How Jasper Whitlock Became Jasper Hale
Chapter 3: First Day
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. In this case, The Twilight Saga belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
Notes: Pre-Twilight, AU
My first night with the Cullens was a quiet one and Edward never left my side until he had to go to school the next morning. Although I felt random emotions flit through the house, he managed to maintain an incredible amount of calmness that I was only too happy to absorb. I was still nervous and had so many questions, but for now, I felt that I was relatively safe within these walls and with this family
of Vampires. That they called themselves a ‘family’ baffled me and I knew I had much to learn if I was going to fit in with them, but Edward assured me that there was plenty of time and one day I would look back and wonder at how I ever felt like an outsider even as we re-arranged his room to allow me a private space as well. I had tried to protest, saying that I would find somewhere outside to go when I needed privacy, but Edward refused to be moved. By sunrise, the low leather couch Edward liked to recline on had been lofted and the area below it had been left empty with the promise that Esme would purchase something similar for me when she went shopping. When I tried to protest that I did not have funds with which to pay for the goods, Esme had ‘shushed’ me and pulled me slowly toward her so she could kiss my forehead. Then, she told Edward to start on the closet.
‘Starting on the closet’ apparently meant that Edward was to box up some of his clothes to make room for the clothes Esme had left for me. I didn’t understand why he was boxing up so much of his clothing when I only had a few items until he told me that Esme was going to get clothes for me the next day. Again, I tried to argue, saying that I didn’t want to be a burden, but Edward didn’t stop what he was doing. He simply said that the clothing was necessary and that I would understand why in time.
And, so now I was staring out the window into the forest, waiting for the others to come home from school and for Esme to come home from shopping. Carlisle was in his study, but he had not said that I could leave the room I had been assigned and I was not willing to risk his wrath so early on. Edward claimed that Carlisle was not like other Coven leaders I had met in the past, but it never hurt to be cautious.
As if he was also a mind-reader like Edward, Carlisle’s voice suddenly filtered through the walls and closed doors to reach my ears.
“Jasper, please come to my study,” Carlisle said.
Though my anxiety level increased significantly, I didn’t dare refuse. I knew he was only home because I was not to be left alone yet and I did not like that I was inconveniencing the leader of this strange Coven. I was standing in front of the door to his study in barely two seconds, my hand poised to knock, when I hesitated. I tested the emotions coming from the room and decided that it wasn’t a trick, so I proceeded to knock on the door lightly.
“Please, come in,” Carlisle said to me, opening the door and waving me inside with a warm smile.
He was hesitant—guarded—and I couldn’t blame him. We both knew what my scars meant and without the others around, Carlisle was vulnerable. Not only had he invited me into his home, but now he had invited me into his private space. One wrong move and I could find myself back in the forest or worse. He must have seen the worry in my eyes—or maybe I was pushing it to him—because he backed up a step then and smiled kindly at me.
“Jasper, it just occurred to me that you haven’t left your room since Edward left for school and I thought you might be under the impression that you are required to stay there,” Carlisle spoke softly.
“I didn’t want to presume, Sir,” I replied. I kept my eyes lowered respectfully, trying to keep any hint of dominance out of my voice and posture.
Sadness swept over me then and, on reflex, I looked up quickly before looking back down again. In that brief instance where I met Carlisle’s eyes, I saw that the sadness he felt was directed at me. I didn’t understand the reasoning behind the feeling, so I waited to see if he would explain.
“This is your home now, Jasper,” he told me, his hand coming to rest on my shoulder just as Edward’s had the night before. This time, I managed not to flinch at the touch. Fortunately, he didn’t react to my stiff posture or the fear I knew was in my eyes. Instead, he pulled me over to one of the large book cases that lined the walls. “Do you know what I love most about being here?”
“No, Sir,” I replied as he seemed to be waiting for an answer.
He smiled gently and reached out to lovingly caress one of the old volumes on the shelf. “Here, in this room, I have tangible reminders of all of the memories—good and bad—that I possess of my almost four centuries on this Earth. Of course, I have a perfect memory, but when I am here in my study, surrounded by my books and other items that I have accumulated over the years, it makes our fantastical existence more real. Here, I have proof that I truly did witness history as it was made.”
