According to the Twilight Lexicon, Jasper and Alice found the Cullen family in 1950. This takes place in 1951.

Of Scarlet Lace
"Forged in war, born of death, saved by love." – Jackson Rathbone

Someone once said that scars were a reminder that our past was reality. But Jasper Hale's scars weren't merely reminders of his past. No, they were undeniable proof of the monster that he had once been. A warning of the monster that he could so easily revert to if he didn't watch his every step.

Each crescent shaped mark.

Every pale, jagged ridge that marred his beautiful alabaster skin.

They were all reminders, all warnings. Warnings Jasper didn't need. He was a monster; that he knew. Despite all of his effort and restraint, the blood-thirsty creature was always there, trying to break free. No matter how hard he tried or how much support he received from his family, things never got any easier. And even though he kept trying, Jasper was terrified that the Cullen's lifestyle would not work out for him. That he would never be able to have control like Edward or Carlisle.

But still, he would try. Not only for himself but for Alice as well.

If not for her unyielding love, he would never have been able to find the strength to even try. Thinking about where he'd be now, if he were still alive, always sent an involuntary shiver down his spine. He'd had glimpses of a better, less violent life with Peter and Charlotte, but that didn't erase his need to feed. If he'd stayed on that path, there was no telling what he would have become.

But because of Alice… he had hope.

He only wished that it were enough. Because even though that hope was there, even though she gave him more love than he thought he deserved… That didn't guarantee that he would never slip up. He had before, and he would again. For Jasper Hale, that seemed to be an inevitable truth that he would spend his life running from. But with Alice at his side, he would never stop trying to be good.

With Alice's constant reassurance and support, his self-control had improved tremendously over the past years. But it wasn't enough, and Carlisle had taken to testing and mentoring him in ways that his wife never could. They'd only been with the Cullens for a little over a year, but he already felt as if he owed the man his life much the same way he owed Alice his soul.

Each of his father's tests had been excruciating, but each had been overcome. Two days without feeding. Walking down a crowded street when his eyes were very nearly black. The trials had been difficult but he'd managed. Carlisle's latest test for him, however, seemed as if it were going to be impossible.

Seven days without hunting capped off with a stroll through town.

Today… Today was worse than yesterday. Worse than the day before. It had been only three days since Edward, and Emmett, and he had gone hunting, and he was already thirsty. Very thirsty. His eyes were as black as night, and Jasper didn't know how much longer he'd be able to ignore the brining in his throat. It was a constant reminder of what he was trying to become and what he was trying to avoid.

When Carlisle had set him the task, Jasper had known it was going to be difficult. Seeing the faith in the other man's wise eyes, he'd thought he could handle it. But now, three days in, he wasn't so sure. With each passing day, the fire in his throat blazed hotter to the point where he felt as if the skin should have been scorched. Though he hated to disappoint Carlisle and Alice, not to mention the rest of his family, he didn't know how much longer he could take it.

Today, he'd almost broken down and ran off to the forest that bordered the small town they were currently living in.

And it wasn't because he couldn't handle the nagging thirst that plagued him constantly. Or the beating hearts in the cars that passed by their home all day long. Those things, he'd learned to handle in the past year. But today, he had pushed himself. He had, of all things, taken Alice shopping.

They'd both known it would be risky, but Carlisle had encouraged the endeavor. He'd smiled softly and nodded as the pixie-like woman explained the tiny, always nearly empty shops in town. His father had warned them both of the risks, Alice in particular. But in the end, Carlisle had squeezed both of their shoulders affectionately before placing his keys in his newest daughter's hand.

Climbing into Carlisle's black Jaguar Mark VII, Jasper tried to ignore the ever-present thirst. Truth be told, he wasn't sure if he could handle the excursion. He'd been out in crowds before but never when he was so thirsty. And never when he'd been trying to adhere to the Cullens' strictly 'vegetarian' diet. The knowledge that the people around him were completely off limits, had only served to make the thirst worse. If he'd had his way, he'd have stayed safely tucked inside their house. But as it was, Jasper had never been able to deny Alice when she looked so excited. As they pulled out of the driveway, the last thing the man saw was Carlisle standing on the porch, his arm wrapped lovingly around Esme. Even from the driveway, Jasper could see the faith in his father's eyes and the love in his mother's.

The sight should have calmed his nerves.

But it didn't.

