When the Dam Breaks, There's Hell to Pay
How Jasper Whitlock Became Jasper Hale
Chapter 4: When the Dam Breaks, There’s Hell to Pay
Summary & Disclaimer in first chapter.
Jasper seemed to settle in rather smoothly and I could hear in his thoughts every day how grateful he was to be here with us. Every day, we went to school and Carlisle went to work at the hospital and Jasper would stay with Esme. He often seemed to bask in her very presence and I understood why. The longer he went without feeding, the more raw and primal his thoughts would become. Esme soothed his rough edges with her loving maternal manner and that would allow him to go a little longer before the need for him to feed would drive us out into the wilderness. The first time he needed to feed, we all went, but since then we have been taking turns hunting with him. Today, Emmett and I were going with him.
Emmett's often childish antics were doing a pretty good job of keeping him distracted until we could reach the hunting grounds. His thoughts told me that he was actually being sillier than usual for that very purpose. Man, I don't remember ever being that desperate for blood since my newborn years, he thought to me. You'd better run ahead and make sure there aren't any humans in the area before we start. I'll stay with Jasper.
For all his outlandish behavior, Emmett truly did like having our new brother in the family as much as I did and it seemed that he was taking his role as 'big brother' seriously. In reality, Emmett was the youngest of us, but shortly after he stopped crushing doorknobs and ripping doors right off their hinges after his change, he came out of his newborn haze and evaluated everyone around him. It was plain to see that Rosalie would be his mate and he was good-natured about Esme's mothering and he respected Carlisle as his creator and the leader of our family, but where Rosalie had seen me as a big brother of sorts, Emmett took one look at me and thought 'Runt.'
From that moment on, he treated me as though I was the youngest in the family. Truth be told, it was fairly easy to slip into that role most of the time. I was the only one who didn't have a mate and I looked younger than he and Rosalie did, so when he was able to start going to school with us, it was easier for me to be the youngest. Perception became reality rather easily after that.
Now that we had another new family member, it was interesting to see Emmett once again taking on the role of big brother. I had a couple of decades on Emmett, but Jasper was almost older than both of us combined and I wondered how he was going to take to Emmett acting as the oldest. True, at certain times, I did make it known that I was actually older, but it was only if I sensed that Emmett was about to cross a line that would be detrimental to himself or someone else, like when he had tried to 'attack' Jasper right after we brought him home. He just wanted to play, but I knew Jasper was still too rough around the edges and Emmett was a large Vampire that Jasper would see as a threat. The last thing I wanted to do was explain to Rosalie why she needed to reattach her husband's limbs, so I intervened.
But today he was being the picture of responsibility and as soon as he had Jasper distracted, I sped off. I ran a good distance and saw no signs of human life. The terrain was actually quite difficult for anyone who wasn't a Vampire, so I didn't even see any sign that any humans had ever been in the area, not even an extreme hiker. I did, however, find a bear cave that I knew Emmett would want to know about.
So far, Jasper hadn't found a 'favorite' flavor of animal. I suspected that had something to do with the number of years he spent feeding off humans. I had some difficulty getting re-acclimated to the vegetarian diet after the time I spent on my own. My control was okay, but the flavor just didn't compare. It was my conscience that wouldn't let me stray, not my palate. I knew what I was missing, but it was worth it to be more man than monster. Jasper agreed with that sentiment, although it was infinitely more difficult for him than it had been for me. I was re-born into a coven that respected life and tried to live in harmony with each other and those around us. Jasper, on the other hand, had been re-born into a life of struggle, domination, retribution, blood and death. It wasn't easy for him to leave those behind, even though he was genuinely grateful to have a peaceful life now.
Every day was still a struggle for him, but he was getting better with each passing hour. He could be distracted from the burn in his throat for longer periods of time and was even beginning to show signs of enjoying life again. He spent so many hours in Carlisle's study that Esme had placed a large leather chair in front of the fireplace for him. While we were perfectly comfortable standing as much as sitting, I knew she meant it as a welcoming gesture and Jasper had been touched by it.
