The World According to Jasper
How Jasper Whitlock Became Jasper Hale
Chapter 2: The World According to Jasper
Summary: Inspired by the line “I don’t know what I would have become without you” in the movie Eclipse, this story the story of Jasper Whitlock if Alice hadn’t escaped James. When she died, the future altered, and Jasper did not find his salvation in her eyes. This is how he still managed to become part of the Cullen family.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc., are the property of their respective owners. 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: Pre-Twilight, AU
Jasper’s POVWhere the hell am I? Why am I moving? Wait, I’m not moving, but I’m in something that is,
I realized. Those were my first clear, fully coherent thoughts in what seemed like days. I tried to think back to what had happened and mostly I found a sea of confusion. I remembered thirst coming upon me and taking to the deep woods to avoid feeding for as long as possible. I never went into cities anymore—too many heartbeats—but when the thirst wasn’t so bad, I could at least venture into a slightly populated area to steal some new clothing. I didn’t dare stay very long, but every once in a great while, I would feel a happy burst of emotion from someone and I would be drawn to that feeling even as it reminded me of how much of a monster I truly was—how easily that happiness could be snuffed out under my hands and teeth. So, I would quickly retreat back to my solitude and pray to whatever higher power governs Vampires such as myself to let me make it one more day without feeding.
I couldn’t remember exactly how long I had been in the woods this time. I knew I was not alone in the vehicle, and normally, my fight-or-flight instincts should have kicked in by now, but it seemed that the beast within had already made friends with these strangers and trusted them enough to be in their presence even while I was…elsewhere.
A memory—fractured and hollow, but a memory nonetheless—flitted through me and the images didn’t make sense. There was an animal lying across someone’s lap and I was drinking from the animal while fingers brushed through my hair. The warmth I felt could not have come from the dead mountain lion, so I could only assume it had come from the woman stroking my hair. Even now, I could feel her butterfly touch.
Wait, I really could feel her touch. There was someone cradling me close and running their hands through my hair right at that very moment. I stiffened, but at the same time, could not bring myself to pull away from the comfort offered. My other senses started to connect to my brain again, one by one, and I could smell her now. She was the same woman from the forest. And, she was purring like a mother cat would to soothe her kittens. Some kitten I make,
I thought bitterly.
A snort from somewhere behind me brought the rest of the vehicle into my limited view. I listened for sounds and felt for signs of danger, but other than some vague annoyance and some wayward lust, the only feelings in the immediate vicinity were warm and comforting. It reminded me of being tucked in at night as a small child when my mother would cuddle up with me and tell me stories of her family from long before I had been born until I fell asleep. I didn’t remember the stories themselves and the image of my mother was very dim, but the feeling remained. I held onto that feeling now as I let this woman’s warmth flood my senses.
There was something, a little twinge, pulling at my brain, trying to make me focus and I didn’t know what it was at first. Then, I realized that I wasn’t starving anymore. The fractured memory came to me again and I realized that I had
been drinking the animal blood. Then the taste of the blood filtered back into my memory and I cringed internally. It hadn’t smelled or tasted particularly appetizing, but I also hadn’t felt the emotions that accompanied every human meal I had consumed in the last however many years I had walked this planet. I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
A hint of amusement came from the backseat then and dual instincts warred inside of me. I wanted to see the source of amusement as well as the rest of the occupants of the vehicle, but I was loathe to turn away from the constant comfort being directed my way from the gentle soul holding me.
Finally, a voice called out behind me, “Carlisle, the blood has had time to settle in him and there’s still some wildlife available before we hit civilization. I’m going to step out and grab him a little something more to eat. Probably only an herbivore, but beggars can’t be choosers.”
The last part was tinged with that spark of amusement I had felt earlier. I stiffened in the front seat as they spoke about me and the woman—Esme, I finally remembered—shushed me and pulled me closer. I burrowed into her warm feelings again, forgetting about the conversation until I smelled blood. It wasn’t as strong as the blood from earlier and not nearly
as appetizing as human blood, but once again I was overcome with the need to sate my thirst. This time, I was aware that the inhuman whine came from my throat.
“Shh,” Esme gentled me, “That’s for you. Come on. You have to get out of the truck first, though.”
I let her help me out of the vehicle—truck,
I added the word to my vocabulary—and took two steps toward the dead deer, stopping when I saw the bronze-haired one still holding it.
Mine! I wanted to demand, but if this coven’s leader chose to give this kill to him, I was not able to stop him. The Vampire in front of me cocked his head to one side and met my gaze as he held the deer out to me.
