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Alice had responded in a semi-dazed way to all the things they spoke to her on the way to the car, she not really tuning back into anything until she was buckled in and had Gabriel placed in her arms. She shifted about the the backseat of the Porsche, getting into the most comfortable position to hold the child for for an hour. Potentially less, considering how fast she and Bella had made it to Volterra from the airport in the first place.
[i You won't be taking him, you knew that already,] voice of reason whispered within her mind as she gently brushed a thumb against the temple of the sleeping little boy. [i You're supposed to be adopting Stephenie when you graduate—though Charlie might be tempted to adopt her, you can't do that to him. ...Come to think of it, it's a little insane that this little guy shares a birthday with her....] The voice of reason continued, though the stern seriousness of her mental voice trailed off at the end as, in general, her own mental thoughts trailed off as, fuzzily, she heard Bella mentioned the Cullen family from the front seat of the Porsche.
Closing her eyes, flickering of emotions danced behind her eyelids as she thought up a few possible choices, and she smiled briefly before reopening her eyes, glancing down at the baby in her arms once more. [i That'll work. They'd never get tired of you and Stephy....] Alice thought to herself, feeling a slight twang in her heart.
Speaking of the rest of Bella and Jasper's family, however, there was probably something she should mention considering Forks....
[b "So they don't freak out, one of you should let the family know there's a vampire who's been living in Forks."] The short thing said simply, not taking her eyes off of the little baby that Gabriel was as he sleepily cooed with fluttering eyelashes.
If it weren't for the whimpering baby cradled tightly to his chest, Jasper would have jumped at another chance to rip Felix's head from his shoulders. A low growl rumbled in his chest until they were left alone once more. [b "Looks like we'll need a hotel room temporarily,"] he looked to the papers.
If they were taking the infant with them, the paperwork needed to be filled out before they got to the airport. [i "Not necessary,"] Bella waved him off. [i "We can fill it out in the car on the way. Alice can hold the baby while you drive. My penmanship has always been better than yours anyway."]
She knelt back down to help Alice back to her feet. [i "We aren't parked that far. We need to move fast, so just lean on me if you're still feeling weak, okay?"]
With that, the Cullen siblings led the way through the shady covers of the buildings until they came across the Porche. [b "You're only a little ridiculous, you know that?"] he looked to his sister as she helped Alice squeeze into the cramped backseat of the four-seater sports car.
[i "I've always wanted to drive one, okay? Plus it wouldn't be as much fun if Edward and Rosalie were whining for a turn behind the wheel,"] Bella defended herself, extracting the baby from his arms to hand to Alice.
The siblings got in the front seat and Jasper wasted no time in getting as far from Volterra as possible, before Aro could change his mind. In the passenger seat, Bella diligently filled out the forms. [i "For the purposes of boarding the plane with no trouble, Gabriel is temporarily yours and Alice's son. Once we get back home, we can get official documents done with the permanent arrangements for him,"] she informed the two.
Alice was trying to focus on her breathing, she really was, but it was hard to do with the memories of visions and the lingering dread mingling with intense relief and peace since the current hazards had passed. It was even harder to breathe still with the baby out of her arms but still hearing his cries.
Soon Bella had her in her arms, and the Gabriel's young cries were gradually ceasing, and Alice found her eyes and ears able to refocus on the world around her. She was gasping slowly through breaths, her breathing evening out, and before she knew it she was back to the current moment with her head gently craddled on Bella's shoulder. [b "I think I'll be okay.... If I'm not insane, anyway,"] Alice offered a weak smile, closing her eyes and focusing on her breathing a few moments after seeing Gabriel safe in Jasper's arms.
The elevator dinged, signalling Felix's return, and the hulking red-eyed vampire approached at a noticeably slow pace before setting the cloaks down.
Bleasedly, Alice was unable to hear the softer-than-breath granted information that only vampires could hear. She did not have to relieve the information of Caius occasionally enjoying the taste of new mothers and how, if a babe was unfortunate enough to be brought in with the mother, that they'd be use to torture the mother for hours before the mother would be slowly drained to the sound of their infant's screams.
The guard stood, staring at them—but mainly at Alice, as if trying to figure her out—before reaching into his cloaks, pulling out a manilla folder, and tossing it into the short pixie-girl's lap. [#cc0092 "Should make the travel easier until you can get to some falsifying resources of your own. The standard documents needed for American's to travel back to the states with their infant born out of the country,"] Felix said simply, giving a feral grin, and then he was gone as quickly as he had arrived.
