You don't have to do this, Edward. Alice's thoughts pierced through my own distress. We were sitting in the living room, facing away from each other. It was starting to drizzle outside, with thick, grey clouds making their way overcast.

"You don't understand, Alice." I shot back quietly. I couldn't allow my resolve to waver. Couldn't she see? It was an ironic question to ask, but there was truly no other option where Bella could live her life uninterrupted and whole. I knew what Alice's solution was-to change Bella into a monster like myself, cold and marble, unyielding and permanent. Bella was the opposite-warm, soft and changing, with her whole life ahead of her. I was determined not to compromise her life, her soul, to meet my own existential needs. She was fragile, vulnerable and prone to danger, but this wasn't a flaw, it was a product of her humanity. It certainly wasn't reason enough for me to potentially inflict a lifetime of regret on a kind, innocent young woman who deserved much, much more than the life-threatening danger I was constantly exposing her to. If only she could see that, but then she wouldn't be Bella.

"I think I do." she whispered quietly. "You don't understand what this will do to her, Edward. Do you really think this will go over well? All of us suddenly disappearing without a trace, including you? It will crush her." Alice's vision flooded my mind, images of Bella crying out my name, tossing restlessly in her bed at night, her hair unkempt, her eyes glassy with dark undereye circles, walking listlessly through the school hallway, sitting by herself at the cafeteria during lunch, her brown eyes hollow, with none of the warmth or spark…

"Stop," I croaked out. "She'll feel… distressed, at first when we leave. But she's human. She'll move on eventually, she'll realize the value of having a normal life. She's young, Alice, she doesn't even know what she's missing. I have to give her that chance. Please, show me that." I whispered. Alice was thoughtful for a moment.

"Even if we all leave and never return… All I can see is what I've just shown you… I don't think she will recover, Edward. She loves you too much. You're soul mates, it won't be easy for her to forget."

"It won't be easy, but she's strong, she will find a way." I said quietly, for I truly believed it. Bella was beautiful and intelligent, and as much as it pained me to even think it, there was not a shred of doubt in my mind that another man, a human man, would try to capture her attention, and would make her whole, instead of mangled pieces like I so often did.

Alice shook her head. "Please, Edward, let's discuss this more as a family. I've already talked to Jasper about it last night. He's so sorry, he said he doesn't know what came over him, it won't happen again, he's sure of it, Jasper and I can even leave for a-"

"Stop, Alice." I interjected. "Jasper lost control, and it almost cost Bella her life, again. But it's my fault, Alice!" I raised my voice. "I am the common denominator, the reason why she's always getting hurt." My voice broke. "I… we have to leave."

"She can heal from her physical wounds," said Alice sadly. "But I'm not so sure she will ever heal from your emotional abandonment." I hung my head. The rain started splattering fiercely against the left side of the house, a bolt of thunder vibrated through the wide glass panels.

"But you already know my opinion, and Bella would whole-heartedly-"

"Don't." I said harshly. Alice's vision of Bella came without warning, her body cold and still, skin pale like marble, eyes blazing and scarlet-

"That's not an option."

"According to you!" she said fiercely. "But what about Bella? You're not even discussing your grand plan with her, you're making all of these decisions that will so profoundly affect her without involving her! This isn't fair to her, or to any of us who love her, Edward!" she yelled.

"I love her Alice, more than I ever thought possible, but this is the best way." I whispered. "She has Charlie, and her friends. They will watch over her. She will feel upset after I leave, but the return of normalcy and safety in her life will be so much greater than the sadness. She will heal." I said firmly.

And you, Edward? What about your life? Will you heal? she challenged. I scoffed sardonically. My life? I didn't have a life. I had an immutable existence. Bella was precious, the one with a life worth protecting, worth saving, even if she and Alice disagreed, even if they were both so eager and willing to throw her life and soul away, all for me? I couldn't fathom it, I couldn't allow it.

Alice's vision of me flooded my mind, my expression was not unlike future Bella's, empty and cold, yet I was focused and calculated, my surroundings were dark and indeterminable, I wasn't sure where I was, I was sprinting down an empty alleyway, following someone, the shape looked familiar somehow…

"It doesn't matter." I muttered. She sighed finally, rising to her feet.

I still disagree with you. But I can see now that you've made up your mind, the future is set, for the most part. I know you've already discussed everything with Carlisle. I can see us leaving soon. I can only hope…

"Please, Alice." I almost begged. "What I need now is your support, all of your support…" She nodded stiffly, and walked back upstairs.

I groaned, my face falling into my hands, the rain continuing to relentlessly splatter, thunder rumbling.

I'm so sorry, Bella.