“Jasper, I caught him for you,” he said, waiting expectantly for me to come to him. It could be a trap, but I sensed no malice coming from him and my thirst had suddenly been reawakened and I knew I couldn’t go wherever they were taking me without being thoroughly fed. Drinking from the mountain lion hadn’t been pleasant and I knew that this would be less so, but my experience with the lion had shown me that it would slake my thirst at the very least. The Vampire holding the dead deer was very calm, almost like he knew I could feel him and was deliberately maintaining the emotion so I wouldn’t be startled. Still, he was an unknown Vampire and I didn’t know if his earlier amusement had been at my expense so I was leery of his offering now.
Waves of understanding flickered out from him and he spoke gently, his voice steady, “I was amused earlier, but not at you. I can hear your thoughts and was amused to find them very much in line with my own at times.”
He held up the deer and grimaced, “This
isn’t four-star dining, but it is preferable to giving in to the monster that would happily slaughter an entire neighborhood. As to the rest, there is no reason to fear anyone in our family. As Esme said, we won’t hurt you. We’re not like the Vampires you’ve met in the past. We’re a family. I know it doesn’t really make sense to you yet, but you’ll see. You haven’t known anything like us before. We don’t destroy each other or seek power like the ones you’ve known in your past. We take care of each other. We’ll take care of you. And, one day, you’ll be able to take care of us, too. For now, come, drink, brother.”
The word ‘brother’ startled me and I tried to remember if I had ever had a brother. I knew the concept. Peter came to mind, but ultimately, he could call me ‘friend’ but never ‘brother’ for he could never forget that I would have killed his mate without hesitation had he not intervened. The Vampire in front of me was right; I didn’t understand but I was suddenly so thirsty that it didn’t matter. He could have been holding out a skunk to me and I would have taken it. I took one hesitant step forward and then moved so fast that human eyes would not have seen me. The Vampire released his quarry into my waiting arms and stepped back out of my personal space as I sunk my teeth into the deer’s neck. It tasted putrid, but just as with human blood, once I was drinking I couldn’t stop until it was all gone.
I felt strange after I had finished. This coven—family—was surrounding me, but not a one of them was sending me any aggressive emotions. From somewhere in my broken mind, I plucked their names from their leader’s introduction earlier and I matched them to their faces and emotions now. Carlisle’s mood could only be described as patience, a seemingly endless amount of it. Edward, the one who had given me the deer, also resounded with patience, but also an understanding that he needed to tread carefully or I would bolt. He was…hopeful. I tasted the word in my mind and realized that he was indeed hopeful, perhaps at the prospect of a new brother, I wondered. Esme—the mother and the source of warmth that I had been basking in earlier—exuded happiness tinged with the slightest bit of worry. She was truly excited that I would be joining them. And, I couldn’t not
join them. They were the first Vampires I had ever come across who had not either attacked me for my scars or scorned me for my abilities.
The other two Vampires stood close together and the large male had his arm draped over the female’s shoulders—mates, then. Emmett and Rosalie, I remembered. He had been the source of lust earlier and she was the source of annoyance, but now, he had a playfulness to him as he watched me, and she had moved toward curiosity rather than animosity; I could even detect the slightest bit of respect starting to take shape in her.
Beyond their actions, their strangely golden eyes also set them apart from other Vampires I had met in my travels. I wondered why they were so different from my own, but I didn’t have to wonder long because Edward answered my unasked question.
“It’s because we feed on animals and not humans,” he told me before turning to Rosalie. “Do you have a mirror?”
I flinched as a small circular disk flew through the air to land right into Edward’s waiting hand. It looked like a cosmetic container that I had seen in a catalogue once. Edward opened it and walked slowly toward me. He lifted it so I could see my own reflection and spoke again, “And, they are not so different from your own now. In a few more weeks, if you keep drinking animal blood, yours will look like ours, too.”
It was true. My eyes weren’t black with thirst, but they also weren’t scarlet from my fresh kill either. The blend of orange-red didn’t look any more natural than the pure scarlet, but I wondered if it might be a sign that there was another way for me, one that wouldn’t involve spending the rest of my time on this planet bouncing back and forth between desperation and depression.
“Why?” I asked, not quite sure if I was asking why they fed on animals instead of humans or why they were being kind to me or why they hadn’t decided to destroy me on sight. Was it possible that they could feel emotions, too?
“No,” Edward responded. “We don’t feel emotions like you do. That’s your gift, just as hearing thoughts is mine. We don’t feed on humans because we choose not to if we can possibly help it. Each of us used to be human. We are Vampire now, but that doesn’t mean we have to be monsters. We can still choose another way. In doing so, we’ve become a family.”
