-Jasper, this is the fifth warning I've given you this morning. Please wake up before the sun rises; we will be late for school.- Alice called as she stepped into the room and found her husband still on the bed. Her husband. Sometimes she still couldn't believe she got to call him that.

He ignored her words, rolling on the bed until his back was to her. Alice huffed and rounded the bed before climbing onto it.

It had been a month since he started school with them. Someone was with him at all times in case it got too much for him to handle, and while having him dozing off in class gave them a wonderfully human air, it wasn't good for him.

Carlisle was hoping to switch Jasper's sleeping schedule so that he slept during the night to make school easier, but that wasn't proving as easy as expected, which in turn was leaving Jasper without much sleep. He was falling back into his old habits, sleeping longer and longer, which made it even harder to wake him up in the morning.

Also, he had started having to wear sunglasses at all times. Sunglasses at school weren't allowed, of course, so, in the end, Carlisle had cooked up a half lie about Jasper's issues with lights.

Photophobia.

No one questioned the doctor, but that didn't solve the sleep issue. Jasper's shitty sleep schedule was making him more prompt to mood swings.

-Jazz.- She called again, pressing a soft kiss to his temple. His arms shot up to pull her down onto the bed with him, pressing her against his chest and burying his face into the crook of her neck.- Jasper, I'm serious. Get up.

He didn't answer her. All he did was mutter gibberish and tighten his arms around her.

Alice huffed before breaking out of his hug, ignoring his protesting groan at the action and grabbing his wrists.

In one swift move, she managed to maneuver him off the bed and onto the floor with a loud thud. He gave a low growl as she straddled him against the ground.

-Don't growl at me.

She warned, half serious and half gentle as she pressed a soft kiss over his unbeating heart. She continued to lay kisses over him, moving up his body. His chest. Collarbone. Neck. Jaw. When her lips finally pressed against his, she gave them a light bite as his hands rested on her waist.

-I know I said I would do the best I could, but can't I sleep just this once?- Jasper asked. Even the soft artificial light leaking in from the hall was making his head ache.

Alice pulled back to take a good look at him. Her thumbs stroked softly at the dark circles under his eyes.

He was starting to look worse for wear, at least from a human perspective.

There was also a small spider web of black veins now marring his neck and jaw.

-You can stay if you really don't want to go.- Alice conceded at last. The last thing she wanted was to force him to do something he didn't want to do.- Do you want me to stay with you?

-No, it's alright; you go to school.- He told her as he sat up. He didn't want her to miss school because of him, much less when school had only just started a month ago.

He knew how much this meant to her. How much she wanted to go and be around more people. Learn stuff.

-You sure?

-I'm sure.- Jasper assured her, resting his hands on her cheeks and giving her a peck. She smiled at him as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, their noses touching.- Be careful?- He asked.

He knew there was nothing to fear around harmless humans, and he trusted that Emmett and Edward would protect her if something was to happen. Even then, he knew that Alice could defend herself.

Still.

That didn't stop him from stressing. This would be the farthest she had ever been from him. Part of him didn't want to let her go and instead take her up on her offer and ask her to not leave him.

But that would be selfish.

He didn't want to keep her here. He hated using his weaknesses to his advantage or to change how she lived her life.

It was the same as with the window in their room.

Alice loved a good view, yes, but for obvious reasons, the good view couldn't be seen 24/7. And thus, despite the fact that the window was covered with cardboard for part of the day, once the sun wasn't shining in it, he would open it for her.

He didn't want to keep her in darkness just because he didn't like light, the same as he didn't want to keep her here just because he needed sleep.

-I will be fine.- Alice assured him, feeling him tighten his arms around her. His head rested on her shoulder, and she buried her fingers in his hair, scratching his scalp in a soft rhythm, and soon enough, she was pleased to hear him purring.

-Alice, Jasper, you're going to be late.- Esme called from the hall before she appeared at the doorway, frowning when she caught sight of them.

-Jazz's staying here today; is that alright?- Alice asked, glancing at Esme.

-Of course dear. Is he alright?- Esme questioned, concerned.

-He just needs some sleep.