[b "Alice!"] Jasper quickly grabbed the baby, handing him off to Bella.
He grabbed her in his arms and eased her down to sit on the floor. [b "Focus on me, okay? Deep breaths,"] he advised.
He couldn't even focus on the fact that they now had a human baby with them, who was beginning to fuss in Bella's arms. [i "Shh, it's okay,"] she tried to soothe him. [i "Jas, if you wouldn't mind?"] she looked to her brother for help.
Torn, Jasper looked between the crying bundle, and the love of his life. [b "Help her,"] he ordered Bella, carefully taking the infant into his arms.
His golden eyes locked on the baby's, and he willed the crying to stop. The shrieks became dull whimpers, until the little boy fell silent. He watched the vampire curiously; big doe eyes looking up as though trying to solve a puzzle.
[b "I don't suppose you'd like to fill me in on why we have another traveler joining us?"] he knelt next to the girls, letting the baby play with the fingers of his free hand.
[i "I'm sure Alice has a good reason. Besides, I'd rather him come with us than go through whatever the hell was going to happen back there,"] Bella chimed in, still rubbing soothing circles against Alice's back.
[b "Are you really okay?"] Jasper looked to Alice, worry creasing his face.
The next minutes were... a blur, really. Long, blurring minutes that felt like hours and days with how they blended, but really they had been just mere minutes.
Alice had released her hands from Jasper's and Bella's, had stepped her way between the two guard and the young mother, and after a few soft words spoken in Italian; asking for the woman's name, the babe's name and birthdate, what lullaby calmed him, and a request for the crying mother's phone.
After quick movements of her fingers that had consisted of sending every photo of the mother and the child in the phone to her email, she typed a brief moment more before handing the phone over to Demetri with the slightest of arched eyebrows, and the blonde hunter had returned the gesture just slightly before glancing at the phone screen.
In mere heartbeats later the group had finished being lead out by Felix, Demetri having stayed behind with the woman, and... the baby—Gabriel, whom was days shy of being even a month old—was in Alice's arms.
[#cc0092 "Cloaked will be brought up momentarily for easy exit from the city."] Felix said with a feral grin, and then left back down the elevator. It was moments after the hulking guard was gone that Alice felt exhaustion fill her, her knees trembling as she left the small haze. [b "...O-One of you take the baby before I faint,"] She managed to gasp out, voice thick with overwhemled emotions as her body swayed slightly.
Jasper wasn't quite sure what was happening, and he didn't like it. [b "We're free to go?"] he looked to Aro for clarification, who merely nodded and waved them off.
The blonde wasted no time in turning to his ex-girlfriend, holding her face in his hands. [b "Are you alright? Are you hurt anywhere?"] he looked frantically to make sure she was unscathed.
His search was cut short as Felix and Demitri started edging them towards the door. Before they exited, he felt Alice's hand leave his. [b "What are you doing?"] he called to her, but she continued to speak with Aro.
[i "Just relax. We're getting out of here and going home. Stop struggling,"] Bella hissed in his ear when she noticed his fists clenching again.
Jasper didn't relax until Alice returned to them and took their hands in hers. He was all too eager to follow the burly guards through the corridors. The sooner they left Volterra, the better.
Echoing off of the stone walls, a baby's cry suddenly pierced the tense air. The small family huddled close together as the mother tried to soothe her son, looking up with a terrified gaze as the vampires appeared in front of them. [i "He'll stop crying soon enough,"] Felix flicked his tongue against his razor teeth, baring them to make the poor woman quiver even worse.
The short female managed to slowly nod her head. [b "If they weren't dependable, I wouldn't even be here. It is what let me know where to go. You saw that one as well, Lord Aro, and the one that makes my claim true for what I will one day be."] Alice replied, her voice strong despite the most subtle of trembles in it. If it weren't for vampiric hearing then its existence wouldn't be know, for the tremble defintiely wouldn't have been noticed by human ears.
Blessedly, Aro finally released her hand.
She felt Bella's steadying arm go around her, and she believed she heard Jasper move up to his feet. The dread was fading from her veins, the seemingly inevitable switches between her living or dying now gone... for the moment. She felt as if they would return one day, though hopefully not any time too soon.
