Title: All the Little Pieces of Me
Author: Girl Who Writes
Word Count: 5739
Genre: Romance, Drama, Angst
Summary: The way the story ends is that she finds her other pieces. She finds her special ones, and they find her. There is love and respect, yes, but there is also sadness and fear and paranoia.
It's not an easy path. So, the ending - if it can be considered an ending - is happy.
But it takes some time to get there.
Notes: More 3some verse for JaliceWeek's Non-Linear prompt. This is the closest I can get to the 3some 'origin' story. Would I love to do a 300k, slow-burn fic? Absolutely. But I can think of some people that would murder me if I added something else to my WIP list.
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy it!
Some had scars and some had scratches
It made me wonder about their past
And as I looked around I began to notice
That we were nothing like the rest
- Of Monsters & Men
The way the story ends is that she finds her other pieces. She finds her special ones, and they find her. There is love and respect, yes, but there is also sadness and fear and paranoia.
They might not be mortal, but they are still, for all intents and purposes, human. Mostly.
So it's not an easy path. And with her gift, sometimes it's hard to put what happened in order. It doesn't ever really fit together in order, because of it. But if it didn't fit together in some way, then it wouldn't have worked out. If they didn't fit together in some way, weren't meant to fit together, then they wouldn't be here now.
So, the ending - if it can be considered an ending - is happy.
But it takes some time to get there.
They finally arrive in Vermont in late 1950, just when the frost is getting ready to turn to snow.
Jasper looms over Alice, his hand laced with hers, eyes darting around the property. Alice is practically skipping, her eyes full of the house, the one that contains their family, their future, their fresh start and resting place.
Alice's other hand is clasped tight in Jessamine's glove-clad hand, and the girl is reluctant, practically twitching from the tension. In the end, Jess had been against the plan, against more vampires, against the idea of a coven entirely. But she trusted Alice (more than she trusted herself), and after Jasper had given in, she knew her protest was in vain.
They would find the Cullens.
Jasper is tired, but also wary. The picture Alice paints with her visions sounds too easy, to calm. There has to be a catch, a trick, a trap in this world, in this family, that Alice thinks she has found. That nothing he has ever seen in this after-life could be so simple. Nothing has been simple, as far as he's seen - not Maria's war, not feeding on humans or animals, not finding out that his mate, his most beloved Alice, has a second mate (who happens to be a wolverine of a girl, a soldier he remembers from the wars, who would sooner burn him to ash than acknowledge him, if it hadn't been for Alice.)
Why should finding a coven-family be any easier than those things?
Alice is, in truth, only held back by their grip. If it had been her alone, she'd have flown across the lawn to the backdoor to find their new family.
(That's a lie; she never would have come alone.)
She lies curled in Jasper's arms, in the last moments before dawn, whilst Jess is off hunting, and she traces his scars with her fingers. They looked like some kind of alien lace on his skin, and she knows Jasper hates every single one (except her mark, nestled in where his neck and shoulder meet, the partner to the one he pressed into her left breast. She shives when she thinks of it, how it felt and what it means.)
She'd tell him that they're apart of him, that she sees them as 'him' - not as a warning or a threat or some kind of scarlet letter upon him. They are his roadmap, his story. She loves them as fiercely as she loves him.
She can't tell him that though, so she doesn't.
(She'll show him instead.)
She finds Jessamine (Jess, really. Not Jessie yet, and for a long time only Alice can call her that. And even then, usually in private. And that's soon but not yet) skulking around the back of Virginia with red eyes and filthy clothes around 1946.
Jessamine is… beautiful to her eyes. Tall and slender, with blonde hair that falls around her shoulders. Her eyes are ruby red, and it suits her so much, but Alice will never tell her that.
