Title: Afterglow

Author: Girl Who Writes

Characters: Alice, Jasper

Word Count: 6341

Rating: T

Genre: AU, Romance

Summary: There were three things of which she was certain. The first was that her name was Alice. The second was that she was born an angel. And three, she was getting ready to die.

Notes: Day 5 of Jaliceweek: Angels/Demons. Day 4 will be posted tomorrow as it's a sequel to this, so I switched them around.

I found the idea of 'demon' fascinating because what else would a vampire be but a very specific form of 'demon'? Plus there were so many (utterly amazing) fics about demon!Alice, I decided to flip the script.

I am also totally running with the angel thing in a much longer fic, because I had so much world-building, so much more history for both Alice and Jasper, and I was sorry that I couldn't include it.

Thank you for reading!


There were three things of which she was certain.

The first was that her name was Alice.

The second was that she was born an angel.

And three, she was getting ready to die.

He finds her in an alley behind a diner, slumped against the brickwork, struggling to breathe. He sees her, and for a moment he doesn't realize what he's seeing - why would he? Who, in living memory, has laid eyes on an angel?

But he remembers the stories, told around a Monterrey bonfire, of the markings, the aura, the divinity of those nearly mythical creatures. Creatures born of hope and love and all those things that he left behind on that last ride. The older ones always had angel stories, of their astounding beauty and immense power; of wings that stretched out eight, ten, twelve feet of pure white energy that could cut through any substance known to creation. Of miracles and healings and forgiveness that filled all the hollow spaces inside. Of blood that could only be offered willingly, or it became fantastically and irreversibly poisonous.

He goes to her side, his hunt forgotten. Maybe it is the stories, that childish, lingering hope at the back of his mind that there is absolution for his actions, that he has not fallen so low he cannot rise up again.

Or maybe it is seeing a creature as broken as he feels, and the twist of pity-empathy in his gut won't let him turn away from her. She is so small, so utterly… forgotten.

She was a great beauty, he can see that underneath her suffering; her skin has a grey cast, and her lips blue, her eyes underscored with dark bruises. She's so thin, her skin stretched tight. The celestial markings still adorn her tiny arms, from wrist to elbow, a collage of flowers and stars and maps and symbols utterly meaningless to him, but faded like an old bruise.

Something utterly precious, just thrown away.

His red eyes meet hers, and she gasps, tries to make herself smaller. Some half-forgotten lesson tells her that red-eyes, demons, are the lowest evil and she must protect herself. But with what? She has lost her wings, has lost her magic, has lost much of her memory.

She has been discarded, and is worth nothing more than a demon's gaze, his next meal. It would be better to go quickly than to linger with this heaviness in her bones and lungs and heart and mind. Whatever divinity is left in her blood, perhaps it can gift him with something - she doesn't even know what a demon would wish for with angel's blood, truly. But for a quick end, she would offer it willingly.

She gasps again as he lifts her, and cradles her close, his eyes studying her carefully as he settles her in his arms, making sure he causes her no pain, even as fresh bruises bloom on her skin.

"What…?" she croaks, as he sweeps out of the alley, away from his chosen meal, from the buzzing signs of the diner, and into the night.

"Rest, little one," is all he says, as if he has a plan. "You're safe."

Those half-remembered warnings feel paper-thin as she is cradled like treasure against his strong body, as he moves confidently through the streets. Even through her threadbare clothing, it is the first time she has been touched since she can remember, and it is… nice. It is nice and it is easy enough to close her eyes and let whatever is to happen next come upon her.

His room in the boarding house is small and worn, but fine enough for him to have a minuscule washroom of his own. The angel sleeps deeply, the sleep of the gravely ill, and he tucks her into the untouched bed in the corner, whilst he ventures into the yet unvisited common kitchen to find her food.

The landlady sweeps in, a well-lived woman - who has never trusted the red-eyed man - likes him a little more as she watches him make a right mess of toast and tea, and she quickly assembles a little tray. This isn't the kind of establishment that cares what he does in the room he pays for, and she doesn't really consider the possibilities when he asks for an extra towel and pillow.

