Author's Note: This is the much anticipated sequel to the story "Do No Harm" a fanfiction that I co-wrote with Ambivalentanarchist (Biv). If you have not read that story, please do so now before starting this one since it will make more sense if you do. A few reminders before we begin. Chapters will alternate between Jasper's POV and Robyn's POV. Those told from JPOV are written primarily by me and those written from RPOV are written primarily by Biv. Robyn is an original character belonging to Biv, please do not use her without Biv's permission. We always welcome comments and reviews, but please be constructive in the messages that you leave. Let us know if you like the story, or if you don't like it, what we can do better to improve it. All other normal disclaimers apply. Enjoy!
"Welcome to Nowhere"
Just north of Mohall, a little southeast of Sherwood, and southwest of Antler, North Dakota, there's a dirt road that leads out to a farmhouse. You wouldn't even know that it's there if you weren't intentionally looking for it. No one knows for sure who lives in the house. There's speculation about it of course, but in a county with a population of just under 6,700, no one really has the time to worry much about making friends with an outsider. As long as you don't make trouble for the town, the town won't make trouble for you. It really was the middle of nowhere, and the perfect place for a vampire and his newborn mate to lay low.
We'd only been here a couple years, but it already felt like home. Our home. My home would forever be in Texas, and even though she still didn't remember much about it, her home would always be San Diego. Things were difficult at first. I wanted to treat Robyn as my girlfriend, but she clearly wasn't ready for that yet, so I started treating her like a patient. It was a relationship that was familiar to me. I knew how to treat a patient. I didn't know how to treat a mate who could barely remember me. Familiarity was a comfort to me, but to Robyn, it was the opposite.
I desperately wanted her to regain her old memories. The memories of how we met, of her human family. But, I knew the chances of that happening were slim. It is nearly impossible to break through the fog that shrouds human memories after becoming a vampire, and in her case, it was beyond impossible. Eventually, we decided to focus our efforts on creating new memories, together. Again, this prompted an instinct in me to treat her like a patient. And again, that only created mounting tension between us.
I would have worried about the amount of fighting we'd done if I hadn't been a trained psychologist. I knew how difficult any meaningful relationship was, especially in the face of big changes. Robyn had no shortage of those lately, it was no wonder that she was pushing back, but it was hard for me to watch her struggle, knowing that I had to let her.
In addition to all the other problems she faced, our routine was a difficult one to establish, and it wasn't just because we were having such a trying time defining our relationship. Robyn was finding the transition to animal blood to be exceedingly frustrating, much as I had in the first years after meeting the Cullens. She tried the deer, antelope, elk, moose, and buffalo that were native to the area, but they were too bitter to give the chase much satisfaction. There were far too few humans in the area to hunt without drawing unwanted attention, and while Winnipeg, Canada wasn't too far away, it meant an overnight trip away from home for her. Travelers along Interstate 94 and Instate 29 would do in a pinch, but she had to be careful not to leave any evidence since they would be missed eventually. Bagged blood was difficult to come by unnoticed in such a small town, and what little we got away with didn't seem to keep her thirst at bay for long.
As Robyn's newborn year drew to a close, and she was able to focus on specific tasks for a longer period of time, I suggested that she start drawing again. Unlike many of my other suggestions that she discarded, this one she took to like a horse to water. Her artwork was remarkable—even more refined and precise and beautiful than it was when she was human. I seem to remember a passage from a book that describes my feelings on her work perfectly:
"Why should you think that beauty, which is the most precious thing in the world, lies like a stone on the beach for the careless passer-by to pick up idly? Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination," writes W. Somerset Maugham in The Moon and Sixpence.
The book was part of Carlisle's collection that he allowed me to read during one of my brief visits to the Cullens some time ago. It was published by an English author in the early 1900s. The timing of it leads me to believe that it was one of the last items he purchased before leaving England to come to the United States and aid in the war against the Spanish Influenza virus that was plaguing Chicago at the time. It was while fighting this illness, he met Edward and had the idea to start forming his own family.
The passage was underlined in the book and once upon a time I believe I overheard Carlisle quoting it when he was telling the story of his life to Bella. He told her that it was the passage he quoted to Esme the day he changed her and brought her into this life as his mate. She obviously didn't remember it since she was so close to death at the time, but she told him that she had known he had said something profoundly lovely.
Just as Carlisle had treasured those words when he met Esme, I treasure them now when I think about my Robyn. My Robyn is the most beautiful creature on the planet. She is in no way a stone on the beach, nor is her art, nor is the love I feel for her. And only she can understand the place from which her art comes. I still hold on to the hope that if she can retrace her journey through her art, then maybe her human memories will slowly return to her. But, that is a hope that is best left unspoken. I know some of her journey. I lived it myself. I know what it is to serve in Maria's army. I know what it is to be loyal to her despite the torture she inflicts upon her servants and soldiers. I know that, yet, I don't know the precise details of how it was for Robyn. I want to understand her, to understand her art, but I feel that her journey is hers alone. I feel that her art, like her soul, while not a stone on the beach, is something that I should treasure and respect, but admit that I will never fully understand.
