"What would you like for dinner tonight, Jazz?" Alice asked, clearly having lots of fun pretending to be human as she constantly teased her annoyed husband as they browsed through the grocery store's aisles. Jasper would occasionally grab a few items off shelves whenever a human would wander into the same aisle and would place it back on the shelf when they were out of sight. Currently, however, Alice was filling the cart with all sorts of unappetizing food.
"Are we almost done here? I'm sure Esme didn't want us to buy out the whole store," Jasper grumbled, making his father chuckle behind him as he also added a few items into the cart.
"Jasper has a point. This is starting to become an excessive amount of food," Carlisle shared a pointed glance towards Alice, who smiles sheepishly before flitting away into another aisle. "But Esme did want to donate a good amount in Port Angeles tomorrow, so why not?"
Stepping away from the cart, Jasper sighed with resignation and turned to debate on which kind of pasta to put in the cart, "Next time, I'm sending Emmett."
As Carlisle chuckled, the sound of something heavy falling onto the tile floor made them turn their attention to the can of peas currently rolling in their direction. Jasper bent down to pick it up as soon as it hit his shoe with a thud. Then, the faint scent of strawberries hit him, followed by little footsteps that rushed towards him. Jasper looked up with curiosity right as he noticed two bright red shoes step into his line of sight in front of him. A little girl stood in front of Jasper, gazing up at him with big wandering brown eyes. Her voice was innocent and blunt as she pointed towards the can in his hand, "That's mine..."
"My apologies, ma'am. Here you go," With a grin, Jasper handed the can over and waited to feel the usual emotion that followed whenever a child or adult encountered him. Apart from Emmett, Jasper was known for being the most intimidating member of his family, and as a result, everyone stayed as far away from him as possible. So he waited but to his surprise, the little girl didn't run away, nor did he feel an ounce of fear grow the longer she stared at him. If anything, he only felt curiosity and...
"Pretty," the girl whispers as her heart-shaped face lights up, and she smiles wide at the young man. "You're very pretty."
If Jasper could blush right now, he'd bet he would. Not once in all his immortal years had Jasper ever considered himself pretty with his scars and usual stoic personality.
Carlisle walked over towards the two, a mix of alarm and amusement lacing his demeanor as he smiles at the little girl, "Hello there. What's your name?"
The girl smiles wide at the man beside Jasper and laces her hands together in front of her. Jasper detected a small hint of introversion already coming to fruition as her cheeks blushed, "...Bella."
"That's a beautiful name, Bella. I'm Carlisle, and this is my son, Jasper..." after looking around the aisle and not seeing anyone fretting over the child, Carlisle had to ask, "Are you lost? Where's your mother?"
"She told me to leave her alone," Bella said as she stared at the can in her small hands. Jasper's smile faltered at her naive words just as he felt his father's disdain for the faceless mother of the sweet child.
"Do you want us to find her for you?" Carlisle asked, but it was Jasper that felt an inkling of fear wash over him, and he continued looking at Bella's small smile that didn't quite reach her eyes as it had when she smiled at him.
She's afraid of her mother...
Jasper decided to shift her attention by asking her, "Do you want to help me pick out a type of pasta we should eat for dinner, Bella?"
Light suddenly filled her round eyes then, and Bella straightened, nodding happily as Jasper stood up, and to his shock, the little girl took his hand in hers, "I like spaghetti or...oh! Angel hair, because it comes from angels. But that's weird..."
As her little hand wrapped around the tips of his fingers and practically went on her tiptoes to reach him, Jasper's eyes widened. He shifted his gaze to his father, who had tensed as well, but after Bella didn't mention how cold he was, they decided to pretend it wasn't as big of a deal as they both knew it was. Interacting with a human child was dangerous enough, and having her touch one of them so easily was even more so, but it seemed...natural. As if she'd known them for a long time.
They were rounding the corner when a high-pitched irritating voice interrupted Jasper and Bella's conversation.
"Isabella!" Bella flinched, and her eyes widened as she looked over her shoulder. Jasper and Carlisle turned to face the voice and noticed a woman with red hair and freckles storming towards the girl. Not having seen either of them, the woman reaches down for Bella's arm and yanks her away, hard, "Where have you been?! I told you to stay close!"
Bella bit her lip to keep herself from wincing; however, Jasper had already felt her pain, and that was enough. As soon as her little hand slipped out of his, Jasper closed his hand into a fist and projected a healthy dose of embarrassment towards the middle-aged woman that glared at the child.
"Jasper, control," Carlisle whispered under his breath even though he was clearly disturbed to see how harsh the woman was with her daughter.
The woman finally looked up and noticed the two beautiful men as they watched her interaction with Bella, and she immediately blushed, letting go of Bella's arm and instead moved to caress her hair, "Oh my! Doctor Cullen! How are you?"
"Mrs. Swan," Carlisle gave her a curt nod, attempting to share his calm emotions with the empath next to him, "We were just about to look for you. Bella here was doing some shopping of her own."
"Oh...yes, she's a little grown up now, it seems," Renee Swan's hand curled around Bella's long hair, and Jasper clenched his jaw when more anger slithered its way over to him. "Well, it was nice seeing you. We really should get going, right, Isabella?"
Bella nodded, keeping her eyes trained on the can in her hands now, and didn't fight her mother as she pulled her away. Then, unbeknownst that there were three vampires with enhanced hearing, Renee said through gritted teeth as she picked Bella up and plopped her into the cart, "I should have left you at home if I knew you were going to embarrass me! No, your father should have taken you since you like him so much."
"I'm sorry, mommy," Bella smiled and waved goodbye at Jasper, who hadn't realized he'd been staring the entire time, and he didn't know why he'd done it, but at least for a little while, he wanted to let the girl feel safe and happy. So he sent out a wave of love in her direction, know that regardless of how Renee treated her daughter—there was an odd sort of love there for her daughter. A twisted, sad sort of love.
"What a shame to see children being treated this way by their parents," Carlisle shook his head with lament as he placed his hand over his son's shoulder and pushed their own cart. However, as he did, Jasper smiled when he felt a wave of pride coming his way for showing such restraint and care for the human girl.
"Thanks, Dad," grabbing a box of angel hair pasta, Jasper finally turned and followed after his father, where Alice was already waiting with a small smile of her own playing on her lips. With a roll of his eyes, Jasper grinned at his wife. He should have known Alice knew this would happen, but he couldn't hold it against her.
Not when the innocent little girl had somehow opened up a whole new set of emotions he didn't think he could feel again. Not only had Bella touched Jasper's cold, dead heart but Carlisle and Alice's as well.