“I don’t think I’ve witnessed much of history, Sir,” I replied, knowing that I had spent nearly my entire Vampire existence either in service to Maria or hiding in the woods. Truthfully, the only history I knew of was what Peter and Charlotte told me when we travelled together for a time after I left Maria’s army. I did not doubt their belief in the events, but at the time, it had seemed so completely at odds with my narrow worldview that I had difficulty imagining anything else.
Still, I enjoyed the stories and they took my mind away from the gnawing hunger that seemed to be forever present. Carlisle must have seen me looking longingly at the books and wondering what tales they would tell because he reached out and drew me closer to the shelf. I saw books in various languages and though I could not read all the languages themselves, I could see that there were at least ten different ones in front of me.
“What languages can you read?” he asked.
“I can read English and Spanish, Sir,” I replied quietly, glad that he had not asked whether I could read. It likely would have been a legitimate question, considering the state they found me in. But, I could read. Sometimes, when I would venture out of the forest to feed, afterward, I would steal a storybook and read it over and over again until I wore the pages out, but I had never had such an occasion to preserve the books or to have more than one or two at a time.
“I think you may find something to your liking here,” Carlisle told me. “Many of the books are in English. Some are in Spanish. If you would like to read one that is in another language, we can teach you.”
I felt my own shock ripple through me. Carlisle had already given me clothing and shelter and a peace that I never thought I would feel again while in the companionship of my own species and now he was offering me even more. Even while a part of me wondered what the price would be, the innate empathic part of me had already accepted Carlisle’s sincerity and generosity. If I could have cried at that moment, I might have.
I must have been projecting my emotions because Carlisle reached out again and turned me to face him. He placed both of his hands gently on my shoulders as he spoke softly, “I know you are overwhelmed by all of this. I have seen how traditional Covens work and that is not how we choose to live. It’s going to take time for you to understand our way and even longer for you to accept that you belong here with us, but the truth is that once Esme opens her heart to someone, we all do. As soon as she declared you one of us, so you became. Of course, you have the option of walking away if you so choose, but we will never turn our backs on you.”
My frozen heart clenched inside my chest at his words and I realized that he must not know of my past yet, even if he could see some of my scars. I hung my head then and forced the words out of my mouth, “You don’t know the things I’ve done, Sir. I am not a good man. I’m not worthy of this gift.”
“Jasper, who you have been is important and I will listen to your story when you are ready to tell it, but more important than who you were is who you are now and who you want to be. I know you feel terrible about the lives you’ve taken and that tells me that you have goodness in you. I also can see that you are an intelligent being and, the moment you realized there was another way, you accepted the discomfort and personal sacrifice and I believe you were rewarded by feeling peace for the first time after feeding.”
“But…,” I tried to protest, but he stopped me.
“If I may, Edward said that when you were in the woods, you prayed to find a way to keep from feeding on humans for one more day. Perhaps your prayer was answered after all,” Carlisle told me. “Despite what some of our kind thinks, we are not God and, therefore, we are not all knowing. The answer didn’t take the form that you thought it would, with someone finally killing you, but you did receive an answer all the same. And, hopefully, instead of death, the answer will bring you life.”
Carlisle squeezed my shoulder once more and left me to consider his words. A car had pulled up in the driveway and a few moments later, I heard Esme’s voice downstairs. The first thing Esme did when she came in was ask about me—if I was settling in okay. Even from upstairs, I could feel the warmth she radiated and I was drawn to her. I decided to test Carlisle’s word and take the chance that it would be okay to venture forth and seek out Esme’s company.
She didn’t see me until I turned the corner at the top of the stairs. At that moment, a burst of happiness sprang forth and she smiled up at me, “Jasper! Come and see what I found for you, honey.”
Her smile was contagious and I couldn’t recall anyone having ever called me ‘honey’ before, in either my human or vampire life. The endearment chipped away at the protective wall I had erected long ago. I made my way down the stairs and nodded courteously, “Ma’am.”
Her delicate hand reached out and cupped my cheek as she spoke, “Such manners. I knew there was a sweet boy in there somewhere.”