He had also bonded well with Esme. They spent nearly every day together while we were at school and Carlisle was at the hospital. We would come home to find that they had redesigned her garden or completely stripped the wallpaper, primed and painted the walls of an entire room, or re-upholstered all of the furniture. Jasper seemed to really enjoy the work and, from the many conversations I had with him, he would appreciate Esme's plans to build a barn at our next property to use as a work area for him. She had hoped to invite him to help with her business: providing custom-ordered fixtures and furniture for her remodels. He would be able to do all of the work at the house and then load it onto a truck and Emmett and I would act as the delivery service since no one would expect Esme to be able to lift the pieces of furniture by herself. She had visions of people gathered around ornately designed wood stoves while seated on hand-carved wooden furniture with the finest tailored cushions. I suspected Jasper would be more than happy to help her make that dream come true. Despite our assurances to the contrary, he had made it plain that he felt that he was a burden to us and that he wanted to contribute to the family in some way.
The sound of a bird flying away brought me out of my reverie and I decided that the area was completely void of human life, so I quickly returned to my brothers. Knowing that Emmett was disappointed that Jasper wasn't really ready to wrestle around with him, I decided to let him have a little fun. The only sign that Jasper realized that I was behind them and had felt the wave of playfulness I allowed myself to feel was when he shifted subtly to his left. I grinned and dove for Emmett, knocking him from the downed tree they were sitting on. I hadn't heard a crash while I was running, so I was assuming they found the tree on the ground and didn't cause the tree to fall themselves. It only took Emmett a moment to realize that I had hit him and start wrestling in earnest. His strength was definitely an advantage for him, but my telepathic abilities usually allowed me to have the upper hand.
We wrestled around until we heard something rip and then heard Jasper laughing. It was clear and uninhibited and I suspected Emmett's good mood had finally rubbed off on him a bit as he continued to watch us. I could tell by his thoughts that he wasn't ready to join us yet, but he was starting to believe that it was possible to wrestle around and just be playing.
I grinned at him and clapped Emmett on the shoulder. "Come on," I told him. "I found a bear cave for you."
Emmett jumped to his feet and pounded his fist into the palm of his other hand in anticipating. "All right! Lead the way, little brother."
Despite his instructions, he was already moving in the direction I had come from. I rolled my eyes and waved at Jasper. "I don't know about you, but I'm thirsty. Let's go get some dinner."
Jasper's answering smile was a little shy, but his thoughts were already turning toward the hunt and I watched as he caught the scent of a cougar off to the east. With barely a thought, he growled and took off in that direction. With my speed, I could easily catch up to him, but I hung back enough so he wouldn't feel like I was encroaching on his hunt.
Along the way, I came across some deer that, although not particularly appetizing, would satisfy the worst of my thirst. When I was finished, I looked up to find Jasper, his eyes now pure golden after several weeks of our vegetarian diet, staring down at me.
"Why do you do that?" he asked softly.
"Do what?" In my frenzy, I hadn't heard his thoughts as he watched me and now he wasn't thinking anything. He was just waiting for my reply, so I wasn't sure what it was that I had done that had him so baffled.
"You said that carnivores taste better," he stated. I could hear him run through the many conversations we'd had on the subject in his mind and realized why he was so perplexed.
"They do, but I don't have to have them every time I hunt. Either way, I'm not really losing out on anything. It might take a while to find a mountain lion or another large predator and I didn't want to take that time today. What I lose in taste, I make up for in getting to spend time with my brothers. I'm okay with that," I told him, and I meant every word I said.
I laid the deer carcass on the ground and stood up, brushing off my pants and making a face when my hand encountered my skin instead of denim. Oops, I guess those were my pants that had ripped earlier.
Jasper felt my slight tinge of embarrassment and snickered before becoming solemn once again. I understood where his thoughts were at this time and sought a way to comfort him.
"It's okay to laugh about it, Jazz," I told him, pushing at him playfully. "It's pretty funny. Although, it would be funnier if it was Emmett who had to live in torn pants for the rest of the weekend," I qualified with a smirk.
I turned and looked for Emmett, but he still seemed to be off hunting down that bear cave. When I looked back at Jasper, he was frozen in place, his eyes unfocused. Even his thoughts had stalled.
"Jasper, what's wrong?" I asked, hesitating just as I was about to reach out and touch him, especially when he didn't seem to be thinking. I scanned the tree line of the clearing to see if I could sense any danger, but there was nothing there.
When I looked back at Jasper, I could see that he was back with me. I breathed a sigh of relief, "Jasper, you scared the hell out of me. I was worried that I was going to have to go back and tell Esme that I broke her baby boy."
"Jazz," he whispered at the same time as he thought it. "You called me Jazz. No one...not in my whole life..."
"I'm sorry," I apologized, thinking that he was upset by the nickname. "I shouldn't have assumed it was okay to give you a nickname. I don't like being called ‘Eddie,’ so I should know better."
