Summary: The Cullen Siblings all call Bella their sister, but there’s one member of the family that she hasn’t claimed as her brother yet.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc., are the property of their respective owners (in this case, Stephenie Meyers). The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: Post Breaking-Dawn. I usually prefer writing crossovers, but something pushed me to write this little family bonding moment between Bella and Jasper. To me, he's the most interesting character of the family because his choice of diet clearly hurts him more than everyone else, and he has to deal with everyone else's emotions and thirst as well as his own, yet we rarely see him despair.
I left Renesmee and Edward playing piano as I went in search of the vampire I was determined to find today. Since the Volturi had left a few weeks ago, I had tried to find some time to seek him out, but fate seemed to be conspiring against me. First, once the non-vegetarian vampires departed, Charlie had resumed his visits, and while I was certainly grateful that Renesmee and I could still have him in our lives, it did mean that Jasper often made himself scarce now that I had proven that I could control myself around humans. His own control was still shaky at times and he preferred not to put himself at risk.
After that, Edward claimed a full three days for us to spend out in the woods on a rare solo hunting trip. I definitely couldn’t complain about that little excursion. Now that we weren’t being persecuted for the time being, we had the luxury of enjoying one another and knowing that our daughter was safe at home being doted on by a very loving family.
Then, there was Alice’s insistence that we celebrate Christmas on January 25th because she missed the actual holiday in December. Truthfully, Renesmee did enjoy the holiday with Alice in a totally different way than she had with Charlie and seeing my daughter’s laugh in delight as she opened present after present made me smile, even if I did complain to Alice that she was spoiling her.
Finally, I saw the opportunity when his eyes were nearing the color of the darkest of night: He needed to hunt. I could still go for another week before hunting again, but it was important for me to spend some time with Jasper without the rest of the family. There were some things that I wanted kept between just the two of us…and Alice, of course. If we were far enough away, Edward wouldn’t hear either our voices or his thoughts. When Alice saw my decision, she smiled at me and hugged me tight against her for a long moment and I knew I would have an ally in her. She would be able to keep her thoughts safe from Edward so it would be up to Jasper if he would have his brother know of our conversation.
I found Jasper sitting on the bank of the river. He had been waiting for Alice, but Alice would be spending the afternoon teaching Renesmee her version of ‘art’ history. By the time we returned in two days, I was sure that my daughter would know everything there was to know about foreign fashion designers of the twentieth century.
He didn’t turn as I sat down next to him, but I knew he sensed my presence. I looped my arm through his and leaned against his shoulder, sending him all good vibes. Soon he was smiling, despite his thirst.
“Okay, okay, Bella,” he laughed at me. “Any more and I’ll be singing ‘Kumbaya.’ Is there a reason for this love fest?”
“I am buttering you up, so to speak,” I told him.
He finally looked at me, one eyebrow raised and a playful grin on his face. “And, just what do I need buttering up for?”
“I want to go hunting and I was hoping you would go with me,” I told him, pressing my hands together and smiling hopefully as I entreated, “Please?”
“Bella, of course I’ll go hunting with you, but we should probably take someone else with us, just in case we come across any humans,” he told me as he stood up.
“No need,” I told him. “Alice gave us the green light.”
“I’m not sure…” he trailed off, pulling me up off the ground and starting toward the house.
I used my newborn strength to pull him back, but was careful not to put any anger or frustration into it. I knew it wouldn’t be a great idea to startle someone who had spent decades training—and defending himself—against newborns.
“Jasper, trust me,” I said softly, “and trust yourself.”
He looked at me and I knew he was testing my mood. He wasn’t afraid of me, but he was afraid for me. He knew what it would do to me if I succumbed to the temptation of human blood and he also knew that if he was with me, he probably would be falling right there with me instead of holding me back. I didn’t believe it, but that wasn’t something I could convince him of here at the house.
Finally, he took a deep breath and I kept myself as calm as my newborn emotions would allow as he answered, “Alright, Bella. We’ll go hunting.”
I smiled then, and shot off into the woods. I could hear Jasper running behind me and knew he would catch up quickly, especially once I stopped for the backpacks I had waiting for us near the entrance to the cottage I shared with Edward and Renesmee. They were mostly filled with a spare set of clothes, but I also put a few other things in there that I thought might be of use for the next couple of days.
