|Cowboys Have Fangs, Too
Author: Pastiche Pen PM
When you’re a Cullen, you’re supposed to be a nice vampire. You’re not supposed to want to kill librarians—or drink the drill team—or have a map of scars. And you're certainly not supposed to want to exsanguinate Edward's human. Aw, hell. Canon.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Angst - Jasper - Chapters: 4 - Words: 21,966 - Reviews: 217 - Favs: 253 - Follows: 98 - Updated: 02-07-10 - Published: 01-31-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5707915
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Copyright: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I play with her characters in an inappropriate fashion.
This is my story for the FandomGivesBack.
BunnyslippersrokPrompt: Since Jasper's abilities involve other's feelings, explore his impressions of Edward as he fell in love with Bella. A little lemon twist would be appreciated. :) Pet peeves - pixie Alice and the word feral.
The Result. Long Summary: When you're a Cullen, you're supposed to be a nice vampire. You're not supposed to want to kill the librarian—or drink the drill team. You're not supposed to be a map of scars, and you are certainly not supposed to want to exsanguinate Edward's human. Aw, hell. Canon.
This plot is non-linear. It hops all over the place. Tone-wise, this is like Candle, except that Jasper isn't as conscientious as Edward, and there's more sex, more violence, dark themes, and the usual humor (because I couldn't resist the occasional poke at Edward here or there...). Also, this Jasper, unlike Candle's Texsper, does not have a noticeable Texan drawl, cuz it'd be canon.
Thank you's to: houroflead, americnxidiot (for lending their thoughts) and to ElleCC for the beta, especially since I made her read Alice/Jasper... Also, you should check out the Jasper collab that she's doing with La Vie Pastiche The First Breath. Go. Read.
Cowboys Have Fangs, Too
Jasper entered the law office as he always did.
Without a sound.
The room felt sparse, furnished with olive lobby chairs and a wholesale oak desk. On the center of the desk was a slide-in black nameplate, with white letters spelling out, "Jason Jenks, Esq." The man himself was seated in the barrelback leather chair, shuffling through a stack of official-looking papers . At the sound of the door clicking shut behind Jasper, Jenks glanced up with a frown—only to sputter and jerk back.
"Y-You look w-w-well, Mr. J-Jasper. How nice to see you. Didn't expect you—today."
"I decided to drop by."
Jenks bobbed his head like a rag doll, smiling too wide. Dots of perspiration started forming on his temples and his human pulse went from calm to racing. But more than anything, there was the heady aroma of his blood. The scent slithered through Jasper's nostrils and raked down his throat, and yet… his nostrils flared again—but this time with distaste—Jenks's blood smelled polluted. Jasper idly wondered if he was on some sort of medication. Probably anti-anxiety pills.
Jasper forced himself to keep a straight face. This was business.
"Please. Take a seat. I insist." Mr. Jenks gestured at the chair before his desk. He did this every time they met, even though he knew Jasper would not take the seat.
In ten years, he never had.
Jasper gave a curt wave of dismissal before asking, "Did you get the papers ready? I'll be adding the pictures myself."
"I have them prepared." Jenks stood, jerking as he pushed out of his seat. When he turned, his posture was slanted, and Jasper could feel both the tingle of relief and the clench of apprehension as Jenks found his back to Jasper.
Jenks reached for the print of Van Gogh's Sunflowers that hung crooked on the wall, fingering the frame before pushing the print to the side to reveal a vault. With practiced fingers, Jenks spun the dial. He managed to fuck the code up the first time and had to redo it, but he got it on the second. Then he reached into the black cube and pulled out a thick envelope.
"This is it." Jenks's hand shook as he held out the envelope for Jasper to take.
Jasper took it, slit it with his nail, and began flipping through the pages thick with gold seals and notary stamps. Forged birth certificates, a marriage license, school records, and a medical license— he stopped when he read through that document. He looked down on the anxious lawyer. "Carlisle's medical license—you put down Yale. We used Yale the last time."
Mr. Jenks paled to an impossible shade of white.
"I don't think I need to repeat to you how dangerous these errors could be—for my family—and... for you," Jasper added with a glare.
