For the round-robin writers on the "Edward in P.E. thread." Jasper's POV. Occurs the same day as "First Sight." Characters not mine, obviously. Stephanie Meyer's.
I regarded the old metal door before me with deep animosity as I glared at it through the wisps of blond hair that had fallen in my pitch-black eyes, hoping beyond reason that if I stared at the door long enough, it would disappear. It looked like it did every day. Spots of red rust showed through where the navy blue (probably lead-based) paint had chipped off. Penciled graffiti ran along its edge. I clenched and unclenched my fists, building up my willpower to enter my least favorite place.
The boys' locker room. Or, as Emmet liked to call it, "The Pit of Despair."
I shook my head in disbelief, still unable to comprehend the fact that I voluntarily put myself through this day in and day out. I felt a sickening sense of dread tighten my stomach into knots. Of all the aspects of Forks High School that freaked me out, this was the worst.
This doesn't have to be your life…a voice from my past called me. Come back to us. Come back to your true nature. Leave this futile life of torment and denial. Be who you are. No need to be ashamed. The voice of my father. My other father. From a different family. My first family. For a moment, my memories transported me to a different century.
Gettysburg, Pennylvania. July 2, 1863. I'd been a vampire less than a month. My undead heart leapt in delight as I listened to General Lee and General Longstreet argue, hidden in the shadows outside their tents. They were planning Pickett's charge. Even then, before the event went down in history as the turning point in the war, I knew that the attempt was doomed. Had the commanders of the Southern armies learned nothing at Fredricksburg? Charging straight up a hill to take on an enemy that had the high ground? Impossible. Stupid. The Confederate regiments would be slaughtered, soaking the fields with blood. I grinned wildly at my new brothers. This was good for us. We cared little which side got slaughtered, as long as there was bloodshed.
Nostalgically, I conjured up more sensations from the dredges of my memory. I could hear ear-shattering sound of cannons firing; smell the smoke rising from a thousand rifles, feel the anguish of the wounded, and taste the blood of the dying calling to me. I saw my brothers and myself, hours later, under cover of night, dragging off the mortally wounded to meet death just a little earlier and a little more horribly than they would have in the medical tents. No one ever missed them when so many fell as casualties of war. With thousands dead, thousands still alive, no one suspected us as being "stuck horribly in between," as one writer so eloquently described our wretched existence.
Bringing my mind back to the present, I thought of the war going on now, on the other side of the globe. They would be there now. It would be so easy to join with them, circling the battlefields like a vulture, waiting to pick of the dying. I could leave now, rejoin my former kin, and be free forever from this God-forsaken rainy town. I would never thirst again.
But Alice's face came to my mind. Her golden eyes glowed up at me, loving. Gold. Gold was our choice. I sighed. I'd chosen this life for her. My conscience. My Jimminy Cricket, if you will. She was everything to me. With her lovely dancing form behind my eyelids, I begrudgingly pushed the heavy metal door open with my shoulder and entered the filthy locker room.
Several scents assaulted me at once, most of them benign: the festering fungal funk that clung to dozens of pairs of dirty gym socks; the stale smell of sweaty shirts that had been worn, thrown back into lockers without laundering, then worn again the next day; and hygiene products like, antibacterial soap, anti-dandruff shampoo, and men's antiperspirant. None of those things smelled particularly good to me. Neither chemical smells nor the stench of ever-expanding bacterial colonies appealed to me in the least. It was the other smells that tormented me.
Dozens of teenage boys from last period's gym class were getting out of the shower, faces flushed from the heat of the exercise they'd completed and the steam from the hot water. I could hear their hearts beating, sending hot, warm, blood to their extremities. Two of them passed me, gossiping about how "hot" some girl looked in her tight little volleyball shorts and which of their friends made it to "second base" the past weekend. I could sense their emotions: excitement, comradely, and friendship from the first; the twinges of an adolescent crush from the second. Their voices were drowned out by the sound of their heartbeats echoing in my ears.
Lub-dubb, lub-dubb, lubb dubb.
One of the boys twisted a wet towel and smacked the other across his rear, leaving a red mark, as blood rushed to the surface of the skin. They laughed. I looked away.
Lub-dubb, lub-dubb, lub-dubb.
My stomach was churning, my throat was aching. It'd been two weeks since our last hunting trip. I'd been trying to increase my endurance, make myself stronger. Lose the taste the way Carlisle had managed to. Bad idea. I was close to my breaking point.
Lub-dubb, lub-dubb, lub-dubb.
My classmates were changing into their uniforms. I could see their bluish veins showing through their flushed skin and occasionally detected the pulsing of an artery in a temple or wrist, with my extra-sensitive vision.
Think of something else. Think of something else. I pleaded with myself. The steam and heat that had filled the room was allowing the appetizing scent of dozens of potential victims to take on a more tangible form.
Lub-dubb. Lub-dubb. Lub-dubb.