(Jessamine's surname will remain an eternal mystery, and not one Alice ever investigates. Why bother? She doesn't have a surname either, and her beautiful girl is so hurt from everything …she's not in the business of dredging up pain. Besides, they'll be given names one day - enough to pick and choose. Alice already knows she' going to be a Cullen - maybe a Whitlock - and Jess is going to fit Hale around herself nicely.)
Her first word to Jessamine is, "Hello!" She tries to make herself look harmless - her dress is only a little dirty, but not bloodied; she's barefoot and she has a ribbon in her hair.
She's seen the vision, something about the ribbon helps. It makes Jessamine less likely to run or fight. She doesn't know why.
Jessamine growls at her, a sharp-edged warning that has Alice tense and ready to flee. Except she doesn't. Except she can't. This is Jessamine-Jess-Jessie. She's not going to leave, no matter what.
Jessamine towers over her, and is wearing the filthiest dress Alice has ever seen, shredded below the knee. She can see scars Jessamine's arms, and she's wearing a thin pair of hideous gloves that are blood-stained and worn thin.
"I'm Alice," she says, smiling brightly and she hopes-prays-wishes…
"Jessamine," the taller girl says in a low voice, that sharp look still on her face.
(She gets her wish.)
She's standing knee-deep in a river in Minnesota when she learns Jasper's name. It rolls off her tongue like honey, and it's perfect. Maria (whose name she learns quite easily, and that makes her more than a little bitter) calls him that, simpers in his ear, and folds him into her bed.
(She cannot wait for the day she gets to take Jasper to bed; she's seen them together in visions that leave her warm and longing for him. It's nearly enough to make her run to his side now, but he's not ready. Not yet. Soon. One day.)
She sits right down in the water, marvelling over him. Jasper. He's so fantastically tall, and he looks stern but she knows he has the most handsome smile, especially when he's looking down at her. She thinks he is amused by her, the way he smiles in her visions. She knows he'll love her.
They dance together, she's seen that. He holds her like glass and spins her around like she's as light as air. They're both happy when they dance, both smiling and laughing, their eyes locked together. Red and gold, gold and red, and finally gold and gold.
It feels impossible how much she already loves him (already loves them both), when he doesn't even know she exists.
Doesn't even know that she's coming for him.
They've been together more than a year (one year, seven months, nine days, four hours and sixteen minutes) when Jess finally touches her. They are lying in a small patch of sunlight, just enjoying the warmth out of the view of human eyes. Jess laughs at something Alice says and rolls onto her side to look at her.
Alice looks over at her, and Jess's face is soft in a new way, in a way that makes Alice's breath catch.
And then Jess's lips are against hers, cradling her face. Alice half gasps into the kiss (her very first!) and covers Jess's hands with her own. It's so much more than she ever expected from her visions - Jess has thought about kissing her eleven times before now, and it's finally here…
When Jess goes to pull back, Alice follows her with a whimper, suddenly desperate in a brand new way.
Jess finally untangles from her, breathing heavily and her eyes dark, to peel off her gloves and pull Alice back to her. She shivers as she cradles Alice to her and there's another kiss, this one deep and new, and somehow Alice ends up on her back with Jess on top of her, and her legs around Jess's waist and she has no idea what happens next, her visions never gave her an instruction manual.
When she finally admits that to Jess, breathless and half-babbling, that she has never done this before and she has no clue what she's doing, Jess laughs and then presses kisses to her cheeks and promises to take care of her.
Jess's hand slips between Alice's legs and her touch is confident but gentle, and she doesn't stop until Alice is begging her, until Alice is rocking against Jess's hand, her eyes blow wide and black.
That's when Jess slides down her body and parts her legs and dots kisses on both her thighs before she presses her mouth against Alice and Alice just gasps and writhes and begs some more.
(When Jess finally pulls away from her, Alice pounces, desperate to reciprocate, eager to learn. Jess - Jessie - laughs and kisses her again and lets her learn, and Alice thinks she does a good job because of the sounds Jess makes, and the way she kisses and holds her afterwards.)