"I had been meaning to give the documents an additional review before Monday. They will be fixed," Mr. Jenks's insisted.
Jasper made no response, but glanced over the final documents, drivers' licenses and passports, before stuffing them back in the envelope. "You will have the error remedied by Monday."
"Certainly. My deepest apologies for your inconvenience—for my error. I'll have it fixed by tomorrow, should you wish to stop by. I'm so very, very—"
"Monday," Jasper finished, and with that final pronouncement, Jasper tossed a fat envelope onto the table and felt Jenks's fear replaced by the filter of greed. "The rest will be yours on Monday." Then Jasper swept out of the room.
As he pushed out of the office doors and made his way into the parking lot, Jasper considered that he probably needed an outlet for his aggressions.
He hadn't killed anyone in ages.
When he wasn't angry back then, he was numb.
No other sentiment stuck.
He remembered one evening when he was with Maria. She had followed him out there and now was throwing rocks while he sat, hands on his knees and doing nothing.
She asked him, "What is it?"
Jasper didn't answer. He kept on doing what he was doing—nothing.
She hit his arm.
He turned toward her. He shook his head.
"What is it?" she demanded again.
He mustered a wave of calm, sending the numbing cool over both of them, but his lips did not move.
He felt her anger brewing then, smacking against the stretch of calm. Maria had apparently reached her limit. She stood. She shoved at his shoulder and screeched, "It's not nothing. You don't do anything anymore. You don't help plan any missions. You don't even fucking care if the newborns rip each other's heads off—so tell me. What is it? Ask me for more! I will give it to you—you know I'd give you anything. Tell me what you need."
Jasper watched her, surprised by her sincerity, so he replied, "Sorry... I'm not trying to be a problem—I don't need anything..." He paused when her expression remained furious, before adding, "It's not like that."
"Well, explain 'what is it like' to me then," she growled in derision.
Jasper was quiet for some length.
He and Maria sat on a desert plain. Canyons started in the west—but otherwise, dried brush and cold, red earth surrounded them. The wind brushed through at odd intervals, and at the midnight hour, the waning moon frowned down on them.
"I don't know," he finally whispered.
In the next moment, a forceful wind swept up, causing bits of loose sand and dead plant matter to smack at their faces. One second she was there, and in the next, Maria raced away with the punch of wind, her back straight as an arrow and fury pacing her steps. She blurred into the west, heading toward their coven.
The next week, Jasper let the winds take him north.
It came as a shock to him, some three odd decades later, that his own form of peace appeared as a small woman who stood at the mighty height of his nipples. Her hair was boy-short which only made her big eyes seem all the more huge, and most mysterious of all was their strange golden color.
The only word that Jasper could draw up to fit her was... kinetic.
When Jasper had first begun to understand his power—his ability to read the emotions of others—he'd had a hard time describing it, even when they'd prodded him to explain.
"Joy feels like rose petals stretched across the face and tickling rain drops and being suffocated by a woman's breasts? Surprise is a door just flung open?"
Sometimes those descriptions fit. Sometimes they didn't. He'd skipped around at the time, trying to find different ways of categorizing and explaining his world to others. He'd been all about color when they'd conquered Monterrey. When he almost died at the hands of two newborns, he'd taken to describing emotions as the weather, seasons, and climates as if lightning bolts could match the new mess of crackled scars down his neck. At some point, some friend had slid Mendeleev into his hands, and then Jasper had taken to describing emotions in terms of the Periodic Table. Rage, he thought, was the alkalis, dropped in water and crackling and spitting off pieces until nothing else remained. Gold was confidence, heavy, unwavering, and luminescent. Calm was like noble gases—helium or neon—ready to be interrupted or absorbed by anything.
He'd dropped that analogy a decade later. Too many variables.
But eventually he'd dropped everything in that life.
He wanted to make it all stop. Or so he thought.
Kinetic Alice. The term fit her.
Alice had shown him that you didn't need to make it stop. You didn't even have to "accept" it or "let it in." At first, he'd told her she was like a pretzel. Then, a silver serpent in a sieve.
She didn't like that.
"We define our world," she said. "We define each other."