[#cc0092 "My brothers,"] Aro began, clapping his hands happily together, [#cc0092 "It appears I have jumped to an ignorant conclusion. Miss Swan's transformation will take place as soon as it's least noticeable for her to disappear. It will happen within the year, I am sure."] Aro declared to his brothers, that smile still on his place. Turning his attention to the group, he continued, [#cc0092 "Be warned, though: we do not offer second chances. This is your first. Do not mess this up, hm?"] Aros smile grew as his eyes landed on the human he now seemed rather fascinated with. [#cc0092 "I so look forward to see you as part of our world, Little Alice.. Safe journey's home. Demetri and Felix will show you out."]
And with that, the trio was dismissed, and the two guards began to usher them civilly from the throne room. Before they left, though, Alice felt there was something that must be done. A tingle that prodded her, and she asked Demetry and Felix to give her a moment. Turning back to the room at large, she bowed to the five vampire looking at them, she bowed politely. [b "I thank the Lords and their Guard for their service and choices."] Rising up, she swore she noticed curiosity on the faces of the male and female who looked younger than her.
She took no time to digest it, though. Alice simply turned back around at the sight of Aro's smile becoming far too please. She put one hand in Jaspers, her other in Bella's, and let herself be led away as Demetry and Felix continued their duty.
The grip on Jasper's neck slackened only a fraction. [b "Alice!"] he choked out.
[i "Hush, Mr Hale,"] Aro's voice maintained it's permanent calmness. [i "Pray tell, Alice Swan, what exactly do you mean that you have seen these events?"]
Jasper watched helplessly as Aro once again approached the love of his life. His fighting skills were more than a little rusty after nearly a century without having to fight for his life. So, it was easy for Felix to keep a firm hold on him to keep him in place.
[i "Alice is family,"] Bella tried to interject on her niece's behalf. [i "She is going to be with us."]
[b "Bella, quiet,"] Jasper hissed.
The look she sent him clearly meant for him to get her message of 'shut the hell up'. Aro barely spared the siblings a glance. He came to a stop in front of the pixie girl, and took her hand in his.
Immediately, his head snapped back as he took in her visions. A laugh escaped from his lips. His red eyes flickered back and forth as though watching a film play out in front of him. [i "Marvelous,"] he breathed out, dropping her hand and meeting her gaze. [i "This is all to come to fruition?"]
Bella and Jasper exchanged a concerned glance, not exactly sure what it was that she had shown Aro. The smile on his face, however, did not comfort Jasper in the slightest. [i "Let them go,"] the Volturi lord commanded.
Bella darted for Alice as Jasper scrambled to his feet and took on a defensive stance once more.
Why did things always move so fast? Months ago, things had been going far too slowly, and now they moved far, far, far too fast.
One minute she was still be examined like a rare prize, the next she was alone in the center of a room while Jasper and Bella were both held by their throats. Dread filled her, thoughts racing in her mind, and as Jasper was knelt before the thrones and Bella was still in the grip of another vampire behidn her, Alice felt like she might explode as shock finally escaped her.
[b "Wait,"] She managed to gasp out, fighting through the drowning of the cold dread in her vein, [b "No. No, please! Please-!"] She watched as Aro raised his hands, stopping Felix's actions. And though she wouldn't know it , Felix's and Demetri's hold on the siblings had lessened on a very microscopic level. And, off to the side, a set of twins had glanced her way, Those were not things of her concern, though, whether she had been able to sense it or not.
[b "I'll be a vampire, whether Jasper wants me to be or not."] The Swan girl gasped out, standing tall. She hesitated just slightly, revealing something she was still sure was some sort of sign of insanity, but on the journey here Bella had asked where what she'd seen, and what she'd seen had come true to an extent. [b "I will be vampire,"] She repeated for firmness, looking at Aro dead in the eyes, [b "I've [i seen] it."] And then, on some instinct, she held out her hand towards the leader of the vampiric world's authority.
The vampire lord tilted his head slightly and gave a cold smile. [i "You are a strong-willed girl. I like that. However, it is unfortunate that I have known Mr Hale long enough to know that he would be incapable of inflicting that kind of pain on you. The moment you are bitten, it will be an excruciating experience. You will wish for death. And from what I've seen and heard from Mr Hale today, he would never be able to bring it upon himself to do that to you."]
Aro turned and gracefully walked away, scratching his nails at his chin. [i "So you see my dilemma. He will not turn you, and you would still have knowledge of us. The only way to ensure what you've said is true, is to take the matter into our own hands."] He paused and a flicker of a smile appeared. [i "Felix?"]
The large brute at the side of the room marched forward like an attack dog. [b "No!"] Jasper pushed Alice behind him, and darted forward to tackle him to the ground. [b "Don't you fucking dare,"] he snarled in Felix's face.