"No!" he exclaimed and I felt a wave of warmth fall over me, telling me that he wasn't angry. In fact, he was happy. "I like it. No one has ever given me a nickname before. They were too afraid of me. And, with good cause. But, you really aren't afraid of me. I think I knew it subconsciously, but my conscious mind is still trying to puzzle everything out and it just hit me when you called me 'Jazz' that you were trying to comfort me...that you believe me worthy of your comfort. It was just a bit overwhelming for a moment."
I nodded, "It's okay to be overwhelmed. Our life is different than any life you knew before. It will take time to accept it as your life now, too. But, Mom claimed you so there's no going back now, Jazz. Even if you left us, we'd still be your family."
A voice boomed from a tree high above us, "Yeah, so get used to having brothers, Jaspy-Waspy."
Emmett landed on the ground next to us with a crash. Honestly, he could have simply stepped out of the tree and touched down lightly, but that was never Emmett's style. The forest floor around us shook for a moment and I rolled my eyes in Jasper's direction only to find him smiling at Emmett's antics. Looks like big brother knows what his little brother needs after all,
I thought as I watched Emmett throw a large arm around Jasper's shoulder and lead him off toward the scent of some bears.
I knew Jasper was far from settled into our lives, but he was making progress. It was easier to convince him of his place with us here in the woods, with a belly full of cougar's blood, where he had our unconditional support. The true test would be how he would react when he thought he had failed us.
When the dam finally broke, it did so with only a fraction of a second's warning. One millisecond, Jasper was playing chess with Rosalie. He was thirsty, but not unbearably so, and he was trying to use the game as a way to distract himself. The next millisecond, the only sound he could hear was the heartbeat of the mailman as he delivered the mail to the mailbox at the end of our driveway. I reacted to his thoughts almost instantly but I was still almost too late. I would have been if Emmett hadn't been sitting so close to Rosalie and been able to grab hold of Jasper’s other arm in time.
Jasper fought us, snarling wildly and trying to grab purchase on any part of us that he could. Emmett was stronger, but he was more skilled and had decades of fighting experience on both of us. It was only my ability to read his calculating mind as he ran through options at lightning speed that allowed us to keep a good grip on Jasper until the mailman was far enough away that we couldn't hear his heartbeat anymore.
When Jasper finally stopped thrashing and sagged, I took a moment to look around the room. Rosalie stood guarding the front door, but ready to dive for the windows if it looked like Jasper might break free and get past us. Esme was rooted in place where she had been dusting a large mirror. Her hand was at her mouth and she seemed to be shocked at the sudden violence that had annihilated the chess board along with her coffee table. Carlisle was kneeling in front of the three of us, where the sofa had been before one of us had launched it into the back wall with a well placed kick. Although Jasper's thoughts and demeanor seemed to be steadier now, Carlisle was in a very vulnerable position if we failed to hold Jasper in check should he try to break free again.
Rosalie hissed when Carlisle reached forward slowly, one hand reaching out to cup Jasper's chin. Her thoughts were plain even to those who couldn't read her mind. We all shared the fear that Carlisle might be harmed if he was too close to Jasper's teeth if he relapsed into the chaos of a moment ago.
Instinctively, Emmett and I tightened our grip on him as Carlisle pressed Jasper's chin upward with two fingers. The tension radiating off of my newest brother filled the air and, with his rational mind now restored, I heard Jasper's unspoken resignation to accept whatever punishment Carlisle would demand for his transgression. He wanted to apologize for his actions, but he wasn't sure if he was permitted to speak and he didn't dare look our coven leader in the eye.
"Carlisle," I spoke softly. "He's waiting for you to punish him. He is sorry and awaits your judgment."
Carlisle nodded his understanding. Once again, he tried to lift Jasper's chin, gently ordering, "Jasper, look at me."
I knew he wouldn't use brute strength against Jasper and would wait as long as he needed to for the younger Vampire to comply with his instructions, but I was relieved when Jasper only hesitated for another moment before lifting his eyes to look at Carlisle.
Carlisle's compassion swelled within him. In Carlisle's thoughts, I could see the fear in Jasper's eyes.
"I'm not angry, son," Carlisle tried to reassure him.