When I handed him his pack, his eyebrow rose once more and he asked, “How long are you planning to be gone?”
“Not long,” I replied. “I don’t like to be away from Nessie for too long, but I want to spend some time with you without all the commotion at the house. I concentrate better without distractions.”
He snickered and I knew he was secretly enjoying the fact that I had succumbed to the inevitable hideous nickname Jacob had given my daughter. Then, he turned serious as he commented, “You are doing very well, Bella. I’ve never seen a newborn like you before.”
“That’s part of what I want to talk to you about, but we’re still close to home. Let’s get to the hunting grounds first, okay?” I asked and he nodded.
We ran off into the woods once more, the packs secured firmly to our backs. I let him lead this time, not worried about where he wanted to hunt. I would find something to quench my thirst no matter what, but I wanted Jasper to be comfortable. We had run for a couple of hours when he turned to look at me and cocked his head to the side. I hadn’t realized that I had been projecting any particular emotions until he said something.
“After more than fifty years, I still have difficulty believing that there are covens—families—like ours where vampires seek to attach themselves and bond with one another with no thought to gaining a strategic advantage,” he told me. I must have looked at him strangely because he elaborated quickly, “Just now, you’ve been sending out feelings of comfort and reassurance without a trace of malice or even newborn anxiety. I am amazed every day at just how happy
you truly are in this life and how much love you have to give everyone around you.”
I slowed my run and stopped when I saw a comfortable looking clearing near a river. I enjoyed listening to the sounds of the running water and, although my feet didn’t hurt—would never hurt from use again—I liked letting the cool current run over them, so I walked over toward the river and motioned to Jasper, who had stopped to see what caught my attention.
“Do you mind if we stop for a bit?” I asked, glancing at the water. He was thirsty, I knew, but there were no heartbeats around, so I didn’t think it was unbearable for him at the moment.
“Of course not,” he answered and shrugged the pack off.
I followed suit and dropped my pack next to his before I tugged my shoes and socks off and rolled up my pant legs so I wouldn’t get them wet. Then, I sank down onto the river bank and gleefully submerged my feet into the water. It must have rained recently here because the stream seemed to be running a bit faster than I would have expected it to, but it felt glorious against the sensitive soles of my feet.
“If just getting your feet wet makes you this happy, I can’t wait to see your reaction when we go white-water rafting,” Jasper smiled, sitting down next to me.
“Rafting?” I asked, dubious.
“Okay, so there may not actually be rafts involved, but you know what I mean,” he replied.
It seemed that my mood was entirely contagious to him and he was soon also letting his feet dangle in the river. When he lay back on the ground, and closed his eyes, breathing deeply, he seemed so peaceful that had I not known better, I would have thought him to be asleep. His thirst seemed to have been all but forgotten in that moment and I wondered if he even realized it. I made a mental note of this as I watched the steady rise and fall of his chest. It gave me hope that my plan could work.
“Enough lazing about,” I declared after another hour of rest. I pulled my feet out of the water and quickly put my socks and shoes back on and looked down to see that Jasper was still lying down. I knew he wasn’t actually asleep, but had he managed to lock himself away so deep in his own thoughts that he hadn’t heard me?
Finally, he sighed and started to move. With a bit more understanding now, I offered, “If you want to stay for a while more…”
“No, that’s okay,” he replied with a shy smile. “Thank you, though. That was very relaxing and not something I would have thought to do on my own.”
“Hasn’t Edward told you?” I laughed. “I am full of surprises!”He has no idea just how many surprises either,
I smiled to myself as we grabbed out packs and set off again. Closer to the hunting grounds now, we took our time and tasted the air, making sure we had no hint of humans anywhere nearby before we began the hunt. I knew that the carnivores tasted better and I was content to let Jasper have his fill of them before I took down one of my own. Watching him hunt was entirely different than watching Edward and I wondered what my hunting style looked to the others. I knew Edward was biased in his opinion and I did want to know, but I pushed the thought out of my mind to address at another time. This was all about my big brother and I wasn’t going to let my petty curiosity get in the way.
Alice had told me once that Jasper seemed to do better if he hunted quickly and gorged himself and then let it settle for a day before hunting again. That way, the second hunt was more cerebral and less need-based and that seemed to satisfy him better.
“Any particular reason you are staring at me?” Jasper asked as he inspected his shirt for any blood stains. Of course, he didn’t have any.