The angel sleeps through the night and well into the next day, and he can feel the heat coming from her skin. He dribbles cooled tea between her lips, and curses the fact he has no memory of nursing from the army, of his human life. He refuses to request more help from the landlady, and finally, he gives up all pretenses and manages to gather the girl up and clamber into the narrow, stained little bathtub together, filled with cold water that he hopes will curb the fever.

She dreams of fire licking her limbs and red eyes staring into her soul and her lips are so dry and everything is all jumbled up and then she is staring at the very tall red-eyed monster cradling her in a bathtub full of cold water, and patting her face with a cloth and worry on his face.

Somehow she regains control of her limbs, enough to reach one shaking hand up to his cheek - it seems impossible that the most evil of creatures could be so handsome, could go to so much trouble for her. She wishes she could ask him a million questions, but she is so very tired, and it is easier to settle back against him and sleep as her fever rages.

They are together a week before she is lucid enough to ask questions and offer answers, for them to even learn the other's name.

Alice.

Major Jasper Whitlock, ma'am.

A soldier, a killer, in his human life. That makes her sad for him, that humans choose to set themselves on a path that is paved in death and misery but there is nothing that can be done about that now. And for a soldier turned vampire, with all his terrible deeds indented on every inch of his arms and neck, with luminous red eyes and a hard stare, he is not.. bad.

In fact, he shows her the first kindness she can ever remember.

He brings her food, strange choices at first, but he soon learns - angels like sweet things, fruits, and honey and candy; thin soups to build her strength up, well-sugared milky tea to help her sleep. He brings her some clothing - a proper night dress, and a blue day dress that is far too long, but it covers up the bruises on her stocking-less legs. He reads to her, cheap novels that have covers depicting young ladies and flowers and cannot be vaguely interesting to him.

She knows he slips away to hunt, to drain humans of their life, but she sees the slump in his shoulders, the tired, pained look on his face upon his return and she wonders if those paper-thin lessons were wrong. That demons do have souls, souls that are weighed with every choice, every action, of their cursed existence. After all, a vampire is just a human gone astray, really. And for all of their flaws and follies, ignorance, and arrogance, humans are essentially good, kind creatures. There is a reason they are so staunchly guarded by the angels, after all.

What if Major Whitlock is only a demon because the angels failed him?

When she is well enough to stand, to limp slowly around their tiny room, he offers to take her to church, and she wants to giggle, but he looks so serious and so determined to escort her there that she agrees; churches are for humans, and so is the religion found in them. But she thinks she understands - angels and churches and religions have been so tangled up together that it is some kind of logic, to take her there. He even brings her a hat and gloves and new shoes for the excursion, letting her limping stride set the pace, letting her lean on him as her lungs struggle to keep up.

His arm is gentle yet strong around her, and she leans closer to him, breathing in the scent of pine needles and rainwater.

The closest church is of moderate size and limited wealth - the parishioners are hardworking people with little money - and the pastor is an elderly man who has overseen the births, marriages, and deaths of those people, all of whom he can name on sight. It is a late night, counseling a young couple, and he ambles around the church, setting it right for the next morning.

He looks up when he hears voices, and sees the silhouette in the doorway - one tall and one small. For a moment, he mistakes them for an adult and child; perhaps siblings? Strangers or newcomers, certainly. They take a place in a back pew, the taller figure helping the smaller into her seat before settling beside her. It is then he approaches, to welcome them and offer them counsel before he realizes what he is seeing.

The red eyes of the male, firmly fixed on the diminutive girl. And he wants to banish the monster, this fiend from the sanctified ground on which they stand, of which he should not be able to enter. But the flickering candles throw light onto the girl, and the sight of her is a reward paid for with decades of his faith. It is a split second, a flicker of light and shadow, and he has Seen her. The ghost of wings that fold around her in filmy light, the slight glow of her skin, the wisp of lost golden markings, such beauty his mortal eyes has never seen. She looks up at her companion with affection in her eyes, and she takes his hand, and the pastor does nothing more than nod and bless them both in passing; whatever has brought the pair into his church is beyond that of mortal comprehension.

They stay a little while before the devil helps the angel stand, and the pastor watches as the girl limps from the church, leaning heavily on her corrupted companion, and says a little prayer for them, one to see them both to whatever sanctuary they might be needing. And then he extinguishes the candles.