Pressing his eyelids shut, Jasper breathed in deeply allowing Alice's scent to flood his senses and calm the burning in his throat. Like always, he would just have to put his faith in Alice. So long as she was there, he thought he'd be able to handle the trip. They'd been into town a few times before and he knew that his wife hadn't been lying when the small shopping area to Carlisle. The stores were small, more along the lines of boutiques, and each only ever had two or three people in them.

As they drove toward town, Jasper kept his eyes shut as he listened to the rain splattering against the windshield. After only a few minutes on the road, the man felt the emotional climate in the car shift. Less than a fraction of a second ago, the car had been filled with a bubbly enthusiasm that could only be the result of an impending shopping trip. But now the excitement was being washed away by a wave of soothing love radiating from his wife. And the sudden change in emotion was ominous. It was almost as if Alice were trying to calm him with her own feelings instead of him affecting hers. Desperate to soak up as much of her faith and affection as possible, Jasper kept his eyes tightly closed as they sped closer and closer to town.

The drive from their home to town was short, even without Alice speeding along the open road. Before he knew it, the tiny woman was squeezing shoulder to let him know they'd arrived. He didn't open his eyes; instead, Jasper placed his right hand over his wife's until he felt the car come to a halt beneath him. Wanting to hold onto his wife's peaceful climate and her scent for as long as possible, Jasper stayed as still as a statue even though the car was still. He wasn't sure how he'd react when forced to take in all of the human scents, sounds, and emotions around him.

All too soon, Alice gave his shoulder an extra squeeze before cheerfully announcing, "We're here!" Yes, they were there but he was nowhere near ready for it. He, however, couldn't bear to disappoint Alice or Carlisle. Breathing in deeply, Jasper allowed the heady scent of the leather seats, the floral scent of his wife, and everything else that was in the car fill his throat and lungs. Forcing the air back out, the man finally opened his black eyes.

Turning to the woman next to him, Jasper wasn't surprised to see his wife's lips split into a wide smile that lit up her whole face. His deep voice, rich with the remnants of a southern drawl, seemed to fill the car even though he spoke barely above a whisper. "Let's go."

He would have thought it was impossible, but as he wrapped his hand around the door handle, his wife's smile widened even more.

As predicted, the stores were next to empty in the middle of the Monday afternoon they were out on. All of the dutiful housewives had already returned home to cook dinner for their husbands and children. The only shoppers who were out and about were young girls who could be no more than a year out of high school. Watching them peruse the cocktail dresses in rich colors with their new fashionable short sleeves, Jasper couldn't help but imagine them as shopping for husbands instead of clothes.

To him, each store was the same. A small shop full of the latest fashions. Whether it was hats, shoes, or clothes, there was no real difference. The owner would always call out a greeting but stop halfway through when they caught a glimpse of him and his wife. The rest of the time in the store was spent keeping the shopkeeper and himself calm while Alice flitted among the racks oooh-ing and aaah-ing as she went.

Every time they stepped over another threshold and a tinkling bell above the door announced their presence, Jasper prepared himself for the worst. The flames in his throat would roar up in response to each shopper who walked by him. And the longer they stayed in one tiny, enclosed store, the worse it got. He longed for the moment when Alice would ring up her purchases and they could exit the boutique. Once outside, the cool misty breeze rushing through his senses would help to soothe the flames. A little.

Each and every entrance into a new shop was like a brand new experiment in torture set to test his resolve.

The scent of warm, flowing blood was assaulting him from all sides, filling his mouth with venom and ripping at his tenuous calm. But despite all of that, Jasper Hale only had eyes for his wife. He watched patiently as she tried on hats covered in jewels and flowers. Though she didn't wear hats very often, she always managed to get the jaunty angle of them just right. Very much to the glee of the shop owners who were delighted to have her in their stores despite their underlying apprehension.

Shoes were the same. But in those particular shops, men always seemed to be the ones to wait on her despite his presence. They would measure her even though she insisted that she knew her size. They would even go so far as to take off her own shoes and slide the new ones over her tiny feet, their fingertips resting for a second longer than necessary on her petite ankles. Jasper would sit quietly by, unbothered by the attention that was lavished upon his wife. While it should have bothered him, he knew there was no threat here. There was no way that Alice thought of these men as anything more than an off limits snack.

