A/N: Twilight and characters are owned by Stephenie Meyer. Quicksand sleep-talking is owned by my boyfriend. Everything else is mine, I guess (doesn't leave much of interest! -- sigh). Also, I wrote this before Breaking Dawn, in case anything doesn't match up (I think there is only one small thing). Although I'm going to put my head in the sand and pretend it was never released anyway. No offence to anyone who liked it!
Major Jasper and Blackbird: or, Why Edward Decided (for the 23rd time) That Emmett Needed to Die Already
Emmett was on babysitting duty. Jasper was also left at home, but no one expected him to watch Bella and he would never have offered unless it was an absolute necessity. He didn't trust himself alone with any human - even one he'd grown to care about. Better safe than sorry, as the saying went.
Edward had been forced away for the night and much of the next day to go hunting with Carlisle, something that he sorely resented. It had been quite the argument, but when Bella had intervened and all but ordered him to go have fun and stop babying her, Edward had relented.
So Bella and Emmett had spent the better part of the evening lying about on the plush carpet of the beautiful Cullen living room watching Bella's favourite zombie movie. Jasper sat perched in a chair on the periphery - he could feel their contentment, even without his eyes trained on them, their ease with each other radiating through the room.
Emmett was amused by Bella, the way she seemed to enjoy the zombies, the way she giggled when the completely unrealistic blood splattered comically all over the lead characters when they attempted a decapitation.
Jasper wondered how a mortal girl could find it so funny – perhaps she was a perfect candidate to become what they were, although he knew real blood didn't have quite the same effect on her as the ridiculous red, corn-syrupy movie concoction did.
Emmett laughed again as Bella snickered; it really didn't take much from Bella to amuse him. Nearly everything she did amused him – to Emmett, the girl was a bundle of perpetual hilarity.
As the movie wound down, she dozed off, draped over the short couch, mouth slightly parted and snoring quietly.
"How can he stand that racket every night?' Emmett voiced. "Watching her sleep is not even remotely interesting."
Jasper grinned and was about to comment on the drool that appeared to be forthcoming, when she rolled over on her side and moaned.
"Edward -" she breathed out softly.
Emmett met Jasper's eyes with a wide grin and scooted across the floor towards her.
"This is going to be good." He rubbed his hands together. "Shall we have a little chat with Sleeping Beauty?"
"Edward -" she moaned again, a bit more loudly.
"No wonder he always watches her sleep, narcissistic bastard," Jasper laughed.
"Bella," Emmett whispered, leaning towards her.
Bella's face was a mask of confusion and anxiety. "Edward, don't walk over there. That's where the quicksand is," she mumbled worriedly.
Emmett hooted with laughter. "Quicksand," he snorted.
"It's not funny." She was getting angry. "It used to be covered by my trampoline. Where is my trampoline? I only fell off it that one time, Renée had no right to take it. Where did she put it?"
The crease between her eyes was very prominent now. Jasper could feel tension coming off her and reached out a hand to calm her down, only to be stopped by Emmett's big, bulky fist covering it.
"Not yet, I want to see if she'll talk to me first," he grinned again.
"Fine, just try not to upset her any more than she already is."
"Yeah, yeah," Emmett muttered. "What happened to your trampoline, Bella?" he whispered.
"You know perfectly well," she spat. "She asked you to take it. I know I'm clumsy, but I really wanted that trampoline." She was obviously remembering some far-off childhood trauma, and had somehow confused Edward into it.
"Would you like it back?" Emmett questioned, an evil plan written all over his round, dimpled face.
She sucked in a quick breath. "I could have it back? I promise to be careful."
"Of course you can, Bella dear." Emmett smirked in Jasper's direction.
She hummed in contentment, a small, pleasant smile on her face.
Jasper eyed Emmett warningly. "This is a bad idea. She's a walking calamity."
Emmett just laughed. "Aww, come on, Jasper. She needs a little fun, the year she's had." He looked over at her serene expression. "It'll make her laugh; I like it when she laughs. Especially when she's walking -- it makes her trip over things, and that makes me laugh."
"Edward will murder you."
"Let him try!" Emmett rolled his eyes. "Watch her for a bit?" he asked his brother.
Jasper looked over at her, unsure of himself, then back to Emmett's understanding expression.