Time meanders on, and Alice grows stronger. Strong enough to walk unaided, though she still takes his arm every time they leave. Strong enough to teach herself to mend their few clothes, to prepare herself food, though he finds her with candy and fruit just as often as something properly nutritious.

Seeing her cheeks round with chocolate, blushing with embarrassment at getting caught, is the first time he's properly laughed in decades.

She looks so well now, with faint colour in her cheeks; her eyes are a blue he could get lost in, a swirling galaxy of shifting light and colour - they are the most inhuman thing about her right now. Her lips have lost the blue cast, are now a rose pink that makes her look very kissable, but thoughts like that are dangerous, and feel heavy in his chest. Her markings look like some kind of bruise-coloured tattoos that are slowly darkening. He hasn't asked about them, about the meanings behind them, but when he holds her hand, he sometimes finds himself tracing the lines of the flowers, the stars, the symbols - he thinks he has them memorized.

But eventually, it is time to move on. His body count is rising, getting closer to noticeable, and the money is running out - they only have what he takes from his victims, and it has been slim pickings for a few weeks. He hates to have to admit why they have to leave, but she doesn't flinch, just smiles, and requests a bag for her things as if fleeing a city because of too many bloody disappearances is a perfectly normal reason to leave.

So they leave Philadelphia, hand in hand, with no particular destination in mind. And for a long time, that's how they live - boarding houses in the city, forgotten farmhouses in the country, cradled by long grass in forests where the night sky peeks through. Those are the nights she lies pressed up against him, her head pillowed on his shoulder, as she traces constellations with her finger as she relaxes into sleep.

Those are the nights that are imprinted on his brain forever.

They find themselves in the back of Vermont in the fall; it's been a few years since they left Philadelphia, wandering around the country. She looks beautiful to him that day, with a flower crown in her hair - the flowers drooping but not yet wilted - and her very worn out pink dress that is shredded below her knees and a filthy white shawl with more holes than lace. He clasps her hand tight in his as they meander through the forest; she hums a song under her breath, one that is sweet and soothing and intoxicating and he can never remember the tune until she sings it again.

He isn't paying attention when they settle on a campsite and she flits off to find something edible - fruits, herbs, flowers; she is surprisingly adaptable. And for all the legends and half-truths, she has no trouble or reluctance eating animal flesh, as long as she cooks it on fire first, though she always cries when it has to be a rabbit.

They are upon them at once, a coven of five aged vampires, suspicious and on edge as they see his eyes, his scars, his cold glare at the interruption, and his own failure to sense them.

At the strange, sickly amber of their eyes.

It's a tense conversation of his intentions, his purpose on their lands, and his honeyed words are thinly veiled threats. He is grateful that Alice's sweet scent (roses and linens and melting snow) is easily covered by his own, an elusive little quicksilver protected by her own sacred biology. He has them almost convinced them to, in laymen's terms, fuck right off and leave him be when Alice returns.

"Jasper?"

The older woman gasps at the sight of her and the entire family go from suspicion to anger and disgust - the shawl slung low around her elbows (covering up her markings, good girl), the girlish, tattered dress, and flowers in her hair. The apples clutched in her pale hand, one with an obvious bite mark. Her blue eyes bright and skin flushed, and decades later he will remind them how damn unobservant they are that they thought she was his victim, lured into seclusion, when two bags sit by the tree, when everything about her was uncanny and inhuman enough to tell them the still-shocking truth. It was fall in the forest, and the flowers in her hair were still alive, for god's sake.

But at that moment, she is the innocent, a future meal of a monster, the sacrificial lamb.

"Sweetheart, come away from him," the woman gestures to her, but Alice is no longer smiling, and if they looked closer, they'd see the storm rising in her eyes (he loves that about her, the way the blue of her eyes darkens and churns when she's worried or afraid and lightens and ripples with her joy. He could watch her eyes forever.) She drops the fruit, and moves closer to him, her hands reaching for the sleeve of his coat.

