“Oh!” A quiet, surprised noise escaped Alice’s lips as she looked up from the piece of paper. Her pencil stopped mid-stroke from where it had been creating bold angles in a dress design that was daring, without even showing much skin.
Within seconds all eyes in the room turned to her, anxious about her newest vision. The shock of Edward leaving with barely an explanation in Carlisle’s car was still etched deep into everybody’s mind. Did something happen? Was he alright? Would he finally come back home?
Unlike normally, Alice did not immediately answer their questioning looks. Her face was still surprised, her head racing through what she had just seen, but not stuck in a vision. Slowly, worry raised in the five vampire’s faces, but Jasper caught up on Alice’s feelings: Not distraught, but just very uncertain about whatever she just saw. He raised a hand to calm his family, slowly approaching the small frame of his girlfriend.
“Alice, what’s wrong?” He carefully asked, reaching his hand to touch her shoulder. “Is it about Edward?”
She blinked, his touch clearing her mind instantly. She smiled up to the man, who had been the first thing on her mind when she woke from the darkness of her new birth. She was as much in love with him as she had been on this first day of her existence, twenty-eight years prior to their first actual meeting. “He is coming back.” Her voice was bright, and a sigh of relief echoed in unison to her quiet words.
“When?” Esme’s voice sounded like a heavy weight had been lifted off her chest; maybe, it was exactly that. Losing her son once had nearly broken her heart. Him running away without even a goodbye – again – must have been like him ripping a part of her heart from her chest. All that mattered for her was her family, and not knowing about her – in a sense of the word – oldest son was literally torture for her kind soul.
“Soon. He is on his way to the car right now. Give him a day for the drive.” Which was not a realistic estimation for anybody who was not a vampire, but quite fitting for the limits of the Mercedes and Edward’s driving, including the time needed to refuel four times.
While this was all Esme needed to know for now, it did not stop the more attentive stares to notice that Alice was hiding something from the rest of them. Was it about the new boy in town? Did Edward make a decision about young Beaufort Swan that would upset them? Did the son of the police chief have to die for him to return to the family? Was this the price they had to pay? Carlisle’s eyes stayed on Alice’s face, searching for answers in her eyes, which obviously tried to avoid him. The worry was etched deep onto Carlisle’s beautiful face. He was sure that Edward was strong, but could he blame his son to fall prey to the essence of what he had made out of the young dying boy all these years ago? Every life was worth saving – that was the essence of his moral system – but was it fair to apply the same standards to his family? He could not stop the quiet whisper of disappointment that crept into his mind when he thought of Edward killing the innocent child that came to Forks to live with his father barely more than a week ago.
It was not only Carlisle that was still searching in Alice’s face for answers. Jasper was holding her face between his hands, his fingers carefully caressing her cheeks, worried. “What else?” He whispered barely audible even to the other vampires in the room. Alice wiggled her face free of his grip and shook her head with an excessive smile on her soft features. “Nothing else,” she evaded. “He decided that he is the type to face things head-on and that he would not let anything or anybody keep him from his family.” There was no lie in her eyes, and they did not need Edward’s abilities to know that at least this was really what she had seen. Anything else she was obviously not willing to share, but she was willing to compromise under the asking gazes. “The rest he will have to tell you yourself. It is not my place to share.”
This did not ease Carlisle’s deep-rooted worries, but he nodded. While he, himself, did not have a special gift like three of his children, he knew that these abilities came with big responsibilities. Both Edward and Alice – and even Jasper from time to time – knew things that were not theirs to share. Private thoughts and decisions, feelings, and worries should stay that way: private.
She had told Esme to wait for one whole day for Edward’s return, but Alice sat on the veranda stairs twenty-one hours later herself, impatiently waiting for her brother’s arrival. The sun wasn’t up yet, but slowly, the first fingers of dawn stroked the horizon and a few early birds chirped their early songs into the grey of the ever-cloudy sky above Forks. For human ears, the beginning dawn chorus of the birds was probably not audible – birds, like all animals, avoided the immediate area around the vampire’s permanent residence – but Alice listened closely, waiting for the clear song of the robin to echo through the trees because, at that time, she knew the black Mercedes would reach the front porch.