The sound throbbed in my ears, making me insane. It felt like everything was going in slow motion, nausea-like aching swept over me, demanding. Pleading. I stared at the two boys, my thirst begging me for relief. Just this once, I thought. I took a step towards them. But suddenly, at that moment, my murderous thoughts were interrupted.
"Basketball," I heard a boisterous voice complain in my ear. I looked up in surprise as the world's burliest excuse for a person clamped a hand on my shoulder. The familiar, cheerful smile banished my horrid thoughts momentarily. Emmet stood in front of me, his black eyes playful beneath his mop of dark curly hair. He gave me a forlorn pout as he pulled a t-shirt over his enormous torso.
I used this opportunity to regain control. I stopped breathing, which helped just a little, and tried to change, discretely as possible, into a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt. I noticed a few of my classmates regard our unworldly paleness with a hint of distain, but no one would have dared to tease either Emmet or I about it. Not only were we seniors (the top of the high school pecking order), but we were taller, more handsome, and much more heavily muscled than any of them. Aside from that, they feared us. Rightly so. I, at least, was very dangerous right now. More than Emmet. More than usual.
"Don't tell me that you're too sore to play, after that beating I gave you last night," I teased, glad for the distraction. Emmet grinned wildly.
"Rematch tonight?" he said with eyes bright, childlike in the plain enthusiasm. We'd wrestled in the woods behind our mansion the night before. I'd won. It'd been fun. But that was away from humans, away from temptation. I was in high spirits then. Definitely not now.
"Maybe. I don't know if I'm in the mood," I said sullenly. Emmet frowned.
"Oh come on. We'll go to the rainforest in Olympic National Park. There aren't any tourists out there at this time of the year, so no one will hear us. Just a three hour drive away; two hours away the way we drive. It will be slick and slippery, with uneven terrain. We'll expand the area to a one mile radius. This time, we can use any form of rocks as weapons. What do you say?"
"I dunno. I'll think about it," I said cheerlessly. "I think I need to hunt. I don't know how you guys go this long. It's unbearable." His face fell in an instant. His disappointment was evident. We locked eyes in silent defiance before he slammed his locker door shut and headed into the gym. I tied my tennis shoes quickly and slipped out.
As I entered the gym, I was hit with a wave of the fresher air that the larger room afforded me. In an instant, I was sane again. I breathed rapidly, thankful. The murderous creature inside of me ducked its head. It slunk back into its cave and lay its head down to sleep. I breathed a sigh of relief. Momentarily, my mood lifted as the thirst ebbed, but not much.
I hated gym.
We had to go, of course. Gym was required all four years at Forks high school. I'd begged Carlisle to write a doctor's note, excusing me from class for medical reasons, but he'd flatly refused, saying that enrolling in high school had been something I'd volunteered to do on my own, so I needed to bear the burdens that came with it. It was, to him, a good chance for me to build my character and regain my humanity. Emmet and I always got picked first to be on any team, because of our obvious athletic prowess and well-developed physiques, but we worked very hard not to be too good. When you're perfectly capable of sending the basketball sailing through the gym ceiling and having landing a mile away, putting it through a ten-foot hoop is dreadfully boring.
The worst of all were Carlisle's sensible rules: we had to lose one game for every game we won. We had to pass the ball to teammates one out of every three times rather than scoring all the points ourselves. We had to be very, VERY careful to come into physical contact with the humans as little as possible, for fear of hurting one of them. We had to carefully wet our hair and faces in the drinking fountain every so often so that it appeared that we perspired. It was a ridiculous act, one I held in utter contempt. Playing basketball with humans was like driving owning Porsche that only went 25 miles per hour. It defeated the whole purpose of sports in the first place. Add that to the fact that all of the humans were giving off the smell of blood as their internal temperatures rose. Add to THAT the fact that boys got emotional when they played sports and girls got catty. Having rage, insecurity, excitement, and jealousy bombarding me from far too many sources was obnoxiously hard to block when it was felt with the strength that came from the increased endorphins of exercise. I couldn't read their minds, per se. Not like Edward. But I was sensitive to what they all felt. This was indeed the worst hour of my day
Rosalie was in a different gym class than us, which was good. Last year, all three of us had been in the same class, and I found myself constantly irritated that the dog-like males were constantly wagging their tails, drooling over my "twin." Sensing waves of lust, all directed at my sister, was always a disturbing sensation. She never could resist the urge to show off her figure when given the opportunity. She'd tailored her uniform tops to be tighter, her shorts shorter, and cut slits in her necklines to make them plunge. Her behavior baffled me. She'd married Emmet six times and they loved each other whole-heartedly. Why she craved the attentions from mere adolescent human boys was far beyond my realms of comprehension.
I slogged along the court with the ball as the whistle blew, dribbling carefully with the utmost restraint. If I were to dribble it with a normal exertion of force, I would have smashed the hard-wood floors in several places. Shoes squeaked and voices shouted at me. I couldn't resist. From the half-court line I lazily plunged the ball into the basket. It shwooshed through the net, never touching the rim or the backboard. Emmet gave me a warning look. He was on the opposite team. I shrugged, unable to shake my depression. I felt foul today.