I knew I had at least two stains, but I only had two shirts with me, so I wanted to make sure we were done hunting for the day before I changed into a clean one. I was still a bit of a messy eater, I noted with chagrin.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to,” I smiled at him. We were walking toward a clearing we had passed earlier. We would make camp there for the night and that is where I decided to have the conversation that had been my main purpose for our trip.
Jasper gathered wood for a fire and I set rocks in a circle to make the fire pit. It didn’t take long before the light of the flames offered the only illumination in the forest. Of course, with our vampire eyesight, it wasn’t really necessary, but the warmth was nice and the fire made me feel a little more human.
I drew out our packs and started pulling items out, setting them carefully on the ground. Some of the items were fairly innocuous: a deck of cards and a travel game of chess. Being that Jasper was my brother and not my husband, we did not have the same choices in ‘entertainment’ activities that Edward and I had, so I brought along some things to keep us occupied during the long evening.
Jasper looked at the items and snorted, “Well, that answers that question. I was wondering what was rattling in my backpack as we were running. I thought maybe you thought it would be fun to see if I would get spooked by a rattlesnake.”
I smiled at him, “I wouldn’t do that to you. Maybe Jacob, but not you.”
He laughed then and reached for the deck of cards. “This was a good idea, actually,” he told me. “I should remember it for when Emmett and I go hunting together. He usually gets bored and starts making up his own games.”
I could just imagine what Emmett’s games would be like, but I knew that Jasper often had fun playing with Emmett and it was only when he felt his age that he wished for something a little more peaceful. He must have been thinking back on his vampire adolescence if he was so quiet at the moment.
“Yes, Bella?” he asked, laying the cards on the ground and giving me his full attention.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” I asked him. If he said no, I would drop it, but I really hoped that he would say yes.
“You can ask me anything, Bella. If it’s too hard for me to answer, I’ll tell you that, okay?” he replied with a gentle smile.
“Okay,” I agreed, settling down to lean against a nearby rock. Truthfully, I was just as comfortable standing as sitting, but the more I maintained human traditions, the more human I could appear when necessary. “Did you ever hate me for coming into your lives and causing so many problems?”
Shock radiated through Jasper before he could rein in his ability and I could tell that I had surprised him quite a bit with my question. “What?” he asked, then quickly denied, “No, Bella. I’ve never hated you. Why would I hate you?”
“Out of everyone, when I was human, my presence hurt you the most and I’m sorry for that,” I told him sincerely.
“It wasn’t your fault, Bella,” he replied, not denying that he had been hurt and that—my fault or not—it was because of me.
“I know that, but it makes me sad anyway,” I said, picking up a stick and playing with the fire in front of me. “I’ve been trying to find a way to make it up to you.”
“You don’t have anything to make up for,” Jasper told me solemnly and I knew he believed that. Honesty was just pouring out of him at that moment.
“Then, call it a gift,” I smiled. “A late Christmas present.”
“And, here I thought you didn’t like presents,” Jasper teased me.
His mood was light and I couldn’t help but wrinkle my nose at him as I replied, “I like giving them. I just don’t like receiving them.”
“No wonder Edward is always so frustrated about that,” he laughed. “He loves to give presents. Just ask my wife. He gave her a bright yellow Ferrari as a ‘thank-you’ present.”
“Good, let him give her gifts,” I rolled my eyes. “I have everything I need.”
“You mean that, don’t you?” he asked, suddenly serious again.
“I do,” I told him, matching his tone. “I think that’s part of why I don’t seem to have so much difficulty with this life. I miss my mom. I always will, but I made the choice knowing that I wouldn’t be able to be in her life. Having my dad, on top of having Renesmee, is like a bonus or something. One I probably don’t deserve, but I’ll take it anyway. I know I won’t have him forever, so I’m going to be grateful for every day I do.”
He watched me carefully for a long moment and then stated more than asked, “And, you think this is what gives you the strength to go beyond what a typical newborn is like.”
“Somewhat,” I confirmed. “The rest, I figure, is just because I’m so darn stubborn. I want it all and I don’t want to be a burden to the rest of you, so I just don’t allow myself to do anything to countermand that desire.”
He sighed and I knew he was taking our conversation the wrong way. He thought himself weak for his inability to push away his hunger, but I knew that wasn’t the case. I had to make him understand that wasn’t what I was saying at all.
