Title: Never A Question

Author: Girl Who Writes

Characters: Alice, Jasper

Word Count: 2935

Rating: PG

Genre: Romance, Angst

Summary: Carlisle is quite sure that he's watching his son's heartbreak into a million pieces as he stares at his human mate, slowly dying alone, not a single person allowed to hold her hand. Alice falls ill, and Jasper faces her mortality

Notes: And we've come to the end of my JaliceWeek20 entries! I had so much fun, and I cannot wait until the next round.

I usually hate writing fics about specific current events, but I actually really love how this turned out. I hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading!


The phone rings at 11:27 p.m. on a Tuesday night.

It's not Carlisle's night on call, but everyone is being a bit more flexible at the moment. He expects a summons, that the hospital is short-handed again. It's to be expected once Forks got its own outbreak - of the fifteen people hospitalized, eight of them were doctors or nurses.

Edward hits a sour note as he overhears the phone call, trying to temper his reaction so as not to signal that anything is wrong.

Carlisle is utterly professional during the call, but when he hangs up, he is left with the hideous duty of walking upstairs and telling his youngest - and oldest - son that one Mary-Alice Brandon has just been placed on a respirator.

They've put the infected in the old wing of Forks Hospital, where they can be properly quarantined. There's no blood in the wing yet, and so Carlisle sees no risk allowing Jasper in to see Alice through the window; it's the closest anyone can get to these patients.

And Jasper was not doing well. Telling him had been so much worse than Carlisle had ever envisaged. Esme was still repairing the damage to his study, and Jasper had gotten himself worked up, his terror at a point where he was infecting the rest of the family - Edward was almost permanently camped out at Bella's, unable to tolerate another second of that bone-deep fear that Jasper pushing out.

But the second they arrive, and Jasper gets to see her, Carlisle fears that he just made things much, much worse.

Alice is tiny in the hospital bed, pale as the sheets tucked around her. The respirator is strapped to her face, obscuring most of her features. Tubes and wires run out of both her arms, the machines surrounding her beeping routinely. She's completely unconscious, the dark circles under her eyes the only spot of colour on her entire face.

The whole scene is devastating, and Carlisle is quite sure that he's watching his son's heart break into a million pieces as he stares at his human mate, slowly dying alone, not a single person allowed to hold her hand.

Carlisle is not cruel and hasn't told Jasper the full details of Alice's prognosis, but Jasper is no fool. Alice was already so fragile, with existing health issues, and she's just so very, very sick.

"Jasper…" Carlisle begins in a low voice, reaching out to put his hand on his shoulder, but Jasper jerks away, storming out of the hospital in such a rage that Carlisle's just relieved the door stays on its hinges as his son disappears into the night.

He is furious. He is rage. He has never, ever been so angry in his entire life. He wants to destroy, to fucking decimate something because it never, ever should have been her.

He thinks of going to the Brandon house and crushing her selfish father into pulp. To bestow upon Alice's father, who could not resist his trips to his mistress in Seattle, the slow, lingering death he passed on to his eldest daughter.

But he doesn't. The man is sick - the whole family is sick, though not nearly bad enough to require hospitalization, that particular honour had been given solely to Alice - but he tries to comfort himself with the fact that the man is at least suffering.

He steals into Alice's bedroom, how many times had he climbed into this room and found Alice sitting cross-legged on her bed with her laptop or with her sketchbook, her face lighting up at his appearance? How the fairy lights strung around her bed would be lit, as well as the lamp shaped like a rabbit, and half a dozen novelty lights scattered around the room. It made the room look like magic, like home.

But now, it is cold and still. The bed is unmade, her quilt crumpled on the floor. The lights are off, the hamper is full, and he wants to destroy it all.

He lets himself have one moment, one little weakness, as he picks up the sweater tossed over the back of her desk chair and buries his face in it. It still smells like her, before she got sick - like raspberries and rainwater, her floral shampoo and rose perfume, of a million different little things that made up her human life. It is a comfort, yes, but it also hurts in a sharp, new way that makes him want to weep. She's not here, she's not coming back, not going to walk in and tease him for being 'weird', as she wraps her arms around his waist and presses against him.

And he puts the sweater back, swallowing hard against the rising grief. He's here for a reason. And so he goes hunting.

For her sketchbooks and her diary, and her little worn-out plush rabbit that always sat on her pillow. Her Polaroid camera, her very favourite purple top, and the 'Alice' necklace she wore every day, and the little photo-book that she kept by her bed.

It has to be things that won't be missed, will be easily overlooked, but things that are precious to her, and thus precious to him.

Whatever happens next, he needs to keep them safe for her. Let her know that the things she treasured above everything else won't end up at a garage sale or a thrift shop, won't be boxed up and forgotten, won't be thrown away. No, they'll either find their way back to her hands, or they'll be his shrine, his holy objects, for the rest of this cursed existence.