The larger male just smirked and grabbed him by the throat, flipping their position and slamming Jasper into the floor. [i "Jasper!"] Bella struggled against her own captor, holding her by the neck.
Felix tossed him aside like a ragdoll and slammed him to the stone floor once again. Turning to Alice, he resumed his march, only for Jasper to lunge for him once more. [b "You're not going to touch her,"] he hissed, holding Felix in a headlock.
[i "You think you're going to stop me?"] the Volturi bully spat back.
Alice was silent as Aro observed her, she swallowing slowly once more after giving a brief nod to his apparent compliment of her uniqueness.
Then he asked a question, and she protruded her lips slightly in thought.
[b "...You have no reason to trust me."] Alice began, raising her eyes with a sparm of something that screamed of the girl she had once been before that entire mess on her birthday. She could be that girl again, if it meant keeping Bella and Jasper from some sort of punishment... and potentially save her own life, but that wasn't a concern for her at the moment.
[b "I could tell you of the wonder of the once-upon-a-time very close, familial blood relation between Bella and I, though we discovered that by chance after an intense incident."] Her shoulders were straight, but she was trembling just slightly. [b "I could show you this scar from that incident I hold on my wrist, from a tracker who was once obsessed with Bella, and came after me instead once seeing us both in the same clearing,] She rolled up her sleeve, [b "But to do that, I would also need tell you how I have a similiar scar on my back, stretched from growth, that's aged with me for the past thirteen years of my life—since I was barely five years old, if you need such a carification, which was also caused by that tracker."]
[b "He attempted to kill a child in a capital city after committing other murders, and nothing garners more attention and focus from Americans than a dead, white-child on the news. Were it not for the passing of some unknown second vampire, I would have died that day, and the world would not have rested until they figured out what the strange, acidic substance in a bite-like wound on a toddler were,"] She rolled her sleeve back down, dropping her arms to her sides. [b "I can tell you that I'd give my life for the Cullens—for Jasper—and that even months of abandonment has not changed that. After all, I ran here on a whim to stop Jasper's acts, knowing very well I could have been caught in your lawfully punishing crossfire if... I'd been too late."] She had stuttured slightly, but then recomposed herself with that naturaly radiance that just always spoke of Alice.
[b "I could tell you all of these things, Lord Aro, but testimony is logically the weakest form of evidence. If any of these reasons are worth trusting me, then I suppose your trust in me was earned."] Alice spread her arms, breathing in slowly once and letting it out in an even slower exhale. [b "I have never gone searching for your world, Lord Aro, but it has come for me in various ways. Yet, I've never said a single thing. Not as a scared child, having face a traumatic experience. Not as an teenager a mere year ago, and not now—as a legal adult—would that change."] She offered a small smile, [b "If any human has any sort of right to expose the vampiric world, the right would situationally seem to belong to me, but... I would [i never] expose what exists here."]
The small girl lowered her arms, the attracting becon that just seemed to be her would in unison fall to normal levels. [b "It is your choice to trust me or not, Lord Aro. Is my word valid, or is it untrustworthy? I could preach poetic in the possitive all day, but that would be biased, and would likely seal my invalidity if I felt such a need to defend myself."] And with that the girl folding her hands together, tucking them behind her back and closing her eyes.
The sensation of cold dread lingered in the oddest way she had ever felt; it wavered between the burning cold of fear and the soothing warmth of relief, and even with as much as she had practiced listening to this instinct she had discovered, she knew not what it was telling her in this instance, and thus she had no idea what incident's outcome would be.
Under any other circumstance, Jasper would have swelled with pride at how impressive Alice Swan was. At that moment, however, he wanted her to stay quiet and safe. [b "She isn't any threat to us,"] Jasper spoke out, trying to pull her back behind him.
[i "She has sworn not to tell anyone of our existence. Alice can be trusted,"] Bella added.
Aro stayed quiet. Rising from his throne, he took slow steps until he stood right in front of them. [b "Step aside, Mr Hale."]
Jasper tensed and for a moment, considered putting up a fight. Bella took his hand and gave a faint squeeze, forcing him to recognize that there was nothing threatening in Aro's emotions. With a hesitance, he stepped to the side.
Aro's smile brightened. [i "You are an exquisite creature, aren't you?"] he inspected her like she was a rare gem. [i "It's not often we get a human in here as company, and not dinner."]