He tried to argue with her, but she didn't let him. She threw him down onto the bed with a splintering of oak rails.
Though Jasper didn't realize it at the time, the day that Bella Swan graced Edward's Biology class was the day that Jasper and Emmett's five decades long bet came to an end.
Edward, as fate would have it, was not gay.
Jasper and Emmett had maintained a rather contentious debate on the topic since Jasper had first moved in.
"Gay, dude. So, gay."
"I'm not so sure, Em..." Decades had gone by, and Jasper was still mostly convinced that Edward was as repressed as a boulder.
"I mean, come on, he could have gone for Rose when she was first changed—and he didn't," Emmett argued.
While Jasper tended to side with Edward on this, Jasper wasn't about to argue with a man about the merits of his wife. Points like, "Then again, she murdered her ex-fiancée in a wedding dress—and she's spent the next twenty weddings with you trying to wash off the grime," or, "She feels the happiest and the angriest when she looks in a mirror," were not the bits you said to Emmett if you wanted to keep your under-gears. Moreover, if Jasper were honest with himself, he would have to admit that part of his reticence with Rosalie came from the ways in which she reminded him of Maria. Rosalie was strong and forthright—which Jasper could admire—but Jasper was tired of strength.
"It's just tough to tell with Edward," Jasper explained. "He wrestles a woody when he plays the piano on occasion—but I was never sure if he was getting off on Bach, God, or Audrey Hepburn."
Emmett's eyes brightened. "Audrey Hepburn is way boyish! Like nothing in the boob department."
"Audrey Hepburn looks like Alice," Jasper muttered with a scowl.
"Duh—man—but Alice is a girl."
Jasper chose not to continue the conversation.
The first time he and Alice had started their "game" was the day she picked up a hat.
They were walking through the flea market in Philadelphia when some sundry object among the laden booths caught Alice's attention. Jasper followed her mindlessly as she had skipped over, because this was typical Alice behavior. He grinned though when he saw her prey: a crisp, white Red Cross nurse cap. She snatched it off the table and slipped it on, tucking loose strands beneath the white lining, before turning about to model for Jasper.
He'd expected cute or adorable—for such words practically defined Alice—but what he got was sassy and... sexy. The crisp white looked so official next to her angelic pallor.
Watching him, Alice gasped, her eyes clouding over with some future vision, and he felt desire trickle down her sides.
Her face had twisted into a wicked grin, and then she had turned back to the booth.
"I'll take this one, please." She took off the cap and held it up.
Alice had insisted that they make use of a downtown doctor's office. Jasper was to change into a patient's hospital frock before finding a room. She gave it to him in a box.
"Just pick one. I'll know."
Jasper shook his head at that, even as he agreed.
Naturally, no one was there at nine o'clock, and evading security was smooth sailing.
He went in first. The smells of isopropyl alcohol, ether, and gauze hit him first—and too, the lingering scent of dried up, disinfected blood. Otherwise, everything was insistently dark wood or beige plastic.
He chose the room second to last from the end of the hall. He chose it first because it had no windows and second because it had the longest distance from the doorway to the patient's table. He stripped out of his clothes and pulled on the patient's gown. It was a bit tight across the shoulders as he pulled it on, and he had to be careful not to tear the fabric.
He heard it ten minutes later when the front door of the building opened, and then there was the rush of fleet footfalls up the stairwell and down the hall. Closer and closer.
Alice appeared in the doorway in a conservative nurse's uniform. White buttons all the way to the neck. He could see the pins that held her cap firmly in place and then the tiny red cross, a scarlet target.
"What seems to be your ailment, Sir?" Alice walked up to him.
"My heart. It's broken." Jasper fake-coughed as he patted his chest.
Alice almost failed to restrain a smirk before she took on a severe expression. "Do be professional, Sir. I am a professional, and I expect to be treated with every respect." She glared until Jasper acquiesced with a nod. "Well, I'll need to check your vitals," she informed him in a soft voice of authority.
"Vital areas," Jasper leered.
Alice smacked him in the chest so that he fell back on to the desk. "My apologies if I spoke with any lack of clarity, Sir, but I do believe I said that I needed to check your vitals, as in I'm going to shove this thermometer either down your throat or up your ass, and your good behavior will undoubtedly influence my decision."
