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go here for Part 1

The next morning Bella convinced Edward to order breakfast up to their room, hoping to give Jasper and Alice a little more time alone. She had laid her plan out for Edward the night before, and he had eagerly agreed. After all, there was more in this for him than just a happy sister. They had invited the rest of the band to join them for breakfast in their room, as they couldn’t go ahead with their scheme without the rest of the Creepy Stalker Vampires agreeing. Okay, so maybe they didn’t tell them everything. Everyone was still happy to agree after last night’s performance.

It was probably around eleven in the morning when they had finally packed up all their things and headed down to the small restaurant in the hotel. Through texts, Bella knew that Alice was still there with Jasper and it was time to put their slightly meddling no-meddling plan into action.

As they entered the restaurant, they quickly caught sight of Alice and Jasper, heads bent toward each other, lost in conversation. They walked toward their table, waiting for Alice or Jasper to notice them, but the couple was so wrapped up in their bubble that they didn’t even look up when Edward and Bella were standing right next to their seats.

Edward cleared his throat once, then again and when that didn’t work, he simply sat down next to them, slapping his hands down hard on the table as he did so. Bella shook her head at his antics as she took her seat next to him.

Jasper looked up first, seeming kind of dazed, followed by Alice, seeming kind of sad.

“Hey guys.” Alice said, trying to be chirpy and really not managing it. Jasper just nodded his greeting.

Bella and Edward exchanged a look, before Edward began.

“So, here’s the thing,” he said in a very business-like manner. “Jasper, Creepy Stalker Vampires have very rarely had an audience respond to us as they did last night. And that was all thanks to you.   Now we still have a few towns to stop at this summer, ending with Bumbershoot in Seattle and, well . . . We want you to join us.”

Jasper blinked, still looking dazed.

Alice gasped and, what looked very much to Bella like hope, lit up in her eyes.

“Come again?” Jasper asked in a very far-away voice.

Bella left the talking up to Edward. After all, for all intents and purposes she was just a roadie in this whole tour.

“We want you to join the band, Jasper.” Edward held up his hands to stop Jasper from saying anything, and barreled on, “I think we could have a very unique sound with your fiddle added into the mix. I know you’ve been playing in Detroit, and doing okay, but okay just doesn’t cut it in this business, man. I don’t know how you feel about traveling but I’m sure we could work something out. And we’d make it so you could see your mom regularly, you know? And we wouldn’t hold you back, I mean if you wanted to still pursue your solo career at the same time, that’s cool. We’d give you space. We’d have to work out all the details and all the schedules, but we could really have something here Jas. Take a chance on us.” Edward practically huffed out the last few words as he had run out of breath.

“Dude.” Jasper smirked. “You really think quoting ABBA to me is going to convince me of anything?”

Edward frowned, then his eyes widened in shock. “I wasn’t— I don’t even—it’s just a phrase, man!”

Edward looked around while the small group dissolved into giggles, mumbling “I don’t listen to ABBA,” under his breath, deliberately avoiding looking at Bella, who was just about the only person in the world who knew differently. She had promised to take his secret to the grave.

Once everyone had calmed down, and the sad and serious mood had become far more relaxed, Jasper looked at Edward with a thoughtful expression of his face.

“You serious, man? I mean, this is a big move for your band. Would the rest of them go for this idea of yours?”

Edward sat back, and looking at Bella, grabbed her hand and brought it to his knee. “We’ve already spoken to them. They agree one hundred percent.   Last night’s performance was electrifying! Look, it’s not as if we don’t generally perform well. I mean, we get decent reviews and our audiences enjoy our music and give great feedback. But last night was out of this world. Above and beyond, Jasper! We could create something really distinctive, and everyone is totally stoked about this.”

Jasper glanced at Alice. She was looking back at him, trying not to show how much she really wanted him to say yes. To take a chance on them.

She failed horribly

Jasper took in a deep breath, and let it out slowly. He nodded. “Okay. Yeah, okay, let’s do this.”

