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

Kisses to all my loyal readers – you give me the courage to post the next chapter, and the next, and the next, and the…etc. Love it? Hate it? Vent via a review. That button at the bottom looks beautiful, doesn't it?


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.

Previously on Excruciating:

"Who is that?"
"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."

Chapter 2— Close Call


Forks, Washington

It had snowed during the night and all of the humans were taking extra precautions with their driving, which meant the line into the student parking lot was slower than usual.

"Winter formal," Alice read the posters plastered all over the front entrance with interest as we drove slowly by.

"You want to go?" Edward asked dubiously.

"We're going," She said with finality.

Rose glared at her. "But it's so tacky."

"I see us there," Alice shrugged.

We seeped luxuriously out of Emmett's Jeep, taking care to look gloriously windswept. Alice and Rosalie loved making an entrance and for whatever reasons, we indulged them, if for nothing else, to spice up our monotonous existences.

"Is it going to snow later?" Emmett asked Alice.

She frowned at him. "I am not telling you, Emmett! You just want to make us go out and whip snow everywhere and I refuse to subject myself to that again."

But Emmett complained and whinged throughout the whole of Differential Equations until Alice finally snapped and told him it was going to snow again during lunch.

"Why did you wait until now to tell him?" I asked her in a irritably.

"It was supposed to be a surprise," she huffed, "but then he just got annoying."

At lunch, we slipped out of the school through a back entrance and made quick tracks to the football field where the snow was still virginal white and undisturbed. It was coming down thickly and covered us in a few minutes.

We divvyed ourselves up: Rose and I against Emmett, Alice, and Edward. At first, there was no cover so we could only dodge and pelt each other until Rose went to work building a fort and we threw ourselves behind it.

It was easy enough to hit Emmett, huge as he was, but Alice with her foresight knew where all the snowballs were headed and Edward's speed made them an invincible duo.

"Jasper!" Rose hissed. "We're getting pulverized. Do something!"

I glanced around desperately, as my brain kicked into martial mode. Separate your enemies and debilitate them. I grinned as Rose just as Alice howled, "Nooooo! Jasper, I'm going to kill you!"

Edward and Emmett froze, eying me. I took a breath and focused all my attention on the three of them. In an instant Edward realized – he and Alice began to come at me, arms full of snow. I sent out a thoroughly halting wave of lethargy at the group and with a thud, they landed in the snow.

"No…fair…" Emmett whined as he struggled to pick up his arm.

Rose danced out from behind our fort and pelted them with snow.

Alice gave a little scream of outrage.

"How close do you have to be to maintain this?" Rose asked with a sneaky smile.

"Several meters suffice…why?"

Edward growled.

"Run!" Rose screamed, grabbing my hand and dashing off to the school.

A few seconds later, the rest of my sibling came unstuck and came charging after us, Emmett dislodging hills of snow as he ran. Despite Edward's speed, the ground to the school wasn't enough for him to gain on us.

We slipped into the cafeteria, ignoring the stares of the students as they drooled over our perfection and sat down at our regular table. Emmett was laughing as he came in, indicating we were forgiven for our stunt although Alice was a little riled as she shook the snow out of her hair. To goad her, I leaned toward and shook my own snow-saturated head, causing water and snow to drip on her.

"Stop!" She protested, looking to her husband for help futilely – he was laughing as Emmett tried to put his head in Rosalie's lap. "Ralph Lauren is rolling in his grave," Alice muttered, glaring mutinously at me as she surveyed her soaked shirt.

I ran my hands through my disheveled wet hair, aware of the sheer number of human females watching my every move. I wished I could take advantage of it, but there were rules – Carlisle's rules, not mine – so now I was simply bored by their attention.

"Alice," Edward began. "I bet –"

"Save it, darling," she said airily. "I'm going to win."


"Fine. Any backers?" She smirked.

Edward glanced to Emmett and me for support.

I held up my hands. "I don't bet against Alice."

But Emmett bumped his fist against Edward's. "You're on, pixie. I'll run with the underdog."

Edward pulled a face.

When the bell rang, we took advantage of the commotion to slip out again, unnoticed, this time to the lacrosse field. We kept going until the last hour and joined the swell of students surging to their cars.

"Oh my," Alice gasped.

Instantly, our conversations stopped and we followed the plane of her accusatory finger to a figure in the distance.

"That is the ugliest excuse for a motor vehicle I have even seen," Rose spat.