"Be my guest," Jasper grinned through his words.
Alice kept her face straight and disapproving, even as he felt...
"Open your mouth," she commanded.
Jasper feigned meekness as he parted his lips.
"Tongue out," Alice tutted.
He curled out his tongue.
She slid the thermometer onto it.
They both watched the red line sink lower instead of rise higher.
"Oh, that is not good," Alice murmured.
"I'm cold," Jasper concluded helpfully. "Maybe I need to be warmed up?"
"No, blockhead. The thermometer is broken."
"And the doctor is out. I'll have to check for hypertension. Arm," she commanded.
He extended his arm.
She let her eyes sweep down it, before taking the cuff of the sphygmomanometer and wrapping it around his upper arm. She pumped it up hard, almost to the point that he thought the small bag might pop, but then she relinquished her efforts, picking up the stethoscope and holding it at the crease in the skin as she tried to find his vein.
"Oh my," Alice murmured.
"These instruments are broken."
"Are you sure they're broken?" Jasper asked.
Alice rolled her eyes. "Raise your chin."
He did. He heard the counter creak as she pressed down with her palm press against it to steady herself as she stretched to touch his skin. He felt her breath ghost along his neck. Her index and middle fingers started at the nape of his neck and moved upward, finger by finger, as if crawling. They stopped at the pulse point. Both he and Alice waited. Jasper felt his prick hardening under the gown.
"Nothing," she whispered.
"It can't be nothing," Jasper replied. He sent a prickle of desire at her.
He noticed the uptake in her breath when she announced, "You don't have a pulse."
"You said your instruments are broken." He sent another wave of desire up her spine.
"But my fingers can't be broken," she countered, her breathing elevated.
He grabbed her hand, before she could pull it back. "Let me see," he insisted.
She frowned at him, chin drawing up.
He smiled back, and then he grabbed her hand and sucked her fingers into his mouth.
Alice squealed and tried to get away, but Jasper caught her waist and pulled her back towards him. "What are you doing?" she demanded. A curl came loose from under her cap.
"Hrmyrmingers," Jasper garbled around her fingers.
She tried to jerk her hand back again, but Jasper used the opportunity to lift her completely on top of him.
"This, Sir, is a violation of every hospital procedure in the b—"
But then her lecture cut off with a gasp.
Because Jasper's finger were under the white hem of her uniform, guided by the curve of her thigh and up and into the crease between her legs. His nails were catching on embroidered lace as his hand pressed. His fingers searched the curls beneath. The moist, sweet tang of venom caught the air when the fabric lifted.
"Sir..." she whined with a weak protest.
"I think I'll die without you," Jasper answered with a grin, his fingers never stopping.
"I think you're already dead," she growled back—but the threat held no weight with her eyes unable to focus.
"As long as I make you feel alive first." And then he rolled her underneath him.
"What are you...?"
"I have another problem, my adorable nurse."
"What's that?" she gave a wry reply.
"You'll have to examine it." He took her hand and guided it beneath his gown, until her fingers were sliding down his prick, and the sensation of it made him shiver and clench.
"Oh." Alice's eyes were wide.
"It's a problem, isn't it?"
"A hard problem," she replied.
Jasper snorted, but then gasped as Alice gripped him firmly. "I'm supposed to be a good nurse," Alice whispered, lifting up so that she could spread her legs on either side of him.
Jasper leaned back to gape at the view. Her legs were just so wide open. There was only creamy white skin and lace beneath the starched cotton of the dress. Therefore, he didn't hesitate. He grabbed the lace material and ripped, sending the tatters over his shoulder, and then Alice's hands were lifting up the material of his gown, and there was nothing in the way.
He aligned them. He pushed in.
Alice gasped. Her head fell back, and her ass clenched against his palm.
"I'll be sure to fill out the patient satisfaction survey," Jasper informed her, and then he started thrusting.
Normally, Jasper was the weak one. He was the one interested in all of the various ways to guzzle cheerleaders and exsanguinate chess club boys. He was the one with Edward meddling the most in his mind and with Alice most watching his future. He was the one whose hunting Esme kept calendar charts of.