I heard the screen door open on the back porch and smelled my Robyn's amazing flowery scent, and realized that my mind had drifted as I practiced a simple sparing pattern.
"I know those moves," her melodic tone reached my ears as she came down the steps into the backyard, stopping a single step away from me.
"Yes." I told her quietly and simply. "As well you should. It's a basic sequence that is taught to everyone in the army. Maria developed it first, but I added the flare at the end. It needed one last step to complete the move and ensure your opponent doesn't recover quickly." I explained factually.
I guess one could say that fighting is my art. It's my version of not a stone on the beach. It's the story of my journey in this life. And like Robyn's art, my art can never be understood by one who hasn't lived through it. Peter comes the closest to understanding it, but even he misses the nuances of it that leave me the victor every time we spar together.
"Alice called. She said I didn't have to disturb you, she just wanted to pass along a message from Gabriel. He's doing really well in Portland, still seeing the doctor you sent him to there, and he's found a more a permanent job in construction. Alice is thinking about going down to see him. Also, she said to expect a call from Renesmee sometime tomorrow. She didn't say what it was going to be about, just that you didn't want to miss it."
"Nessie? I haven't talked to her months." Not since she called to tell me that she had completed all the required courses to receive her online diploma. "I hope it's good news whatever it is." I puzzled over possible reasons for her call as I spun on my heel and launched into another battle sequence I had designed while in the army.
"Jasper, can I ask you a question?" Robyn asked after watching me silently for several minutes.
"Sure. What is it?" I immediately stopped what I was doing, taking her hand in mine and pulling her toward me so we could sit together on a rock near the tree line at the back of the property.
"Do you ever worry that she'll come after us?"
I took a deep breath before answering. We had talked about the possibility of her returning before, but I had discounted the possibility every time she brought it up. Of course I knew that she would want revenge against me for destroying her army, for once more escaping her clutches. Maria was never the kind to forgive or forget, but I had always told Robyn that it was still too soon, she wouldn't risk it. After all, she had left me alone for decades. She probably would have continued to ignore me for just as long if I hadn't willingly walked into her territory.
"No, I don't worry about it." I lied to her with practiced ease, and intentionally forced myself to feel confident of my answer so she wouldn't catch the indiscretion. This was the one thing I would ever be untruthful with her about. Of course, I was worried about it. I'd have to be crazy not to be concerned. But I couldn't let Robyn know that. If she knew I was worried, she would be worried too. She didn't need to be worried about something like that—especially now. I could shoulder the burden for her. I was used to thinking about things like this, she wasn't. I spent my life preparing for every possibility, strategizing ways to escape conflict or defend myself and those I care about against it. "I don't have time to worry about things like that. Besides, she'd be crazy to come after us here. With all this open land, we'd see her coming a mile away. She's a lot of things, but she's not foolish."
Robyn narrowed her eyes slightly as if she was trying to discern if I was being honest or not. She must have decided that I was because she just nodded her head in acceptance and stood up again.
"I'm going for a hunt. Animals. I don't want to go far. Will you come with me?"
I smiled warmly and sent her a wave of my love. "You know I will."
She grinned in turn, but her smile was lined with mischief as she slipped her hand from mine, taking off like a rocket towards the tree line. She was a thing of beauty, effortlessly kicking off her shoes mid-stride, her feet almost hovering over the ground as she launched herself into the thick of the forest. The way she ran now showed just how much she had grown into her new abilities. When we first arrived, clumsy, fledgling strides tore up dirt with every step. The stretch of grass in the front yard could attest to it, with patches where the grass grew back in spottily from the many disturbances she had made to the soil.
It was bittersweet, watching her grow into herself when she couldn't even remember properly who that was. It was part of the reason I had been holding back, keeping our relationship from crossing the final threshold. It was especially difficult to resist her like this, in the hunt, beautiful, quick, agile, moments from having her dark lips covered in blood. I was in awe of how much she seemed born to be a vampire in moments like these, until I remembered that she wasn't.
It wouldn't have been such a painful thought if I hadn't known her as a human. If I hadn't seen the love, the pain, the compassion all just under the surface, the complicated stew that made Robyn who she was. And she was simply different like this.
She still hunted humans, still killed for pleasure. It wasn't that I couldn't live with that choice, but I knew it was a choice that my Robyn would never be able to make without at least some measure of guilt, regret, or shame.
But, this Robyn didn't feel those things. Not yet.
