I'm so, so, so sorry for the late update. I know it's shit. All I can say is that university got in the way. I'm sorry! I don't expect you to forgive me.
LithiumReaper is my magnificent beta. Praise her.
I don't know much about hospitals/medical treatment in general, so please bare with me for the next few chapters.
I didn't give Bella and Garrett time to respond. Honestly, I didn't care to. I didn't expect Bella to come with me, after what my family put her through. But I just had to get up there. Get to Rosalie. Get to the baby. Make sure they were okay, before something even worse happened.
I raced around, throwing my things into a duffel bag, yanking on the closest clothes I could find. I'm pretty sure that I pulled on one of Garrett's t-shirts, but he didn't say anything. I didn't care, either.
I was in the bathroom when Bella walked over evenly, quietly leaning against the doorframe.
"Jasper," she said.
I turned to her. Only then did I realize that there were tears stinging my eyes. I could barely make her out through the blurry water.
Bella pushed off the doorframe and walked towards me. "Jasper," she repeated. "Slow down."
I shook my head and wiped my tears on my fist. I wasn't meant to cry. Not cry. That was the ultimate proof that I had fucked this entire thing up. I was crumbling when Rosalie and Bella needed me the most.
"I've got to get moving," I said, shaking my head and shoving my toothbrush into the bag. "She…she needs me."
"She also needs you to be okay, and stable. Take a minute to get yourself together."
"She's hurt. I have to go," I insisted.
Bella placed her hands on my shoulders and held me back. She may have been small, but she had a vice grip and more muscle than I gave her credit for.
"Take a minute," she repeated. "If you drive like this, you could get hurt."
"I don't care," I deadpanned.
"I do," Bella insisted. She led me over to toilet and pushed down the lid so I could take a seat. When I sat down, I realized how much I was shaking. My hands were clammy and cold. My breathing was shallow. My heart was pounding in my chest. I was having a panic attack.
"You've got to breathe, Jasper," Bella said calmly. "Open your lungs. Take deep breaths. You're going to make yourself faint."
I looked at Bella for a moment, but her resolve didn't falter, so I started forcing air into my stressed lungs. Slowly, my pace started to slow and my heart started to calm down. I felt awful, like this, having to be taken care of like a child. I probably looked like a mess. My cheeks felt like they were on fire. All in all, I was utterly broken.
"Feel any better? Less light-headed?" she asked after a few minutes.
"Yeah," I nodded. "Thanks."
Bella nodded once and stood up. "So what time are we leaving?"
The question made me frown. It didn't make any sense. "We?"
"I'm coming up with you. If you think I'm going to let you operate a motor vehicle in your state, you've got another thing coming."
"But…" I said, "it's Forks. My family. You…you don't want to get involved in that."
"I know what I want to do, and that is support you. Facing them alone... I couldn't let you do it. I'll…stay in the motel room while you see them. But I want to be up there to support you, too. Just in case you need it."
I laughed lightly at the thought. "And here I was thinking that it was meant to be me protecting you from them."
"I don't need protection, and neither do you. But support…I think we could both use a little bit of that right about now."
I smiled, looking right into her chocolate brown eyes. Her long lashes brushed against her cheeks as she blinked and her red lips were formed in a little smile. Suddenly, I was less distraught, and more thankful. Warm, even.
"I need to get up there," I said then. "I need…"
"I know," Bella nodded. "We'll go now. Stop off at my place on the way. Give me five minutes to pack a bag there, and then we can go."
I nodded slowly. Five minutes. I could do five minutes. Surely, I could do five minutes.
After a few more minutes my bag was packed. Bella and I headed into the kitchen. Garrett was in there when we arrived, leant up against the counter, his head in his hands. He looked like someone had just punched him in the gut. It was eerily quiet.
When we approached he looked up and straightened himself. I swore it looked like he was crying.
"You off?" he asked, looking at me. His eyes flickered over my bag and then to Bella. A look of something I didn't recognize flashed across his features.
"Give Rosalie my best," he said. "I hope everything goes okay."
"If Maria calls –"
"I will take care of everything here," Garrett said. "Don't worry about it. I'll be in touch. If you need anything, call me. It doesn't matter what."
I nodded. Something was terribly off with him, and Bella wasn't saying a thing. "Are you okay, man?" I asked. "You look…like shit."