That was until Edward up and fled off to Alaska—because he wanted to drink the new girl.
Jasper had a good laugh over that one.
Until Alice hit him.
"I see things. She is."
Alice grabbed both sides of his face and looked into his eyes. He felt the dual strings of doubt and hope emanating from her. She spoke in a soft tone, "I'm not ready to say why yet—it's not clear yet—and I don't want to—just in case—I don't want to say it—because it might—"
"Jinx?" Jasper teased.
Alice squinted her eyebrows. "Perhaps. We'll see."
"You mean, you will see."
"Yes." She smiled back.
The first time that Jasper fought a newborn, he was one himself.
Maria whispered in his hear beforehand, "Use those pretty little tricks of yours. You're so good with them."
Jasper leaned back into her as she spoke. Her body felt curved and soft against his spine. The way her breath tickled his ear made him forget about the forthcoming fight and focus on the multitude of magical ways in which she could move her hips.
"Focus, Jasper. You want your reward." She breathed against his ear again. Jasper's own lust mixed with hers, even as he felt Maria's focus and anticipation. She wanted him to fight, and she also wanted him to win.
Jasper's eyes seized on his opponent. She was three inches shorter than he was. She had long hair that was knotted and powdered gray with dirt from her confinement in the cavern cellar. When her eyes caught Jasper's, she hissed.
"Nettie thought she might possess a talent—but she didn't. I think Nettie was jealous that I had found you, but there's nothing special about this one. She's not special. Not like you."
This time Jasper felt the spike of anger from the newborn at Maria's words. The newborn's snarl seemed to shoot across the room like an arrow—straight at Maria. Jasper, hackles raised, felt the fury pound across his chest. He took a defensive position in front of Maria, half-crouched with eyes focused on the bloody irises on the other opposite side of the room.
"Time to toss the dice," Maria declared in a low tone, and then Jasper heard her steps as both she and Nettie backed away in unison, leaving Jasper and his opponent in taut stances in the center.
Jasper took a long breath—not because he needed the oxygen, but because he needed to steady himself. He needed the control. Across from him, the newborn's chest moved up and down as she panted and paced in front of Jasper. She was edging right, left. Left then right. Her movements were quick but defensive. As much as she wanted to attack first, she was trying to restrain herself. She knew Jasper had the advantage.
Jasper took the anger that he'd been holding in the barrel of his chest, and he unleashed it. He aimed it like a whip and snapped the string of it at her.
She acted as he'd expected.
There was a screeching snarl, and she lunged.
He saw her mouth open: her teeth, white and glistening and at an angle that aimed for his neck. Her hair jetted back behind her and her fingers spread wide to catch like claws, but he dropped to his knees and rolled forward across the rock floor. By the time she hit the opposite wall—Jasper had already pivoted and stood.
She jumped at the same time that he twisted away, and as her hair snapped around, he caught it in his fist, yanking her back toward him, caging her between his arms and holding her there.
Like a serpent, he began to squeeze. She struggled, and she was strong, almost jarring Jasper's arms away, but he was just as strong—and talented. Even as he crushed the structure of her arms and chest, causing gruff, metallic snaps to jar the room, he sent wave after wave of defeat through her, repeating in his head: You will lose. You lose. You've lost. The reward is mine. He focused on her defeat even as he felt her terror begin to affect him, too—even as he began to shake from the force of it.
When a final snap screeched through the room, her head—which had been bent away from him—rolled back, and he caught it with his teeth, ripping it off with a final spray of stinking venom.
He chucked the body on the floor. He backed away.
Maria and Nettie stood in the far corner of the room. Nettie's jaw was set, but Maria—Maria's face was spread in a full grin.
Wiping the excess venom onto his pants pockets, he walked towards them.
"Very well, then," Nettie said, and then she spun on her heel and left.
Jasper bristled at her dismissal, but Maria's hand quickly began rubbing his shoulder. "Don't mind her, mi amor. You did perfectly. She's just disappointed. Also, the loser has to clean up the mess." Maria swung a haughty gesture toward the remains of the newborn. "She hates that."