I heard the panic in Jasper's thoughts and saw the flash of black hair as the Vampire I now knew to be Maria told him the same thing, explaining that getting angry did nothing to teach him that his actions had consequences. She then bit into him near the base of his skull with a savagery that made me gasp. She left him writhing in agony as her venom attacked his central nervous system. He snapped back to the present and waited to see what Carlisle's punishment would be. He could feel that Carlisle had told the truth. There was no anger in the older Vampire, but then Maria had also been telling the truth. The longer Carlisle kept silent, the more Jasper started to imagine the worst. Strangely enough, being bitten wasn't the worst scenario he had imagined. He was more afraid of being cast out than of being bitten and, therefore, he would endure any punishment Carlisle would dole out if it meant he was allowed to stay. In just a few short weeks, he had experienced more peace than he ever had in the entirety of his Vampiric existence. He was bracing himself for whatever was to come.
I had promised that I wouldn't reveal anything that I didn't have to, but I classified this as something Carlisle needed to know.
"Carlisle, he doesn't understand. He's endured severe punishments before when the leader was not angry," I informed him, trying my best to give Carlisle what he needed to know without breaking Jasper's trust that I would keep his past to myself and allow him to reveal it at his own pace.
Carlisle's face turned grim and through Jasper, I knew that many of our family members had spiked feelings of anger at my revelation, but he had no way of knowing why they were angry as I did. I threw soothing waves of calm to him, hoping it would be enough to push aside the rest of the family's reactions.
Carlisle gestured to me and to Emmett, "Let him go, boys."
Emmett was going to protest, but Carlisle held up a hand, "Now, please."
I complied quickly, but took the time to pat Jasper on the shoulder as I knelt back enough to give him some space. I knew what Carlisle was trying to do and I thought it was the only possible way to get through to Jasper at that moment. Emmett did so a little more hesitantly and remained close enough to grab him again if he needed to.
"Jasper," Carlisle began, "I know things were often unpleasant where you used to live, but you're safe now. I will not harm you and I will not allow anyone else to harm you either. This was a mistake—an accident—and it just means that we all need to be a little more careful. It's not your fault. I should have thought of the mail delivery. We so rarely get anything delivered to the house that I didn't think of it and for that, Jasper, I apologize."
At the word 'apologize,' Jasper's eyes snapped to Carlisle's. He had heard the words, but was having difficulty reconciling them with how he understood a traditional coven to operate.
When he didn't speak, Carlisle continued, "If there is fault here, it is my fault, not yours. Would you have me punished?"
"No, sir!" Jasper exclaimed, his eyes brightening with emotion. "It's not my place."
"Then, I think this matter is settled," Carlisle told him, cupping the base of Jasper's skull just under his left ear. It was a fatherly gesture that we had all experienced at one time or another, but this was the first time Jasper had felt the full weight of Carlisle's love and compassion directed at him and he tipped forward. Carlisle caught him held him close as Jasper began to shake. Emmett looked like he was going to intervene, but I shook my head at him and he backed off. This was no attack. This was what Jasper needed to heal.
For years, Carlisle and Esme had played the part of foster parents, but it seemed that this time, they would actually experience some of the emotional rollercoaster that foster parents often had to deal with when their foster children came from neglectful or abusive pasts.
I had often heard the same thoughts of helplessness going through Esme's mind at that moment in the thoughts of others as they struggled to find a way to help their children survive and thrive in those situations. Carlisle, knowing his wife well, sensed the same thing I actually heard and knew that Jasper needed to be surrounded only by one steady presence at the moment.
"Leave us," Carlisle instructed.
One by one, we all filed out. Esme had difficulty leaving and I knew it wasn't because she feared for Carlisle's safety. No, she was reticent to leave because the being she considered to be her baby boy was hurting and she instinctively wanted to comfort him as well. Finally, I pulled her outside.
"Esme, he's an Empath," I told her quietly. "He'll feel your sorrow for him as if it were his own. He needs Carlisle's strength right now."
When she turned to face me, her eyes were bright with the stinging tears our venom produced. "I know you're right. I just want..."
I pulled her into my arms, kissed the top of her head, and whispered, "I know, Mom. I know."
"Is there anything I can do?" she asked me.
"We can go to get a post office box and have all of our mail delivered there," I suggested.
Even though I was prepared for her hug, she still nearly knocked me over with her gratitude for having found some way to help her boy. A moment later, we were running through the woods to get to town as we both left our car keys inside the house.