Garrett nodded and forced a smile. Somehow I knew he wanted to cry. "I'm fine. My…sister…she went through the same thing with her first. I know what it's like."
"Was she okay?" I asked, a little too forcefully. It felt like he had just fed me a life line.
"Yeah," he nodded. "It was touch and go for a while there, but she pulled through. Rosalie will too."
"Thanks," I said, and my stomach churned.
I walked towards the door and Bella followed me. Just when I stepped out into the hallway she stopped and looked at me.
"Uh…just give me a minute," she said. "I have to tell Garrett something."
I didn't want to wait. I wanted to go. I wanted to get up to Forks and see my sister and make sure she and everyone else was okay and then I wanted to punch Carlisle in the gut because even though I didn't know what made her go into labour, it had to be his fault, somehow, someway, because it was always fucking his fault.
Bella and Garrett spoke in whispers, which I couldn't make out, nor did I care to. I was itching to go. Once Bella reappeared we were gone.
The trip up to Forks was long. I was itching to take over the driving and slam the gas pedal to the floor, but Bella wouldn't let me, no matter what I tried. She said I wasn't in a fit state to drive. I knew she was probably right, but that didn't make the waiting any easier. Nor did it make the time go by any faster. I wanted to see Rosalie. I wanted to make sure that she was okay. And then I wanted to gut Carlisle and feed his innards to the fish swimming around in that fucking aquarium in his office. Only pretentious assholes like Carlisle have fish in their doctor's office. Pretentious didn't even begin to explain what he was.
"Jasper," Bella said when we were about fifteen minutes outside of Forks, "where do you want to go first?"
Her question had completely shaken me out of my otherwise distracted state. "What do you mean?"
"Would you like to head to the hospital first, or find a motel to stay in, or what?"
The question had me stumped. My reflex was to say 'hospital', but my logical side then kicked in and reminded me that Bella probably wouldn't be comfortable in the hospital. Not right then. I had to care for her too.
"Motel," I answered, missing a beat.
Bella frowned. "You don't have to do that for me."
"You're not a good liar, Jasper."
I sighed. Bella smiled at me. That was the worst. "I'm not going to make you face them," I said. "It doesn't bother me if we go to the motel."
Bella shook her head. "How about this; I drop you at the hospital and then go and check into a motel. You call me when you want to be picked up. It's probably best that I'm not there when you see Rosalie."
"I'm not hiding you from them," I growled.
"I know," Bella nodded. "But this is a stressful time. We don't need to add to it. I'll wait for you. While I'm in the motel room, I'll call work, Angela, and Maria, too, to update her on what's going on. You just take care of Rosalie, alright?"
"Okay," I agreed.
"Take care of yourself, too."
Bella pulled up outside the hospital to let me out. I opened the door and stuck my foot out before I retreated and turned back to her. Bella frowned at me questioningly. I leant over and kissed her.
When I pulled away Bella frowned, the corner of her lips turning up in a smile. "What was that for?"
"Thank you," I said.
"You have nothing to thank me for."
"Yeah, I do," I said. "Just accept it, please?"
Bella nodded once. "Go," she instructed. "Rosalie needs you."
I smiled and got out of the car. I didn't turn to watch Bella drive away as I ran into the hospital.
As Jasper rushed around to pack I approached Garrett in the kitchen again. He was nursing the slice in his finger under the running water from the tap.
"Garrett," I said evenly, "you've got to tell me what's going on."
Garrett shook his head, as though he was refusing tears. "I can't. I wish I could…but I just can't."
"You have to," I insisted. "Jasper has to know."
Garrett shook his head and slammed his eyes shut. A long moment passed before he built up the courage to look at me.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I had no idea."
"No idea about what?"
"About who he was," Garrett said through clenched teeth. "Carlisle. I had no idea what he had done…to you, and to Jasper, and to so many others."
"Yeah, well, not many people do."
"I never meant to hurt anyone," he promised.
"You have to give me more than that, Garrett," I said. "I still don't know what you're talking about."
A loud crash came from the bathroom. Both Garrett and I looked towards it. Then Garrett met my eyes, pleading.
"I can't tell him," he whispered. "Not now."
I nodded slowly. "I'll go see to Jasper."
Garrett didn't say a thing, although his expression screamed dread.
