a/n: For the purposes of "when is this taking place?" It's shortly after Jasper and Alice meet, but before they've connected with the Cullens.ChicagolandIn which one monster meets another.
Jasper tucked his small mate close into his body, wanting to shield her from the detritus of society that surrounded them in this back street of Chicago. He knew, intellectually, that Alice was every bit as indestructible as he was. The only thing able to harm them were other vampires--and between her precognition and his empathic abilities, they had ample warning of any such encounters. What he wanted to shield her from was the dirt, the rats, the humid summer air that was weighed down with sewer gases and the rank body odor of the unwashed humans who lived in the shadows of the tall buildings above. His little star was too pure, too good, to have her dainty, saddle-shoe clad feet traipsing along the thick film of unidentifiable something that coated the street here.
She looked up at him, then, and smiled. It filled the whole of his sight for a moment. "What would those in the darkness do, Jasper, if they had no light to guide them?" Her voice took on a distant quality that he was coming to associate with her getting lost in her visions. "There is ever a light in dark places, for those who are willing to look."
Jasper bent low to place a gentle kiss on the top of her head. "And so you are for me. A guiding star that came to lead me out of the darkness of my life. So, little North Star, why did you insist we come to this part of the city tonight?"
Her small arm slid across his lower back to settle at his waist. "You can't feel it? We're needed."
Reluctantly, he loosened his focus on Alice and allowed himself to better feel his surroundings. To be able to function in any populous area, Jasper had been learning to mute or at least ignore the inundation of emotions from the humans that surrounded them. With Alice as his primary focus, he could go about his life without being overwhelmed. Changing his focus to the surrounding area also encouraged him to pay attention to the pulsing blood and appetizing aroma of the street's human residents. Scattered around them, in the various alleyways and recessed door stoops lived the remnants of humanity; those men who couldn't or wouldn't function in society. He could hear their heartbeats, and they laid out a pattern that he found all too tempting. They'd be so easy to pick off, no one to notice...he was brought out of his contemplation by a steely finger in his ribs.
"They're people, Jazz. They have stories and lives and emotions that will hurt you as you feed. We aren't here to eat." She pointed to the entrance of an alley just ahead and to the left. "There. We need to walk to the mouth of the alley."
Jasper bit down on the shame he felt at his lapse, and directed his eyes to the alley Alice pointed out. Nothing stood out to his eyes. The usual water-filled indentations in the pavement, graffiti-decorated building walls, crumpled newspaper pages, and miscellaneous refuse were there, as well as a fat rat that darted behind a moldy, crumbling shipping crate. He shifted his attention back to his mate, who was a bundle of barely contained energy and excitement. There was a tinge of sadness, too, under her anticipation; he wondered what she'd seen in her visions.
"What are we looking for?" He asked quietly, too fast for any humans nearby to hear.
"Wait." Was her quiet, enigmatic answer. Accompanying it was a wave of mischievousness. He took that to mean he was meant to squirm and to not know what was going on.
They stood there, still as statues, waiting for whatever it was that Alice had Seen. Twenty minutes later, Jasper got an inkling of why his mate had steered them to this place when an overwhelming sense of self-loathing, mixed equally with fear and misery, filled the alley and nearly knocked him over with the weight of it. He turned wide eyes to Alice. Before he could say anything, she squeezed his had reassuringly.
"That's why we're here," she whispered. "He needs us. You two will understand each other, help each other keep on the right path." Having said that, she gently tugged him toward the alley. "Move slowly. Don't scare him more than he already is."
They moved so that they had a better view of the alley and its occupant. There, in the shadows, was a man. He was huddled in clothing that was only steps away from rags, his chin-length hair lank and grime-crusted, his skin coated in dirt that made him look much older than Jasper thought he probably was. Jasper stopped breathing, wanting to keep out the odor of rotting food, garbage, and decaying flesh. They alley was fetid; the man offensive in his smell.
Alice slipped out from under Jasper's arm, and cautiously approached her target. "Hello," she said quietly. She paused just outside of arm's reach and bent slightly in an attempt to catch the man's eyes. "I'm Alice. The man behind me is Jasper." Alice tilted her head in a curious manner that reminded Jasper of tiny song birds examining something. "We won't hurt you," she added.