“But, Jasper,” I continued, “that’s something I’ve been doing for my entire life. That hasn’t changed just because my heart doesn’t beat anymore. It’s part of who I am to just push whatever I need or want aside for everyone else around me. It’s so ingrained that not even Edward’s venom could shake that loose.”
“I don’t know…” he trailed off.
“You’d know if I was lying to you. Am I?” I asked.
“No, but just because you believe it doesn’t make it completely accurate,” he replied.
I wanted to take offense to his statement, but I knew he was reacting defensively. Sometimes it seemed as though if he castigated himself, it would lessen the brunt of it when someone else did it. Well, I had no intention of beating up on him, so I wasn’t going to let him do it to himself.
“None of that,” I told him in my most maternal-authoritative voice.
He looked at me sharply. I had never used that kind of a tone with him before and he was leery. I needed to put his mind at ease quickly.
“Jasper, Edward told me that you have an important milestone coming up,” I began and waited for him to think of it. He didn’t seem to remember, which was strange for a vampire, so I helped him along, “You haven’t fed on human blood in ten years. That’s something I think is worth celebrating. Maybe we could get a cake and invite the pack over to eat it. We probably shouldn’t tell them what the cake is for,
I trailed off as I saw Jasper shaking his head in denial. “Okay, no cake,” I conceded.
“No, the clock reset when I tried to attack you,” he whispered, his eyes filling with venom that just wouldn’t fall as tears.
“I disagree,” I told him.
“I lost control, Bella,” he argued. He was starting to fidget and I wondered if I could keep him sitting there long enough to get the words out.
“Yeah, you lost control, but you did it in the safest place possible,” I tried to reason with him. “You did it where there were other vampires present to help you regain your control, and in the privacy of your own home. I honestly don’t think you would have lost it if we had been in public. You are too careful in maintaining the human facade. But, if you can’t lose control in your own home, in front of your own family, when they are ready to catch you and help you through it, what is home and family for? What’s the point?”
“I nearly killed you,” he insisted.
“But, you didn’t,” I insisted right back. “And, you have defended me many more times than that. You know, Edward once told me that being a vegetarian vampire is like being a heroin addict. I’ve never been addicted to drugs, but now that I am a vampire, I see what he meant. I wasn’t really ready to be out and about in Seattle a few weeks ago, but I had to visit J. Jenks and that took precedence over my discomfort. But, that didn’t mean it was particularly easy. I was able to resist the temptation, but there was
Jasper laughed mirthlessly. “Yes, the newborn has better control than I do, I remember.”
“Didn’t I tell you to stop that?” I asked sharply. “That’s not what I am getting at here and you know it. Stop reacting and listen to what I’m saying. I’m telling you that it’s a struggle—every day—but it’s always just one day at a time. And, I think there is a way that we can help each other.”
“Are you going to be my A.A. sponsor?” he asked.
His eyes were still tortured, and I really hoped that I was doing the right thing here. Alice said yes, but one small decision could change her vision. If it had, I’m sure she would have called, though, so I plunged ahead. “If that’s what you want to call it, that’s what I’ll be, but I think my solution is a little simpler than that. I’ve been working on my shield a bit and I think I can do for you what I have been able to do with Edward where I bring him into my secondary shielding. You are already able to influence me emotionally, so that’s not going to be a problem, but the theory is that if I can bring you into my secondary shield, the part of your ability that is mental will be able to absorb my feelings and actually make them your own, giving you a permanent place inside yourself to go to when you need the serenity.”
“You think you can do that?” he asked. I saw a mixture of hope and pain in his eyes. “You think it will keep me from falling off the wagon?”
“No,” I told him, throwing every bit of confidence into my next words, “You do that on your all by your very tall self. I have faith in your strength even if you don’t. My idea is just to help you feel better, not because I think you are going to slip.”
I leaned over to him and picked his arm up then and wrapped it around my shoulders. I patted his hand and waited patiently while he absorbed both my words and my sincerity. It took more than an hour for him to work through it all in his mind, but finally, he pulled me closer and pressed a kiss to the top of my head.
“Thank you, Bella,” he whispered.
“Okay, now stay still and don’t distract me or I might screw this up,” I warned him. He froze instantly and I rolled my eyes, pinching him lightly on the arm, “Breathe, Jasper.”