….(o) >….

The next few weeks were a confusing mess of gigs, arrangements, phone calls, schedules and travelling. Creepy Stalker Vampires had a number of gigs trailing from Oklahoma to Seattle, and they couldn’t afford to miss any just because their band was in a state of flux. And Jasper had to make arrangements to pack up his apartment in Detroit. The decision for him to join the band had happened so quickly that no one had really thought of the extended consequences. Jasper couldn’t be based in Detroit when the rest of the band was based in Seattle. It was a good thing that Jasper had maintained his mysterious loner persona while in Detroit. He hadn’t been there more than a couple of years and had frequently travelled back to Texas to spend time with his mom, so he really hadn’t put down any roots there.

There was the issue of where to move to though. At first Jasper suggested that he move in with his mom temporarily, until they saw how, and if, his sound really worked with Creepy Stalker Vampires. But Texas really wasn’t any nearer to Seattle than Detroit was, and Edward quickly squashed that idea.

“Jas. We’re going to sound awesome. And if at first something doesn’t gel, well, we’ll just work at it until it does gel.” Edward shrugged. “This is going to make us stand out. Give us something unique that not every other indie band has. It’s worth working at and we can’t do that if you’re on the other side of the continent.”

Edward had become so excited about Jasper joining the band, he hardly remembered that it began as an idea to give his sister and his best friend more time together. Edward was convinced that this, Jasper joining Creepy Stalker Vampires with his Nagyvary violin, was the break his band had been waiting for. This was going to put them on the fast track to the Big Time. He was absolutely confident in this plan and no one could dissuade him. It didn’t hurt that Alice had reverted back to her usual effervescent, excitable, enthusiastic and generally interfering self. She had new ideas for the band every five minutes, it seemed to Edward. Where they should go, what they should play, what they should wear. Edward had vowed that the moment Alice hinted at spandex and sequins, he was putting her on a Greyhound and sending her home. He spent a lot of time complaining about his baby sister, because that was his duty as an older brother, but deep down, Edward was just really glad that Alice was feeling more herself and he was enjoying every moment of her annoying, baby-sister type behavior.

Really deep down.

Bella had kept herself very much in the background during all of these changes. She felt that she had got the ball rolling and now she could just sit back and watch what happened. She didn’t want to meddle after all. Well. Unless said ball started rolling in an undesired direction. Then she’d be right there to nudge it back on course. But so far, there was no indication anything like that would happen. Edward was in his element, planning for the Big Time. Alice was happily arranging everybody’s life and wardrobe, and although Bella could see that Alice was sad that Jasper had to leave so soon to go pack up his life, she was unbelievably excited that he would be joining them in Seattle. Bella knew that Alice and Jasper spoke on the phone every day, mostly at night and often during the day too. They texted each other almost constantly. It was rare to find Alice without her phone in her hands, furiously typing out a message to Jasper, or sending him a photo of where they were, or what they were doing, or what Alice was eating, or the shoes she’d just found in this "adorable little store", or of Edward’s frustrated face while he was waiting on her for something—more often than not he was waiting for her to get off the phone with Jasper so that Edward could get on the phone with Jasper. It amused Bella no end that the only person who came close to spending the amount of time on the phone with Jasper as Alice did, was Edward.

It was weird to watch actually. The way Edward and Alice both gravitated toward Jasper, whether it was in person or on the phone, or in a conversation or merely walking past something and one of them commenting how Jasper would like that. Bella thought to herself that what she was watching was a family growing back together after being kept apart. And she was a part of it. Alice and Edward made sure that she never felt sidelined or excluded. She knew they loved her and it was a joy for her to watch as they welcomed Jasper back into their lives.