"You won't hurt her, Jasper. She's Bella now. Go into the kitchen and don't look at her. Hold your breath if you have to."
"You won't be long?" Jasper asked, worried.
"Nah – 20 minutes, tops." Emmett jumped up and patted Jasper on the back, then barrelled out of the room.
Jasper stood up, looking at Bella, making sure that he was safe. He sighed at his own weakness and walked slowly into the Cullens' useless kitchen.
Emmett announced his return 18 minutes later with a booming laugh as he crashed through the front door.
"You're going to wake her," Jasper cautioned.
"Oh yeah," Emmett's grin revealing he didn't really care whether he did or not. "I set it up in the clearing beside the river. She's gonna be excited!"
"Where exactly did you get a trampoline at this time of night? And how did you get it here without anyone seeing you?"
Emmett shook his head, laughing quietly. "I have my ways," he replied cryptically.
"I'll just ask Edward when he gets back," Jasper mused. "Though I suppose I'll have to get to him quickly, so he can read it in your mind before he kills you."
"Edward," Emmett snorted his brother's name, "he won't do anything. Maybe lecture me a little, but he's easy to block out."
"We'll see about that. At least Carlisle will be arriving with him. He'll be able to keep him under some sort of control."
Emmett's only response was another amused snort, as he wandered back into the living room where Bella was snoozing peacefully, unaware.
Jasper had to give Emmett credit for knowing Bella -- he'd never seen her smile in quite the same ecstatic, childlike way before, not even for Edward.
She woke up groggy, stretching and trying to run her fingers through the knots in her hair. She seemed shocked at Emmett's hearty 'good morning' clap on the back, and even more so by his admission of having a surprise for her.
"What surprise?" She sounded wary.
"Oh, nothing much," he smiled, "just something for us to do today."
"All right then," she smiled in return, though not without some worry.
Emmett paced like a caged animal the entire time she was upstairs getting clean and dressed, and it got even worse when she returned downstairs and he could see her.
"What?" she asked, exasperated, her mouth full of cereal.
Emmett sighed hugely. "You're taking so long," he whined.
She rolled her eyes. "Fine." She took her bowl to the garbage and dumped the remaining cereal, washed and dried her dishes, and turned to Emmett expectantly.
"She didn't eat because of you, another reason for Edward to be mad –" Jasper whispered in a singsong voice, low enough for Emmett's ears only.
"Edward," Emmett muttered derisively, and beckoned for Bella to follow him outside.
When they reached the clearing Bella gasped in surprise, a wide grin spreading across her face.
"You got me a trampoline!" she exclaimed, jumping up in down in an Alice-like fashion. It made Jasper smile.
"I used to have one when I was a kid, but I fell off of it the second day I had it, and when I woke up the next morning it was gone. Renée had taken it back to the store. I was so upset." Her full lips pouted slightly at the memory.
"Well jump on up and give it a try! We won't let you fall off this one," Emmett promised.
"Thanks, Emmett," she smiled shyly, reaching out to wrap her arms around his enormous frame.
He patted her lightly on the back. "Anytime, Bella."
She grinned at him once more, then bounded off (stumbling slightly when her right foot hit a dip in the ground), and climbed up onto the trampoline.
She jumped timidly at first, not quite sure of herself, but once the momentum carried her up and she felt the air around her, she began laughing freely and grew more confident.
She bounced up and up, higher and higher. She sat down with her legs crossed and bounced that way for a while. She tried (and failed) to do a mixture of the two – standing to sitting and back again, but she wasn't quite coordinated enough to pull it off.
After a while she heaved a sigh and stared down at Emmett and Jasper who were sitting in the grass watching her.
"Aren't you guys going to come on here with me? This is starting to get boring," she complained.
"What do you want us to do?" Jasper asked, confused.
"Well you could jump too. Or if you didn't feel like it, you could kip for me."
"Kip for you?" Now he was really confused.
"Yeah. It's when one person is jumping and the other adds their weight at the right moment to make the jumper go higher. It's called kipping," Bella explained, seemingly amused that she knew something that the two vampires did not.
"You want us to add our weight to make you jump higher?" Emmett asked incredulously. "Are you insane? Do you know how heavy we are? You'd never come down again." He chuckled.