“I thought you told me to stay still,” he growled playfully.
“Vampires take everything too literally,” I complained. “I need you to breathe so I can regulate my breathing to yours. It will help me get comfortable enough to open up my secondary shield.”
Jasper must have sensed my anxiety because he pushed me away then and pulled me around to look at him, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
In order to let down my secondary shield, I left myself open to attack, so I was very selective as to when I would do so, but I trusted Jasper and I knew he would never deliberately hurt me or let anyone else do so. I could—I would—do this for him.
“I’m sure, Jasper,” I told him. “Now, shush. I have to concentrate.”
I relaxed my mind and my body and felt the impact of Jasper’s gift as he used it to further calm me. When I was close to wondering if Jasper could actually send me into a vampire coma, I decided to begin. It was different from when I let Edward in. I could already feel the effects of Jasper’s gifts, so that wouldn’t tell me that I had succeeded and I needed to prepare myself for the emotional whiplash that I knew would be coming once I did succeed.
If I could still sweat, I knew I would have little rivers pouring down my face. Twice, Jasper started to move to stop me, but I pushed his hand back down and kept going until finally, I felt my secondary shield give way. I heard Jasper’s gasp as I pushed my serenity to him and held it out until he was able to figure out how to make my serenity his own. I felt him stitching the serenity into the fabric of his being, making it a permanent part of himself. He sighed and pulled me close again as I let my secondary shield settle back into place.
“Thank you, little sister,” he told me as he kissed my cheek.
We sat in silence for a few minutes before he said, “It’s my turn to ask a personal question.”
“Okay,” I hesitated, hoping he wasn’t about to ask something embarrassing. Then, I remembered that he wasn’t Emmett and he didn’t live to provoke the newborn and I nodded. “Go ahead.”
Jasper had never been particularly tactile with me, but I had the feeling that we had just cemented a much closer relationship than we had in the past and the familial vibe I was getting from him felt so nice that I was content to stay in his embrace.
“Before Alice and I left for South America, I spent a lot of time near you and you seemed to be getting annoyed with me being around so much. I tried to stay away, but I couldn’t help it, and then I would feel guilty about annoying you. Then, one day, you simply stopped being annoyed, but before I could ask you about it, we had to leave. I guess I just want to know what it was that bothered you so much and what changed,” Jasper explained.
I had almost forgotten about that. In all of the commotion about the Volturi, I put it out of my mind, but now I was glad that Jasper was bringing it up.
“I was annoyed because I thought you didn’t trust me,” I started to explain, stopping Jasper when he went to interrupt me. “I thought you were hovering because you were expecting me to snap into some newborn hissy fit and I didn’t think I had done anything to deserve such close scrutiny.”
“But, that wasn’t the case at all, Bella,” Jasper told me. “You were just so happy and it felt good to be near you. No one in our family—no one in my life—has ever really been that happy. Even Alice has her sorrows, a complication that comes along with never really being surprised by things. But you were just content with everything that you had. You didn’t let the things you didn’t have get to you and, maybe it was wrong of me, but I liked to bask in the light your happiness shines around you.”
“I know that now,” I smiled. “Edward told me when I was complaining about it one day. After that, I was glad for your presence because I knew I was helping you after all of the times you helped me.”
Jasper nodded and picked up the deck of cards. We spent the rest of the night playing various card and board games like regular siblings. Well, almost like regular anyway. I flatly refused to continue playing poker with him after I remembered that he could sense if I had a good hand or not. Surprisingly, he had never played ‘War’ and that kept us occupied for over an hour as we continued to trade the aces back and forth during the major battles.
We hunted again the following day on the way back home and as we ran toward Forks, our appetites quenched for the time being, I thought of something else that Jasper and I could do as siblings. Jasper must have picked up on my shift in mood because he stopped and turned to me.
“What are you planning, Bella?” he asked, raising one eyebrow in mock seriousness and folding his arms over his chest.
“Well, you know how my shield protects others?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied cautiously.
I could tell he was walking a fine line between being the older, wiser big brother and letting himself get caught up in my playful mood. I was not going to be denied and I pushed even more mischievous feelings toward him.
“Soooo…want to help me play a prank on Edward?” I asked evilly.
He contemplated it for a moment and then broke out into a broad grin, “Emmett will be so jealous.”