I certainly hadn’t been called a ‘boy’ in a very long time, but I wasn’t about to argue with her. And, in that moment, I did feel very much like a boy again. With a start of surprise, I was finally able to name the emotions I felt coming from her. She was filled with maternal love and directing every bit of it toward me. The breadth of her love was staggering, and I basked in it for as long as I could. I didn’t understand it; she only met me less than twenty-four hours ago and her feelings were so strong already. It took everything I had not to fall at her feet and cling to her dress like I had once seen a child do. I had been hungry then, but not terribly so, and I fought back the monster within me to let the child and his mother live. Now, it seemed that kindness was being revisited upon me. I still felt as though I didn’t deserve it, but I didn’t fancy myself a stupid being and I simply could not turn away from the first pure source of love and acceptance I had felt in over a century.
“Thank you,” I whispered, leaning into her touch as she pushed a wayward curl off of my face.
She seemed to know that I was thanking her for so much more than her comment about my manners and I felt her emotions ‘ping’ with an extra jolt of her magnificent all-encompassing love before she took me by the arm and pulled me toward the door. “Come help me bring in the bags from the car. Your furniture will be delivered tonight, but I took some Polaroid pictures of the items I purchased if you’d like to see them.”
I started to panic at the thought of the delivery man coming to the house, but Esme ran a comforting hand down my back and continued, “The furniture should arrive after everyone is home from school, so I thought that would be a good time for you to see how far our property extends.”
When we reached the car, Esme opened the trunk and bags of clothing tried to make their escape out of the packed space. She continued to speak even as she pulled out a number of bags and held them out to me. The sheer number of bags was overwhelming. I couldn’t remember a time when I had owned so many things and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about accepting them when I had nothing of value to give to the Cullens in return. I could not be in public, so I would not be able to earn a living to contribute to the household expenses. Being Vampires, they didn’t need food cooked and I wouldn’t know where to begin with that, even if they did. I supposed I could offer to help with the household chores, but the house was immaculate and my nerves were on edge. I was worried that I would break something.
“I’m sure Edward and Emmett are anxious to show you around, Emmett especially. He really didn’t get to spend any time with you yesterday and he is looking forward to getting to know you. He’s under strict orders, though: no wrestling or rough play until you feel more comfortable here and are ready for the giant teddy bear known as Emmett.”
Even without a demonstration, I could see how strong Emmett was the night before and, if I had not been so used to assessing those around me with my empathic abilities, I would have immediately focused on him as the largest threat to my existence. But, although I had felt curiosity and even anticipation from him, there was not a shred of malice. Still, after the life I had lived, I wasn’t sure if I would ever feel comfortable wrestling with him. I wouldn’t mean to, but I could accidentally hurt him if I my survival instincts kicked in. On the other hand, it would also be good to make sure that I was not the only one of this strange Coven who was capable of fighting off an attack. To do that, I would have to assess his skills. Perhaps there was something I could contribute to the Coven after all. I would have to give it some thought.
A moment later, I realized that Esme had started back toward the house and I quickly followed her. I stayed two steps behind her until she stopped at the door to her and Carlisle’s bedroom. I didn’t understand why we were going there instead of to the room assigned to me, but Esme called to me, “Jasper, it will be easier to show you everything in here. Until the furniture arrives later, there’s really not much surface area in your room. Come on. There’s no biting in this family, so I promise, no harm will come to you.”
I tucked her assurances of ‘no biting’ away for examination later and followed her into the room. She was already opening bags and laying clothing out on the plush king-sized bed. She took the bags from my hands and repeated the process until the last bag, which had contained three pairs of shoes, was empty. When she was finished, the bed was a sea of clothing.
“Okay, so I wasn’t sure what you would like, so I bought a few of several types of things and either I can return what you don’t like or Carlisle or Edward will wear them,” she told me. The light reflecting off of her golden eyes reinforced the feelings of warmth and caring that I was getting from her. She picked up a long-sleeved maroon shirt with three buttons at the top and held it up against my chest. There were two more of that style, one in navy blue and one in black, on the bed. She matched the shirt with a pair of denim jeans and held them out to me, motioning to the bathroom, “Go change in there. I want to make sure these fit.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, accepting the clothing and closing myself off in the bathroom as instructed.