When Jasper and I were about to leave, I ran back in to see Garrett. Garrett looked even worse for wear, as if he hadn't slept in weeks, and was coming down with a terrible flu. Even though I was furious at him for what I suspected, he clearly felt a lot of remorse. It didn't make what he did any better, but perhaps it made it more forgivable. I couldn't judge till I knew the entire story.
"Are you going to tell him?" Garrett asked when I approached him.
"Tell him what? I don't know what happened. I don't know what deal you and Carlisle made. His sister just went into premature labour. Now is not the time to tell him."
It wasn't. I couldn't tell Jasper then. Not with all that was going on. But I also couldn't keep Carlisle's contact with Garrett a secret for long, either. It wasn't fair to keep Jasper in the dark. There were already enough secrets around.
Garrett nodded slowly. "I want to…tell him. I need to man up about it."
I nodded. "I'll let you know how things go in Forks. For now, I won't mention it."
"Thank you," Garrett said.
"I'm not doing it for you. I'm doing it for him. For now, he won't know. But if it seems like he needs to know…"
"You will tell him," Garrett nodded.
"No," I said. "I'll make you do it. Jasper deserves to know the truth."
Garrett understood this. I wasn't going to sugar coat anything for him. I felt too cold towards him. I knew what Carlisle was capable of. I knew that he could manipulate people. But the fact that Jasper had trusted Garrett so much, and that this trust was betrayed, was too much to forgive. Especially after everything Jasper had been through.
The drive towards Forks was tense. Jasper was on the edge of his seat, his palms sweating; his eyes darting all over the place as if he was in a horror movie, waiting for the killer to jump out and attack him at any moment. I didn't know what to do to console him. I didn't have a sibling, so I didn't know exactly what he was feeling, but I could imagine the pain and the terror that something terrible would happen to them. I wanted to reach out and touch him and tell him that everything was okay, but every time I tried, he gave me a look of terror, as if one touch might make him ache.
When I dropped Jasper off at the hospital he ran in without a backwards glance. I didn't like leaving him to face whatever was in there alone, but I also knew that he had to. This was his sister, his family, and as much as he could refuse them, he could never properly escape. Not really. Not when everyone was bound so tightly.
I drove to the motel and checked in with a heavy heart, yearning to make sure that he was okay.
My first port of call was to my boss to explain the situation. She was surprisingly understanding of the whole thing, and said that since I had hardly took a sick day during my time there, let alone my holiday time, I could take as much time as I needed. I was grateful for her understanding, but also knew that I would get back to work as soon as possible. It wasn't because I enjoyed work; it was because I didn't want my entire life to become about the Cullen family and everything that was going on. I needed some normalcy.
After calling work, I called Angela. When I told her what was going on, her breath caught in her throat. The only part I left out was about Garrett. I still didn't know what was happening with him.
"Rosalie went into premature labour?" she repeated.
I nodded, but realized that she couldn't see that. "It's horrible. Jasper was so torn up. He's with her now."
"And you are up there with him?"
"I'm not at the hospital," I said.
Angela breathed, as if in relief. "Good."
This made me frown. "Why?"
Angela paused for a moment, carefully selecting what she would say next. "I just…don't want you to get hurt, Bella."
"I won't get hurt. I'm here to support Jasper. That's all."
"Will Edward be there?"
Even the question made me mad. I wasn't a child. I wasn't a pathetic, broken-hearted teenager anymore. I had more things to worry about than Edward fucking Cullen. The bronze-haired asshole didn't even register on my radar, and Angela bringing him up now just pissed me off.
"I have bigger things to worry about than Edward Cullen. In fact, I hadn't even thought about him until you brought him up."
I sounded snarky and horrible. I knew I did. But I was also pissed and not afraid to show it.
"I'm sorry," Angela said quietly. "I really am. And I know you can handle yourself. I only…I don't want you to get hurt. I don't want you to go through that again."
Suddenly, I remembered what I had been like. I remembered my catatonic state after Edward broke up with me. I remembered how destroyed I was. I remembered the tragedies that followed with Carlisle. I remembered the depression I spiralled into afterwards; the depression that only got worse after Charlie died – so bad, in fact, that I was forced to drop out of college. Angela had been next to me throughout it. And even though I was off the anti-depressants and returning to semi-normalcy, I was still teetering on the edge of another melt down. I knew how easy it was to fall back into the darkness I had felt before. I knew how quickly things could turn sour. Angela knew too, and she was trying to protect me from that. I couldn't be angry at her for it.