(It was worth the wait.)
She's wading thigh-high in a river, watching tiny fish rush around underneath the surface; sensing Alice's predatory nature but having nowhere to escape to. She finds them fascinating, the way they whip through the water.
Jess is perched in the tree over the river, tearing an old shirt into strips - her gloves are nearly worn through, and she'll have to slip into town to find her some new ones in a day or two.
Jasper's watching her from the bank, her dress folded in his arms. She's caught him smelling her clothes before, and she'd tease him if she didn't do the same, as if she doesn't see all the tension go out of his shoulders and his eyes close when he does it - Jess still has the ribbon she wore that very first day, something she toys with when she's nervous. But watching Jasper clutch her dress, to fold the ratty thing and hold it like a precious treasure… it makes her hurt heart. It's the smallest comfort she can offer him, and he appreciates it so much.
"Jasper?" she asks, watching one particularly fat fish disappear under the river bank.
"Yes, darlin'?" He's doing better. Like Jess, the vegetarian diet is a struggle - Jess has argued passionately about some kind of omnivore diet when they're in an area overrun with nothing better than rabbits, and that's the one thing that she and Jasper agree on (or rather, one of two things they agree on): that the vegetarian diet is vile and unsatisfying.
(Alice is sympathetic. Her eyes are only just gold again after her last slip, and she's had twenty nine years of practice, and so much less temptation. And in another life, maybe she'd agree to it. But she sees the way Jess scrubs her hands against her pants, how long she washes for, whenever she has to touch and feel someone else as she kills them. She sees the way Jasper flings himself from the body, shuddering and choking and brought entirely too low by his biological urges. In the long term, abstaining entirely will only help them. It was never about anyone else.)
But he's lighter right now, happier. She knows from the way he holds her and looks at her and loves her. He still snipes and snarks at Jess, still has days when everything that has come before weights heavy upon him, but things are better.
She twirls in the water, letting ripples spiral out from her like a skirt; the fish scatter.
"What was your human life like?"
He raises an eyebrow, and she wonders if it matters that Jess is here to hear it.
"Very ordinary, darlin'," he says finally, twisting a loose thread from her dress around his fingers. "I ran away to the war when I was sixteen, and Maria found me three years later."
Alice nods but that's not what she wants. She knows that story.
"You had a little sister?" she prompts and wades closer.
"Yes. Celia," he says, getting a distant look on his face. "She had blonde braids and a bad temper."
Jess mutters something that sounds suspiciously like, "must run in the family," that makes Alice giggle, and Jess winks at her.
"I thought going to war would be an adventure," Jasper says, as she climbs into his lap, ignoring the wet that seeps into his pants and cradling her to him. "And I thought I was fighting for the right reasons - to protect my family and my home."
He nuzzles her head and she leans into him; she can feel it sometimes, his regret. That he fought two wars for the wrong side, and that's a hard pill to swallow, especially for a vampire - so resistant to change.
"I think all soldiers go to war for that reason, Jas," she says quietly, brushing her lips against his cheek. "It's a good reason."
"No more fighting now," he says, rather than get into that debate again. He didn't enjoy it the first time, or the second when Jess was there poking holes in arguments simply to be contrary.
"No more fighting ever again," Alice agrees, and then squeals when Jasper hoists her over his shoulder and begins to wade out into the middle of the river.
(It's going to be something he grapples with for a long time - long enough that Alice doesn't see an end. But he takes comfort in her constant reminder - change is difficult for vampires, especially outside of mating. And yet, he managed it. He changed. He finally saw the evil and he acknowledged it and turned away. That no matter how much he struggles and doubts himself, he still did it. That's what makes him a better man than before.)
Jasper's only with them three months when Jess breaks.
It's okay, Alice has been waiting for it. Jess hates change, hates people, and hates anything that reminds her of her past - and Jasper fits every single one of those criteria.
The thing is, Jasper's broken.