I was startled when a gentle hand landed on my shoulder and I instinctively growled, but managed to cut it off when I realized it was only Esme, and she was touching my shoulder to turn me toward her and gain my attention, not to attack me. The last thing I wanted to do was to offend the mate of this coven’s leader. I didn’t think he would order them to attack me, but I couldn’t rule it out altogether and I was beginning to hope that I might actually have a place with them.
“We’re your family now, Jasper,” Esme smiled at me. Her gentle words were reflected in her emotions. She was genuinely happy to have me as one of her…children. I didn’t know her Vampire age, but there was no mistaking the maternal comfort the petite woman radiated. She looped an arm around my back and turned me back toward the truck. “Come on, let’s get you home. You’ll feel more settled once you have a clean set of clothes and a nice, hot shower.”
I let her lead me back to the car, but instead of door we came out of, she directed me to the backseat, calling behind her, “Rosalie, Emmett, sit it the front with Carlisle.”
I released the fear that had begun to take hold in thinking that she was going to abandon me to the backseat in favor of having one of the others near her. She hadn’t rejected me, even though a part of me thought she should. I was not worthy of this woman’s compassion or her comfort, but my need was too great. I could not do the honorable thing and confess my every sin so her goodness would not become tarnished by the monstrosity that lived under my skin.
As I slid into the middle of the seat, I encountered a solid mass and I froze for a moment before I remembered Edward. I hadn’t realized that he had climbed into the truck already, and I was startled by his sudden presence. He offered me a slight smile as he pulled out a small contraption with an attachment that he placed over his ears. Though the volume was very low, I could hear the faint sound of classical music coming from the ear pieces when he pressed a button on the device. I hadn’t been around society in a very long time and I didn’t know what the item was called, and I was suddenly ashamed of the weakness within me that had kept me ignorant of so many of the technological advancements since I had become a Vampire.
Edward switched off the music and looked over at me, feeding me an emotion of understanding. Something he had said in the clearing came back to me. He could read my thoughts as well as I could read his emotions. It took me a moment to realize that he was ‘speaking’ to me by forcing his body to feel certain emotions. He was once again exuding patience and I came to the conclusion that he was telling me to be patient and he would explain things to me later when I would not have to feel embarrassed by my lack of general knowledge. A wave of triumph passed over me and I looked over to see Edward smiling. It seemed that we had managed to figure out a nonverbal way to communicate. Satisfaction as well as a little bit of excitement washed through Edward. I had found an ally and perhaps a confidant.
The music came back on at Edward’s command, but this time I was able to push my curiosity to the back of my mind as Esme reached over and took my hand, recapturing my attention. She smiled warmly at me and maneuvered herself so she could pull my head down onto her shoulder with the bridge of my nose resting against her neck. I sighed as I realized there was no fear coming from her even with my teeth so close to such a vulnerable area. The only emotions emanating from her were warmth and comfort and I couldn’t help but close my eyes and bask in those feelings as Esme brushed a stray, dirty lock of hair off of my face and pressed a gentle kiss right on the scar that bisected my left eyebrow. Any other time I would have tensed, but the panic was stopped in its tracks by Esme’s fierce determination to heal me from all the ways I had been broken since becoming a Vampire.
Esme thought as she cradled Jasper against her. Whatever happened in the past, he’s mine now. He’s hurting so badly, I have to help him. I can’t stand seeing him in pain. When I find out who did this to him, who damaged him so, I will see to it that he or she pays for their crimes against my boy.
I repressed the snort that was fighting its way out. Esme was already calling Jasper ‘her boy’ as though he always had been—as though he had simply been lost and they were finally reunited as mother and child. What amazed me, though, was that even though her thoughts were charged with promised violence, I could tell from Jasper’s thoughts that she was controlling her emotions very well. None of the anger in her thoughts bled through to what Jasper was feeling. She had so wrapped him in the warm blanket of her endless capacity of a mother’s love and that was all she allowed him to feel.
And, perhaps, I reasoned, Jasper might be more her child than the rest of us. Technically, I was part of the family before she was and, though I did consider her to be my mother, I always had an independent streak. Rosalie and Emmett both considered Esme to be their mother-figure, but they were a married couple themselves and had turned toward each other in times of crisis rather than their ‘parents.’ Jasper was clearly in need of mothering in ways that we were not and I sensed that he and Esme would form an unbreakable bond very quickly. I smiled to myself. If he ever did find a mate, I would hate to be her once she figured out how much of an influence Esme would have over their relationship.