The two men still seated smirked and laughed to themselves, as if finding this to be entertainment. Aro circled around Alice, making Jasper's stomach clench with anxiety. [i "Tell me, Alice Swan. What reason should we have to trust you? Clearly, you know that you pose a severe threat to our kind. All you have to do is open that pretty mouth of yours, and we could be exposed. So you need to give me reason to trust you."]
Vampires. She had met one new vampire in the past year beyond the family and hunters she had initially met, and... he had been nice. She had a feeling these ones wouldn't be so nice. Nonetheless, she had offered a small and genuine smile to each of the guards when they'd glanced at her, and she saw them each arch an eyebrow before they'd looked away.
She'd given one to the girl too, but the blonde had blinked at her before that oddly serene smile had returned and the group had been off to the depths of the Volterran underground.
The chamber was intimidating. Beautiful, but intimidating.
The three men sitting in the large thrones were equally as intimidating.
She tensed as the one with an out-of-place smile came foward, she swallowing once, and then the vampiric male's eyes had come to focus on her. Delving into her fluent Italian, she offered a smile. She was not a good liar by any means, but she could be composed. She had learned how to do that very well the past year. [b "Saluti, signore. Sono Alice. Sei Lord Aro, giusto? È un piacere incontrarmi, anche se vorrei che le circostanze che portassero a questo incontro non erano state causate da tale confusione e tensione."] When Carlisle had mentioned old 'friends of very high authority' from Italy during the summer before her birthday, he had mentioned how they enjoyed not having to use languages other than Italian.
The man had also mentioned that it was part of the reason his old friends enjoyed feasting on American toursists, but Carlisle had changed the subject without further clarification.
[i [b Translation:] Greetings, sir. I am Alice. You are Lord Aro, correct? It is a pleasure to meet you, though I wish the circumstances leading up to this meeting had not been caused by such confusion and stress.]
He shook his head, pulling away to hold her face in his hands. [b "Everything has been my fault. I shouldn't have left. I tried to make you safe and I could have killed you. I'm so sorry,"] his voice did break that time.
[i "Guys,"] Bella tried to interrupt them.
[b "I'd take it all back. I'm sorry. I want to come home with you,"] he pressed his forehead against Alice's.
[i "Guys!"] his sister yelled.
Turning to look at where she was gesturing, Jasper was quick to hide Alice behind him. [b "We're going to go. No harm done,"] he raised his hands to show innocence.
The girl gave a faint smile. [i "Aro has requested your presence. There is no option in the matter."]
The Cullen siblings looked at each other, knowing there was not going to be a peaceful negotiation. [b "Stay close to me,"] he murmured to Alice beside him, clutching her hand tightly in his.
One guard followed behind them as they walked the halls Jasper had just been in hours before. He knew they were likely aware of what he had planned, but should also recognize that he hadn't had the chance to go through with it. The Volturi, however, were not ones to see a silver lining.
[b "Aro,"] Jasper greeted the leader in the middle, who stared back with that unnerving smile.
[i "Mr Hale,"] he responded. [i "I must say, I'm disappointed. I thought we'd had an understanding when you left here. And now look, we're right back to the beginning."] His eyes flickered to Alice. [i "You are new, however."]
Alice felt concern when Jasper appeared so... dazed. She didn't know it was possible for a vampire to be in a daze. As he lifted her long locks to smell their scent she parted her lips, about to speak, but then Bella had come in and proceeded to hug them both. The girl was unsure who she was calling an idiot, but considering she had been called such half a day earlier, she assumed this time it was directed at the Southern-born blonde.
She stepped back as Bella shoved Jasper into a wall, the short thing just biting her lower lip as Jasper's gaze finally locked on her.
In the next moments she wondered if she had somehow died, because what he did was not familiar at all. He clung and held onto her without any seeming caution beyond his own strength. To be smothered with kisses and having his face burrowed into her neck was not something she was familiar with, but her tears quickly returned as she wrapped her arms around him just as desperately.
[b "I'm sorry, Jasper. I'm sorry. It's okay. We're... w-we're both okay."] The Swan girl hiccuped out softly, sniffling. She felt so bad for the guilt she must have caused for him.
It was as they clung to each other that she made her hold as tight as possible, comforted in knowing her strong hold couldn't hurt him, because she'd know the holding would have to eventually come to an end. She knew this wasn't a permanent thing, and that... they'd be gone again. But, she clung onto the moment, thankful she had stopped the tragedy she had almost caused.
It was then that a familiar echo of faint dred tickled her senses, and two male figures appeared at the end of the hall. Between them, a petite blonde figure would appear a moment later.
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