Well, they all are. She has no memory before she woke up; it's all dark and blank. Jess falls into full-fledged panic every single time she wears through another pair of gloves, resorting to wrapping strips of fabric around her hands rather than feel anything. And Jasper's past and present is a messy knot of guilt and fear and regret that physically weighs him down.
But Jasper is barely functional, happy to go along with Alice, and taking unimaginable peace from just being with her, holding her hand. When they sit quietly, he nuzzles her head and just cradles her like something precious.
(He still makes love to her like he's desperately trying to prove himself, like she's something breakable and delicate. It is, frankly, adorable and a gesture of how much her loves her, how much he prizes her. But she cannot wait until they can get a little rougher with each other.)
She corners Alice one afternoon, her eyes a luminous and almost terrifying shade of orange, with a hard look on her face.
"Oh, Jess," Alice says before the blonde can even open her mouth.
"This is…" Jessamine begins, and Alice wraps her arms around her waist, pressing her face against her, breathing in her scent. Jess's hands fall to her back, and the moment is diffused. A little.
"I don't understand," Jess finally says, frowning. "How… how does it feel to you? To be with someone else?" To let him touch you like I do goes unsaid, but that question is more Jess's own fears and history than true curiosity.
"You're both mine, Jessie," she murmurs, pulling back to look at her. "It's the same kind of 'right'. I was looking for both of you since I woke up."
Jess still looks unhappy. "You tell us both you love us…" she trails off, and Alice feels the wisps of uncertainty and fear before Jess pulls away, pulling her gloves from her pockets almost angrily.
"I love you both the same, Jess. You have my whole heart, and so does Jasper. My love isn't a finite thing, I can love you both entirely and completely forever. And I will. There's not going to be a day where I turn around and decide that I'm going to leave you - or Jasper.
"And you can't ask me to choose because I won't. Because I can't, Jess. I've known you both since the moment I awoke, and I can't imagine a world without both of you with me. I've waited so long to find both of you… it's going to be wonderful, Jess. We just need time."
Jess stares at her and deflates. "I just… back then, with Maria…" Jess begins and shudders. "I don't understand," she says. "At all. And I'm… I'm jealous and I'm scared and I love you more than I thought I was capable of. I don't like him and it's… so, so much, Alice."
"I know," she says, and she feels sad. Enough that will draw Jasper closer, to fix whatever distresses her. "I'm asking too much of you both."
(Jess doesn't deny that, but she pulls Alice into a tight embrace, and Jasper appears in the background, suspicion and concern written on his face. He doesn't trust Jess, she knows. She doesn't trust him, either.)
She finds Jasper at the diner.
("You kept me waiting.")
He's right on time, bedraggled and miserable. His eyes are flat and black, starving beyond anything that Alice has ever seen. His jaw is so tense, his clothes are filthy, and she knows that if she doesn't intervene, he'll be asked to leave.
So she takes his hand.
They're lying naked on a riverbank, Alice tracing shapes on Jess's stomach when she absently decides to ask the question. It's not planned and she hasn't ever searched for the answer.
"What was your human life like, Jessie?" she looks up at Jess.
Jess has stilled, her fingers tangled in Alice's hair.
"I was born in Texas. Hughes Springs," Jess said slowly, softly. "I had a big family … on a farm, I think."
"A big family," Alice mused. "That would have been nice."
"Noisy, I think. I don't remember enjoying it especially," Jess says. "I think I was one of the oldest. The oldest daughter, yes."
These are precious details, ones that Alice will treasure. The rest of the story will come out in off-hand comments, in answers to direct questions. That Jess's family farm was successful until it wasn't, and then they were poor. That, after years of childish refusals of ever being some man's wife being a family joke, suddenly no one found it funny anymore. Suddenly it was very serious and urgent that Jess get married and she had refused, loudly and constantly.
