep.
I rolled my eyes at Edward as he traced her hair, and Charlie looked around. "How is she really doing? She looks a lot smaller than the last time I saw her..." He was so worried for her. And sometimes it was sweet but right now I just wanted him to butt out. Edward's lips lifted in a half smirk.
"She's doing as well as she could be dad. We're doing our best here with limited resources. But you saw her. She's happy." Bella came over and sat next to her dad.
"Can I… was she talking about…" Charlie stumbled over his words as he tried to ask the question I knew he didn't want to to ask.
"Yes. She is having a hard time keeping her thoughts straight," Carlisle stepped in quickly, taking control of the situation. "But we're figuring out ways to help her remember where she is, and that she is safe. But it's been hard. We haven't been back for very long." Charlie nodded in understanding, still feeling highly unsettled. Bella stepped in with small talk trying to calm him down without my help. I offered to take Alice upstairs, just as Esme and Carlisle got Charlie into the kitchen and talking about work.
I laid down with her on our bed, thankful that she convinced me to get a soft mattress, because I was sure she was very comfortable laying the way she was. She pushed closer to me in her half sleep filled with a calm I hadn't felt from her since she returned, and it began to feel like things would be okay.