Emmet fumbled the ball, letting my team get it back. He jogged around the court a little, holding himself back from just grabbing the ball and performing a spectacular slam dunk. When my team got the ball back, I passed it away as quickly as I could. I suddenly decided that if I wasn't going to enjoy gym today, no one would. I began to send out waves of gloom and depression into Emmet's team. They began to act distracted and started dropping the ball and playing badly. My team scored three times. Emmet, who picked up on what I was doing, gave me a dirty look.
"What?" I mouthed innocently, eyes wide in mock surprise. He scowled. He stole the ball from someone on my team and went up for a beautiful lay-up. The girls on his team cheered. I glanced up at the clock. The minute hand didn't seem to be moving. I slumped my shoulders forward, willing time to pass more quickly.
I was just so darn spoiled. I thought fondly back to the last weekend, when we played blonds vs. non-blonds in no-fouls tackle football. Esme, who didn't fit well into either category, refereed. We'd lost, of course. Edward's speed and Emmet's strength together made for an invincible team even without the advantage of Alice being able to see where the ball would hit. Rosalie was sulky that night. Figured. Didn't take much to get her sulky. Emmet loved it when she was sulky. He thought it was cute. He thought everything she did was cute.
The ball came my way, and I caught it with my lightning quick reflexes. Damn. I thought. I dropped it as quickly as I could, trying to make it looked as though it had simply slipped through my fingers. The referee's whistle blew, and the other team got the ball. I glanced around, worried that someone had seen my too-quick actions. Fortunately, Emmet's team was still too lethargic to notice. He passed the ball to a tall boy with dark hair, who shot a basket and missed. One of my teammates got the rebound. I would have yawned if my lungs still required oxygen. I was bored out of my mind. I jogged up and down the court mindlessly, wishing desperately that I was somewhere else.
All of the sudden, I saw a body headed my way. One of Emmet's teammates, a short girl with blonde curls, had tripped over her own feet. She was falling towards me. She was about to collide with my cold, hard, body and probably break her arm on the impact. With super-human reflexes, I stepped one stride-length to the left, letting her fall to the floor beside me. She hit the floor on her hands and knees with an awful sound. A contact burn left a red mark with little red dots in it on her knee. It was bruised. I imagined the blood vessels bursting beneath the surface of her skin, sending the blood into the tissues under her skin. The thirst attacked me once again, and I darted to the other end of the court, to get away from her. It was very lucky that the fall didn't break her skin. She'd be dead if it had. I shuddered. I would need to hunt tonight. Maybe Edward would go with me…
Gym ended, what seemed like years later, with the ring of the bell. I acknowledged the feelings of victory and happiness that exhuded from my teammates; as well as the surly indifference that came off of Emmet's team, which was still afflicted with the depression I'd sent their way. I grinned, feeling a little better. Nothing cures a bad mood like spreading it around a little. Emmet and I skipped the showers. We weren't sweaty, we didn't smell, we certainly didn't want to be around a bunch of naked humans with elevated body temperatures. We quickly changed back into our regular school clothes (my outfit was a silly Abercrombie get-up that Alice had insisted made me look sexy) before headed to the hallway to meet our family for lunch.
Edward and Rosalie stood outside the gymnasium, but my eyes didn't even register them. I only had regards for the tiny woman with the jet-black hair, who stood, eyes as dark as mine, with an expression of worry on her face. I frowned. She must have asked Edward how I was doing. Edward always knew. She always knew. Their paired omniscience was annoying. My mood grew dark again as I mournfully glanced at Edward's handsome face, and felt a stab of jealousy. Edward was strong. He was almost as good as Carlisle. The humans didn't affect him like they affected me. He'd almost lost the taste for human blood altogether. "Quite managable," he called his residual traces of thirst. Resentment boiled in me. He would never suffer like I did. I took Alice's hand, and walked towards the cafeteria. I felt the disapproval radiating from the humans around us. They thought it unscrupulous that my adopted sister and I were "together" and living under the same roof. At this moment I didn't care. Her little hand in mine was the only thing keeping them safe right now.
We walked on ahead of our family, passing a girl so tiny that she was about Alice's height. I recognized her as Jessica Stanley by her springy brown hair. She was chattering at a very pretty girl I didn't recognize. Must be the new girl the school was all abuzz about. I bumped Jessica without realizing it. For a moment, I worried that I may have hurt her. I glanced behind me, worried, but she seemed perfectly fine.
I looked over their expressions momentarily and was surprised to see that jealousy and malice emanated from the short, curly girl. That was odd. I wondered what she held against her new friend. The new girl looked self conscious. Uncomfortable. Of course. It was her first day. What else would one expect? I pushed those emotions away, not really caring about either girl. The humans were insignificant to me. Food. No…people, Alice liked to say. I clenched my jaw, halted my breath, and got in line at the cafeteria, straining to ignore both the smells and emotions around me.
It was going to be a very long day.