Jess doesn't talk about what happened next, just that her brothers went to war. She doesn't say why she ran away, just that she did, to go to war like her brothers.
"I was the worst god-damn nurse," Jess always grinned about that. "But I wasn't squeamish, so they let me stay. I hated every moment of it - touching all the soldiers, most of them hadn't bathed for weeks if not months, and covered in filth and lice… but it was better than home."
She doesn't remember much about the circumstances around her change; only that the field hospital she was working at was nearly dismantled, less than a dozen people remaining behind. And it was raided.
"One of the Southern Covens," Jess said grimly. "They were just feeding. Didn't mean to change me. I woke up surrounded by bodies, covered in my own blood." Alice presses closer when she says that; it makes her stomach clench that her Jess only made it into this life by sheer chance, that another roll of the dice would have left this beautiful, smart, prickly woman dead and lost.
"And that's when I ran into Maria of Monterrey," Jess sighs; it's a big sigh, a lament laced with frustration and irritation and resentment. "Lucky she let me live."
It doesn't feel lucky, not the way Jess alludes to, but it is better than the alternative - destruction.
There are few other details from Jess's life that she recalls, even with Alice's persistent and specific questions - her brothers both died early in the war; she had only two letters from home - one of them raging at her disappearance, and one of them informing her of her brothers' deaths - and was gone only a few months before her death. And no, she has no great sadness over their loss, over that time of her life being but a footnote in her story.
It makes Alice sad that all Jess has are unhappy memories of humanity; the small joys and pleasures have long since been lost.
"Human - and vampire - brains are designed to remember bad things over good," Jasper will explain to her, once day in the future. "To protect us - fear, anger, sadness will always resonate in our minds more distinctively than happiness and love and security. That's why the bad moments of our human lives linger, why it's harder for us to remember the best parts."
Her heart breaks a little at that. It doesn't matter how well-lived a life was, it will be the bad that takes hold, not the good. But she will swallow that down, for Jasper's sake, and smiles.
"Maybe that's why I don't remember. My memories and life were so happy, my brain didn't record anything."
Jasper will laugh and kiss her softly. "I hope so."
(She knows where Jess came from hurt her, both her human life and her years under Maria, under Jasper. She knows that Jess didn't get her gift randomly, but because she locked all her feelings up tight, where they couldn't hurt her - or be used to hurt her. So now she feels too much. She knows most days, Jess considers her gift a punishment, her retribution. Or she did until Alice came along and gave her something different to feel.)
She learns little things about them over the next decade, as she flits throughout the forest behind a small town. She has a tiny little shack, long abandoned and forgotten, with mould on the walls. She steals a skirt and sweater, and then some paper and chalk.
She draws them, over and over again, until their faces are engraved on her eyes, in her mind, in her heart. Hers.
He is Jasper. A soldier in a never-ending war; a hollow shell of misery. Smart and terrifying and not at all the man in her visions - not yet, at least. And it aches to see him in such a way, so clearly alone and unhappy.
She is Jessamine. An ex-soldier in the same army as Jasper. A sharp, prickly creature with no tolerance. A feral girl who sees too much and feels even more. Hardened by years of pain and disappointment and fear. She hates how harsh Jessamine, how lost and miserable she appears.
It's hard to watch them suffer, to count up the bite marks on their arms and shoulders and faces, to see which ones are fresh. It's hard to watch them awash in human blood, greedy and pleased in the moment, only for the emotions to seep in - depression and heart-numbing grief for Jasper, hollowness for Jessamine.
It's hard to watch them be alone.
She wishes that she could send them a message, that she's coming and it'll be okay. She'll do anything for them, to make it okay.
It takes six months. That's four months and eleven days longer than her visions told her, so she figures that has to be a good sign.
She's only gone an hour; Jess's gloves are worn through again, and Jasper needed a new shirt. Her own dress will hold out a little longer, she's positive of it.
