The Reason Why
Chapter 2: Pop Tarts
Summary & Disclaimer in first chapter.
After the documentary ended, I retreated back up to my study to consider how I could best fulfill my soon-to-be sister's request. Edward had taken Bella home and, with the anger that had been radiating from him, I certainly did not envy Bella at this moment. I knew his anger would once again be directed at me soon enough so I pushed it out of my mind to focus on the matter at hand once again.
I knew it would be impossible to hit her with the full force of what our thirst truly was. Her human body simply couldn't withstand it and I certainly did not want to push her into cardiac arrest.
There was a knock on the door. From the cadence and the patient caution coming from the other side of the door, I knew it had to be Carlisle. I had planned to ask his advice before finalizing a plan, so I was glad that he had come to speak with me, but I had a feeling that he was really here at Edward's request and that bothered me for some reason. I knew Edward did not fully trust me when it came to Bella's safety and, although she did not blame me, I couldn't help but still feel the weight of my actions on her birthday. Part of me never felt as though I could earn the forgiveness she so readily offered me, and so, when Bella asked this of me, I knew immediately what my answer would be.
I broke out of my reverie and called out quietly, "Come in, Carlisle."
Carlisle's steady affection swept over me as he entered my study. In truth, only a few of the others ever really ventured into my private space. They knew I often retreated to this room when everyone's emotions became too volatile for me to handle and they usually left me alone in this room. Carlisle was always welcome, though, and we had spent many hours speaking of historical events that only we remembered. When my thirst was so bad that I thought I would go mad with it, Carlisle had always been there meeting it with patience and kindness that went well above the compassion that was such an integral part of him. He led this coven with a quiet strength that I cherished and, although I couldn't clearly remember much of my human life, I liked to think that Carlisle reminded me of how my own father would have been. It was in everything that he did.
"Are you okay, son?" Carlisle asked, resting one calming hand gently on my shoulder.
I thought back to the last time he had called me 'son.' It was a few weeks ago. As we stood before the werewolf pack and I prepared myself to relive some of the worst times of my life, it had been Carlisle calling me his son that had kept me grounded in the present. He claimed me as his own, knowing all of the horrors I had seen as well as the horror I inflicted for decades. Now, I was struggling once more and he was once again coming to my aid.
"Edward called you," I stated, knowing even before Carlisle nodded that it was true.
"Yes, he did," Carlisle confirmed. "But, I am here of my own volition and not because I disagree with your decision. Bella has decided to become one of us and it is not something I take lightly. None of us had the choice that she has and, now that she has made it, I think it is the duty of those of us who love her to support her however we can. If this is how she believes you can help her best, I think it is worth trying. That said, I think it is also equally important that it is handled in such a way so as not to cause her injury or necessitate her change before she is ready."
I nodded in agreement, "It's not my intention to ever cause Bella harm and I certainly don't want to play a part in her premature change."
"Then, since I am very well versed on Bella's medical history, why don't we go over her specific human limitations?"
I nodded and dedicated myself to listening to every word Carlisle had to say, knowing it could mean the difference between life and death for Bella.
It had been two days since Jasper agreed to help me and we were still trying to come up with a food that would be my kryptonite. There had been a few suggestions, like eggs or fish, but the first was rejected by Edward because he was worried that I might suffer from a nutritional deficiency if I stopped eating eggs altogether and the latter was rejected by me for two reasons: first of all, I didn't love
fish so giving fish up would not be a hardship and, second, fish was the primary source of protein found in our house and Charlie would think it strange if I suddenly stopped eating it, especially since I would still have to cook it for him.
It was now Saturday morning and I had spent Friday night going over wedding plans with Alice until I had, literally, fallen asleep on her shoulder. I woke up in Edward's bedroom, tucked into the king-sized bed with a heavy comforter, but even though it was summer, I wasn't too warm and it only took a moment for me to realize that it was because my fiancé was stretched out on the bed with me.
"Mmm," I smiled as I burrowed into his arms the moment he opened them for me.
"Good morning, love," he whispered against my forehead.
"It is now," I replied, tilting my head up to him for a good morning kiss. I still felt awkward about morning breath, but right in that moment, I couldn't bring myself to care.
"So, what would you like to do today?" Edward asked as I leaned my head back down on his shoulder. "Alice has given us the whole day off, so we'd better take advantage of it. We could go to our meadow. Or, we could drive into Port Angeles and go to that bookstore you like. Or, we could go to a movie. Is there anything else you can think of that you want to do?"
"All of it sounds great," I grinned, happy to have a day with no poking, prodding or chance of going blind looking at different fonts for the place cards for the reception. Just then, my stomach growled.
Edward smiled and kissed the top of my head, "After we feed breakfast to the human."
