"You've got to be kidding me."
I had just watched Emmett drink two deer. Deer. Of all things, deer. I couldn't seem to wrap my mind around it.
We had been with the Cullen family for a few days. Alice fit right in. They loved her, and she loved them. I was wary of the whole situation. I had waited as long as I dared go without eating, and Emmett had invited me to go with him on his hunting trip. When I protested that I didn't know how they hunted, he laughingly said "A picture is worth a thousand words." Of course, I knew they hunted animals, but seeing it with my own eyes…it drove the reality home. The lions really are eating the grass, I thought.
Emmett smiled apologetically. "I wish I was." He was serious. He looked at me and held my eyes. "You wanted to know how. Now you do." There was a long pause. "Why don't you try?"
I groaned inwardly. Think of Alice, Alice, Alice, Alice…my mind turned her name into a chant.
"Bear is good, so is cougar. Moose is a little gamey, but not as bad as elk. Stay away from anything small—it's not worth your time." Emmett cheerfully offered his opinion.
What are you, the waiter offering tonight's dinner specials? "And deer?" I gestured to the two carcasses next to him.
Emmett grinned widely. "Tastes like chicken."
I groaned aloud which made Emmett's smile widen. Alice, Alice, Alice, Alice..her name became a drum beat in my ear.
The scents were all around me, now that I smelled them.
It didn't take me long to take down three deer. They were fast, but I was faster.
"And?" Emmett asked from across the clearing.
I paused a moment. Alice…Alice…Alice.. "Tastes like chicken?" I offered.
Emmett chuckled, and was instantly next to me. "Tastes like crap, huh?"
I snorted in agreement, and we sat down against an outcropping of rocks, in the shade of the forest. "It's not easy," Emmett said softly, "Nothing tastes as good as human. I don't think Carlisle or Esme understand, really. They've never…" His voice trailed off.
"You have?" I was looking at him curiously, now. How could he managed that, and still be in their coven? For the first time, too, I felt a little bit of hope. If he had tasted human, and he was surviving this way, maybe—maybe—I could, too.
"Yes." It sounded like a confession, but when I met his eyes, there was no regret, no embarrassment.
I looked thoughtfully across the clearing. I didn't have much time to think. Emmett took the conversation a different direction. "You're good."
I didn't have to ponder what he meant. Emmett was referring to my hunting. I was powerful, I was fast. And I was very, very good at what I did. "Yes." I acknowledged, but I said no more.
I was beginning to enjoy Emmett's company. He wanted more, he wanted to hear my story, but he wasn't going to push me for it. And I liked that. It made me respect him.
Suddenly, I caught a scent on the breeze. I cursed, loudly, jumping quickly to my feet, scanning the area ahead of me. I sniffed again, and this time, there was no doubt. Maria, my mind screamed, That scent is Maria's! She tracked us here! All of my careful planning, the large detour around Gettysburg, it had been in vain.
I turned back to Emmett, the curses flowing readily from my mouth.
"You were in the Navy, huh?"
His question caught me off guard, even in my anger. It caused my plan making to shut down, and all I could reply was, "Huh?"
"You've got a mouth like a drunken sailor."
At another time, in another moment, I would have found Emmett's comment amusing. But not now, not at this moment. "Emmett," I breathed, "I don't have time to explain. Do you trust me?"
Now it was Emmett's turn to be confused. "Huh?"
I changed my question, "Will you help me?"
He could sense my urgency, but not the meaning behind it. "Sure," he shrugged, "I will."
I took a mental moment to compare us, just then. I was standing, reading for a fight, ready for a brawl. Emmett was still casually relaxing on the ground, against the rocks. Suddenly, he caught the scent of vampire on the breeze. "Ahhh." He said, understanding now my questions.
The words were no sooner out of his mouth, than Maria materialized in front of us. There is no question this time, I thought, This will be the end.
She was still beautiful. I couldn't deny that.
She looked at me softly. "Jasper."
"Maria." I said. There was a hard edge in my voice.
She noticed the tone, and her back stiffened slightly.
"What do you want?" I asked, the same edge in my voice.
"The same thing I always want. You." Her eyes flickered to Emmett, still sitting, "Are you going to introduce me to your friend?"
"Emmett." I was purposefully being rude. I wanted her to leave.
Emmett nodded at her from the ground, not saying a word.
"Friendly." She muttered, bringing her gaze back to me.
"Maria, it's over."
Her gaze never wavered. "No, it's not."
"I've mated." I said simply, dropping the hammer.
She smiled slightly, with bitterness and malice, "You used to say the same thing about me."
"No," I corrected her harshly, "I never did."
The smile dropped from Maria's face. She knew the truth: I never, once, had called her my mate. She may have changed me for that reason, but I was not for her. No matter what we had done, or how intimate our relationship had once been, I had always know she was not my mate.
I was for Alice.
Maria was now cursing, "I am going to kill that…"
That was all the invitation I needed. The threat to Alice threw me against her, growling. Emmett was there in a flash, and quickly, between the two of us, it was over. It was almost as easy as the deer.
I looked at what remained of Maria and cursed. I hadn't wanted to do this to her. I'm always full of regrets, I mused, But I never take the actions to prevent what causes them.
I looked at Emmett. Somehow, he had procured a match, and he was going through the standard procedure to dispose a vampire. As I looked at Emmett through the growing smoke, I realized that the Cullens were offering a different way. A way to end my regrets.
"Sorry to jump in so quickly," Emmett broke into my thoughts, "But it looked like fun. And," he looked up at me from the fire, "I figured the less we got torn up, the less we'd have to explain at home." He smiled.
I smiled back, knowing that we would both keep this incident to ourselves. Edward, with his mind reading, would find out, but perhaps we could keep it between the three of us. "Thank you." I said.
Emmett's smile got bigger, "I think I'm going to like having you around." He commented.
That evening, as Emmett and I walked up the steps to the front door of the Cullens' house, I stopped him, "Emmett?"
"Yeah, Jasper?" He asked.
"I was in the Army, not the Navy."
He grinned. Emmett was a likable guy. "Well, that does explain it."
I grinned back. "Don't confuse them again."
He laughed, and we walked into the house together.
A/N: First, off, I don't own it. If I did, I would be living in Tahiti.
I always knew Jasper was always going kill Maria. But I didn't know how. At first, I thought it would be after he visited Gettysburg and learned about Jason and how Maria had kept that from him. But I always knew that Emmett (and not Alice) was going to help him do it. Somehow, they had to do it together.
I'd be interested in knowing if anyone is interested in more—I've got one, maybe two more one shots of Jasper I could do—if there is interest.