She gets back in time to see Jasper put Jess through a tree, and shrieks a little because, honestly, she's never seen a vampire fight in person before. That makes them both freeze, and she backs up a little, her eyes wide in fear.
(The future fluctuates, like a soap bubble. One pops as another is formed. And as time and choice flick and fold through her head, she holds her breath and hopes and prays it all falls back into place…)
Jess picks herself up and hisses at Jasper, and Alice is frozen.
(She knows their history. She knows Jess was one of Jasper's reluctant soldiers, kept around only because Maria saw potential in Jess's gift; that and Jess's uncanny ability to get herself out of trouble. She knows that Jasper was a harsh leader. She also knows that Jess blackmailed her way out of the army, caught wind of Peter and Charlotte's escape and used it to get the hell out of Monterrey as well. She knows it's wrong and she'll never really understand all the misery of the Southern Wars, but she cannot help but think that maybe, maybe they've always been tangled up in each other, that fate had a plan for them, and this messy choreography is just as much a part of it as her visions are.)
"Don't fight," she snaps finally, and it's so like her usual manner that they both freeze.
"No." She stamps her foot and throws their respective garments at them. "I am not your keeper."
Lover, friend, mate, confidante, wife, soulmate, family… there are a million words they are to each other (or will be). But 'keeper' will never be one of them. And it hurts her, more than she can say, to see the violence in their stance, the resentment and anger in their gazes to each other.
There is no 'winner takes it all' here; there is nothing to take that has not been freely offered.
She wants to cry, to yell and scream at them. There's wild panic in her chest, and she's not entirely sure why - she knows neither of them will ever lay their hands on her with violence. She knows they're all virtually indestructible and a punch or a slap achieves nothing.
But she also hates it, hates it to her core. The visions of battles they both fought float in her memory, of every near-miss, every blow, every broken limb and fresh bite.
And as the future ripples through possibilities again, she shakes her head in irritation.
"Figure it out," she says finally, and her words are shaky and feeble, like a small child who is getting into trouble, and flees again, to the safety of a tree a good distance away, so she doesn't have to hear the fight.
(She stays in the tree, and she refuses to look to the future, to see what happens. She just stares, watching beetles navigate the bark and waits. Waits for whatever happens next. They come for her a little while later, together. They haven't quite declared peace, but they have negotiated some kind of cold war. She already knows that there will be another fight, after they meet the Cullens - one that scares the family to the bone. That's the fight she has to get involved in, to break up. She's not sure why, but it's important. But this fight, she watches them stoically, lets them quietly plead and urge her down from the tree, and fold her against them, soothing her and apologising.
She doesn't know the words to explain why the fight upsets her so much, doesn't know how to explain the cold drip of terror at the idea of fists against flesh. So she doesn't try.)
Jess's name comes to her quickly, within weeks of her waking up.
Her visions are raising her up, taking the place of a mentor or guardian when she is still so young and wild. The closest thing she will ever had to a parent are the pictures in her head.
She wants to find them now, so that they can teach her and show her what she needs to know, what she wants to know, but she knows they aren't ready.
(The first lesson she learns is patience. She is rewarded with a name - Jessamine. A beautiful name. One that roles off of her tongue. Within another few weeks, she knows that Jessamine is also 'Jess' and, to her only, 'Jessie.' Patience is a hard lesson, but a worthwhile one for that alone.)
She's got a room in a tiny hotel; it's not particularly clean or pleasant, but it's safe. There's a buzzing neon light outside, the hum comforting for some reason.
It's strange doing this alone; it hasn't been that long since she found Jess by herself - maybe that's a sign of how entwined she and Jessie are now, that her absence feels wrong and foreign.
But she's got Jasper now, too.
He watches her talk like she's dispensing the secrets of the universe, watching the curve of her lips, the flutter of her hair, her big nearly-golden eyes, and he will later confess to her that it was like being remade. That her hope and affection at his presence was more than he ever wished for.