Except for a short-lived ‘thumb war’ in the front seat and an even shorter game of ‘I spy’—hello, mind reader—when Emmett had gotten bored, the drive home was a quiet affair until we drew closer to our home in a Cleveland suburb. The more populated the area became, the more agitated Jasper seemed to get. He clenched his fists and scrunched his eyes tightly shut.Heartbeats!
he cried to himself. He wasn’t thirsty, but the sound was driving him to distraction, almost like he had been programmed from the very beginning of his Vampire life to be unable to resist the sound of a human heart beating. We kept the windows up to limit the human scents, but I wasn’t sure what we could do to make him more comfortable until we got to the remote area where we actually lived.
His hand shot out and I caught it reflexively. In doing so, the wire connecting the headphones to my Walkman moved and I knew I had found the solution. I quickly took my hand back and switched the mode from ‘tape’ to ‘radio,’ quickly finding a rock station. Def Leppard’s ‘Rock of Ages’ was playing and I increased the volume until I thought it might be loud enough to drown out the sound of the heartbeats that were driving Jasper mad.
“Jasper, here,” I said as I took the headphones off and shifted so I could place one side against his ear, being careful to keep myself calm as I slid the other side in between his head and Esme’s shoulder.
“What’s wrong with him?” Emmett asked from the front seat.
“It’s the heartbeats,” I replied curtly as I gripped Jasper’s hand once again. His eyes flew to mine and he wondered how I could stand the sound. He didn’t understand why we weren’t all affected as he had been.
“I’d say he’s not going to school on Monday,” Emmett replied. “Too bad, I was hoping gym class would be cancelled if he used his empath thing to give all the boys boners.”
Rosalie smacked the back of Emmett’s head and made a face at him. Leave it to Emmett to be planning pranks with his new brother before his new brother is even home.
“I don’t think he’ll be going to school for quite a while,” Carlisle observed as he looked in the rearview mirror into the backseat. The music was helping, but Jasper was still fighting the urges that came along with the Vampire’s perfect memory of what the heartbeats sounded like.
“Carlisle, go faster,” I ordered as I did everything I could to push feelings of calm and peace toward Jasper.
Rosalie twisted around in her seat to see what was going on. I knew the moment she had had enough, but before I could say anything, she was already acting. At first, I thought she was going to reach for his face, but it seemed that she did have a little more instinct for self-preservation than that, a little more. Instead of reaching up, she reached down and got a firm grip between his legs—one that had me wincing in sympathy. Jasper’s eyes flew open and locked with hers.
“Do I have your attention now?” she asked. She didn’t wait for a response. “Good, now focus. I get that you had a shitty existence before, but I’m going to Prom next week and if you kill half the population before then, it’s really not going to be as much fun. And, we’ll have to move, so you are going to control yourself until after Emmett and I graduate and then we will all move somewhere more remote. Esme may now revolve around you, but the rest of the world doesn’t, so get over your issues or you’ll be too busy looking for a certain part of your anatomy to worry about hearing anyone’s heartbeat. Got it?”
She punctuated the end of the speech with another squeeze and Jasper whimpered, but nodded. And, though Jasper’s frantic need had abated, I wondered if Rosalie hadn’t done more harm than good by threatening him with physical violence. Truthfully, she had startled him out of his panic, but the dark haired Vampire whose image flashed through Jasper’s mind did not look like she handed out the Vampire equivalent of milk and cookies for a job well done and I hated to think what the punishment for failure had been.
Rosalie, as usual, ignored my look of warning and simply focused on Jasper. “Good,” she told him, releasing his manhood from her iron grasp. She softened just a fraction as she continued, “We’re almost home. If you can hide in the forest until you were mad with thirst, you can do this.”
I was surprised when Rosalie stayed exactly as she was, keeping eye contact with Jasper, for the entire rest of the way home. Her focus didn’t waver as she willed her strength into him. Jasper shook, but refused to break away and by the time we pulled into our long driveway, far away from the nearest of heartbeats, his thoughts showed me that sanity had returned to him.
He didn’t move from his stiff position in the middle until Esme pulled on his arm, but then he suddenly allowed her to help him out of the truck. He breathed in the clean fresh air of the vast countryside we lived in and, when he saw the house, his eyes grew comically wide.I can’t go in there,
he thought. I’m all dirty. I can’t remember the last time I had a bath.