Jasper leaned into her once again, attempting to find solace in her arms.
But Maria pushed him away. "Not that yet," she snapped. "First, your reward." She grabbed his hand then and pulled him, leading him upwards through the caverns and closer to the surface. He could feel the air and pressure changing as they moved. Maria stopped before a familiar antechamber, but Jasper pushed passed her, and she let him go.
He pushed past her, because he could hear it whimpering. He could smell the sweet liquid leaking out. The want of it sent spasms down his throat. Through the dark, he saw it, arms wrapped around knees and handkerchief draped over the brow, covering the eyes.
He couldn't have stopped himself if he wanted to. He threw himself at it.
There was the scream. The terror. The warm, soft, breakable body thrashing against his own as his teeth sliced into the throat.
But mostly, there was the mind-numbing sweetness of blood coating his throat.
"Your reward," he heard Maria whisper.
After Edward returned from Alaska, the family was wary, but as irony would have it—they were wary for the wrong reason.
When Alice told him that Edward was going to make it through Biology on that first day back, Jasper was an inch or three disappointed. In fact, he was so disappointed, he didn't pay all that much attention to Alice. He felt her curiosity, her wonder, even her mind entering its analytical state—but he didn't pay her much heed. Instead, he spent the greater part of the evening with Emmett as they negotiated and altered the odds on Edward eating the new girl.
Which was stupid. Because the next morning, Edward had to go play the hero and save her, exposing them all.
Cullen family dinnertime was never a blessed event—mostly because they never ate dinner there (though Jasper had suggested more than once that they give it a whirl). The family used the table for "meetings"—meetings so lacking in any form of organization or strategy that they were mostly reminiscent of a ragtag guerrilla war council.
Jasper had spent the greater part of the school day working on his end of the strategy. He had his mission: protect Alice and his family. Since Edward was clearly hung up on this, Jasper would have to slice through the bullshit and handle it. He'd wait for tomorrow. The girl would come home while her father was still at work. She'd be alone. He'd make it quick. He could stage it according to police procedure. No fingerprints. He'd have to make it look brutal, regardless of how fast he drained her. The body would give no signs as to the nature of its demise.
When he entered the dining room, Rosalie was there first. She was fuming, her anger burning like a flame in the corner of the room. It wasn't all that impressive, Jasper considered. If Carlisle said "no," then the flame would go out. "Poof" with a sizzling end. Rosalie saw Carlisle as the leader, but Jasper did not—especially if it compromised the safety of Alice.
Nevertheless, Rosalie was the only one in the room with any particular commitment to his cause, so Jasper went and stood at her side, ignoring Edward's irritation at his choice.
When Alice came in, Jasper expected her to come to his side, but instead her emotions were a blur, lost to some distant focus, and she slid into the seat next to Esme.
The proceedings began with Edward pulling his usual it's-all-my-fault, which was especially annoying to Jasper, considering he could feel that Edward meant every grain of his apology. Then Rosalie finally asked the real question. "Are you going to fix it?"
Edward shook his head. "Not the way you mean. I'm willing to leave now, if that makes things better."
Jasper felt the collective swell of frustration at Edward's words, mostly because no one—not even Emmett—would have bet that Edward would have reacted any other way, and yet...
Esme freaked out. Carlisle freaked out.
Rosalie, per usual, resorted to violence again. She smacked her palm down upon the table with a loud bang. "We can't allow a human a chance to say anything. Carlisle, you must see that. Even if we decided to all disappear, it's not safe to leave stories behind us. We live so differently from the rest of our kind—you know there are those who would love an excuse to point fingers. We have to be more careful than anyone else!"
Edward argued back, but Jasper had heard enough. Edward would not see reason, and Rosalie was more right than even she knew. They needed to be more careful. They were too talented. They were too large. They were too powerful—even as vegetarian, do-gooder pacifists.
If there had ever been two rainbow-peace sign-waving Pollyanna-ish vampires, their names were Carlisle and Edward, as far as Jasper was concerned. Their monkish view of the world was fine. It was clean and neat—but it only worked if someone stood up and defended it. Having a family instead of a coven was a privilege to Jasper—something to be earned—but he wasn't going to be a fool about it.