Esme nodded in understanding. She knew how hard changing his sleeping schedule was hitting him. Jasper had never been one to sleep that much, but since he stopped sleeping during the day, he had started sleeping even more.

And his moods hadn't been the best either. He would refuse to leave the house during the day, even for hunting, and the sunglasses had almost become a permanent thing on him.

It was as if all the progress he had ever made was going down the drain just from changing his sleeping schedule.

She had told Carlisle that it would be better to keep him home while he was still having trouble sleeping, but it turns out Jasper was the stubborn one who refused to be kept at home when the others got to go to school.

The boy was trying; she knew it, and everyone with eyes could see it, but she also knew he was struggling, and Esme feared he would end up hurting himself over wanting to prove that he could do the same things as everyone else.

-I will leave now. You should go hunting when you wake up. I know light isn't your friend right now, but it's going to be really cloudy in the afternoon. Use it as your chance to go hunt.- Alice told him as she met the dark gold gaze of her half asleep husband. She worried that there would be consequences from his lack of feeding.

He gave her a short nod, despite the small frown adorning his features at the mention of having to go outside when there was any light. She hated seeing him uncomfortable, but she also knew this was a pattern that needed to be broken to make things easier for him in the future because while he did sleep at night some before, most of his sleeping happened during the morning.

She gave him one last peck before getting off his lap.

She hoped he did go hunting later. He had refused to do so last night due wanting to sleep, and she knew that going so long without blood was bound to bring him nothing but discomfort.

The last thing she wanted was for him to get sick.

~~~~~~~~~~

Esme spent most of the morning rearranging the living room. She had called Carlisle earlier to let him know Jasper hadn't gone to school.

She had checked on him a few times now, and he was still sleeping. The black veins trailing across his face worried her, and she wondered if she should wake him up.

But she also knew she couldn't do that.

He never took well to being woken up. And he did need the rest.

So she let him sleep.

~~~~~~~~~

Jasper woke up to such a throbbing in his skull that he couldn't bite back a pained moan. His throat felt as if a burning rod had been shoved down it. Even his skin was burning, and he couldn't for the life of him stop shaking.

He groaned as he fought to sit up. A pitiful sound that he refused to acknowledge as a whimper left him when the change in position caused even more pressure to build in his head until it felt as if his skull was about to blast open. His fingers dug against it as a gag left him.

Shit.

He sucked in a sharp breath as a sudden wave of nausea threatened to overtake him. His throat burned. It burned like the flames of Hell themselves.

He tried to climb off the bed, but that just brought him even more pain as he crashed to the ground, his legs refusing to take his weight.

A growl stuck in the back of his throat as frustration hit him, and his claws dug into the floor as he willed himself to get back up. He took a deep breath in hopes to cool some of the lava in his throat, but all that did was bring more heat. It burned so much, it reminded him of when he first woke up as a newborn.

When the thirst was so strong, it physically hurt, and even then he couldn't quell it due said pain.

He coughed as he grabbed the doorknob and twisted it. Opening the door was both a great feat and such a horrible move, for the sudden glorious smell of another world hit him.

Venom.

It strangled him, and he slammed the door closed once again, locking it and stumbling back.

Soon a voice reached his ears.

-Jasper? Sweetheart, are you alright?

Esme's concern was muffled by the scent of her venom. Blurred. Fogging his mind, to the point where he could almost feel Maria's fingers around his throat. The pain. The heat. The blackness. The fear.

Before he even realized what he was doing, he had taken a step towards the door, towards that enticing scent. Once it registered in his mind, however, he quickly took three steps back to put more distance between himself and that heavenly scent. Esme's scent. Esme. He slammed the window open and climbed out, ignoring the searing, stabbing pain in his skull from the light that met him, forcing him to blink.

Still.

He needed to run. Run before he did something unforgivable.

So he jumped down into the backyard and ran off, ignoring the fact that he was not wearing shoes. He didn't care, nor did he really need them.

He needed to run.

And run he did.

He ran until his vision was flashing, and he couldn't breathe past the heat in his throat. Venom dripped down his chin as he panted and gasped for breath.