The coven move too fast, and the only reason they aren't destroyed is because he is too aware of her; she is pushed aside in their efforts to manhandle her away from him, to drag him through to their side of the river. He lets the biggest one push him to his knees, his arms tight and awkward behind his back. There is a growl rumbling in his chest, and he can smell it - her blood. It's an odd, distinctive smell that is enough to make him freeze. It's not a lot, maybe a scrape, but this coven… angel blood is somehow a walking, resistible temptation. They could drain her dry (and die horribly for the effort) but she'll still be perfectly dead and that cannot be allowed to happen. He begins to struggle, but the big one holds him firm and shit. This is bad.

"Let him up, please."

He can only move his head enough to see her standing, a small cut on her leg that will be gone in a day or two. She looks … displeased. He's never seen that look on her face before.

"You'll be okay now," the redheaded boy tells her superiorly. "You should find your way back to town."

"Let him up," she retorts, just as arrogantly as the boy, as imperious as a queen, and there is a stillness, an edge to everything around them - no birds or breeze; even the running of the river seems rather muted.

"We'll deal with him," the big one says confidently, and that is the wrong thing to say.

"Let. Him. Go."

It happens all at once, an echoing order that is not yelled but thunders in all their ears. They yell and gasp and are tossed away like paper dolls and he finally gets a look at his girl in all her glory.

She'd told him once, off-hand, that she'd never be fully healed again. That she accepted that she was Fallen and Shunned, and what she had managed to recover, she was grateful for.

Not recovered, his ass.

She was great and terrible and the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, her arms thrown wide and the shawl gone, her markings glowing white, her eyes pools of white energy. And behind her, stretching four feet, easily, on either side were her long wings, crackling with pure light. Markings he hadn't glimpsed before peeked out from the neckline of her dress, and her skin had a faint glow to it, the entire effect as if a star was entrapped inside her body.

It is his captor that bears the brunt of her wrath, gasping in pain as her gaze focuses on him, the rest of the coven disorientated as they pick themselves up.

The last of the group, the blonde woman who might have been mistaken as an angel herself, is at his side immediately, wanting to help but unsure how to as he howls at whatever Alice's power is doing to him.

"Stop it!" the blonde vampire screams, "STOP IT."

He manages to get back to her side, wanting to reach out and pull her to him, but he doesn't know if he can touch her like this.

"Alice?" he says. "We're okay."

The energy recedes as quickly as it appeared, leaving her looking cranky but pale as she immediately tucks herself against him as the coven inspect their fallen member.

He is disorientated and startled but unharmed as he reassures the blonde woman, the rest of their gazes falling to the couple over the river. More than a girl in a pink dress and a man in an overcoat.

"I can't read them anymore, Carlisle," the redhead murmurs. "His is … too quiet, and hers is in a language that… I think she made up."

Alice spits a sharp word at the boy, holding him so tight he knows she was - is - afraid.

The leader, this Carlisle, simply stares at them with an indescribable look on his face. Incredulousness and awe and confusion and amusement dance around them, and he shakes his head.

"In all my years, I have never…" he began, wiping his face with his hand, an indisputably human gesture. "I apologize, my family misunderstood."

Alice grunts and still glares, and if Jasper knows anything, it is that she holds a fantastic grudge against that which wrongs her - the woman who called her a harlot in a town back in Minnesota; the perfectly spoilt fruit tart from a shady baker; the young man who tore her dress in Boston. If those things can keep her gaze dark and sour her mood, he doesn't fancy being any one of these creatures.

"Carlisle?" the older woman asks curiously, and the big one is back on his feet and seems to be entirely unaffected by whatever Alice had done to him.

"What is she?" he asks with genuine curiosity, his arm around the blonde.

"I believe this young lady might be an angel."

That's how they meet the Cullens. Carlisle spends three days hovering around them with delighted, boyish excitement until Esme gently redirects his attention and energy. Esme, who is so kind to them both, even with his red eyes and scars (later, she will smile at him and tell him that she knew that no matter where he had come from, no one who treated Alice so gently could be anything other than a true gentleman). Edward is frustrated with them both and mutters comments under his breath as Alice snipes back in a language no one else understands - which just agitates Edward more. She admits later, when they're alone, that she hardly remembers learning the language and probably couldn't hold a conversation in it but does in fact remember most of the good swears and insults, and he laughs loudly at the idea that angels are pure and good and selfless as she taunts the arrogant little vampire.