I decided to take care of all of my other human needs first, so by the time we ventured downstairs, I was fully dressed and ready for the day. My goal was to grab a quick breakfast so Edward and I could leave and spend the whole day by ourselves. Edward smiled in agreement when I told him my plan and went to the cupboard where they kept some cereals and a nice selection of Pop-Tarts for me. He never understood how I could eat cereal so I knew he would choose one of the Pop-Tarts for me. Even though he usually frowned at the lack of nutritional content, he knew I liked the sweet breakfast treat and, quite frankly, it meant that he wouldn't have to watch me eat cereal, so it was a win-win for him.
Just as Edward pulled a box of Strawberry Pop-Tarts off the shelf, there was a whoosh of air and suddenly Jasper was in the kitchen with us. Edward gave him a curious look. I didn't know what Jasper was thinking, but whatever it was, Edward looked anguished.
"What?" I asked, concerned.
Finally, Edward nodded. It still did annoy me that everyone seemed to have conversations around me well before I was let in on the secret, but they wouldn't be able to do that for much longer, so I just waited—slightly impatiently—for someone to answer me. Jasper's mouth quirked up on one side and he turned to me.
"Do you know what brought me in here, Bella?" he asked.
I shrugged and shook my head. Edward went back to opening the package of Pop-Tarts and stuck them in the toaster.
"I felt a wave of desire coming from the kitchen and, somehow, I didn't think Edward was ravishing you in here, so I came to investigate what had sparked that emotion in you," Jasper answered with a smirk.
I felt the heat in my cheeks and knew I was blushing, but I just couldn't help it. I was always embarrassed when these kinds of things happened, especially when they reminded everyone just how human
I am compared to them.
"Sorry," I told him. "I'll try to keep myself calmer. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
Jasper made a sound that sounded very much like a snort, but I couldn't be sure. "You don't make me uncomfortable, Bella, although I won't lie. It will be easier for me to be around you once you no longer have that lovely blush of yours."
I fought down the blush that threatened to re-emerge with everything I had in me, but I could still feel the tell-tale heat on my face.
From the counter, Edward sighed, "Don't tease her. Just tell her, Jazz."
"Fine," he groused, rolling his eyes. "Spoil my fun."
The smile he gave me took the sting out of his words, but then he turned serious. "Are you sure you still want to go through with this, Bella? You don't have to. You'll spend centuries sacrificing and depriving yourself, tamping down every urge to feed on human blood. There really is no reason why you should punish yourself before then if you don't want to."
I had tossed this question back and forth a few times, and I certainly wasn't looking forward to the scenes I would likely cause due to Jasper's manipulated temptations, but I was committed to my course of action and wanted to see it through. I thought it was really the only way to say that I truly made an informed decision.
"I'm not backing out," I told him. "Are you?"
"No, I made you a promise and I intend to keep it," he conceded. "I just wanted to give you one last way out before it all begins."
I shook my head, telling him, "I don't want a way out."
The toaster popped up and I heard Edward slide the Pop-Tarts onto a plate for me. He walked over to me and placed it in front of me at the kitchen island along with a glass of milk.
His eyes looked pained as he said to me, "Then, enjoy these Pop-Tarts, love. After these, they're going to be your kryptonite."
I looked between the two of them in shock. I never thought about giving up Pop-Tarts and it would totally suck to do that, but then again, that's what sacrifice is about, right? Damn it. They were both looking at me expectantly, so I steeled myself and looked down at my plate. I nodded once to confirm to myself that I was going to do this and pushed my plate back to Edward.
"Well, might as well start now," I sighed balefully, already mourning that I would never have another of my favorite breakfast treat.
"Are you sure you don't want to have it just one last time before we begin, Bella?" Jasper asked, his hand catching Edward's arm as he moved to take the plate.
I did; I really did. But, it was too late; I had already agreed to it. I shook my head adamantly, "No, no one else knew that the last time was the last time when they started. No one else had a 'last one for the road' and I'm not going to either."
"Okay, then," Jasper acknowledged with a humorless grin. "We begin now. Edward, make her some oatmeal."
Edward looked at me, and I nodded, trying not to scrunch my nose at the thought of the oatmeal. Ordinarily, I wouldn't really mind oatmeal, but I thought I was going to have some nice sugary goodness and now I was going to have to settle for wholesome food. Edward nodded and went to remove the Pop-Tarts and Jasper shook his head.
"Leave them there," he instructed.
I understood then—it wasn't just the sacrifice that would start now, it was the temptation as well. I looked over at Jasper and he confirmed my suspicion with a raised eyebrow, daring me to challenge him. Okay, then. Bring it on, Major Whitlock. Private Swan is ready for boot camp.