The sudden scent of blood, human blood, was all it took to finish snapping what little control he still had, and he didn't hesitate to go after it.

A man laid on the ground, a bear trap on his leg. Jasper didn't hear the man's muffled words as he lunged at him. He straddled him against the ground and ripped his throat apart.

The glorious taste of the man's blood sent a shiver down his spine. But rather than quell the fire in his throat, it did nothing but make it worse. Shudders racked through his body as he burned even hotter.

And when there was not a single drop left, he snarled at the man's lifeless stare and took a swing at his face in a sudden flare of rage.

But just as quickly as it had come, the anger was gone.

All at once, pain and fear crashed into him like a freight train, making him gag at their bitter after taste. Then he caught sight of that lifeless gaze. The scratches.

A sob clawed its way out of his throat. Because no. After such hard work. After fighting so hard to get his eyes gold. It was all for nothing.

And those scratches.

He was a monster. One who was too weak. Weak. He grabbed his hair and pulled it as another escaped him. He was pathetic.

-'m sorry.- He wasn't even sure who he was apologizing to. To the man? To Alice? To Carlisle? To the man's family? -'m so sorry. 'm sorry.

Each word came out broken as the pain in his chest became worse than that of his still blazing throat.

-'m so sorry.- He sobbed. He had no right at all to be the one suffering.

Not after what he just did. His weakness had once again messed everything up. He had fought so hard to belong in this coven, and now...

He fucked it all up.

And he could do nothing but cry. Because that's how weak and pathetic he was.

He wasn't sure for how long he drowned in his own misery, but the sudden footsteps made him tense.

But it wasn't Carlisle.

Nor even Alice.

Esme.

A pathetic sound stuck in the back of his throat as he slouched even more. God, not her. Of all people, not her. He didn't want to see her disappointment. Her fear. Her knowing look. Regret. Anger. He couldn't look at her.

He could not look at her, not even when she kneeled in front of him. Shame flooded him. Anger. Frustration. Guilt. Regret. Hatred. Disdain. What face was he supposed to put up for her?

Her touch was soft as she rested her hands on his arms. There was no anger in her emotions. No disgust. No disappointment. No blame. Nothing.

All he was getting from her was overwhelming sadness. Understanding. Comfort. Love. Sympathy.

And that did nothing but make even more tears pour out of him, another pathetic sob escaping him at the reminder of what had made him run in the first place. Oh, if only she knew the monster she was trying to comfort.

-'M sorry.

-Oh sweetheart, it's alright.- Esme soothed him, gently tugging on his arm to lead him away from the body; she didn't want him to keep punishing himself like this.

Having him run out on her had been unexpected, and while it had not been easy, she had managed to find him, for her instincts told her that her son needed her.

Feeling such crushing pain and guilt radiating from him. Hearing his sobs. Smelling the human blood.

Ah.

It broke her heart to see him so upset, and she couldn't help but pull him into a hug.

-It's alright darling. It's going to be okay.- She reassured him, rubbing soft circles on his back and hoping that that would bring him some comfort.- We have all slipped at some point. No one is perfect, but that doesn't mean we give up. We just try harder and harder.

But her words did nothing except make him cry even more. Because she had no idea. No idea the monster he truly was. What she was holding was the same demon who had wanted nothing more than to hurt her not even a few moments earlier.

This had brought back some of his insecurities he had forgotten about.

Maria's words floated in his mind.

"You are a monster, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will give up on those stupid thoughts."

"You're a cannibal. It's in your nature, and it will forever be so."

"Trained or not, a beast will always be a beast."

It made his chest hurt and his throat burn. She had been right all along.

But Carlisle held such trust in him. Alice.

Just the idea of disappointing them broke him. He hadn't hurt her. He had run before it was too late.

He hadn't hurt her.

But this had reminded him of how dangerous he could be if he became too selfish and stupid. If he refused to feed...

He glanced at the human. Dead.

The same thing that could happen to these people he had grown to like so much if he didn't put them first over his own childish discomforts.

He needed to be stronger. Firmer. Perfect.

Because if he didn't, the next corpse under him wouldn't be that of an animal or an unfortunate human.