So, when she pressed me against a tree and kissed me, when she whispered against my neck that she wanted me, I couldn't help but think: not yet. Not like this.
"Robyn, come on, we should get back to the house." I pushed her away gently, sending her waves of calm to try to cool her lust and soothe the anger I knew was bound to follow the rejection.
But, she didn't get angry at all. Instead, she got very quiet, and I winced as I felt her sorrow.
"It's been three years." She whispered. "Are you ever going to want me that way again, the way you wanted me when I was human?"
I reached for her hand, but now she was the one pushing me away.
"No, I want a real answer!" She snapped, giving me the anger I had been expecting. "What's the point of all this if you're never going to want me again?"
"I'll always want you, but I don't think either of us are ready to take that step yet." I said carefully, but as always, shrink talk didn't seem to get me anywhere with Robyn.
At least some things would never change.
"Don't tell me what I'm ready for!" She hissed, unshed tears shining in those blood orange eyes. "Ugh!"
She lashed out in my direction, but at the last minute directed the blow at the tree behind me, effectively shattering the trunk before storming off. She wasn't headed back towards the farmhouse, instead, her steps were leading north. She was headed to Winnipeg.
I sighed, but said nothing, turning in the opposite direction. I couldn't miss Nessie's call after all, not if Alice thought it was important.
For a brief instant, I wondered if I was wrong. Perhaps I shouldn't have pushed her away this time. Perhaps I should have given in to my instincts. It's what we both wanted. To be together. If only I could be certain that it wouldn't cause her more harm than good. I know that it will be impractical to resist our urges forever; we are mates after all. I think we both know that on some level. I just want to make sure that when it happens, when we're finally together in that way, it's because we both know ourselves first. I feel like until she knows herself, I'm just taking advantage of her. But what if this is all I get? What if this is as much as she'll ever know? What if she never remembers? What if this is the only Robyn, the only version of my Robyn, that I'll ever be able to speak to, to love, to touch, again?
I try to shake off the morose thoughts as I finally return to the house and make my way to the room I designated as my private office. It's here that I spend the rest of the night, alone with my thoughts and my journal.
Just as Alice had seen, Nessie called bright and early the next morning before Robyn returned from her hunt.
"Hello, Nessie." I greet her happily, wishing that I could send her my joy through the phone line.
"Hey, Uncle Jasper! How's Aunt Robyn?" The young lady she had grown into was always concerned with everyone's well-being above her own. It screamed volumes about the kind and gentle heart that she had. She was very much like her mother in that way.
"She's . . .getting along. She still hasn't made a lot of progress, but I'm optimistic. She's slowly starting to seem more and more like her old self every day. There's just a . . . a glow about her that seems to have shifted during her change and it hasn't shifted back yet. But enough about us. How are you? To what pleasure do I owe your call?" I was as truthful with her as I dared to be. Out of all the Cullens, she was the most insightful without having foresight, and I respected her for that. But I also quickly changed the subject whenever she brought up Robyn before I found myself saying too much.
"Well, it is good news actually." I could just picture a mischievous look on her face, accompanied by a coy smile and her teeth biting down gently on her lower lip like her mother used to do when she was human. "Jacob asked me to marry him!" She practically screamed the words.
"That's fantastic! Congratulations!" I was genuinely excited to hear the news. Jacob might smell awful, but once you got to know the kid, you found out that he wasn't too terrible of a person. And he did love Renesme. He would die for her. I couldn't ask anything else of a man.
"Thanks, Uncle Jasper! Dad gave him his blessing and everything. We're probably going to have a short engagement, only as long as it takes Aunt Alice and Aunt Rosalie to plan everything. I wanted to ask if you would come for the ceremony? You and Aunt Robyn. Please, it would mean so much to me to have you there. You're a big part of the reason I'm even alive. Please be there."
"Of course I'll come, Nessie. You only had to ask. Nothing will be able to keep me away. And I'm sure that Robyn would love to be there as well. She's out hunting now, but I'll tell her all about it when she gets home."
"You're the best, Uncle Jasper! I can't wait to see you!"
We talked for a few more minutes about a book that she was reading and a few passages from it she wanted to have read at her wedding. Then she surprised me by asking if I would mind being the one to read them during the ceremony.
I couldn't keep the grin off my face.
"I would be honored. Thank you for asking me, Nessie. I think I hear Robyn coming in the door, but I'll talk to you soon. I love you."
"I love you, too! Bye!" Nessie hurried to throw in the words before hanging up.
I got up from behind my desk and walked out to meet Robyn as she came in the door.
"Hi. Did ya have a nice hunt?" I met her now fully crimson eyes, finding my answer in them before she could speak a word. I let her feel my understanding and deep care for her even as I closed my own eyes against the truth. Not a stone on the beach, but not yet the perfect woman I once knew.