"Jasper Hale is staring at you," Jessica hissed in her ear. (AU) JxB. REVISED.

So, I had an epiphany one day and I came to the conclusion that Bella only got with Edward because he was the single one. All of the other Cullens *love* her so if Carlisle, Emmett, or – in this case – Jasper were single they probably would have picked her up, in an alternate universe. Which is why, I've decided to write Excruciating, Blithe, and Verboten. But right now, please enjoy a revised version of Excruciating.


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.


Chapter 1— First Sight


Forks, Washington

This was the time of day when I wished I were able to sleep: high school.

Was purgatory more apropos?

If there was any way to atone for the unspeakable atrocities I had committed throughout my existence, this unbearable lull ought to count for at least a few of the homicides. I endured it – to prove that I had a human side – but the consequent seemed impossibly more tedious than the last.

"How are you holding up, Jasper?" Alice murmured quietly.

I simply grimaced.

It had been tolerable, if sitting idly with flames licking the inside of your throat could be considered tolerable in any world.

I'd stopped breathing a long while ago – when I had entered the school grounds to be exact.

"You shouldn't take chances," She cajoled and as an afterthought, "We should all go tonight. Edward? Emmett? Rose?" She looked to them for support.

"I'm fine," I said stiffly.

They didn't need to agree to rub it in that I was the weakest of them all. I was the second oldest, strongest, wiliest, and yet, no more self-control then a newborn.

Edward smirked in a commiserative way as he read my thoughts, but I could sense an undercurrent of frustration. He was tired of my lack of competence and my loopy self-pitying psyche was probably driving him crazy.

"You haven't slipped in nearly four years. That's something, isn't it?" Alice smiled encouragingly at me.

I frowned to myself. Their support only made me feeler weaker. It had been two weeks since our last hunt. Not comfortable for the rest of them, but they weren't in danger of massacring the lunch crowd.

Jessica Stanley was walking into the Café as if she owned the place followed by her usually cronies, Lauren and Angela. A young girl walked into the lunchroom, following the familiar covey. The new girl, Isabella Swan didn't look very comfortable in the group she had been introduced to and I couldn't blame her.

A temporary distraction.

"Oh no," Edward muttered, looking away.

"You don't have anything to worry about," I said, bemused. "I'm single."

"I can still hear her!" He complained. "It's nauseating – I don't want to undress you in my head."

As we continued to watch Jessica and her petty crew, another girl paused at the end of our table to exchange word with a friend. She drew a hand through her jaw-length hair and shook it out, exposing her throat.

My fingers gripped the table and I gave a lurch that made the wood shudder all the way to the end.

Emmett put a hand on my shoulder that was both comforting and restraining. I stared at the human for few seconds more and stood up to throw away my tray.

"Look at her," Alice was saying when I returned, trying to hide my faux pas. Everyone turned to watch Isabella. "She could pass for one of us. She's so very pale."

At that moment, Isabella stood and threw her tray away. On the way back to her seat, she tripped over...nothing? She managed to avoid a fall by catching Mike Newton's shoulder to stop her flight to the ground. She turned an impressive red and settled into her seat.

Mike looked delighted and promptly started a conversation with her.

Jessica turned puce.

Our entire table erupted into various volumes of laughter. Amid the mirth, I sensed uneasiness in my family. I turned to Edward; he hadn't laughed. Instead he was staring intently at the girl with an odd look on his face.

He looked at me, trying to smooth his frustration. "I can't read her mind."

The table went quiet.

"What?" Rosalie said testily. "What did you say?"

"I-I can't read her mind," he repeated, too unnerved to answer Rose with their familiar petulance.

"Why not?"

"I don't know. It's silent."

"Maybe she's slow," Emmett said, grinning from ear to ear. "Edward ousted by a single-digit IQ!"

Alice didn't look concerned. "It's probably nothing. She's new here so you obviously can't tell which voice is hers. We'll work it out later. It will get easier."

As she said this, the bell rang and we all rose to head to class. We didn't tell each other goodbyes anymore when we separated; after all what was an hour and a half to eternity?

"Take care of yourself, Jasper," Alice put a hand on my arm. As Edward turned to go, she flashed me a sympathetic smile and left with her husband. It made me want to kill her.

Edward ignored me. He was used to my ire at my family.

Emmett watched them leave and then leaned toward me conspiratorially. "How about another wrestling match? Yesterday's wasn't fair."

"Only because you lost," I taunted him.

"Best of three – you got lucky."

We made arrangements and followed in Alice and Edward's suit and went to class. Walking toward the exit, I passed Isabella's table again. Her friends met my gaze with their usual lust. Off her, I could sense only anxiety.

As I passed, she looked up at me, nudged by Jessica. Her brown eyes met my steely gold ones and her entire face went up in flames of crimson. I doubled my pace, afraid of what such an easy pooling of blood could do to my friable control.

"Who is that?" I heard her ask her new friends.

"Jasper Hale. He's gorgeous of course, but don't waste your time, Bella. None of the girls here are good-looking enough for him apparently."

I hid a smile.


"Gather up!" Coach Clapp shouted over the mull of humans. A group of thirty or so grouped round him. I stayed leaning against the folded bleachers, keeping a safe distance. When it was quiet, he began to shout, "Today we are playing volleyball! Since we have used the last week to practice skills, today we are playing a real game against the other class!" A half-hearted cheer rose into the air from my classmates. "That's the spirit! Now I don't want to see any shifting and switching turns when you're up to serve."