The modern idea that "violence solves nothing" was a farce. Every serious study of history showed that while might did not equal moral rightness, it certainly equaled the right to tell people what the fuck to do. It worked. Roman armies had rough-hewn the face of Europe, giving way to the philosophical glory of Pax Romana—before the Empire's excess cracked her knees with her own weight. Hirohito only surrendered when the second atom bomb blasted away Japan's doorstep. As, far as Jasper was concerned, a big stick should be the cornerstone of the national business plan. For his bit, he would never let fear of violence stop him from protecting his own. He wouldn't let weakness ruin the family. Alice wanted this family, and if Jasper were honest with himself, it was what he wanted, too. Therefore, he would defend it.
It was unfortunate, but the girl would have to die.
Jasper was lost to his thoughts when Edward's voice called him back to the room. "Jasper," Edward called.
Jasper looked up, gazed at Edward and felt his reproach.
"She won't pay for my mistake. I won't allow that," Edward insisted.
Jasper sent circling flows of calm at him. Edward was being emotional when he should be logical, smart. Jasper countered, "She benefits from it, then? She should have died today, Edward. I would only set that right."
"I will not allow it."
Jasper paused. He'd expected more whining, more self-loathing and woe-is-me from Edward, but what he hadn't expected was Edward's determination. Regardless, Jasper wouldn't stand for it. "I won't let Alice live in danger, even a slight danger. You don't feel about anyone the way I feel about her, Edward, and you haven't lived through what I've lived through, whether you've seen my memories or not. You don't understand."
But Edward didn't listen. Jasper could feel him tossing aside Jasper's arguments without a second thought.
Edward just repeated himself, and then they were standing there, staring at each other.
The stalemate was broken by Alice.
It wasn't just her words, though his jaw dropped when she told him, "I'm going to love her someday, Jazz. I'll be very put out with you if you don't let her be." What it really was, was Edward's reaction.
Jasper expected him to calm down at Alice's intervention, but quite the opposite occurred. Edward was shaking his head, trembling with eyes squeezed shut, disbelief and anxiety seizing hold of him, while Alice's eyes were distant but tranquil. She was... hopeful. Happy.
The next minute happened in an emotional blur for Jasper. Alice insisting. Edward denying. Esme happy as a clam. Rosalie pissed. Emmett confused.
As it always did, though, it ended with Edward storming out of the room.
"Is he really going to fall in love with her?" Jasper asked. He needed to be sure.
"More inevitable than the sun rising in the east," Alice replied through a wry smile.
"Well," Jasper nodded to himself, "I'll be..."
The room went silent again.
Until Jasper's eyes caught Emmett's. They both grinned.
Jasper narrowed his eyes at his brother. "You owe me at least a grand on that bet."
Shaking his head, Emmett laughed.
Alice, Jasper, Emmett, and Rosalie, despite their we-must-tolerate-the-high-school-children attitude, had never been more scintillated by the happenings in the cafeteria than they were on the day when Edward decided to publicly converse with Bella Swan. Though their lunch trays sat in front of them as props and the grating screech of Lauren Mallory's laugh gave weight to Jasper's contention that certain members of humanity had not earned their right to breathe, the crew of siblings found themselves lost to the scene playing out before their eyes.
Edward was flirting.
With the girl he'd wanted to drain dry no less than two months before.
The Cullens were struck dumb by it—and they were not the only ones. Despite the roar of laughter and gossip and clatter, students kept casting furtive looks at the pair seated at the back table. Jasper could feel curiosity, jealousy, and confusion snapping like corn in the popper.
Yet Edward and Bella did not seem to notice—or rather—Edward noticed, but for once in his life, it appeared that Edward had forsaken the role of telepathic curmudgeon for that of the blithe Romeo. Jasper felt him as a bright spot in the room: happy. The thoughts of the room hit him and bounced right off, almost as if he was behind a shield.
It gave Jasper pause. He even smiled. Then, his eyes slid to Alice.
She was looking as smug as she felt.
*There are four parts to this. I'll be adding the next bit on Tuesday. :-)