It was car accident: we couldn't look away, but simply kept staring at the sorry excuse for metal on wheels. The new girl, Isabella, was making a beeline for the truck, sneaking surreptitious glances around as if wondering if anybody was associating her with this wheeled abomination.

"Figures. New girl wants to make a statement," Emmett snickered.

"What's her logo? Trucker trash?" Rose quipped. "Let's go, please, I can't even look it anymore."

I could smell her even over the rise of car fumes and she still smelled divine, but I shook my head and followed my siblings to the Volvo. My special siblings were keeping careful tabs on Isabella and her relation to me, Edward only to be frustrated by still not being able to penetrate her thoughts while Alice was constantly assuring me there would be no bloodshed.

So I allowed myself to persevere, but not without taking precautions: I had managed to switch out of the class I shared with her. My exposure to her was limited to the corridors and lunch.

She was safe.

I was safe.

My family was safe.

Soon she would become just another addition to humans-Jasper-almost-killed list. The list was quite list and exclusive by no means. I decided Carlisle was wrong regarding the whole la tua cantante business and put it behind me.

There was a screeching sound.

I spun around.

There was a blue van skidding across the lane into a row of parked cars.

Anyone of us could have stopped it with a hand, but we weren't being paid to play Superman.

I watched the trajectory of the van and realized it would crash into the awful red truck. Smugly, I was glad it wouldn't mar my sight for much longer, until I saw Isabella trapped between the two vehicles, simply watching, helpless to stop her impending demise.

And I could only think, blood…split…wasted. If I couldn't have it, no one could, dammit.

I peeled away from my family and raced toward her. I caught her in my arms and threw her to the ground beside her truck, away from the oncoming vehicle. Her head bounced against the pavement, but her eyes were wide, taking me in.

I cursed, too aware that she had seen everything, and tried not to breathe, tried not the feel the blood thudding in her veins under my hand.

Desire bloomed in me.

I licked my lips.

There was yelling as people tried to get to us around the mashed trucks. We were, to put it colloquially, busted. Well, if we've been outted, I might as well do it thoroughlyNo! Maybe she has a concussion? Who was I kidding, she was entirely conscious and sound.

I bared my teeth – so good, how did the others stand this? As if the urge to kill her wasn't enough, with my legs 'trapped' under the truck, I couldn't move.

I was lying uncomfortably in top of her, staring into her face, hands on her hips, wrapped around her body. She blinked and glanced down at herself. I followed her gaze and realized one hand was firmly gripping her derriere while the other was slightly squeezing her breast.

I caught a faint tendril of lust emanate from her. Desire, but not the base, hungry, bloody desire that consumed me. Hers was a more human, hormone-driven emotion…she was attracted to me, I realized. I almost laughed and then I thought…but it was just a mite. She was far too intrigued by the inhumanness of me to given her baser instincts a chance. But if I could distract her…

She blushed and tensed, shifting her body underneath mine, rubbing her body against mine. Her eyes widened in shock as she felt me let my body react as I took in her body's desire and made it my own. In fact, she couldn't have missed it any less the pulsing between her legs if I had put it actually between her legs.

There was a grinding noise as Emmett, Coach Clapp, and several other male teachers lifted the smashed vehicles away.

Emmett pulled me up and hurried me away. Edward was beside the nurse, finally making use of his two medical degrees to sabotage any ideas Isabella might have concocted. "She probably has a concussion," he suggested to the nurse.

Isabella stamped her foot indignantly and swayed.

I watched from a safe distance as they loaded her into an ambulance and drove away. The rest of my family packed into the Volvo and followed.

As I replayed the scene again and again in my head over and over, the feelings of humiliation grew. By tomorrow, the whole of Forks would be laughing that the cold, detached Jasper Hale was undone by a plain girl. It better have been worth it.

While the other humans were distracted by the ambulance, I made a run for it, disappearing through the thick foliage of the woods near the school.

Esme was at home when I reached, folding laundry upstairs. As I walked through the door, she finished in a trice and came down to greet me. "Why are you home so early?" She asked curiously.

I frowned. "You'll know soon enough."

She sensed my unhappiness and let it go. Had I killed Isabella and the others in the vicinity, she would have forgiven me without a second thought. She was my mother, or as good as.

While she wasn't my mother in the biological sense, I bonded to her the most. We talked – that is, I complained about my lack of a self-restraint and she comforted me. I couldn't help it, she was kind and affectionate. Not to mention, she was the next in line with the highest count of homicides, which endeared me to her.