"I know," I said. "But…I don't…I don't think I will. I'm not frightened. I'm not filled with dread. I'm…" What was I? Happy? Excited? Coping? Fine? What was I? I had to think for a moment to find the right word. For the first time in a long time, I didn't feel like buckling over in a ball of tears. I didn't feel like giving up. The complete opposite, I felt like fighting. I felt like I had new breath breathed into me. I had to be strong. I felt strong. I was strong. I felt like concrete. For the first time in a long time, I was starting to actually feel like I was someone with a purpose in life. Like I could actually be someone. "I'm determined," I finished.
"Determined to do what?" Angela asked.
"To set things right."
I didn't just mean that in the sense of getting Jasper off his charges. That was one of many things I needed to set right. I also wanted Brett to pay for what he did. I wanted to stand up to Lucy. I wanted to help Jasper learn the truth about Garrett, and help Garrett in whatever mess he had gotten into with Carlisle. I wanted to help Jasper break away from the shackles that held him back, and help him recover from this crushing blow with his sister. I wanted them to mend the cracks in their relationship. I wanted to find a new job, or start doing something that I actually enjoyed. I wanted to move out of Seattle, out of Washington, and away from the cold dampness that I was continuously shrouded in, and which clung to my clothes like I was a stagnant, moss-covered tree. I wanted to air things out with my mother and start rebuilding our relationship. I wanted to fix my father's old house. I wanted to pay my respects to him, properly this time. And then, I wanted Carlisle to pay for what he did to me and so many other people's families.
It was about time that I grew up, stopped running, and started facing the hurdles that were laid out in front of me. It feels like it's been forever that I had been avoiding running the race. I was far behind, and had a lot of ground to catch up on, but I would do it. And I would do it right.
I wasn't doormat-Bella anymore. I wasn't pathetic-Bella. I wasn't run-away-scared-Bella. I wasn't going to be the Bella I became when I got together with Edward. I was going to become the girl I once was, and could have been, if I hadn't have let myself be controlled so much by other people. I was going to start having a voice, and using it for something good.
I refused to let myself be weak anymore. I had to grow up.
I could imagine Angela nodding. I didn't need to explain this to her. That was the wonderful thing about us. She just got me.
"I'm proud of you," she said. "I'm so proud of you. But I'm also worried about you. What you're taking on…it's a lot."
"It's about time I actually faced it, too," I reminded her.
"Tell me if you need anything. And I mean anything," Angela said.
'Thanks, Ange. I will."
Angela and I said goodbye and hung up. My next port of call was Maria, to update her on what was happening. It was probably best that she knew that Jasper was out of town.
"That should be fine," Maria said after I told her. I could hear her rustling papers around on her desk. "Keep me updated on what you are both doing. If you are staying for longer, you may need to travel back a few times for meetings, but I will let you know. I am talking to the judge and prosecution next week. All seems to be going to plan."
"Do you think the case against Jasper will be dismissed?"
Maria was silent for a moment, pondering this question. "It is hard to tell," she said. "I would believe so, but I can never predict the outcome. I only warn you to not get your hopes up. I don't believe the outcome will be sour, but it could."
I nodded. It wasn't what I wanted to hear. What I wanted to hear was that everything would be okay, and that Jasper would be let off, and that nothing would go wrong. But of course no one knew what would really happen. I would cling to any slither of hope, but Maria logically couldn't give me any.
I didn't know what to do with myself after that. The motel was hauntingly quiet, and the only thing I could think about was what Jasper was doing, or what was going on in the hospital. I tried turning on the television, but the set was so old that I couldn't even make the picture out. In my rush, I hadn't even thought of packing a book. Thusly, I decided to head into town and pick up some food and perhaps find a bookshop. At least it would be something to do.
When I sprinted to the receptionist, she told me to slow down and pointed me in the direction of Rosalie's room. When I started sprinting down there, a security guard stuck his hand out and told me to walk, not run, as if I was a child again and at swimming lessons, being told not to run around the pool. When I tried to force my way past him he pushed me back and gave me a stern look. He had over seventy pounds on me. I decided to walk from then on, but I walked fast.
I arrived at Rosalie's room and knocked once. Edward was the one to answer. As soon as he saw me, his expression dropped. I swear he had been crying, and briefly I thought he was going to act like a brother to me. Briefly, I thought we could put aside our petty differences and just act like a family for once. Turned out I was wrong.