Rosalie hates them. Hates his red eyes and violence, hates Alice for hurting her mate. Emmett is more curious and entertained than offended, and shrugs off Rosalie's rage - "Babe, you'd do the same to them for me." He's more interested to know if Alice can change the colour of her 'lights' at will - like a disco ball - and Alice congratulates him on asking the actual dumbest question in the history of creation and of course, that means Alice and Emmett are friends now, even though he described her attack as being 'boiled from the inside out'.

How does he feel about them? Well, they offer them a nice room with a bed for Alice and little bathroom, and Esme goes to find Alice food - Carlisle sending her with a ream of notes on angels and their preferred diet despite the girl's insistence anything will do. They are respectful and genuine and he cannot fault their welcome into the house. There are clean clothes and books and amusements and every possible comfort except human blood.

That is a conversation he has alone with Carlisle, whilst Alice joyfully eats her way through a pile of candy roughly the same size as she is. It is a long conversation, a hard one. Of all the guilt and the pain and the regret; of every horror he has never spoken of to Alice, of every fear that lingers in his bones.

And when he finishes, he feels lighter.

Carlisle smiles benevolently and explains the advantages of abstaining from human blood, of existing only on the blood of animals.

"It does, admittedly, take away some of our strength," the older man warns but his mouth quirks into a smile. "Not that I think you have to worry about your safety with such a… formidable mate."

Jasper is quick to correct him, ducking his head so that Carlisle might not see the longing in his eyes. They are not mates or lovers or sweethearts. As much as he admires her, a goddess in his eyes; as much as he restrains himself from noticing the slender curves hidden by her clothing, from letting his gaze linger too long, they are mere companions; the closest of friends but no more than that.

Carlisle chuckles outright at that. "I assume this isn't your preference?" he says, with a grin that makes him look his age.

He scowls, refusing to take the bait.

"In all my years, I have met many people in many differing kinds of relationships," Carlisle says, with that knowing look on his face that Jasper decides he hates. "And I can tell you without an ounce of doubt that no angel - or woman - would look at a vampire like that, would defend one so fiercely, without holding him close in her heart. I think, if you were to make a gesture, it would be warmly reciprocated."

And for a moment, he is full of hope. Hope of a future where he could press a kiss to willing lips, could slide his hand over the curve of a waist. Could trace the markings hidden by her dress with his fingers, his mouth, learn them by heart.

But the truth is, he is a monster. The blood in his eyes, the scars on his skin, the violence in his movement… it is what he is. That he would not sully her with his touch, if she would even accept such a thing. And in truth, he could not bear to be dismissed from her side. He would walk her down the aisle to a worthy man, as long as he could remain in her orbit.

"No," he shakes his head. "She is… and I am… it would not be fair." She already Fell once, why drag her further down?

Carlisle studies him carefully, the regret rolling off him in waves. "If you'll pardon me for prying, how on earth did you end up meeting Alice? I only know of one other who has met an angel; they are elusive creatures."

Jasper looks up, a quirk of his lips at the memory. "I found her in Philadelphia. She was dying in an alley. I tried to help her." And the story slowly comes up; the long wait for her fever to break, trying to build up her strength, their brief attendance at church that was more for him than for her; their little pilgrimage around the country. How she loves to watch the stars, to wear flowers in her hair, and sings like the angel she is. How any money they had went to food, and she found sweets irresistible - more than once she went barefoot rather than go without a slice of cake, a bag of strawberries. He ends up smiling by the end of the story, the warmth of the memories surrounding him.

Carlisle looks at him incredulously. "Jasper, you found a dying girl in Philadelphia, and you saved her life," he says so gently. "You raised an angel from the dead out of pure selflessness and honour. And you sit here and tell me that you are deemed unworthy? I cannot believe it, myself."

Jasper shakes his head and thinks of all that he has been told, about animal blood, and protecting human life. About all that he has seen and felt with that diminutive girl beside him.

"For her, I have to be better."