The wedding was now only two weeks away and Alice was acting as though she didn't have 24 usable hours in every day to get everything accomplished. She insisted that everything had to be done to the specifications that only the two of us could see in her visions, so that was how I wound up helping with the guest favors. She had found bells shaped like swans and insisted that they all needed to be precisely engraved and that she didn't trust anyone else to do it right. Personally, I think she just wanted to try to keep me busy so that Bella could get more 'practice' time with Jasper. When Emmett had learned of the trigger Jasper planned to use, he started stashing Pop-Tart boxes all over the house, saying he was just doing his part to help his little sister. And, every time Bella was near one, if Jasper was around, he would send her a strong craving to eat them. If Emmett was around, since he didn't have Jasper's ability to manipulate her emotions, he would needle her to get her to break down to the point that Rosalie told him he sounded like a crack dealer on television. So far, Bella had resisted, but I wasn't sure how much longer she could hold out, especially since Emmett had even stuffed individual Pop-Tarts into her pillowcase. He was disappointed that I was the only one that could smell the ones he stitched into the mattress in my bedroom.
Bella and Jasper had been working together for a little over a week and it was killing me to watch her suffer. In turn, my suffering was then hurting Jasper, so I guess I could understand why Alice was trying to keep me away from them. I understood and respected Bella's wishes—even if I didn't agree with them—and as long as he was maintaining her physical health, I had promised that I wouldn't interfere.
But, I really hated the times he pushed her so hard that she was a sobbing mess on the floor—she refused to sit on the couch for fear of ruining Esme's fabric if her tears stained the material—and I nearly broke my promise the first time it had happened. The one concession they had both made was that if it became too much, Bella could run to me or ask Emmett to bring her to me and I would hold her until she was calm again. At first she thought this was a failure on her part, but then I pointed out that none of us face the struggle alone—we each had our mates and our family to support us—and that helped her accept my help when she needed it.
Sometimes she needed comfort every hour and other times, she didn't need help from me all day. Jasper reasoned that sometimes the cravings hit harder than at other times. He had been impressed with her so far, I could tell, but he hadn't yet gone full out and I worried if that would push Bella too hard, either physically or mentally.
After I put the finishing touches on the last bell for the reception, I dropped it into the box and placed the lid on top. I could hear laughter coming from downstairs and thought that they might be taking a break, so it would be a good time to go down and visit with my fiancée.
I walked into the living room to find Jasper, Rosalie and Bella laughing. There were several boxes of Pop-Tarts that were now opened and the tell-tale signs of crumbs were on the coffee table. I felt my anger rise. How could they laugh at Bella's struggle? I silently berated them and myself; I should have been there to help Bella through her moment of weakness.
Jasper caught on to my anger and looked at me, shooting me a mental question, what’s wrong with you, Edward?
I let him feel my anger and he stopped laughing, genuinely confused. How could he possibly not see how a failure so early on would affect Bella's outlook for the future? I finally admitted that I wanted her to be one of us because I simply couldn't live without her and this whole exercise might have put that in jeopardy now.
"Both of you should be ashamed," I told him and Rosalie, who had also stopped laughing. Bella looked at me strangely, but I pressed on. "It's not funny. You're supposed to helping Bella with her willpower, not laughing with her over her first slip."
I was immediately assaulted with two distinct mental responses: Jasper told me to calm down and Rosalie called me an ass. I didn't need to read Bella's mind to see that she was visibly upset. There, that was the reaction she should have had. It gave me hope for the future once more. Except, she seemed to be glaring at me. Then, she grabbed the television remote and started flipping through the channels, settling on Dirty Jobs. I wondered if it was truly because she wanted to watch the show or if it was because she knew I was revolted by some of the things the humans on the show had to endure. She glanced at me and I realized my latter notion was the right one. For whatever reason, she was pissed at me. Jasper and Rosalie seemed to just be lending her their silent support.
Just after Mike Rowe had taken his turn at artificially inseminating a turkey, Bella tossed Rosalie the remote and told Jasper, "Okay, let's ramp it up this time. Can we double the dosage?"
Jasper glanced at me and hesitated as he responded, "I don't think that's a good idea, Bella. I can increase it a little bit, but doubling would be too much for your body to handle right now."
She sighed and started to slide down to the floor, far enough away from the coffee table that she wouldn't hurt herself if she flailed her limbs. "Fine, then just do as much as you can without jeopardizing my safety, please."
"Do you really think this is a good idea to test your will-power and self-control so soon after your slip up?" I asked, incredulous.
Jasper's mental response to that was that he was getting the hell out of Bella's line of fire and he moved a few inches away from her. She couldn't hurt him, but he didn't want her to accidentally hurt herself if she reacted badly.
Bella served me with another glare before she replied, "Well, if you want to check on someone's will-power, why don't you go see Emmett? He's the one about to hork up ten packages of Pop-Tarts into Esme's rose garden. He even ate two of the wrappers. Me? I had a tofu salad for lunch. You were right. I'm not truly satisfied, but I can live on it and,
I didn't massacre a roomful of Pop-Tarts."
P.S. After a few requests, I decided to continue this story. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. It all started with the thought of Emmett annoying Jasper enough that he would turn the desire to eat the Pop-Tarts on him. Made me laugh. Maybe I'll write Jasper's POV for that scene at some point...