"What are you doing here?" he hissed.
I wasn't in the mood for his petty bullshit, so I forced my way past him to see Rosalie. She was my real family. She was the reason I was there. She was the reason why I still clung on to my past; because she lived it.
Rosalie looked up from her swollen stomach and smiled at me. She was ghostly pale, with large bags under her eyes, as if she hadn't slept for days. Emmett was at her bedside, one hand on her stomach and another on her hand, their fingers entwined. That was a family. I didn't even notice Alice perched on the sink counter, or my mother and Tanya on the other side of Rosalie, or Carlisle standing by the door with a clipboard. I just saw my sister and the man she loved.
"Hey, Jay," Rosalie greeted cheerily, her voice a little rusty.
"Rosie," I breathed, stepping towards her. I walked over next to Emmett. She removed her hand from his and reached out to me. I patted Emmett's shoulder in greeting and took Rosalie's hand without hesitation. "How are you feeling?"
"A bit better," Rosalie nodded. "They've stopped the labour. My water didn't break, which is good. Contractions had just started, but I've been given medication to stop them, now. They are hoping to extend it to thirty six weeks, if all goes well. I'm confined to bed rest from now on."
"What caused it?" I asked, trying to hold back the tears. "Do they have any ideas?"
Rosalie opened her mouth to speak, but it wasn't her voice that I heard. It was Carlisle's. "They don't know specifically," he said, "but there are things to speculate about. Added stress, perhaps. Emotional strain. Anxiety." With every word, he stepped closer to me, until he was towering over me, casting a shadow over my face. Even Emmett retracted in Carlisle's presence. "You have a lot of nerve coming up here, after all you have done."
"Carlisle –" Rosalie began to argue, but he held his hand up to her, refusing it.
"I'm speaking," he warned her before turning back to me. "You have no idea about what the ramifications of your actions are, do you? You have been nothing but trouble to this family, and now the trouble you have caused nearly lost Rosalie and Emmett their child. You are a disgrace."
"Carlisle!" Rosalie interjected again, and again he held his hand up to stop her. I looked around the room at everyone's faces. No one was coming to my aid. Edward was sickly pleased with this show, Tanya and my mother were submissive, Emmett wouldn't meet my eyes, and Alice would, but when she did, I was frightened for her. She looked beaten down and broken. She looked apologetic. She looked like a lost little girl again.
"You have been nothing but reckless, and now you have sprung up a relationship with filth like Bella Swan. I am disgusted in you. This entire family is disgusted in you. You must leave. Now."
"NO!" Rosalie shouted over Carlisle's voice. This took everyone by surprise, and they all looked to her, incredulous. She was desperate and almost crying. Carlisle was outraged. "No," she repeated. "Jasper didn't do anything wrong. You did. I told you this last night. You lied to me about him. You kept things from me. You used Mum and me to control him. You are the sick one here, not him."
"Rosalie," Carlisle warned evenly, "you will not speak to me like that. Jasper put added stress on you, which most probably caused the labour. He has hurt you."
The look in Rosalie's eyes was familiar. Utter determination. Something had happened with them. I think I knew what. It had to be it. Rosalie had confronted him. She had that fire in her eyes. She had confronted him, and this frightened him, because he was losing his control over her.
"I will speak to you like that," she said. "Jasper did none of those things. You tried to destroy my family. You blackmailed my brother. I can never forgive you. You pushed him away from me. You made him frightened to talk to me. It's cruel, Carlisle."
"He is a menace!"
"He is not!" Rosalie said. "He is my brother!"
"Rosalie, darling, don't shout," my mother tried to ease her. "You have to stay calm. For the baby."
Rosalie blinked and tears tumbled down her cheeks. I wanted to soothe her, but I couldn't find my voice. I couldn't properly piece together what was happening. Rosalie was sick. Alice had somehow been beaten down, but Rosalie was starting to fight in her place. More things were coming to light. Carlisle couldn't manipulate her anymore. He didn't like this. His control was slipping. Rosalie was breaking away.
Carlisle's carefully crafted world was crashing down around him.