I shed my borrowed clothes quickly and pulled the shirt over my head. As it slid down my torso, the first thing I noticed was that it felt softer than any of the shirts I had ‘acquired’ during my long life. It was obviously well made and, although I could not find a price tag, likely cost Esme more money than I had seen in years. I pulled the pants on next and again found that they were not the standard denim that I had worn over the years. They were buttery soft and gentle against my skin. Although I could be comfortable in any clothing, there was something about these particular ones that just seemed more inviting. I wasn’t sure if it was the clothing itself or the fact that none had died for me to have them.
“Jasper, come out whenever you are ready,” Esme called to me and I remembered that I was supposed to be showing her that the clothes fit.
I opened the door and moved back into the bedroom to await her approval. She circled around me once, straightening the bottom of the shirt.
“Perfect!” she declared, clearly delighted. She held up another outfit, “Now try these.”
I tried on clothes for nearly an hour and by the end, had more clothes than I had owned in the last three years. I still didn’t really understand the necessity for so many pieces of clothing, but Esme assured me that they were necessary in blending in with human society and, even though I was not ready to do that just yet, it was good to get into the habit of changing clothes frequently as that is what humans did. She said it actually made her feel more human and that helped her to resist the urge to feed on them and so I resigned myself to giving it a try. I had never tried to live like a human before, so even though such a trivial thing seemed unlikely to me to have much of an effect, I would respect Esme’s wishes.
Moreover, I actually found that I liked
the clothing. The clothing I had stolen for the majority of my Vampire existence had been just that—stolen. The borrowed clothing the Cullens had given me the night before had been borrowed. These clothes had been given freely to me and there was something about wearing clothes that I actually owned that made them that much more special to me.
We had just finished putting everything away on my side of Edward’s closet when Edward, Emmett and Rosalie pulled up the driveway. I was wearing the maroon shirt and denim jeans again with a new pair of sneakers and I was putting my clothes away in a space that had been designated just for me and was already feeling more content than I had ever been in my immortal existence when Emmett boomed, “Hey, Jasper! Bet you can’t beat Eddie in a race!”
“Oh, it’s started already,” Esme rolled her eyes tolerantly as we heard Edward tell Emmett not to call him ‘Eddie.’
I tried not to tense up at the loud sounds coming from the first floor, but I could feel the panic start to set in. Suddenly, Edward appeared in the doorway with Emmett close behind him. Edward was smirking slightly as Emmett did his best school boy impression and turned to Esme, asking in a fake whine, “Mom, can Jasper come out to play? Please?”
Esme fought back a grin for a moment before giving in and playfully ruffling Emmett’s hair. She turned to me and nodded, “Go on, Jasper. Get to know your brothers.”
As she moved past Emmett, she pinched his arm and glared at him, ordering, “Do not
Then, to Edward, she instructed him as she gestured to Emmett, “Watch him.”
The entire scene was so familial that I really could believe them to be a family in that moment. Edward nodded to her before meeting my eyes and answering my thoughts, “We are
a family. Our biological families are long since gone, so we’ve made a new family.”
“Yeah, Eddie here is just glad he’s not the baby of the family anymore,” Emmett smirked at me as he ruffled Edward’s hair. Edward pushed at him playfully and Emmett ignored him as he continued, “But, don’t worry. Once you get a hang of this ‘family’ thing, I’m sure Edward will re-take his throne as Esme’s sweet widdle baby boy.”
“Shut up, Emmett,” Edward groused. I saw the spark in Emmett’s eye at the challenge, but whatever thoughts he was having, Edward must have heard them because he just leaned against the doorframe, crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow at his older brother, “Unless you don’t really like that new Atari game system you just got.”
Emmett glared at him, “Not cool. Never threaten the game system, Eddie. Or, I’ll just have to continually think about Rosalie naked.”“You will do no such thing, Emmett McCarty Cullen!”
I heard Rosalie yell from the first floor.
Edward’s smirk turned into a full grin and he turned to me then, “The only way to make him happy is to let him have some fun. I promise, I won’t let him get out of control.”