Bella frowned slightly. "You don't have to jump hard and send me flying, you could just press lightly."
"How lightly?" Emmett asked.
"Sorry, Bella. I don't think I trust myself not to hurt you, or break the damn thing at the very least," Emmett said with a small smile.
Bella looked and felt disappointed. What was the point of a plaything if you had to use it alone? Jasper let out a breath and jumped to his feet. "I'll give it a try."
She looked into his face, surprise written all over her own. "If that's all right with you, of course, " he amended.
Bella gave him a warm smile. "Of course, Jasper." She motioned him forward with her hand, excited now. "Come on, I'll show you how it works."
And so it began. It was a matter of trial and error – Jasper didn't quite know how much pressure to assert when Bella's small frame made contact with the trampoline, and Bella didn't know what to make of the added height and momentum he gave her. She soared off the right side a fair few times, always being caught in either Emmett or Jasper's arms before she could injure herself. She showed no sign of nervousness or discomfort, only joy and abandon -- a steady stream of her laughter ringing through the clearing.
Her feelings were having an incredible affect on Jasper; he couldn't remember a time when he'd felt so wonderful without being near Alice. He couldn't help but spread it around, causing a very silly grin to form on Emmett's dimpled face.
After two hours they seemed to have it all figured out. Jasper would add minute pressure to the trampoline bed a foot away from where Bella touched down, and she would keep her legs straight and her arms in perfect alignment above her head, looking like a diver preparing to go off the high dive. This position seemed to give Bella the most height and made the addictive laughter come from deep down in her belly, so Jasper convinced her that it was the best one.
When the sun was directly overhead, Emmett jumped up from the place where he was lounging on the grass with a quick "Be right back", and ran in the direction of the house. He returned five minutes later with lunch for Bella – a tuna sandwich, an apple and bottle of lemonade. She smiled gratefully and sat down on the trampoline to eat. Jasper lay back and watched her in contentment.
"You know," Bella mused, contemplating her sandwich, "we could probably try something a bit more difficult, now that we seem to have kipping down."
"What did you have in mind?" Jasper smiled, drawn in by her enthusiasm.
"Hmm…" she pondered, taking a bite and chewing with a thoughtful look on her face. She glanced around at the scenery and back at Jasper. "How deep is the river?"
Jasper laughed, his body shaking the trampoline slightly. Bella had to grab her lemonade when it threatened to tip over.
"Not nearly deep enough, you nut," Emmett replied from the grass. "You know, you would have been a great kamikaze pilot during the Second World War. I think you'd try just about anything dangerous without a second thought." He shook his head, a wide grin across his face. "Edward is going to have his hands full with you."
"I think he already does," Jasper amended.
"I only wish," Bella muttered darkly, taking a swig of her lemonade.
Jasper met Emmett's eyes and they both erupted into laughter. Emmett was rolling around, his huge fists leaving indentations in the ground where he pounded it in his mirth. Jasper's laughter was shaking the trampoline, causing Bella to bounce up and down, her hand over the top of the lemonade bottle. Her face was beet red.
"Poor Bella. Has Sir Edward the Chaste been holding out on you?" Emmett asked once he'd calmed down enough to form a sentence.
"Oh, God," she choked out. Her impossibly red face got even redder and she buried it in her hands. "Can you both please forget I ever said that?"
Emmett's booming laughter rang though the clearing again. "No way," he answered, shaking his dark head. "I'm saving that little comment for my speech at your wedding." He flashed his shiny, white teeth.
Bella looked up from her hands. "You aren't making a speech," she corrected him, though she sounded unsure.
"I guess it's not a speech exactly, but Edward said you wanted me to officiate. I got my licence off the internet last weekend and everything." His grin grew wider at the look of sheer panic on her face.
"I think I've made a huge mistake," she mumbled.
"Too late to take it back now, I'm afraid. I'm all licenced up and ready to be unleashed on your friends and family." He winked at her and chuckled. "Don't worry, I'll be good. Mostly."
Bella opened her mouth to respond, but decided against it, then shook her head quickly, seemingly to clear away the very thought of what Emmett was going to say and do.
She finished her lemonade and tossed everything off the side of the trampoline. "Okay, I'm finished. Let's get back to the jumping, Major Whitlock, sir."