She smiles against his lips when he kisses her (so goddamn gently she wants to cry, that he's so cautious about scaring her, hurting her.)
The bed is narrow, and the sheets are yellowed with age, but neither of them care as they peel off clothes; she melts into his arms and interrupts his worries with her with kisses.
(She doesn't want to answer the question. No, she has no memory of ever being with a man, but a woman… Jessie got more and more agitated the closer they got to Philadelphia, and sent her off to find Major Jasper Whitlock with shaking knees and swollen lips. But explaining that she has no experience with men will provoke other questions that can't be answered … yet.)
Sex with Jasper is different than with Jess, and not just in the obvious ways. His touch is so light, he's so damn gentle. His lips graze against her skin like he's taking some kind of communion, memorising every part of her.
She traces his scars with her fingers and her mouth, sighs against his skin, and implores him not to stop. She's never felt as small as she does that night, as he moves over her, his eyes fixed on hers. It's a brand new experience, and one that was worth every moment of longing.
She lies in his arm as the storm rages outside, languid and satisfied. He's nipped at her throat, but not marked her yet, and hasn't mentioned the scars between her legs - a consummate gentleman, assuming the worst and not wishing to draw attention to something painful. Especially with his own patchwork of scars.
(She always knows how much he'll enjoy sinking his teeth over a scar Jess left on her, the taunting satisfaction rippling through him. In a hazier future, one that is so far away it could still shrivel and wilt, she feels his satisfaction as he sinks his teeth into Jess's thigh, over Alice's bites, and that little possibility is kept tuck away until it's strong enough to survive.)
Their pillow talk is sweet, and she likes the patterns the light and rain throws on his skin, and she lies beside him on her stomach, the sheet haphazardly thrown over her waist. She alludes to Jess a few times, trying to be gentle, to ease Jasper into the idea.
(In one future, he holds himself back, refusing to take another's mate. The guilt that he kissed her and bedded her when she was already claimed weighs on his conscience. He becomes her most loyal friend and bodyguard, but nothing else. He refuses. She hates that future, because she can see his longing, can feel her own, and even Jess is annoyed because she wants Alice whole and happy. It's a mess that gets messier and it makes everything take so much longer than it should, and causes everyone pain. She'd prefer to avoid all that if they can.)
The door opens, sometime around four in the morning, and Jasper half sits up, clutching her to him, with a growl rumbling in his chest.
Jess slinks in, dark red eyes and a scowl. "Hello again, Major."
The growl gets louder, and Jess shuts the door and leans on it, surveying them in bed, the resentment written plainly on her face.
Alice slips from the bed, with a sheet draped around her, and goes to Jess, tries to soothe her with a kiss. Jasper is clearly confused and on edge, and now is the time where she has to tell both of them everything.
(It's a long conversation.)
(Somehow, by the grace of the powers that be, she gets it right. Their future begins to write itself indelibly, whilst she's sitting on a dirty hotel chair, wrapped in a sheet, and she's waited so long for this moment.)
She wakes and she is.
Or rather, she sees.
First, she sees him.
He towers over her with a look of adoration on his face; his eyes flicker from red to gold and they kiss. He is beautiful, perfect, in her eyes - a prince, an angel, a divine being, simply for that gentle love that he emits. He cradles her so gently in his arms; this is her peace.
"There is nothing on this earth that I love more than you, Alice," he murmurs and leans down to kiss her.
And he is gone.
She gasps and reaches out for him but he isn't there. Was never there.
And her heart breaks into a million tiny pieces.
But before she can move, another sight flashes before her eyes, of a girl. Tall and blonde again (later she will cheerfully agree she has a type), a girl with sharp red eyes until they meet hers. Then her face softens and she's beautiful.
"You're the only thing I'll ever want," the girl says hoarsely.
And when she opens her eyes, still alone and confused. But she's going to find them, both of them. They are hers, her special ones, and she cannot wait to meet them.