Alice decided to kill the girl right now, no waiting. An hour into the future, doing it exposed them. A day into the future, it hit the news. Two days into the future, the Volturi came to slaughter her family.
Alice decided to kill the girl right now, no waiting, kill the witnesses, and burn down the cafeteria. It would look like an accident. Half an hour from now, the Cullen family would leave Forks forever, their truce with Quilete done. Jasper would understand, Carlisle and Esme would be devastated in the most excruciatingly non-judgmental and parental way, Rosalie would be annoyed but glad to leave the town, and Emmet would consider her half with awe and half the same as always. Edward would never look at her quite the same, and he'd feel guilty just for being like her, only to drive himself further down into the self-destructive depression that had been pooling for decades.
Alice decided to kill the girl later, in private. Same as before, less awe, less permanence. Even Edward would understand. The taste of the girl's blood would be unmatchable, to be savored and never forgotten.
Alice decided to bite the girl and leave her half-undrunk, so she could survive as a vampire. Alice would be unable to stop herself, and would fail. The girl would die. The taste of the girl's blood would be unmatchable, to be savored and never forgotten.
Alice decided not to kill the girl. The girl would become slowly obsessed with Alice. She'd find out about the Cullens. And one day she would be a vampire, beautiful and strong, with the power to protect them all.
Alice decided not to kill the girl.
I kept staring at them all through lunch. I knew I looked like an idiot, but I couldn't help it. Somehow the forkfuls of food made their way to my mouth. I don't know. All I could see was how apart they all were. Like they belonged to their own world, a world that wasn't here. A world that especially wasn't Forks. My gaze lingered longest on the youngest one. Edward, I think? He was gorgeous.
I stared at them too long. Jessica was starting to comment. I bit my lip and turned my eyes away, muttering something about thinking about the math final and not really noticing that I was staring at the Cullens. I was finally starting to concentrate on my cafeteria food again (which was honestly making me regret paying attention to anything but the Cullens) when a musical voice rang like bells from behind me.
I froze. Blinked. Set my fork down. Turned to face the girl behind me. It was... I couldn't remember her name. The small one with the black hair. Beautiful, just like all of them were.
"Um," was my articulate reply.
I don't know how or why, but Alice swept me up like the second sister she'd never had. Of course she'd heard about my idea of going shopping on the day of the dance and she thought that was a splendid idea and would I mind if she drove? And if we all were going shopping for dresses the weekend before, well, that was just wonderful, too, and she'd love to come with us, if she was invited, of course. I think I saw Jessica visibly clenching her teeth every time I said "yes" to Alice.
But packed into the car with us on the way to Seattle, Jessica couldn't seem to do anything but ask Alice a million questions about Edward this and Edward that and did she know what kind of girls he liked? Did he even like girls? I was thoroughly sick of it by the time we got to the city. Alice seemed to be, too, and we shared a look of relief when the car finally pulled in to park.
We helped with the dress-picking for a while, Alice making better suggestions than me, but frowning at the selection. Having spent the whole car ride sharing a back seat with her, I'd noticed that the clothes she wore were finely made - almost designer-looking.
After enough dress-choosing to make me want to scratch my eyeballs out, I finally declared my need to find the local bookstore. Alice volunteered to tag along, and we parted ways with the other two.
I sat at the table Alice had bribed the hostess to get us, far in a private corner of the restaurant, and stared at the Coke she'd pushed in front of me.
"Drink," she said.
"I'm fine," I reassured her for the fifth time. "I'm... really, I'm fine."
"It'll make me feel better if I know you've had some fluids and sugar. Please? For me?"
I met her eyes - golden today, and as hypnotic as ever, same as all the Cullens - and took the Coke and drank. I'd drained the entire cup before I thought to stop. She pushed the second one towards me. I took it and drank down half of it before stopping.
"I guess I'm not fine," I said finally.
"You will be," she said with perfect certainty. Like she knew. It was strangely comforting. Then again, she was strangely comforting. I felt calm around her, like if I was with her I could know everything was going to be alright. It was a good feeling. It was maybe why I didn't mind that she seemed to want to be around me all the time. Fact was, I kind of felt the same way. Fact was...