As soon as I was out of range of Jasper's empathic abilities, I also began forming a plan. I had been raised to be a gentleman and a gentleman never had such crass thoughts regarding a lady, but after what I saw today, Jasper's sire in no way, shape or form even came close to resembling a lady. I couldn't involve Emmett until I had a solid plan and I would have to be very careful with my emotions around Jasper, but as I ran, I vowed to wait for the right opportunity to destroy the bitch who had tortured my brother for decades.
I didn't know how many hours had passed since I had collapsed into Carlisle's arms, but when I finally stopped shaking, there was daylight streaming in the window. The sun had yet to set when I had first fallen to pieces, so I must have spent the entire night in that state. I was certain that I had little to no control over what emotions I had been projecting. Carlisle...I was still in Carlisle's arms, exactly in the same place, in the middle of the living room, where my fit had begun. Carlisle stayed with me through every moment of my anguish even though I knew it had to have caused him to experience every moment of pain along with me. Even now, his left arm was wrapped around my chest as his right hand moved soothingly through my hair.
Up until now, only Esme had routinely embraced me in such a way, but with Carlisle's soothing voice crooning in my ear and wave after wave of absolute acceptance and affection coming from the older Vampire, I allowed myself to do something I never thought would be possible in the presence of the leader of any coven—I rested. It was the closest to sleep that our kind could actually come. It was another hour before I realized that I had actually shifted position to offer the ultimate submission— baring my throat to Carlisle. I was even more astonished to find that my trust had not been misplaced as Carlisle hadn't stopped his ministrations nor had he taken advantage of my vulnerability. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of newborns and older Vampires had tried—and failed—to kill me, yet the one coven leader I had fully submitted to had apparently decided that the appropriate response to my submission was a good cuddling.
"It's okay, son," Carlisle whispered to me, soothing my worries with answers to questions I don't even know if I asked out loud. "This is your home now. We're your family now. You are my
son. No one is ever going to make you leave us, I promise."
I waited for Edward outside his first period class. This was the first chance we would have to speak privately since Jasper's meltdown two days ago. This wasn't something I wanted Rosie or Esme to overhear and I suspected that Carlisle would not agree with what I was planning. Although I couldn't read anyone's mind, it was pretty plain what kind of anguish Jasper had been in. I could only imagine what tortures he had been subjected to, but whatever it was, I couldn't see any reason in the world to allow a Vampire that so heinous to her own progeny to continue to exist. I shuddered to think of what kind of power she still held over Jasper and what would happen if she found him again.
There was only one solution: we had to take her out before she could do any more damage to our brother.
Edward was the first through the door the moment the bell rang. I knew he had heard every word I had been thinking while standing outside the door. He nodded once to let me know that he had heard everything and we made our way toward the gym for our next class.
We spoke too low and too quickly for any of the humans to even know we were speaking.
"I agree," Edward told me.
Sometimes that mind-reading thing came in handy, I acknowledged with a humorless grin.
"I mean, I know what we are and everything, but how can someone be that cruel?" I asked, my muscles rippling as I thought about how it would feel to tear her head clean from her body.
"There are monsters and then there are monsters," Edward responded sadly.
"Carlisle won't like it," I grimaced.
"No, but that doesn't change anything," Edward told me. "She could be doing that to someone else right now, perhaps someone not as strong as our brother is. The last thing we need is for the Volturi to come looking for Jasper because they had to clean up her mess and tracking her progeny to destroy them as well. It's better to take out the threat ourselves."
"I didn't even think about that," I sighed, inhaling a large cloud of cloying perfume that seemed to emanate from one of the lockers as we walked past.
"No, you just want to avenge your brother's pain, and I get that," Edward said. "I want that, too, but I was trying to come up with something to tell Carlisle. His disappointment won't last, but it would be difficult for Jasper to bear being the cause of that disappointment and he will see it that way. He takes it all upon himself."
"Yeah, probably that whole empath thing," I agreed with a grimace.
"But, my excuse is also a very valid reason," Edward reasoned. "We need to protect our family and that family includes Jasper now as well."
"Right, so we just need to figure out where the hell she is," I stated. I was so absorbed in our discussion that I was actually surprised when we rounded the corner to the gym and found Rosalie standing imperiously before us, a determined look on her face.
"She's in California," the most beautiful of beautiful blond wives in existence informed us. I had no idea how she magically procured the information we needed, but in truth, I really didn't care as long as we were able to get the job done. "If we time it right, we can use the senior trip to the San Diego Zoo as cover while we take the bitch out."
And that is why I love my Rosie.
TBCP.S. Thank you to leelaa for the Rec!