When the others finally arrived, they looked almost as bad as I felt.

We congregated in the dining room. Before anyone spoke, we all glanced around at each other, trying to read everything in everyone's countenance, wondering how bad it was, how much worse it would get – Esme, completely bewildered.

Carlisle was the last to arrive, removing his doctor's coat as he came in. "Well, first, I suppose congratulations are in order," he said with a weary smile. "Jasper, you've done beyond what we could have hoped."

"What's going on?" Esme asked, with a touch of impatience.

"He resisted his singer yet again."

"I don't need your congratulations," I told them sourly. "I know I am weak. There is no need to highlight that. In case you forgot, this has happened before and I know exactly what must be done. But what does she know, what does she suspect?"

Edward, Alice, and Carlisle exchanged sidelong glances.

"What exactly happened to you, Jasper?" Alice said in a carefully controlled voice. "Why don't you tell us that?"

"I had to stop the van! If she had spilled blood – we may have had to kill the entire school to keep it quiet. I had to act."

"And then…?" Edward prompted.

They knew.

"She saw everything," I said blandly. "She saw me push the van, she saw me pick it up. She even saw me want her – she could tell that I was…different – my eyes probably changed as well…"

Carlisle was watching the ceiling carefully, as though his life depended on memorizing the arrangement of the cracks. He knew, definitely. I was sure of it now.

"I had to distract her." My voice was urgent now, pleading for them to understand why I had chosen such a rash, bald way of capturing her attention. "She finds me attractive I realized."

Rosalie and Esme were still confused. Although Emmett was slowly understanding. I could tell because the perplexed look on his face was slowly changing to a wide grin. "You didn't, you pimp you!" He shouted, giddy.

"Try again."

"You tried to distract her to trying to get her to mack with you?" Esme asked. "Isn't that a little suspicious and not very subtle."

"No! Sort of the reverse."

"You kissed her?" Rosalie asked. "Superhero complex much?"

"No…" I said cautiously, eyeing Edward. "Not exactly."

In an instant, Edward and Carlisle recoiled just as Emmett leaned forward and held his palm open for me to slap. "You dog." Edward rolled his eyes as Carlisle fought to keep a straight face. Rosalie merely sneered and Esme tried to find an appropriately chagrinned expression whilst Alice giggled.

"Well that explains why she refused to talk about it." Edward explained. "This is does give us an edge. I think it's safe to say she's not focusing on your hulk Hogan strength, although the trade-off." He snickered. "For the first time, I can't wait for school tomorrow."

"What's she thinking?" I asked, just to aggravate him.

"I don't know!" Edward shot back.

"Once again, Edward proves to be a waste of space," Rosalie said, sounding bored of this incident already.

"Watch it, Rose," Edward snarled. "Or your M3 is end up like Isabella's pathetic truck." Roses leapt up, growling. "I don't see you helping out."

"I keep him from acting five," she jerked a thumb at Emmett. "And I stop you from doing stupid things, like opening your mouth," she shot back. "There's work enough."

"Give it a rest, you blond bimbo."

"Watch it, Edward!" Emmett was on his feet now.

I calmed them down when Carlisle shot me a look. They took the seats again, looking mildly annoyed.

"So the plan for tomorrow?" Esme prompted.

We glanced at Alice.

She shrugged. "Cloudy – a few things have to fall into place before anything happens. But it seems safe."

"Safe for us or safe for me?"

The others chuckled.

"For us," Alice answered cheekily.

"Let the battle of the species unfold!" Emmett whooped. "C'mon Jasper. Let's go out. Play it safe tomorrow." I followed him and we broke into a run as we left the house. "I don't get this," he complained lightly. "You save the day by getting aroused."

"It's surprising, this is your M.O." Edward jibed.

Emmett sighed, wistfully, "Ah, to be a working stiff."

"Good one. And forget about it already," Edward advised me. "Who knows, maybe she'll even take you up on your job?"

"I am not going hunting with you if you two keep harping on about this. It's humiliating enough."

"Fine. I'm done." Emmett leered at me but was generally serious. "I think you can handle her, kid. If you could control yourself then, why not now?"

"You don't realize how close I was the last two times, Emmett."

"That's exactly what I'm saying,…if catching you unawares doesn't send you off the cliff, then nothing will."

"Except open blood."

"It's a school, not a blood bank."

"You'd think."