Though Vampires don’t sweat or have other human bodily functions, living in the woods instead of having an actual structure to call ‘home’ had taken its toll on Jasper and he was deplorably messy. Our home had once been a small log cabin that Esme had painstakingly redesigned and enlarged to fit our needs. Truthfully, it only vaguely resembled its original structure once Esme had gotten through with it. Two stories high and more than 2500 square feet of living space, not including Rosalie’s garage, could hardly be called a modest log cabin, but because Esme had created it, she had done so with the intention of making a home for us, and so it was. Carlisle and Esme took the master suite on the first floor and dedicated part of their space as a study for Carlisle and a drawing room for Esme. Rosalie and Emmett had a bedroom on the second floor and Esme had put in a second stairwell that led from their bedroom down to the garage for Rosalie. Emmett preferred to outdoor activities or playing video games in the family room, so he said he didn’t need any other private space inside. My room took up the rest of the second floor and Esme had outdone herself with the acoustics. It only took three days of living here before I moved the piano that usually sat in the living room up into my room. It now graced the corner nearest to Esme’s garden. She liked to listen to me play while she worked and I was usually very happy to oblige her. We hadn’t anticipated adding to our family and we so seldom had visitors that we did not have a guest room. I was already in the process of deciding how we could rearrange the room to give us both a little bit of privacy if we wished it.
It was true that we didn’t sleep, but it was nice to have a space that was all our own when we needed to escape from those we had chosen to spend eternity with. Just like all families, we had our spats and our irritants and, though we never drifted far from each other for long, part of the reason we were able to keep our family together was because we all had separate corners to retreat to when the continual presence of the others became too much.
I didn’t think I would mind sharing my space with Jasper. Neither of us had mates and it would be nice to have someone to talk to when the others were off enjoying their more intimate pursuits. Despite his difficulty being around actual heartbeats, now that we were away from any humans, it was obvious that he wasn’t a newborn and so, therefore, had higher thinking skills than simply seeking out more and more blood. I had hopes that perhaps we would even find that we had a few interests in common.
He was still standing next to the truck and Esme seemed to be having difficulty persuading him to come into the house. He was trying not to upset her, knowing it would not be good to insult the mate of the coven leader, but he wasn’t sure which would be the greater offense: refusing to enter or dirtying her beautiful home.
“Esme, let me,” I offered, moving to take her place.
She looked at me and sent me a mental, Please get him to come inside, Edward.
I nodded to her and told her, “Open up my bedroom window, please.”
Jasper’s head whipped toward me, but he didn’t speak. His thoughts were too jumbled to make out any clear one.I’ll lay out some clothes for him. He looks close to Carlisle’s size, but perhaps he’d feel more comfortable in Emmett’s clothing style. Hmm,
Esme thought to me as she made her way inside.
One by one the rest of the family followed her as I stayed standing next to my new, skittish brother. Carlisle nodded to me before he went inside, telling me, Take care with him, Edward. He is confused and scared. That makes him dangerous. You must have patience. He likely won’t trust easily.
I acknowledged his words by meeting my father’s gaze steadily, giving him a curt nod in return. Once they were all gone, I turned to Jasper and caught his thought before I could speak.She’s the mate, but he’s the Second,
he realized. Their leader, Carlisle, trusts him to take me in hand and make sure I know what’s expected of me.
Without Esme’s calming presence, he was once again growing agitated in wondering what form of instruction I would impart. He thought of the bites that covered his body and how much they had hurt, but that he thought he could endure it if that was the price to pay to be one of us. Of course, we had noticed the scars on the visible parts of his skin, but rather than feel the fear and animosity that he had come to expect from other Vampires, my telepathic abilities had allowed me to see the torment he was going through, so we did not immediately go on the defensive. And, although I had said that I could read minds, I didn’t think the implications of that had registered with him yet. So far, he seemed to be operating under the assumption that it was his gift—his empathic abilities—that was allowing him to detect potential obstacles in staying with us. I could see now that he also had quite the affinity for strategy and was using those abilities to determine how he should proceed so as to cause himself the least amount of pain possible.
He also thought of some of the covens he had come across that would ‘mark’ others who wished to join their clan to show that they belonged to them. If it was done by the leader, that was almost expected to cement his acceptance into the coven, but it was a more precarious position for the marked Vampire if it was done by anyone else, especially if it was the Second-in-Command. If there was a disagreement among the two parties, his loyalties would be divided and he would likely be one of the first casualties because neither party would never fully trust him.
“No,” I told him, moving to place my hand on his shoulder, stopping when I saw his almost imperceptible flinch before he held himself still to accept whatever I would do to him. Instead of letting my hand fall back down, I raised it up and ran it through my unruly bronze hair as though that had been my original intent. Finally, I sighed, knowing he was unlikely to believe me, “Jasper, I’m not going to hurt you.”
His eyes flicked to mine, but then he looked away quickly, trying to remain stoic and yet brace himself for whatever was to come.