He goes back for the sweater.

Her heart stops twice. The first time, Carlisle hears about it second-hand and by the time he gets to her, she's back.

The second time, people talk. That Dr Cullen was like a monster, forcing that girl back to life without compromise. That he short of reached into her chest and squeezed life back into her heart by hand.

It's not going to help, the staff whisper. The Brandon girl is going to die, the youngest fatality in the state so far, before she even graduates high school. It would take some kind of miracle for her to come back from this, no matter how long Dr Cullen insists on delaying 'time of death'.

The question needs to be asked, but he can't form the words because it changes everything. It's turning reality upside down and inside out. He's never been good with change, and he was happy like this, for the first time in a long time.

Asking the question admits that he failed her.

He wishes he'd asked her before now, but it was one of those things they never talked about. And not in a tense, unspoken way. He can't think of any moments with her that weren't comfortable; love and affection and appreciation dipping and swirling between them.

They were going to be together forever, they both knew that. They were going to go to college and go travelling and get married. But neither of them ever specified if her eyes would be green or if they would be gold, and now he can't ask her and he doesn't know what would be worse - letting her go, or having her hate him for it, for the rest of their lives.

Why hadn't he asked her?

Carlisle takes Edward to the hospital, to see if he can get a read on Alice's thoughts; Edward looks grim and shakes his head minutely - whatever physical state she's in, her thoughts are nothing decipherable now. There is no awareness of anything around her, and if her organs weren't slowly failing, maybe they could wait.

They sit in Carlisle's study, Edward feeling every year of his life, as they discuss Alice.

"Is it wrong that every single day, I'm grateful that it's not Bella?" Edward says finally. "That the dice was rolled and it was Alice, not Bella?"

Carlisle is quick to reassure Edward that anyone would feel the same, and he shouldn't feel guilty. Except, Jasper overhears that statement and smashes the piano into kindling.

Bella was healthy. Bella probably wouldn't have needed a hospital, let alone be wasting away with broken ribs, and a machine breathing for her. Bella was at home with a father who loved her, and Edward could go to her and hold her and tell her he loved any minute of the day.

He wishes he could break the piano again.

In the end, he doesn't have to ask.

Carlisle offers.

He accepts and hates himself for it.

Mary-Alice Brandon dies at 1:57 a.m. on Saturday morning. Dr Cullen is more restrained this time, following procedure precisely before he calls it.

Alice's family are still quarantined at home, and Mrs Brandon's voice is quiet and shaky when Carlisle calls to give her the news. She doesn't ask any questions, just thanks him and hangs up.

Her daughter died alone, with only a doctor, an intern, and two nurses clad in PPE with her. That's what Mrs Brandon has to live with.

Carlisle comforts himself that he was with Alice when she died. That he already loves her like a father, and he watched over her as he prepared her for what came next. She wasn't alone, and she was loved. That she would have felt no pain, no fear.

If this doesn't work, he hopes that that offers Jasper some kind of peace.

The Brandons have Mary-Alice cremated, and interned at the local church as soon as they are allowed out of quarantine. They have the funeral over the little hole in the ground where they will place the box of ashes; just the Brandons, all pale and solemn, Minister Weber, Angela Weber, Bella and Charlie Swan, and the Cullens.

It's very short, with Minister Weber praying over the box, and then the box is placed into the hole, a tile with her name and the dates is settled into the dirt, and it's over. Seventeen years of life, and that's the final page in the book. There's no reception, not during the current crisis, with the Brandons still so tired and weak. Cynthia puts a small wreath of daisies over the plaque, and Mr Brandon scowls when the bouquet of pink and yellow roses that Esme bestows upon the grave, from her own garden, is so much finer.

No one lingers in the rain, and Cynthia is quick to comment on how distant and cold Jasper Hale was, that he didn't put any flowers on her grave, even though he claimed to love her.

"Teenage boys, Cece," Mrs Brandon sighs, as they get in the car. "He's probably already gotten over her. It was nice of him to come today, with his whole family."

And then they drive away.

The basement of the Cullen house isn't exactly the ideal place to undergo the transformation, but it is utterly soundproof, and they've made it as comfortable as they can. The plan is that, as soon as Alice awakens, Jasper will take her to Alaska for her newborn year - there's too much risk, staying close to Forks.

Assuming she doesn't pull him to pieces for changing her in the first place. It was supposed to be Carlisle who changed her, but in the moment, he'd just done it. It seemed like the natural response to seeing his mate in such a state, to lean into her throat and sink his teeth and venom into her whilst the others were fussing around, preparing for something so simple.

Everyone had been shocked he had the control, the self-restraint, to do such a thing but he didn't bother to explain. He had done what needed to be done, and her wrath would be his to bear alone.