She didn’t move for a few more minutes, just listening, not bothering to move as they needed to in front of humans. Then, finally, the chirping reached her ears and her eyes flew open as instantly as she was on her feet.
Edward stopped the car, surprised – and a little careful about Alice’s reception. He had expected that she would tell his family about his decision, which she apparently did. Esme’s thoughts, at least, only mirrored her relief of his return as a response to the low humming noise of her husband’s car.
Slowly, he left the car, and then her thoughts were nearly screaming at him. “Why did you never say anything?” And, for a moment, he had not the slightest idea what she was so upset about. Her head was messy chaos of pictures and memories and something that looked, strangely, like parts of educational guides and articles which she had read in the last few hours. He blinked and focused. One of the titles became clear in front of his inner eye: A Guide to Loving and Supporting Your LGBTQ child.
He couldn’t stop the noise from leaving his lips: a shocked and somehow ashamed growl. If there would have been blood in his system, he probably would have blushed. Of course, his first thought led him to the crimson cheeks of young Beau Swan.
In the last seven days, he had thought about nobody else. Beau’s face had been on his mind constantly, his blue eyes staring back at him every single time Edward had looked up into the clear, starry sky over the snowfields near Denali. He had thought about how this insignificant, young, human boy had him all weak and messed up and angry – and how his blood was too sweet to even be allowed to exist. He had thought about the pleasures of drinking every single drop of the hot fluid from the clumsy, tall body. He had thought about his infuriatingly quiet mind and all the ridiculous coincidences that led to him coming to Forks in the first place at exactly this time. He had even considered it to be karma.
But not once he had thought of this.
He wanted to drink Beau’s blood – not… woo him. Right?
He was speechless, something that Alice had already seen before her inner eye, but that didn’t stop her from being impatient. “What did you think we would do? Judge you for it? I mean, sure, nobody of us was born in a time where it was exactly acceptable, but we love you. And the science moved on since then! I mean, even penguins live that way and nobody would ever dare to judge a penguin!” Her thoughts became more chaotic towards the end and there were a few too many pictures and video clips of penguins in her mind then.
“Stop!” Edward suddenly said out loud, which rarely ever happened, when the two of them ‘talked’. Inside the house, at least one person shot the direction of his voice a questioning look.
Alice's thoughts of cute penguins – and the one time she tried their blood just out of curiosity – halted, and she looked at him questioningly. Apparently, this had not been part of the future she anticipated.
“I am not… that.” The new dialogue in her head began.
She blinked, confused. “What do you mean, ‘you are not’?” Her thoughts instantly shot back.
“I mean exactly that. How did you even get the idea that I could be…” His words trailed off, unable to even consider the word ‘gay’ to use for himself.
Slowly, Alice pulled up the memories of her visions into her mind that had followed Edward’s decision to come back – Edward returning to school on the day the first snow fell. Him speaking with Beau in biology class over an already finished lab. And then pictures that must have been later: Edward and Beau in an Italian restaurant somewhere in Port Angeles, Beau wearing Edward’s jacket – which looked really good on the brown-haired boy – and shy touches on top of the table, next to a plate of half-eaten pasta. Beau did not shy away from Edward’s cold fingers, even followed them, when he tried to pull away. And even further in the future: a blurry kiss, the background still too uncertain to dedetermie; them sitting on Beau’s bed, him draped in an old quilt.
Edward nearly choked.
Alice couldn’t stop her thoughts from two more pictures to surface from her memories. Both of them showed a different Beau, the skin even lighter than it already was, his eyes in an uncertain golden-red shimmer, the face with sharp angles, his smile bright as he first reached for Edward's hand, then, in another picture, with his arm around tiny Alice.
“I always wanted a gay best friend?” A hopeful but tiny voice followed the last picture.
“No!” Edward exclaimed once more, and, this time, at least two pairs of feet inside the house clearly moved towards them.
“I am not…” He whispered only for Alice’s ears. “I won’t…!”
And now Alice frowned. “Stop your gay panic, Edward!” She said a little bit too loudly, and all movement inside the house stopped for good.
“Oops,” she whispered quietly.