I decided to switch tactics. I gestured with my head around the side of the house, and instructed, “Come on, Esme wants you to get cleaned up.”
His thoughts were curious to know whether there was some hidden water source that was too far away for him to hear, but he followed me without question. Of course, he would. As far as he was concerned, I was his commanding officer; it would take time for him to believe otherwise. When we arrived at our destination, he tried not to appear like he was looking around for how he would get clean there, even checking to see if he could find a garden hose, but I knew there was no hose to be found.
I looked up and saw that Esme had, indeed, opened my window. I could hear water running in the bathroom and smiled. From the sound, she was running him a bath. It was one of her favorite ways to relax and so she thought it might suit Jasper better than the shower.
Turning to Jasper, I noted that he was studiously taking everything in even as he tried to make it look like he wasn’t. I nodded to him, “I know you don’t want to get the house dirty, but we need to get you inside so you can take a bath. I don’t think you’ll do too much damage to the carpet if you take your shoes off here and then jump through the window there. The bathroom is only five steps inside on your left.”
Jasper still looked as though he thought it was a trap, but steeled himself to follow my directions. He kicked his shoes off and made to take his shirt off, but then remembered his scars and changed his mind.
“Okay, up you go,” I told him and watched as he looked upward one more time before leaping up to the second floor window ledge and disappearing into the house. I heard his bare feet slap against the bathroom floor a moment later. I followed him up into the window and joined him in the bathroom to get him situated. I wasn’t sure when the last time he had been in an actual bathroom was and whether he would know what any of the modern conveniences Esme had installed were or how they worked.
As I suspected, I found him standing, awestruck, at the oversized Jacuzzi bathtub as the jets pulsed steaming hot water about the tub. Vampires didn’t get aches and pains to be soothed away with the powerful streams of water, but they did feel nice against our skin, so when Esme designed the bathrooms, she had one installed in each. I reached over and flipped the switch that stopped them and caught Jasper’s eye.
“This is how you turn the jets on and off,” I told him. “You can leave them off if you want, but we all seem to prefer them on so Esme automatically set the bath like that. There’s a washcloth and towel for you here and you can use my shampoo for your hair.”
His nose wrinkled and I understood his disdain for the bottle I had indicated. I smiled ruefully at him, “I don’t really need to wash my hair often, but when I do, I find this one is okay. It doesn’t smell too much like chemicals because it’s made of natural, organic ingredients.”
He looked longingly at the water, but with another thought about his scars, did not move. I took the hint and walked toward the door, calling over my shoulder, “Esme is bringing up some clothes for you. There’s a separate walk-in closet through that other door there; it leads back to the bedroom. I’ll leave the clothes there, okay?”
Just before I closed the door to give him some privacy, I heard him speak softly, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Jasper,” I smiled to myself.
True to her word, Esme had left a mixture of Carlisle and Emmett’s clothes on the piano bench for him. Three pairs of Emmett’s of pants—dark jeans, khakis and black slacks—were underneath two different colored button down shirts and a long-sleeve sweater of Carlisle’s. There was a note on top. Esme’s flowing handwriting informed me that I would need to give him a pair of my shoes as she was burning the ones Jasper had left outside and we wore the same size. She said she would go shopping for him tomorrow—if Carlisle could take the day off from the hospital so Jasper wouldn’t be alone while we were all at school—but he’d need to borrow a pair of clean boxers and some socks until then. Since those items were already in my wardrobe, I picked up the pile of clothing and brought it with me. As I pulled out a fresh pair of boxers, I heard the water jets click on and then a splash as Jasper was startled at the strength of the water streams, but then a moment later, he found himself pleasantly surprised at the feeling of the jets pulsing against his skin. I smirked, but swallowed my amusement quickly since I didn’t know how far his empathic range was and I didn’t want him to think I was making fun of him. He would soon learn that the Jacuzzi’s safety parameters meant for humans were no match for Rosalie’s mechanical skills.
Knowing that Jasper would likely need additional instruction once he was clean, I went back into the bedroom and sat down at my piano. This was as far as I could really go to give him some privacy, but still be there quickly if he needed something. I chose something upbeat to play and heard Jasper’s appreciative thoughts as the sound travelled into the bathroom.
If he had been human, I knew Jasper’s skin would have been wrinkled by the time he flipped the switch that would drain the tub and stood up to dry off. He had spent over forty-five minutes relaxing in the tub, but every time he had managed to calm himself into a comfortable lull, his mind would start working overtime again to come up with ways that we could be tricking him. I didn’t know if I was close enough to push my own calm feelings toward him, but his negative thoughts seemed to equally push him to hurry in his task and also to dally as long as possible to delay the next activity on whatever list we had created for him.