She cocked her head at me, a curious expression on her perfect, fae-like face. "Why is it you aren't going to ask me about what happened until we get back to Forks?"
How does she know that? "Well, I figured, um. That it was some kind of secret, maybe. And it wouldn't be okay for me to ask you about it. Out here. How are we getting back to Forks? I mean, you said -- you sent Jessica home and she was how we got here."
"Edward is coming to pick us up."
"But how does he know..."
"Because I told him he would need to."
"But how did you know..."
"Because I can see the future."
"You don't seem shocked."
"Well, I mean... after what you did to those guys, seeing the future is kind of... it makes sense to me. I guess."
"It really wasn't that impressive, you know," she insisted to me. "They were just human. It wasn't a fair fight at all."
"Then you're not just human?"
She rested her chin on her knuckles, staring right through me with her golden eyes. "No."
She explained it all to me. Vampires. Her powers. Everything. I kept asking stupid questions, like "How do you know I won't tell someone all this?" She just gave me tolerant looks and kept on explaining.
And at the end, I could only ask one question. "Why me?"
"Why you what, Bella?"
"Why tell me?"
"Well, I had to tell you something. The truth seemed like a good idea."
"But, I mean, you knew you'd have to tell me. You knew you'd have to rescue me. And you always seem to want to be around me, but I'm just a normal human. I'm not special. So why me?"
"You're special," she assured me. "But that will have to wait for the car."
I was cut off by the waitress arriving with our check. Alice smiled, thanked her, and tipped her a ridiculous amount.
In the car, I got to learn more. The way my scent appealed to Alice. She freely admitted, with her brother grinding his teeth in discomfort in the driver's seat, that she'd considered killing me. It should have scared me. But somehow I wasn't afraid.
"But we've been right up next to each other all day. It doesn't bother you anymore?"
"No. It does. It's difficult." She took my hand, and I let her. She brought it up to smell, drawing the scent in like a subtle bouquet, letting her mouth glide gently over the back of my hand. "You would taste better than any blood I've ever had." She turned my hand over and kissed my palm, gently. "But you have such a beautiful future. I'd never destroy it."
Time to meet the family and I was horribly nervous. Relieved somewhat by Alice helping me pick out what to wear, but my guts still felt twisted up and riddled with a plague of butterflies.
"They'll like you just fine, Bella. Please don't worry about Rosalie and Edward. They come around later."
I hadn't even met Rosalie yet. Did she not like me already? Was she not going to like me after meeting me? As for Edward, I'd noticed, already. He had this weird habit of staring at me, like I was a puzzle he was trying to put together. A frustrating puzzle that annoyed him.
"Why doesn't Edward like me?" I asked. I'd been working myself up for a while, trying to ask her that.
"His power is telepathy."
"So he doesn't like my thoughts?" Oh, God. It was like the ultimate condemnation. "He doesn't think I'm right for you because of... because of me, because of who I am on the inside, because--"
"Not at all. Stop being silly. He can't read your thoughts. So he's frustrated."
"Why can't he read my thoughts? Is something wrong with me?"
"Of course not." Alice reached up in a blink of movement to stroke her hand gently along the side of my cheek, nudging me to face her. "I think it's a power. I think it becomes something more after you're a vampire."
Something she'd explained to me, a few days into knowing her secrets, was that she saw me as a vampire one day. It was a thought that mixed hope and fear - I wanted to be like them, but I didn't want to leave my family just yet, or go through the agonizing pain she had described second-hand. I'd have pushed for her to do it sooner if she hadn't been so sure I'd survive to later.
"It's hard to tell," she concluded. "I can't always see that you too clearly."
I closed my eyes, "Mm," and nodded. Her hand was cold against my cheek, but I'd gotten used to the feeling. She had a habit of touching me at odd moments, little caresses interspersed through our interaction. I still hadn't told anyone human about us. After we introduced me to the Cullens, I was going to have to tell Charlie. That wasn't something I was looking forward to.
"So I think this blouse will look lovely," she said, finally. "Especially against your skin, in the sunlight." She pecked me on the cheek before pulling the blouse she was talking about from the closet.
"But it won't be sunny."
"It will be for an hour, about, while we're visiting. It will look beautiful." She gave me one of her knowing smiles.
I relented. "Okay, Alice."