In the end it was decided that Jasper would move into Edward’s apartment in Seattle. Edward had practically been living at Bella’s small house for the last few months before they went on tour, and they had decided that they would make it official a few weeks before the band performed in Lawton. Edward was still trying to decide what he would do with his apartment—sell or sub-let—when Jasper came back into their lives. It really seemed to all of them that Jasper joining them was pre-ordained somehow, as the pieces were falling into place so easily. Jasper would sub-let from Edward and Edward would move in with Bella, and it was as easy as that.

Jasper stayed with the band for a week or so before flying back to Detroit. He performed with them in Tulsa, and then in Addison and Lubbock when they moved on to Texas, and during all this time it was obvious how close Jasper and Alice were growing. When he wasn’t rehearsing or performing with the band, Jasper was with Alice and Bella loved watching them together. The two of them smiled so much, Bella was sure their cheeks cramped every night when finally given a chance to relax. When Jasper left, it wasn’t only Alice who couldn’t wait for his return. Jasper really was a great addition to Creepy Stalker Vampires and he promised to keep thinking of new songs they could practice and perform to hone their new sound. With the fiddle thrown into the mix, the Creepy Stalker Vampires found themselves leaning toward a far more folksy sound than they had previously but everyone agreed they had never sounded better.

It took Jasper a few weeks to arrange everything, and he missed a few performances. The show in Phoenix went off well, even without Jasper, but Edward was really frustrated when they got to California and couldn’t show off their new sound. While Jasper was busy packing up his life, Creepy Stalker Vampires were performing in Calexico, Pasadena and Palo Alto. Edward was slightly mollified by the amazing response they got from the varsity crowd in Palo Alto. The band then crossed the state to Nevada and took a few days break in Las Vegas. They did give a small performance at a dive bar just off the Strip, but mainly they just took a breather. And Edward gambled away $150. Bella vowed to never let Edward near another slot machine as long as she lived.

From Las Vegas, the band had a fairly long drive to their next two gigs which were both in Salt Lake City. The students and the LGBT community of Salt Lake City loved the band’s performance and screamed for three encores before the band were allowed off stage, and the review Creepy Stalker Vampires got in the Salt Lake Tribune was one of the best they had ever received. But as it turned out, the more staid Mormons did not appreciate the Creepy Stalker Vampire’s choice of music. Or name. Or the piercings Jake had in his ears, eyebrow, nose and tongue. This was made very clear in the review published in the more conservative Deseret News. Something about piercings inflicting psychological damage on young, impressionable future missionaries. It was a good thing Jake was fully dressed on stage or Edward was sure his other piercings may have caused a riot. Or a tar and feathering.

From Salt Lake City, the Creepy Stalker Vampires went to Billings, Montana and then Boise and Moscow in Idaho. Emmett and Edward just did not run out of jokes while they were in Moscow, and Rose, Bella and Alice were about ready to throttle the pair of them by the time they finally packed up and headed towards Seattle, Bumbershoot, home and Jasper.

Jasper would be flying in to SeaTac two days after the band was scheduled to arrive. Bella doubted that Edward would be able to move all his belongings out of his old apartment in that time. Although a lot of his things were already at her house, none of the big stuff was. Jasper may just have to live with Edward’s waterbed and neon beanbag couch and armchairs for a few weeks.

The band trundled tiredly into Seattle in the middle of the night, each member splitting off to head for their own homes and promising to meet up in a few days. Bella and Edward dropped Alice off at the Cullen home, where she had been living since her breakup with James, and then went to Bella’s little house and collapsed in a heap on their bed without even unpacking the van.

The next day, before they were even out of bed, Alice was at the house in full Ali-Bee mode, organizing Edward’s life for the next day and a half to make Jasper’s move as easy as possible.

Bella made a note to get her spare key back from her best friend at the earliest opportunity, as Alice perched on the corner of their bed and started asking questions and giving instructions.

“Edward, do all the kitchen appliances work? I mean, Jasper can’t be expected to live with no fridge or working stove.”

“Yes Al.” Edward scrubbed his hand over his face, trying to catch up with his sister’s rapid fire talk. “I was living there remember? I also needed a fridge and a stove.”