Rosalie nodded and drew in a few deep breaths. When she looked back to Carlisle, she had softened. "I don't want any more lies," she said. "Jasper has not done anything wrong. This is no one's fault. I want Jasper around. He is my brother. And you will not take that away from me." Emmett's hand slunk over to Rosalie's and their eyes met. They both forced themselves to share smiles. "You are this child's grandfather, Carlisle," she said evenly. "I want this family to work, so I want no more lies. Jasper, I want to meet Bella. I want this to work out. I want the best for this child. No more fighting. I want this family to work out. We have to work together. Stop with the games. Stop with the fighting. I won't have it anymore."
For a moment, everyone was silent. Eventually, Carlisle forced out a sharp nod. He didn't like losing any form of control. I could see it in his eyes. But I also knew his control was far from devoid. They all knew about my criminal proceedings and Bella. That was out in the open. But no one was going to face what was right in front of them, yet; Carlisle was practically, indirectly, a murderer.
"You're right," Carlisle agreed eventually, forcing on a fake smile. "You are right, Rosalie. This child is coming into the world. We cannot fight anymore. Jasper, we are sorry about your troubles. I thought I was protecting this family by keeping it quiet and attempting to fix it, in my own way, but I must have been mistaken. We will sort it out for you. For now, let's just focus on Rosalie."
We fell into polite chatter, mainly about the baby. I didn't know what to think about the entire experience. For hours, everything was calm, but filled with tension. I eventually moved to the edge of the room, near Alice, always on the peripheral. I was more at home that way.
I couldn't wrap my head around this family. It was truly messed up, in so many ways. There were games that we played, things that we hid, and things that only a select few knew. I knew that Carlisle knew far more than any of us.
When I tried to talk to Alice, she refused to acknowledge me. It was like she had grown to hate me over the few days that we had been apart. I tried to ask her what was wrong, but she shut me out immediately. Briefly, I wondered what had happened to the Alice who claimed to owe me something. Something was off. I knew I had to find out, but part of me didn't want to.
At lunchtime, I needed to get some fresh air. Staying in that room with all of them drove me insane. I headed out to the back of the hospital with a can of coke, needing a break. My stomach as too upset for me to eat, so I drank. I was too worried about Rosalie to do anything else. I just wanted her to be okay, and this never seemed possible, with her close proximity to Carlisle. He was a bad guy, but someone no one could break away from. I didn't want my sister around that controlling lifestyle. Hell, even I couldn't break away from him. Not properly. I fought my hardest, but he always had a way of weeding his way back into people's lives. I was no exception, as much as I wished I could be. I didn't doubt that he probably had mole in my life, and knew more about me than he let on. He most certainly wasn't happy with Rosalie's newfound determination. This scare with the baby had given her something to fight for; she was taking control from Carlisle and being pulled out of the darkness he had shrouded her in. Clearly, he didn't like that someone else was having a say on how the family was run.
I shuddered at the thought and suddenly felt very cold. For a moment, I craved the warmth of the Texan sun. It was the one place that he hadn't stolen from me.
Eventually I returned to Rosalie's hospital room. Not long after, the doctor came and talked to us. The goal was to postpone her labour for as long as possible. At thirty two weeks, the baby was not properly developed. Rosalie had been given rounds of medication to speed up the baby's development and stop her labour. Hopefully, it would hold off until thirty six weeks on bed rest, but no one could be sure.
As the doctor spoke, Rosalie and Emmett clutched at each other's hands. Rosalie looked stern and determined but her resolve was faltering. You could see it in her eyes. She wanted to buckle over in tears. Only, she couldn't, because the entire family was there and she just refused to be weak again.
Not long after the doctor left, Edward and Tanya left, too, promising Rosalie that they would be back to see her the next day. Apparently there were some pressing wedding matters to discuss. I couldn't work out what matters would be so pressing that they were more important than Rosalie.
A few minutes after they left Carlisle returned to his rounds and my mother left to head home. She gave Rosalie a hug and a kiss as she left, but refused to even meet my eyes. It was almost as though she was frightened of me. Or disappointed. Or both. It wouldn't have surprised me. Carlisle could have said anything to her. In reality, I knew that I stopped fighting for my mother a long time ago. I stopped fighting for her when she stopped fighting for me.
"You should probably head home too, Alice," Emmett said to her. "Esme could use help at home."
Something was terribly wrong with Alice. I could see it in her eyes. She was looking at the floor, still perched on the counter by the sink, almost like a little child. When Emmett spoke to her she looked up, stunned.
After a few moments she shook her head and spoke in a tiny voice, "I have to wait here for Dad."