Jasper chuckled. "You remembered."
She shrugged. "Of course. I was paying attention – amazing, I know," she added sarcastically.
"You know, you're supposed to salute a superior officer when addressing him," Jasper teased.
Bella bounded to her feet. "Yes sir, Major Jasper, sir!" She saluted him and winked cheekily. "I'm ready to learn some new manoeuvres."
"You know what you need, Bella?" Emmett's voice asked from somewhere to the left of them. "A code name. Like for spy missions, or special ops."
Bella walked to the side to the trampoline and peeked over at him. She laughed. "That's not a bad idea." She looked back over her shoulder at Jasper. "What should my code name be, Major?"
"What, it was my idea," Emmett whined, "I should get to name you!"
"No way," Bella replied, shaking her head, " I don't think I trust you with that task. If you think up something horrible you'll make sure it sticks for all eternity."
Emmett muttered to himself and rolled over onto his stomach on the grass.
"Well?" Bella turned to face Jasper once more. "What do you think?"
Jasper studied Bella, pondering. "Well," he began, " you have dark hair, and you've been flying like a bird all day, so I think I'll name you Blackbird. Lieutenant Blackbird." He raised his eyebrows questioningly. "Sound all right to you?"
She grinned. "Sounds perfect!"
"Sounds stupid to me," came from Emmett's pouting form on the ground below. "If it's not mocking her or Edward, what's the point?"
Bella rolled her eyes, but her smile remained. "Let's get jumping. I'll see if I can keep touching down in the same spot like before."
"All right. Come over this way," Jasper motioned her towards him. "See that darker fleck in the material? See if you can keep coming down on top of it."
Bella saluted him again, grinning, and took up her mark. Jasper got in position and the jumping began again. And so did the laughter.
They were taking a break, lying head to foot on the bed of the trampoline, stretched out and soaking up the rare sunshine. Jasper was content; the sun felt amazing on his closed eyelids, the birds were singing, there was a wonderful, refreshing breeze, and the scent of Bella's blood hadn't bothered him in hours.
"It's not fair –" he heard her mutter. He opened his eyes to see her glaring ominously at his feet.
"What's not fair?"
She sighed hugely. "My feet are filthy. They smell gross – like dirt and sweat and – and trampoline rubber. But yours? They're all sparkly and they smell like freaking lemon meringue pie." She slapped his bare foot lightly. "Your entire body smells like pie. It's making me hungry, quite frankly."
Emmett's booming laugh erupted from the grass nearby.
"What's so funny?" Rosalie's voice asked. The girls were back from shopping. It was only a matter of time before Carlisle – and Edward, returned as well.
"The smell of Jasper is making Bella ravenous."
Rosalie snorted. "What's with the trampoline?"
"Just something Bella wanted to do to pass the day."
"Bella's been jumping on that thing? Edward's going to kill you," she said with certainty.
"He can try," Emmett muttered, obviously tiring of the sentiment.
Bella was bouncing higher than before, a wide grin on her face and the occasional burst of laughter issuing from her lips, when Jasper heard the approach of Carlisle and Edward.
He lost focus for a fraction of a second and stepped too hard, causing Bella to reach an unexpected new height. She shrieked and giggled, coming back down a little closer to the edge of the trampoline than Jasper was comfortable with.
"You're off your mark, Blackbird," he warned, stepping lightly this time and angling his body in her direction.
"I can get it back!" she laughed, bouncing back up with the force of his step.
She landed even closer to the springs, dangerously close to the edge.
"No, you can't. I'm bringing you in!" Jasper leaned in nearer to Bella's flailing limbs as she laughed again. She went straight up in the air as his weight added power to her jump, but this time he reached out and caught her in his arms before she could hit the surface of the trampoline.
She wrapped an arm around his neck as they bounced lightly a few more times, then Jasper lowered them back down to rest on the trampoline bed.
Bella let out a shaky laugh, trying to catch her breath, and laid back. Jasper could hear her heart throbbing erratically in her chest, and was pleased to find that the sound had little affect on him.
"Sorry about that, Major." Bella grinned up at him. He returned her grin and heaved himself back in the opposite direction, causing them to bounce and Bella to giggle.