We separated into teams and I started off serving, an obvious first choice. I allowed myself three points before making a conspicuous miscalculation and rotating. Mike Newton, glaring fiercely at me, snatched the ball away at his turn.

We were winning, obviously when –

"Isabella!" Coach Clapp's voice boomed easily across the gym. Everyone turned to watch her traipse to the middle of the gym where Clapp was waiting.

"I got lost. Sorry," She apologized shyly. "It's my first day; I need you to sign this slip." I heard her demur shyly.

He signed it quickly and "Here you go. Well, since you didn't bring any clothes, you can sit out today. We're playing volleyball," he explained unnecessarily as she was watching the ball warily. Isabella –"

"Bella, please." Her plea went unnoticed.

"– You can just grab a seat behind the game." She sighed, relieved and walked past our formation and took a seat a few yards behind me as I approached the serving corner again.

I spared her a dispassionate glance before taking the ball from Connor, a sandy-haired boy who had just served right into the net. At the climatic point of my serve, her scent hit me, like a battering ram.

I doubled over, and then thinking wildly, began to cough, to cover up my surprise. I dropped the ball and hacked with all my might. The children around me edged away from me. The venom was rising in my throat and a single drop fell from the point of a tooth and to the floor, hissing quietly against the wooden parquetry.

In that moment, all my instincts had fled, in a rush of adrenaline to the brain. Her scent was...irresistible. Sweet and flowery, yet seductive and intoxicating. The decade of careful practice dissolved as I turned toward her, hands inexorably rising to clutch her throat.

Her eyes met mine they reflected my face: villainous and terrifying in her innocent and naïve doe-like eyes.

I stopped.

If I attacked now, the witnesses would have to be disposed of. Of course, the scent would attract the others and they might aid me in – No! My mouth went rigid with want and I cut off my air again. This child, this menial girl would not make me the villain. I would not resume killing.

But to turn away!

Her blood seemed to taunt me, waving in front of me the tantalizing substance from which I could not abstain but yet could not indulge. My eyes rolled back my head and all I could think of was her. In the absence of the air, her fragrance made my head hazy and I could not think properly.

Would anyone notice if I hailed her after class? If I separated her from the crowd and took her off to some secluded corner to? They would – I wasn't the only one to be so aware of Bella today, though none were so intensely aware as I. The male population, most of all Newton, Eric, Tyler, and others that I'd watched her shoot down today were determined to gain her affections and would not take it lightly that I had stolen her away.

The predacious nature that I so determinedly put aside rose to the surface. In my other time I had killed many innocents: men, women, children even. I had been unrestrained by morals. But even at my worst, I had never committed an atrocity of this potential magnitude. To return to that would be to reveal my family. A massacre of this size could be kept quiet. The Volturi would hear and act.

My family.

Their faces slipped into my mind and shut out Isabella. Esme, Carlisle, Emmett, Rosalie, Edward, and Alice. They had all longed to make a normal life in this quiet town.

"Coach Clapp." He turned away from the game he was monitoring and gave a little jump when he saw my eyes which had turned a deadly shade of black. "I think I might be ill. Would you excuse me to go to the nurse?" He simply nodded, speechless. I turned and hurried out of the gym.

Alice was waiting outside. "Jasper," She took my hand. "Are you alright? You didn't killdid you?" She asked uncertainly. I shook my head. Her face cleared and she looked a little chagrinned. "That's wonderful! That's amazing! I'm mean, of course not. You're not –"

She pulled my arm as she spoke, dragging me to the entrance where Edward was waiting in his Volvo. She made calls to Carlisle who was at the hospital. When we arrived home, Esme was waiting for us at the door.

"Alice! Jasper! Did you – did he...?"

"I didn't."

She looked shocked and then struggled to compose herself. "Why, Jasper, that's...phenomenal. What an improvement! How-."

"Surprising," offered Emmett who had arrived seconds earlier with Rosalie.

"No," Esme said unblushingly. "I knew he could do it. He's so strong."

When Carlisle arrived he too, congratulated me in the same manner: incredulousness, disbelief, then shock, astonishment – it was rather insulting and narrow-minded of my family to react this way although I hadn't exactly given them cause not to.

"So what exactly happened?" He asked.

"I think we'd all like to know exactly what did," Said Esme. "Go on, Jasper." She gloated, like the proud mother she was.

I glared at the floor; this wouldn't be happening of it was Edward or Alice or Esme or Rose. Only I – sometimes Emmet – was praised when I didn't kill people. To the others, it was simply habit.

"Isabella came into the gym," I said in a monotone. "She came and sat down behind me. And at first there wasn't anything different. But when she began to move, I could smell her…" I groaned, the memories awash in my head. "It was...unlike anything I'd ever even conceived. I wanted to snap her neck and drink her blood and suck her dry in that moment."

Even without her presence, I could recall the scent with perfect clarity, a fault with our species, perfect, ineradicable memory.


"But…" prompted Alice with a smile.

"I didn't. When I looked at her, she...was a child. An insignificant girl. I thought of you all and I left."

Esme wrapped her arms around me. "I'm so proud of you, Jasper," Esme whispered, adding insult to injury.

Carlisle was looking at me with admiration. "I know what happened, Jasper. She is probably your singer. La tua contante. Her blood calls you. Not many have withstood their singers."

Emmett cleared his throat uncomfortably. He had killed his instantaneously.

"That's all well and done but what do we do now?" Demanded Rose. "He may have tossed out a miracle now. But what about tomorrow? Friday? Next week? The rest of the year?"

"That is potentially problematic," sighed Carlisle.

"Potentially problematic," she repeated saucily. "Wonderful."