“C’mon, Jasper, my man. Let me give you a tour of el ranchero del Cullen,” Emmett declared and I watched with amusement as Edward pinched the bridge of his nose and I guessed he was annoyed by something Emmett had thought. I didn’t have to wait long before I found out the reason behind Edward’s annoyance. “I’ll even show you all the good spots to get Edward with water balloons if he’s not paying attention.”
“Just Edward?” I asked, the first I had contributed to the conversation.
“Well, Carlisle doesn’t mind or anything, but he’s just too composed all the time to be fun to play with like that. I don’t dare hit Esme with a water balloon and Rosie would kill me. Or at least do serious damage to my truck,” Emmett explained as he led the way outside. A spark of anticipation went through him followed by an almost child-like glee as he continued, “But, now you’re here. And, since you’ll be here during the day while we’re at school, Edward won’t be able to spy in your brain about any pranks we set up.”
I had no doubt that Emmett would certainly turn pranks in my direction as well, something Edward confirmed with a nod of his head, but he also sent me a pulse of brotherly affection as he turned his attention back to Emmett.
“Emmett has designated himself our cruise director,” Edward told me in feigned confidence. “He feels it is his responsibility to keep us all entertained.”
“Hell yeah!” Emmett boomed with satisfaction. “Someone’s got to keep you from brooding straight on into the nineties.”
An hour later, I had seen the entire Cullen property and narrowly avoided Emmett tackling me into the river. My first reaction was to defend myself, but Edward was right there, deflecting Emmett from his course and launching the larger vampire into the river. Emmett had jumped back onto the embankment, sputtering and angry, and I had to fight a war within myself. Part of me wanted to defend Edward and part of me wanted to pretend like I could hide behind a tree and not be found. It was a new sensation for me—this fear. I had lived through countless battles and several more covert attempts on my life and I certainly knew how to take Emmett apart, one piece at a time, but I found myself not wanting to move to do so. I knew the moment I attacked, it would mean the end of this peaceful place, with this peaceful family. But, my instincts were warring against not defending myself.
Finally, Edward’s voice rang out with authority, “Stop this now, Emmett!”
“Edward…,” Emmett protested and Edward stepped fully in front of me.
“I said now, Emmett,” Edward told him. His voice was calm, but assertive and it only took a fraction of a second for Emmett to stop and look over at me. As soon as he did, the large vampire’s entire demeanor changed from aggressive to protective.
I knew I was shaking, but I couldn’t manage to stop. The conflicting emotions within me were bouncing off of one another and creating this physical reaction. It was all I could do to keep them inside and I knew if I unleashed them on Edward and Emmett, someone would truly get hurt.
Emmett was still dripping from his soak in the river when he spoke again, “Hey, man. Calm down. I was just playing around. I wouldn’t hurt you. Not really. And, if anyone tried to hurt you, I’d rip ‘em apart before they even got close. That—my brother—is a promise.”
I tried to understand Emmett’s abrupt shift in emotions. I knew I was several decades older than him, but he was ready and willing to defend me as though I was a child in need of protection. Then again, at this point, I supposed I did seem like a child to him. Part of me certainly felt like one, especially since I couldn’t seem to get my emotions under control.
Edward turned to me then and—very slowly—put his hand on my shoulder. With the contact came an increased burst of his extraordinary emotional control and I absorbed it gratefully. The shaking had finally stopped as the torrent of emotions began to stabilize within me. I finally managed to look up and meet Emmett’s eyes. Not quite trusting my voice yet, I nodded to him, accepting his words as truth.
With a smirk on his face, Emmett reached out and slung a loose arm around my neck and started walking back to the house. Edward dropped back a few feet as we couldn’t fit three across on the narrow path, but I could feel his steady support at my back and I didn’t feel like I was exposed and vulnerable, even with him behind me. Instead, I felt protected for the first time in a very long time. My feet stepped one in front of the other, but I barely focused on the movement.
After a moment, Emmett spoke again, “Look, I know you are new here and don’t know what’s up, but let me give you a hint: It really doesn’t matter how old you are. I’m the big brother and, therefore, I’m the only one allowed to pick on you. Anyone else, I’ll kick their ass so hard, they’ll land back before they were even born.”