I took Carlisle’s earlier warnings to heart and simply continued playing as Jasper left the bathroom and moved into the closet to get changed. I listened to his thoughts as he took inventory of the closet. I made a note to myself to speak with Esme about getting him long-sleeved shirts, probably turtlenecks when she went shopping. He had physically recoiled from the short-sleeved t-shirts I typically wore as part of my ‘teenager’ persona and breathed an almost inaudible sigh of relief at seeing the clothes we had laid out for him.Edward,
Esme’s called up to me with her thoughts. From the direction I heard them coming from, she was down in her garden. I shifted into a few bars of the song I had composed for her to let her know I was listening and she continued, You’ll need to clean out your closet tonight…and, when you change your room around, don’t just shove all of your belongings to one side. Let him help you to redesign the room to accommodate the both of you.
I rolled my eyes, but couldn’t help the smile that played on my face. Whatever else we were, Esme was forever a mother and I knew I couldn’t ask for a more loving one. I only barely remembered my biological mother and that was mostly through Carlisle’s thoughts and the pictures he had kept for me. It didn’t matter that I had joined the family before Esme had; she was the only mother I really knew. Now, she was dedicating herself to raising another child, not even stopping to give a thought to how many more years that child had on her. I had a feeling she was right—it wouldn’t matter if he was a thousand years older than we were. His needs were that of a child: warmth, comfort, nourishment, safety, patience and love. She would give him all of those things and more.
Jasper had stopped moving, so I ceased playing and went to check on him. When I turned the corner, I found him looking out the window. His mind was strangely blank until he caught sight of Esme in the garden and then he closed his eyes, drinking in her serenity as she hummed to herself, picking up where I had left off with the piano. He wondered at how content she seemed to be.
happy,” I confirmed for him and he turned quickly to look at me, dropping almost into a crouch before straightening up once more. I had the feeling that not many could ever walk away after startling him.
He stood in front of me and searched his mind for whether he had asked the question aloud. He hadn’t and he realized it. As I watched, he remembered what I had said about reading minds and when I nodded, his eyes grew wide. His thoughts flashed like lightning in several directions all at the same time and I put a hand out to stop him, barely remembering not to touch him a fraction of a centimeter from his shoulder.
“Jasper, it’s okay,” I said, trying to convince him not to panic, “Your past is your past and, even if I overhear any of your thoughts about it, I wouldn’t tell anyone without your permission. I promise.”
My new brother did not yet know whether to trust my words. My actions had not proven me trustworthy yet. They hadn’t proven me untrustworthy either, but until he decided that he could actually trust me, I feared we would both be would be walking on eggshells.
I heard him searching his mind for a new topic of discussion, so I helped him by breaking the silence. “You seem happier now that you’ve had a bath.”
“Yes, thank you,” he replied formally as he went back to looking out the window. “It was very…pleasant.”
I smiled at his back. I knew he thought it was more than pleasant. He had enjoyed the gentle massage of the high powered jets and he was already wondering when the next time he would be permitted to enjoy it again. He caught the amusement from me and froze, suspicious once more.
“Jasper, it’s okay,” I told him, still smiling. “Yes, I was amused, but not in a bad way. I am glad that you can find joy in such a simple act and that we are able to give that to you. Believe me, enjoying a bath is a lot easier than when Emmett wanted to try diving out of an airplane or when he decided he wanted to become a crab fisherman on the Bering Sea.”
His suspicion turned to confusion at my last sentence and I realized that his previous existence had not exactly lent itself to new experiences, culture or knowledge. Perhaps the next few years would not be filled with the tedium of sitting through the same curriculum in class after all. Rosalie was right that we would need to move as soon as she and Emmett graduated in a few weeks. Carlisle and Esme were already talking about going up to Denali, but I wasn’t sure that subjecting our new, skittish family member to the sisters was a good idea. The amount of lust they probably projected might have him trying to hump a polar bear.
But, we would need to withdraw from society altogether for at least a year or so, maybe more depending on how strong Jasper’s bloodlust was versus his willpower. Removing him from temptation could only work for so long and was not feasible in the long run. Although we call ourselves ‘vegetarians,’ unlike human vegetarians who might come to abhor the smell of meat, we would always crave human blood above all others. The concern was that if we removed him altogether, he would be okay once he got used to the diet, but as soon as we reintroduced the smell of human blood, he would dive head first off the wagon. I knew I needed to speak with my parents about this situation. Jasper was coming into our lifestyle in a different manner than the rest of us had and we would need to re-think our strategies for helping him. He wasn’t a newborn; he would have skills they didn’t have and, from what I had seen in his thoughts, he was an expert strategist. If his craving for human blood overrode his desire to adhere to our diet, I didn’t know if we could stop him, at least not without significant injury. But, if we proceeded carefully, perhaps we could use his intellect to help him override his instincts instead. One advantage to him not being a newborn was that he could think with his brain instead of his teeth.