Alice waved her hand. “Please Edward, what would you need those for? You don’t cook. However I do know that the microwave must be working. Is everything all right with the plumbing? Good water pressure? Toilet flushes properly?”

“Yes Alice.” Edward sighed, as Bella got up to go make coffee. Really strong coffee.

“No problems with the electricity?”

“No Alice.”

“Do all the windows open and close properly?”

“Yes Alice.”

“Is the apartment clean? When was the last time you cleaned it, Edward?”

“It’s clean Alice, geez!”

Alice gave her brother one long, contemplative look. “I think we should give it a good once over. Just to be safe.”

Edward sighed again. “You go right ahead and do that.”

“What about your furniture?”

“What about my furniture?”

“When are you moving it out of there?”

“How do you know Jasper doesn’t need it? You think he’s flying a canopy bed and a couple of armoires over with him?”

“Oh.” Alice looked surprised. “Good point. I guess we should find that out first.”

Edward looked smug.

“Now, what about—“

“Alice, enough!” Edward was exasperated. And tired. And very grateful when Bella walked in with a tray and three mugs of coffee. He practically grabbed his mug from the tray and took a long sip. He licked his lips thankfully. It was really strong coffee.

Alice pouted.

Bella handed her friend a mug and sat down next to her on the bed, while sipping her own coffee. “Alice, honey, calm down. We’ll go over to the apartment later and make sure that everything is Jasper-ready. Edward will ask Jasper about the furniture when he talks to him later—“ Edward started to complain but Bella gave him a pointed look and he slumped his shoulders dejectedly. Now they were ganging up on him. “—and we’ll go from there. Okay?”

Alice took a deep breath, and tried to take her excitement down a notch. “Okay. Thanks Bella.” She got up to leave the bedroom, and turned around to glare at Edward. And thanks for nothing, douchebag,she huffed as she walked out of the room.

“What— What’d I do?!” Edward looked to Bella, utterly confused.

Bella smiled and patted his cheek. “Nothing, baby. You didn’t do anything. Alice is just excited.”

“Well, so am I,” Edward grumbled, “but I don’t go around breaking and entering and accosting people in their beds!”

Bella chuckled quietly as she walked into the bathroom to get ready for what had become a very busy day.

….(o) >….

As it turned out, Jasper had sold his few pieces of furniture to a guy he had performed with on occasion, so he did need Edward’s waterbed and his neon beanbag couch and armchairs. Edward, Bella and Alice, under Alice’s very strict instruction, cleared out the rest of Edward’s things fairly quickly. His pictures and photographs, music, stereo, record player, troll collection and other tchotchkes had been boxed up and taken to Bella’s house and his old apartment was declared suitable (by Alice) for Jasper.

(Edward tried to sneak out one beanbag arm chair but was viciously thwarted.)

The entire band met up at the airport to welcome Jasper to his new life. Alice was literally bouncing as they stood at the arrivals terminal waiting for him, and as Edward began saying “There he—“ Alice was already running. It was lucky that Jasper saw her because he just had time to drop his bags before she jumped into his arms, wrapping her legs around him and smothering him with quick little kisses. Jasper stumbled a little, but laughed as he wrapped his arms tightly around her and whispered into her ear, “I missed you Ali-Bee.”

Everyone went out to dinner that night to celebrate Jasper’s arrival. Bella could tell that he was exhausted, but it was also clear how happy he was as he tried to divide his attention equally between the woman he obviously loved and the brother he had obviously missed. It was almost as if he was watching a tennis match, as his head moved from Edward to Alice, both vying for his attention, both vibrating with excitement at his arrival back in their lives.

Bella leaned back in her chair, watching as her new family knitted itself back together over steak and ice cold beer, and smiled to herself. Sometimes a little meddling didn’t hurt. It didn’t hurt at all.

(o) > (o) > (o) >

The second story in the Fiddle-verse is here
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October 2014

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