Wait for Carlisle? This didn't sound right. This wasn't Alice. Alice was rebellious and sparky. She wasn't quiet and tame. Something was off. Terribly off. I looked at her questioningly, but she wouldn't meet my eyes.
"I'm sure Dad will be fine with it," Emmett pressed.
Alice shook her head again. "No. I'm staying here."
Emmett was about to protest again when Rosalie stopped him with a touch of her hand. He looked down to her, suddenly torn and apologetic. She smiled sweetly at him.
"Em," she said quietly, giving a small shake of her head. Then she turned to me and spoke louder. I was leaning against the far wall, and she patted the seat next to her bed. "Jay, come over here. I want to talk to you."
I pushed off the wall and walked over to the chair. I could feel Alice's eyes on me as I did so. Only, when I looked over to her, she was watching the ground again.
Rosalie sat up more in her bed as I sat down. Her smile was bright, but the colour was drained from her face.
I sat down and Rosalie's hands enveloped mine. She looked like she was about to cry. I sorely hoped she wouldn't, because then I would, too.
"Tell me about what you've been up to," she instructed. "I feel like I haven't talked to you properly for a long time."
"Rosie," I argued, "you're sick. Now's not the time –"
"Now is the perfect time," she rebutted. "Just because I'm in hospital doesn't mean you can start treating me like an invalid. Tell me how you are."
"I'm fine," I swore. "I'm painting still. Working with Garrett. Everything is fine. How are you?"
Rosalie ignored my question. "And how is Bella?"
The mention of her name was chilling. Emmett stiffened and Alice visibly shook. Her name was dangerous to them. Somewhere deep inside, they all knew who Carlisle was, and what I claimed for him to have done. None would admit it, but they knew.
"She's good," I said. "A bit shaken from...the altercation, but we're sorting it out."
Rosalie nodded slowly. She looked extremely empathetic. "Is there anything I can do for you two?"
"No," I said, shaking my head. "We'll be fine. Just focus on getting better."
"Do you think the charges against you will be dismissed?"
I shrugged. "It's hard to tell."
Rosalie nodded and fell silent. She thought for a few moments before speaking again. "Did Bella come up here with you?"
"I would love to see her."
This took everyone by surprise. Emmett and Alice both looked up, in complete shock. But still they didn't say anything.
"You want to see her?" I repeated.
"Yes," Rosalie nodded.
This thought startled me, because honestly, I didn't know if Bella would want to see them. After all that my family did to her, it might be too much.
"I don't know, Rosie. It might not be a good idea."
Rosalie nodded once. She understood this. But she wasn't giving up. "But you're with her, Jasper. If she means that much to you for you two to get together, I want to get to know her. Please, just ask her?"
I looked around the room. Emmett was reading a newspaper, trying to give us our space. I was grateful for it. Alice, however, wasn't making her interest subtle. She was watching us carefully, wanting to know what was going on. When she saw me watching her she quickly looked away again. She still wouldn't look me in the eyes.
I turned back to Rosalie. It was impossible to turn her down, but I couldn't promise anything, either. I felt like I was being ripped in half by my love for Rosalie versus my concern for Bella's welfare.
"I'll ask," I agreed. It was all I could give.
Jasper called me to pick him up from the hospital later that night at nine. He was unnaturally silent on the drive back to the motel. Every time I looked over at him to try and catch his eye, he was staring at the raindrops speeding down the window and plummeting towards the asphalt beneath us.
When I parked at the motel Jasper didn't budge. I turned to face him, concerned that something serious was wrong.
"Jasper," I said evenly, "is everything okay?"
Jasper looked over at me. When he did, I lost my breath. His eyes were filled with tears, and he was looking at me, pleading with me, as if I was the last drink of water in the desert.
"Rosalie wants to see you," he admitted quickly. "She wants the family to get along and she wants you to be a part of it."
I felt like someone had just kicked me in the gut. Or reached into my chest and yanked my heart out. Or kicked me in the chest and knocked the wind out of me. My mind was racing a million miles an hour. I couldn't say a word.
Instead, I got out of the car, and walked steadily up to the motel room.
I sat down on the edge of the bed, hugged my arms over my chest, and bent over, trying to rock myself steady. Trying to soothe the ache in my heart. Trying to stop the tears. I tried, but I wasn't doing a very good job.
