Jasper was lurking in the dark outside, watching the Cullen house from a safe distance. The disappointment was practically radiating off the building, the combined emotions of the 6 vampires inside almost overwhelming. He cringed inwardly at the thought of what had caused their disappointment in him in the first place. He hadn't meant to slip but just the vivid memory of that human's intoxicating scent had the venom burning up his throat in an instant. He swallowed it back, his eyes coming to rest on the illuminated window on the ground floor again.
Edward excused himself from the others as soon as the thoughts softly filtered through to him.
Didn't mean to… weak… too weak… leave… too weak for them…
Alice was at his side almost immediately, a picture of Jasper hovering outside the only thing on her mind. "Alice don't… let me…"
She reluctantly stayed behind as Edward made his way outside, stopping Jasper from escaping just in time. Jasper avoided his eyes, pain and regret visible in his almost boyish features as his shining red eyes fixed onto his own feet.
"Look at me Jasper…" Edward's voice was unexpectedly soft but still Jasper couldn't bring himself to do what the younger vampire had asked. "Jazz… please?" Edward almost flinched when Jasper's blood red eyes met his, sheer pain the only emotion present in them.
"Don't bother Edward, I know you don't understand… Please tell the others I'm sorry… and tell Alice…"
"…that I love her but that I can't…"
"…go on like this but that I want her to…"
Edward willed himself to push any feeling of disappointment aside and let the reassurance and comfort he so desperately wanted to offer the older vampire rush through his body before he raised his voice. "Jasper."
Edward's sharp voice eventually had Jasper shutting up, confusion settling in his crimson eyes at the sudden interference of comfort in the thick haze of disappointment clouding his mind.
"You're right Jazz, I can't really understand because it's never been this hard for me but I try to… I want to understand you. I want to help you."
Jasper was quick to shake his head and turn away.
You can't help me. I'm too weak.
Just as Jasper was about to dart back into the safety of the forest, Edward caught Jasper with one arm around the waist, pulling the older vampire back against his body. Jasper instantly started to struggle but Edward tightened his grip, firmly keeping his hold on the blond.
"Stop fighting Jazz. You have to let go, you have to let me help you."
"You just need to give me the chance to help you."
Edward whispered into the older vampire's ear. "Let me help you Jasper."
Gradually Edward could feel Jasper relax in his embrace, the struggling stopping eventually.
"Why now? After all this time…" Jasper's voice was quiet, the Southern drawl so much more pronounced than usual.
"Because I don't want you to leave… I can't stand to see you go…"
"You will. I will, we will help you…" "
That's what you always try to do… why do you still want to help me after the umpteenth time I… slipped?" Jasper subconsciously leant back into against Edward when the younger vampire pulled him closer yet again.
"I've always wanted to help you… but you're not exactly easy to help considering how stubborn and withdrawn you are…" There was no judgment in Edward's voice, only affection. Jasper gently freed himself out of the other vampire's embrace and turned back to Edward, bright crimson meeting liquid gold when their eyes locked.
It still hurt Jasper to see the mixed emotions in Edward's eyes although the younger vampire was determined not to let his trouble show. After a brief moment of hesitation Jasper swiftly brought their lips together in the softest of kisses, his hand coming to rest on Edward's neck.
They pulled apart after a few seconds, forehead resting against forehead, breath mingling between their open lips. "Thank you."
The soft whisper sent a shiver down Edward's spine. "Come on, let's get you back home…"
Edward finally broke their connection, one hand resting reassuringly between Jasper's shoulder blades as they made their way back to the house together. And for some reason Jasper knew that maybe this time it wasn't gonna be quite that hard with Edward by his side.