I shook my head as I realized that I had been standing there staring at Jasper as he stared out the window. He was contemplating our family and trying to decide which of us had joined in which order.
“Carlisle was the first, obviously,” I told him, coming to stand next to him. “He made me in 1918. A few years later came Esme. She plays the part of our mother very well. She’s already trying to figure out what your needs are so she can take care of you, too.”
“I don’t want to be a burden,” Jasper interjected quietly.
“You aren’t,” I replied instantly. I saw his thoughts and that he felt himself a liability to us and I knew I needed to dissuade him of that line of thinking. “Actually, you are a very welcome distraction from what has become quite mundane. Tedious even.”
He looked at me skeptically and I shrugged; he would believe us eventually. “Anyway,” I continued, “Carlisle changed Rosalie about ten years after Esme. It was only a couple years after that when Rosalie found Emmett and brought him home for Carlisle to change.”
I heard the confusion in his thoughts. He was surprised that someone so young could withstand traveling with a human for long enough to get him to Carlisle, even if the human did want to be changed.
“Actually, it was much more difficult than that,” I told him. He focused on my face once more. “Emmett had been mauled by a bear and was bleeding quite a bit. Rosalie had been out hunting and had to carry him over 100 miles, holding her breath the entire way, to get him to Carlisle safely.”
“He was bleeding?” Jasper asked incredulously. He thought of his own weakness for human blood and wondered if he could do it, if it meant he would have a mate. He came to the conclusion that he couldn’t.
“Someday, I think you’ll be able to come to different conclusion,” I offered with a wry smile. “It takes time, but Rosalie is very stubborn. She has never actually tasted human blood. The rest of us, except for Carlisle, have slipped at one time or another and I actually spent some time hunting our more traditional prey, so we have a better idea of how difficult it is for you to resist.”
“You were not always…” he trailed off, searching for the words.
“A vegetarian?” I finished for him, a small smile playing at my lips. “No, I had what you might call an ‘angry adolescence’ where I left the family for some time. I hunted vile men who would turn their sadistic ways on others and tried to tell myself that my telepathy gave me the right to be judge, jury and executioner.”
“What made you stop?” he asked. He hoped that I possessed the key to stopping the bloodlust immediately and I wished fervently that I did, but I was not going to lie to my new brother.
“As much as I tried to convince myself that it was okay, I knew it wasn’t. When I found myself enjoying their deaths, becoming the sadist myself, I knew I was losing myself. And…I was lonely,” I confessed. I knew the others could hear me and I didn’t care. I knew all of their secrets and it wasn’t like they didn’t know my history, so I mustered up all of what I had felt then and pushed it to my empathic brother. He staggered back with the power of it, but when he looked up at me, there was understanding in his eyes. “I had met other nomad Vampires along the way, but none of them held more than a passing friendly interest to me. I missed my family. I will be forever grateful that Carlisle and Esme welcomed me back. I would hate for those years that I regret more than I can ever truly express to have forever cut me off from being here with all of them. I know there is much you don’t understand and that’s okay. You have plenty of time to figure it out. This is your home now, for as long as you want it to be.”
He rolled the word ‘home’ over and over in his mind and I heard him analyzing some emotion that had seemed foreign to him, but was beginning to take root in his chest. He didn’t have a name for it. In his century and a half on this planet as a Vampire, he didn’t remember having ever felt that way, but when faced with five Vampires who were not aggressive or filled with fear at the sight of him—five Vampires who had invited him to join their family, this strange new feeling began to invade his very being.
This time, he didn’t flinch when I reached out to him and placed a hand on his shoulder, offering him a comforting squeeze. The sun had set and the stars were shining in the clear, night sky. Jasper watched them and wondered if it was possible that a wish he had made so many decades ago while looking out another window at another nighttime sky had finally come true. Hesitantly, he tried to name the feeling that was growing inside of him.
“Yes, Jasper, this is what safe
feels like,” I told him.
P.S. I promised my beta that I would finish the rest of the CM chapter I had been working on when this one took over my brain, but the next chapter of this one will be Carlisle and Jasper home alone after the "kids" go to school and Esme goes shopping for her new son.
Thank you for reading & reviewing!