Jasper opened and closed the door, standing away from me, as if he was scared that if he came any closer, I might break. When he spoke, my eyes shot up to him, and tears stained my vision.
"Bella, I'm sorry. I just...I had to ask."
I looked at him and he looked at me. Both of us were broken. I knew that this wasn't easy on him, either, but I still felt betrayed that he would even ask me that question.
"They're your family," I acknowledged. "I know that. I can deal with that. But they are not mine. I don't want anything to do with them. Any of them."
"I know," Jasper nodded, and I could see that he hated to ask this. I knew he did. But he had to. And I already knew my answer. "It's just...Rosalie. She is sick, and I have to ask. She wants an unbroken, unhindered family for the baby. She wants to get on with you."
I shook my head. I felt for her. I really did. But me playing pretend with them wasn't going to help in any situation. I could barely stand to be in the same town at the Cullen's. I wouldn't play house.
"That is something that will never happen in that family. You know that. You can't just tape over the cracks and expect them to disappear."
"I have to, though," he said. "Just until Rosalie gets better."
"Don't ask me to help you."
"I have to."
"I won't do it," I shouted then.
Jasper fell silent. My chest was heaving. I felt anger burning in my veins. I shot up from the couch and paced the room, standing on the other side from Jasper. Two sides of the battlefield.
I felt terrible for acting the way I was. I knew it was selfish. I knew it was cruel. But I also knew that I couldn't be around those people and just act as if everything was okay. I couldn't be around them, period. Jasper couldn't, either. Not after everything they had done to him. Not after how much Carlisle messed with him.
"You can't ask me to befriend them," I told him. "You just can't. Not after everything. That family has done nothing but hurt you, and yet you still stick around. You have got to know that that's unhealthy. Don't make me do it too."
"Rosalie's my sister," he hissed at me.
"And Charlie was my father. Jacob was my best friend. Carlisle took that away!"
Jasper looked at me blankly. There was a fire in his eyes. "I know exactly what he took away, Bella. You don't need to remind me."
"Then don't let him take away anymore," I insisted. "Don't crawl back into his arms."
"I'm doing this for Rosalie."
"That's what it feels like," I nodded. "But you and I both know that in the end, it's Carlisle's arms that you are playing into."
"He doesn't want me there. He doesn't want you there. This is not his plan."
"Everything he does is a plan!" I shouted, needing to tell him. I couldn't stand it. I couldn't stand around and watch Jasper be reeled back into that family every time he broke away, even a little bit. I couldn't stand him not knowing just how tightly Carlisle had tied his noose. Was it not suspicious that, right after Jasper had stuck it to Carlisle, Rosalie was back in the hospital in an emergency, and Jasper was back within Carlisle's reach? The thought that Jasper was spending time with them, trying to make things right, all the while not knowing what Carlisle had done, and not knowing that Carlisle had something over him which betrayed him and kept him in the dark was impossible to consider. But it was real. And it wasn't fair that Jasper would go back into that family not knowing all he could about what Carlisle was doing.
Jasper knew I was right. I could see it in his eyes. But he still shook his head and blinked his tears away.
"He doesn't. Not this time. Not Rosalie. She's hurt. This...this isn't anything to do with Carlisle."
I didn't want to mention it. I didn't want to even bring up the possibility. But I had to; Jasper had to be careful.
"Carlisle is a doctor, Jasper. You pushed him away. Now you have been wheeled right back."
The gears were clicking into place in Jasper's mind. Somewhere behind the wall he put up, he already knew this. He already had a feeling. He just didn't want to admit it to himself. No one would. Not something this horrific. Carlisle had complete control. Complete control. And I had no idea how to undermine it. It seemed like Jasper would forever be stuck.
"He can't..." Jasper said quietly, still trying to dig for a solution that wasn't this. "He can't have...he doesn't have that much control."
I wish I could say that I believed that. But I didn't. I also knew that there was one person who could give us more answers.
"Listen, Jasper, if you need me to help you with Rosalie, I will do it. But...there's something you need to do first."
He looked like I had given him a lifeline. "What?"
I had to do it. I had to let Jasper know what he was walking into, and what was happening. When he was so close to Carlisle, I couldn't let him be kept in the dark.
"You need to talk to Garrett."
He looked completely dumbfounded. "But why?"
"He's not who you think he is."
Eeek. Okay. So. There you go.