They settle into the Cullen family with relative ease - Esme is a doting mother-figure to Alice, whose quirks he found so charming are utterly foreign and confusing to the rest of the family. But Esme carries no frustration to find wilted flower crowns discarded through the house; to find Alice has eaten a week's supply of food in one night; to find an ugly scorch mark on the couch when Edward provoked the girl far enough for her magic to get involved.

Carlisle is still fascinated but is affectionate to the small girl who has so many questions about everything, everywhere. He cannot answer many of her questions about angels, but he has more than enough stories about his life to entertain her for hours.

Edward and Alice snipe at each other constantly, as she continues to conceal her thoughts, and somehow mute Jasper's, from his probing. The thing is, they could be good friends if they wanted; he wonders if Alice still holds a grudge from his dismissal of her during that very first meeting. Emmett, however, thinks Alice is a fantastically weird addition to their family even if her powers remain unused. Her intuition is second to none, and she is strong enough to exist safely in the household, but mostly she is unremarkable. He likes ruffling her hair and asking dumb or embarrassing questions ("So when you have sex, Lite-Brite, do you go all glowy?" he asks one day, just ambling into the room with that question on his brain, and Esme scolds him and he growls, and Alice turns faintly pink and admits she wouldn't know. Emmett does feel bad when she reveals that, and buys her an enormous bag of fudge that means he's automatically forgiven.)

Rosalie tolerates them - she likes how annoyed Edward gets with Alice, and that Alice is an eager student in the art of fashion and shopping, and has suitable awe for Rosalie's beauty and attitude. But she resents Alice's divinity, that somehow the universe judged this tiny girl to be a precious, sacred creation, and decided that Rosalie herself was worth less than humanity.

They treat him well enough - politely, respectfully, and that's all he asks. Carlisle offers relatively good counsel on most subjects, but most specifically on hunting animals. It's the hardest thing he's ever had to do, and he fails more than he succeeds. He sees frustration in the faces of the Cullens every time he returns with red eyes, but he never sees Alice flinch or fluster. She greets him with that same special smile every time he walks into the room, her sheer presence a balm. And that unconditional affection, that is when the shame feels heaviest on his shoulders.

So he tries again.

And again.

And again.

And it gets easier. Or rather, he gets stronger. The gaps between red eyes get longer, and his eyes lighten slowly from red to orange to amber. But the burn in his throat remains, and he struggles constantly. But he reminds himself, the prize is worth it. She is worth every second of burn, every disgusting animal, every long night resisting the urge to hunt.

She will always be worth it.

After Vermont, there is Minnesota, then Montana, then… well, they begin to blend together. All are within abundant hunting grounds, all in beautiful homes, all provide comfort and luxury he could never have imagined providing her. She fits it like a glove; her beautiful clothes, the abundant library, the ease of everyday life - it is a palace for a princess and he is so happy that she is happy.

It is the place where Carlisle insists he go to school with the others, tempting him with the possibility of college in the future. She cannot go; they have no ways of concealing the inhumanity of her, and she struggles to contain her powers sometimes, especially when distressed. Even one sad movie can have her shining like a discount glow stick. Carlisle does much research on the subject, to try and help train her, but his research is slow and they still don't know much. One day, she'll join them. She's determined, even when she scorches another dress, another chair, another wall. One day.

She pounces on him every single afternoon, demanding to know about his day, about his classes, about what high school is like. For so long it was just her, then it was them, then it was the family - the idea of classmates and friends and peers is so foreign. He dutiful fills her in, though many of the details she demands are not things he has noted. She always touches him during these conversations, hanging over his shoulder, curled in his lap, tucked at his side.

And even when Rosalie and Edward tell her to stop bothering him, forcing him to relive the tedium, he encourages it. Because as dull as school is, recounting it to her as she clings like a little possum to his back, is his very favourite part of the day.

And somehow, maybe because of that, something changes between them. Their closeness holds something new - potential, maybe. But her eyes seem to really see him when he presses a gentle kiss to her forehead; her cheeks get a little pinker when he compliments a new dress; he finds himself reaching for her less, and finding her already there more often.