Jasper let out a huge sigh as he felt Edward's rage emanating from the back door of the house. He'd been growing increasingly angry as he watched Jasper and Bella's most recent kipping attempt.
That was the worst all day, we were doing better earlier… Jasper thought specifically for Edward to hear.
"What in the HELL is going on?" Edward's angry voice rang out in the clearing,
Emmett let out a loud sigh. He knew what was coming, and was resigned. Rosalie was angry that Edward was yelling at her husband. Esme and Carlisle's worry at the ruckus outside drifted from the house. Alice was amused. Bella was irritated. Jasper hated being bombarded with so many strong emotions at once.
"What were you thinking?" Edward hissed at Emmett.
"Don't worry about it, bro. Her and Jasper, they've been at it for hours. They have it down to a science. Sure she flew off a few times for the first hour or so, but he always catches her. Vampires, remember?"
"Vampires, exactly," Edward spat. "What if she'd scraped herself on the springs, or hit her head. What about the BLOOD?"
Emmett brought his voice down to a whisper. "Come on, man, he can hear you –"
Jasper felt his smile crumple as he listened to Edward's ongoing condemnation of Emmett's horrible idea, knowing full well that his closeness to Bella was the main reason for the concern, the anger.
"Jasper –" Bella whispered, hitting him gently in the shoulder with her foot. Jasper smiled weakly without meeting her eyes.
"Jasper," she whispered again, whacking him a bit harder, and harder still until he met her gaze. "I trust you," she whispered very quietly. She was smiling serenely, her earlier irritation dissipating as she focused on him, and he found it impossible not to return it. Wasn't he supposed to be the one who could control emotions?
"I guess I know that," he replied, still smiling.
"Good. Shall we have another go then, Major?"
"Sure, Blackbird," he laughed, "whatever you want."
If she was willing to ignore Edward for the time being, so was he. Edward's rage was nothing compared to the delight and happiness he'd felt from Bella all day, and he wasn't ready to give that feeling up just yet.
Jasper was in his study on the computer, searching for new trampoline tricks to try with Bella when he heard his name. He tried not to listen to the private conversations in the house, but it was sometimes difficult with such acute hearing and was made even more so by the fact that he was being discussed.
"Jasper should know better – Emmett I get, but Jasper should have known better –" Edward was still angry, but Bella's proximity and the fact that she was perfectly fine had calmed him somewhat.
"Edward – just stop," Bella whispered. "Listen to me now. I need you to do something, Edward. No – you need you to do it –"
Edward started to say something to interrupt, but she silenced him somehow and continued.
"I made friends with Jasper today." She paused briefly. "Not that we weren't friends, but I suppose we weren't, not really. Not with his constant worrying about hurting me, but we are now. It was easy, effortless with Alice and Emmett – but Jasper, not so much. I – well – I don't want him to feel like he has to always be on the outside whenever I'm around. And – I – I really like Jasper. I had a lot of fun today. You need to apologise to him, Edward. You hurt his feelings and he didn't deserve it. He's my friend and he's your brother, and you need to apologise."
She stopped speaking and there was a moment of silence before Edward answered.
"I know, Bella. You're right. I overreacted." He sighed hugely. Jasper could picture him pinching the bridge of his nose as he usually did when he was giving off this level of frustration.
Jasper smiled to himself. If Bella had the power to make someone as stubborn as Edward apologise, she was even more special than he imagined.
"I heard that," Edward grumbled at him through the walls.
Jasper met Bella at the foot of the stairs the following morning to prepare for another day on the trampoline.
"Good morning, Major," she saluted him, grinning.
"At ease, Blackbird," he replied, returning her wide smile. "I thought maybe you could use this before we head out there today – to, you know, satiate your hunger so you're not distracted," his smile widened at her confusion as he passed her the square, white box in his hands.
She opened it slowly and choked on a laugh at the sight of the pie. Lemon Meringue.
"Well, get me a fork," Bella replied, laughing, "The way you smell this morning -- I'm going to need to eat it in its entirety."
She dipped her finger into the fluffy meringue and licked it off, then dipped it back in for more.
"If I spend too much time with you I'm going to get fat before Edward changes me," Bella grumbled with a mock glare in Jasper's direction, and licked more sticky meringue from her fingers. "Sparkly, pie-scented vampire."
A/N...again. Please let me know what you think.