The sickness left her wasted and weak, and it is the quietest, stillest transformation he has ever been witness to. He sits with her, holding her hand like he wasn't able to do in the hospital, watching as her body is healed from illness, from pain, from every little imperfection. She's going to be lovely, of course, but in truth, she's no more or less beautiful to him after the venom than she was before.

She whimpers and cries and moves around a little, but mostly she is still.

Carlisle checks on him regularly, assuring him that she's doing fine.

Esme checks on him, and reassures him he made the right choice.

Rosalie checks on him and tells him she'll totally support Alice when she decides to dismember him for the next decade.

Emmett checks on him and promises that he'll keep Alice under control for the next year if Rosalie's prediction is true.

Edward does not check on him, and instead plays his new piano loudly, still the indignant victim of the original's destruction, and agitated that this sudden change of plans has inconvenienced his own plans with Bella.

One day.

Two days.

She doesn't wake up on the third day, and whilst he starts pacing, Carlisle tries to be reassuring. A longer transformation means nothing, not when her body was so completely damaged from illness. It's going to be fine.

It's the middle of the fourth day when her heart is racing, and there's nothing left for the venom to do; Esme and Rose have washed and dressed her in a clean dress, brushed her hair out of her eyes, and now it's just waiting.

Waiting for that moment when her heart

just

stops.

And she opens her eyes.

The first thing Alice is aware of is love. Adoration. It's wrapped around her, warm and sweet, and so when she opens her eyes, she is already smiling. No one could do anything less, not when they are so certain of their worth.

Everything is quite strange, sharp, and clear like a veil has been lifted over her eyes. She can't quite remember what came before this little bed, this room, - was she sick? - but it doesn't really seem that important. She's looking around for something… no, someone.

He's crouched about four feet away, golden eyes fixed on her with a look of clear desperation. He looks like he's holding his breath, like he's waiting for something.

Jasper. Her Jasper. A million little thoughts, memories, erupt in her mind - laughter, stolen kisses, plans and hopes and dreams, and that feeling of perfect love that she's still wrapped up in, only she's not sure if that's her love for him or his love for her. She decides that it doesn't matter.

"Jasper?" her voice sounds a little different to her own ears. She thinks about getting up, and suddenly she is standing, only a foot away from him.

"Alice," his voice practically caresses her name, and he straightens up, towering over her (still?). "How are you feeling? Do you remember what hap-"

Before he can finish his sentence, her arms are around him, and she's clinging to him like she'll never let go.

"You did it, you did it. I was so, so worried you'd change your mind or be chivalrous or something ridiculous," she babbles into his shirt, and he gently pulls back to look at her eyes (perfectly red, framed in black eyelashes, and oh, he's falling in love all over again).

"I never asked you if you wanted this," he says hoarsely, smoothing her hair from her face.

Her laugh is like … delight, the bubbles in champagne, perfect happiness.

"Oh, Jas," she smiles at him. "There was never any question to ask."

(He kisses her then, not like high school sweethearts; he kisses her like she's his beautiful, perfect, newborn mate and he's not even a little bit sure how she's managing to tolerate the burn her throat and the thirst this long. The only reason they don't put her little cot to another use is that Carlisle comes down to check on them, his relief like a cool spring breeze when he sees the smile on Alice's face and the matching one on Jasper's.)

They leave Forks two weeks after she dies and rises again, with a smile on her face. They leave hand-in-hand, vanishing into the forest towards Alaska. A year there, and then as much time as she needs to maintain control around humans.

And then… they have so many plans. She wants to go to college, study fashion or maybe painting or maybe photography… and they want to go travelling, to all those places on the list in her diary. She wants to help Esme restore a house, and have Rosalie teach her to drive. She wants to meet every single one of their friends, and he can't wait to introduce her to Peter and Charlotte.

And he wants to marry her, in a white dress, with a preacher. He wants to watch her marvel at the Northern Lights and create havoc at Milan Fashion Week, and dance with her to the old records in his study. He wants to make sure that there is never a single moment, a single thought, where she ever regrets what she lost. Anything she wants, he'll bring it to her.

She looks up at him, sensing his worry, and lifts his hand to her lips.

"It's okay, Jas. It's all going to be amazing," she murmurs to him, leaning against him as they walk. "You don't have to worry - we've got all the time in the world."

They leave Forks at 11:28 p.m on a Tuesday, hand-in-hand, and neither of them looks back


Notes

- Yes, Carlisle and the family fudged Alice's death and her ashes with a masterful plan of drugs, falsified data, break-ins, and security camera wipes.

- Jasper did not want to be at the funeral; by then, Alice was changed and waiting back at the house for the family alone, but there was no way he couldn't be there.

- Neither Edward or Jasper are being assholes; it would be totally natural to be relieved that your loved one was spared, and totally natural to lash out.

- I hope you enjoyed JaliceWeek as much as I did, and I highly recommend checking out the event's collection page because there are SO MANY incredible fics.