They still share a room - he has no need for his own, not with the communal library on the third floor - and he tries his hardest to give her privacy. But he's caught her changing more than once, seen a glimpse of more markings on her pale-flawless-exquisite spine. He lingers too long in that view, berating himself for his perversion, but he cannot resist. He wonders where else the tattoos lie.

Carlisle looks at him with knowing eyes, and Esme beams every time she sees, or thinks she sees, something. But no, not yet. Not until he's worthy of every hope, can grant every single one of her wishes and whims. Not until he can court her as she deserves.

It'll happen, he's determined. He will make himself worthy, reforge himself in any hell that he can find, if it makes him a better man for her.

Inevitably, he slips again, and they have to move, and he is furious with himself. Every time he thinks he might see the light at the end of the tunnel, he weakens. Two steps forward and one step back.

He spends the night on the couch, watching movies without seeing them, and trying not to notice the warmth of her skin as he endlessly traces the lily-star-celestial map that are her tattoos. She falls asleep against him, a heavenly weight, and he wishes for a lot of things, but mostly for sleep.

There were three things of which she was certain.

The first was that her name was Alice Cullen.

The second was that she was a fallen angel, which wasn't such a bad thing to be.

And the third was that she was completely and irreversibly in love with one Major Jasper Whitlock. And she was tired of waiting.

He has taken her into the forest, the spring air crisp, and the plants blooming. She skips beside him, her fingers interlaced with his, and it's a lovely day - the canopy of the forest concealing the glitter of his skin. It's one of those lazy, peaceful days that he lives for.

She leaves him sitting by the river, as she gathers wildflowers and leaves, settling beside him as she makes her crown - nimble fingers twisting and weaving. The white and yellow blooms match her new dress. And then she is wrapped around his back, crowning him in leaves and tiny red and white berries.

"My prince," she whispers in his ear, leaning forward to press a lingering kiss on his cheek. And she pulls away, just enough space for him to turn his head and align their lips and he's many things, but he's also a man deeply, deeply in love who cannot resist what is so willingly offered.

Their first kiss is a slightly awkward angle, but it is… it is his absolution, his greatest hope, his most perfect joy. For her, it is finding home, the last piece of an indecipherable puzzle finding its place, it is entirely new and yet as familiar to her as her own self.

After he pulls away, she twists herself into his lap, her eyes so wide and flickering blue and white, a pink flush to her cheeks. She looks so hopeful and loving that he cannot help but steal another kiss, another jewel to hoard in his dead heart as she sighs happily against him.

But the real world is still outside their private little glade, and finally, he pulls away.

"We can't," he croaks, her arms wrapped around his neck. "Oh Alice, I can't."

"Why not?" her question is so innocent, he wants to wrap her in his arms and keep her here forever, where nothing will ever sully her.

"You're an angel, darlin'. An honest to goodness angel. You deserve so much better," he murmurs, half against her lips. "Not me. I'm a goddamned monster."

Alice sighs again. "Oh Jasper, I wish you could see you as I do," she says so sweetly. "The person who lifted me out of the trash, the person who healed me, the person who cared for me and protected me and loved me without question or expectation."

She traces his face, her soft fingers running over his nose and lips and cheeks.

"I've waited so long for you to be worthy to yourself," she continues. "Because you have always been more than worthy enough for me."

The next kiss is deeper, passionate and he pulls her flush against him, feeling the buttons on her dress press against his chest, probably cracking them. Another one follows, and then another, until it all blurs together, and he's slid his hand further up her leg than is truly proper, and her hands are tangled in his hair.

Her smile is the sweetest, a little shy, as she buries her face in his neck - drawing in his scent - and he notices the faint glow around her markings, almost like her powers are blushing.

"I've waited for you - for this - for so long," she whispers to him, the words almost lost in the light breeze.

And he holds her close, holds her tight. "I never meant to keep you waiting."

She looks him in the eye, gold meeting blue, and her smile is radiant, as beautiful as every story and every myth. "Well, we've got all the time in the world."

And then she leans in for another kiss.

There were three things of which Jasper Hale was entirely certain.

One was that he was a vampire in love with an angel.

The second was that his angel loved him back, as completely as he loved her.

And the third was that they had the rest of eternity to be together, whatever the future might bring.