The man looked as though he were trying to pull further into himself, hunching minutely closer to the stained brick wall, pulling long legs tightly into his torso. Jasper's first thought was that the man's subconscious had picked up on their otherness, and was telling him to hide. His empathic ability, though, proved that idea wrong. There was no fear, well, no additional fear in the pathetic creature than there had been before they'd made their presence known. Just that same nearly paralyzing self-loathing and misery.
"Alice," Jasper began, wanting her to give up on this poor soul already, wanting to go back to her mission of finding this coven that was like her--them--in their desire to not feed from humans. What did some vagrant in a forgotten alley in Chicago have to do with finding they who Alice said would be their future family?
When the stranger spoke, it caught Jasper by surprise, to his chagrin. "Why are you here? What do you want with me?" The man seemed to gather himself, then added. "You should go away."
"We're not going away," Alice answered firmly. "You should know now that I don't usually take 'no' for an answer." She gentled her voice and said, "As I said a moment ago, we won't hurt you."
By this time, Jasper had joined his mate and stood beside her, one arm protectively around her shoulders, his other loose and ready to defend them should the need arise. There was something...off about this man. Reluctantly, he took in a breath, tasting and smelling the air to determine what it was that was tinging his senses. As he did so, he sorted out the ambient smells of the buried parts of a big city, focusing on the man in front of them. Then he smelled it. He let out a sharp huff, then jerked both himself and Alice several feet back. "He isn't human," he hissed to his mate, surprised and wary. The man wasn't human, no, but he wasn't vampire, either. He smelled like neither.
Her answer was simple, delivered in her bell-like voice: "I know."
The self-loathing wafting off of the strange male ratcheted up. Jasper's lip curled at the sense of it. He was almost awash in self-hatred, his own doubts combining with the emotions coming from the male to create a heady, debilitating mix. To his shame, he felt his knees buckle. When he thought he was going to succumb, he felt Alice's hand on his forearm, her forehead against his cheek, heard her soothing voice calming his nerves. With her as his center, Jasper regained control of his emotions, separating out the male's influence from his own and concentrating on maintaining his balance.
"What..." The male hesitated, the visibly gathered his courage and continued, "what are you? You don't smell like any demon I know of."
Alice's spike of surprise echoed his own. Demon?
"Demon?" Alice asked, giving voice to the question they both had.
The male's face, previously open with his agony and weakness, now closed off as though shutters had been drawn over a window. Jasper felt the male's emotions shift from curious and cautious with a healthy measure of fear to suspicious and fearful. He was positive that if the other male hadn't already been trapped against the wall of the alley he would've run from the two vampires. He was close to terrified.
Knowing that Alice was invested in this creature, even if he didn't understand why, Jasper projected calmness, hoping to settle the male down. "My mate didn't lie," he added to the wave of calm, "we do not intend you harm." He smiled wryly. "She likes to help strays: I am a perfect example."
Alice smiled kindly. "We are not demons. We are vampires. We live off the blood of others, though Jasper and I have chosen to feed from animals rather than humans."
"Vampires?" The male's voice was incredulous. His posture straightened, and though he was still crouched, it was easier to see what a large frame--broad shoulders, formerly powerful chest and arms--he'd been hiding while folding in on himself. "I am a vampire. Have been one for nearly two hundred years. You look, smell, sound, and feel nothing like any vampire I've ever met. Try a new line." For a moment, his indignation and irritation overwhelmed the fear and pushed back the self-hatred Jasper had been feeling. Then the male slumped, and the old emotions were back. "I was one-fourth of the Scourge of Europe. I am--was--Angelus." His lips twisted as though he'd tasted something sour. "I don't think I can wear that name, now. Call me Angel."a/n: Jasper and Alice and all things Twilight are the creation and property of Stephanie Meyer. Angel is the creation and property of Joss Whedon. It's not copyright infringement to have characters that never should've met, meet, is it? Alice's "light in dark places" line inspired by Tolkien (Galadriel's gift to Frodo).