There were, of course, the moments when someone would take her hand to help her stand up in a new pair of shoes or brush her skin as they handed her a receipt. The reaction was always the same. A jolt of shock from the salesperson would always shoot through Jasper as the clerk proclaimed how cold his wife's skin was. Each and every time she would explain it away as a mixture of a naturally low body temperature and cold weather. It was, after all, a cold, gloomy, rainy day. It was a thin excuse, but no one ever questioned it.

As usual, Alice had been delighted by all of the new fashion choices. This tiny town certainly wasn't New York or Paris, but sometimes, just sometimes, she was willing to venture into the local shops. She'd been drawn to the rich silks and velvets, unable to keep from running her delicate fingers over the various fabrics. In the past two hours, she'd managed to find new shoes not only for herself but for Esme and Rosalie as well. She'd bought a new, "smart" looking tie for Carlisle as well as sweaters for Edward, Emmett, and himself.

And because Alice was Alice, it didn't stop there.

By the seventh store, the pixie-like woman had managed to find herself a whole new wardrobe that consisted of all the latest fashions. The ones that were available in this tiny town anyway. There were cocktail dresses with full skirts in rich colors. And for each dress, there was a matching handbag and shoes. She'd also managed to find an assortment of skirts and cardigans, suits and a complete line of lingerie in luxurious silks and laces. When he'd shot her a bemused, 'haven't you bought enough?' look, she'd responded with a bright, "Out with the old! In with the new!" He'd only been able to chuckle in response.

But now, laden with down with bags and packages and barely managing to keep a hold of his self-control, Jasper was ready to go home. He needed to go home. It had been a trying day, but he'd managed to keep himself calm and in charge of the monster that rested within him. He couldn't help but feel proud of himself. But as a teenage couple passed them on the street, Jasper knew it was time to get away from any unnecessary temptation.

But Alice… Alice had spotted a scarlet dress covered in lace in a store window across the street. He could tell, from the emotions emanating off of her, that she would be extremely disappointed if she didn't get to try it on. Jasper didn't need to see the excitement and anticipation in her eyes to know that he wouldn't be able to turn her down.

Not even now with the thirst clawing desperately at his throat.

It was with great trepidation that he followed his wife into the tiny shop, the bell above the door announcing their presence as usual. Like the rest of the stores they had visited, this one was more of a boutique than anything. There was barely room for the three round racks that were squeezed onto the carpeted floor, and the walls seemed to be jam packed with full skirts and lumpy coats. It was much smaller than the other stores, and the lack of room made him uncomfortable.

Before the door had a chance to swing shut behind them, Alice had danced over to the counter and asked to see the dress in the window. Jasper had lingered by the doorway frozen by the owner's heady blood scent that permeated the small, stuffy shop. Alice's tinkling laughter reminded him of why they were there. The gnawing thirst only got worse as he walked further and further into the store in search of the pixie-like woman. He couldn't lose control. Not now.

Jasper didn't need to call out to find out where she was; her soprano voice filled his ears, and her excitement permeated his worry. Heading towards the excited giggling, the man heard the clerk speak as clearly as if she were right next to him. "Just a few more buttons, dear…"

The dressing room. Of course.

In their time together, Jasper had stood outside many a dressing room door waiting for Alice. Any other man would have found it boring. But he loved to see her face as she came out to ask for his opinion even though she'd already made up her mind. His favorite times were when she would appear, grinning from ear to ear, radiating excitement. She would swish the skirt around or smooth some intricate detail in the fabric. But he enjoyed the negative reactions as well. The tiny woman may have given off disappointed vibes that affected him as well, but her pouty expression never failed to amuse him.

Those times, however, he'd either recently hunted or was holding his breath. He could have held his breath now, but he'd been trying to work past that extreme. And so, he kept his lungs moving even though each breath brought with it a blast of fire.

From the giggling in the dressing room, Jasper knew that his wife wouldn't be able to resist twirling and swishing in satisfied joy.

And he wouldn't be able to resist her emotions. He was counting on her emotional climate to soothe his own.

Jasper listened intently as the shop owner fawned over Alice, her own voice as giddy as his wife's. He couldn't help but be surprised by how calm the woman was around his wife. Most people, no matter how calm they seemed around him or his family, always had an underlying layer of apprehension that they just couldn't shake. But not this woman. No, it seemed as if she were just as caught up in the excitement as Alice. He'd have been content to listen to the two women laugh and chatter for hours if it hadn't been for the call of her blood and the tinkling of the front bell. The tiny ringing noise could only mean one thing. And it terrified him.

As the door swung open, a gust of wind swirled into the tiny shop, bringing with it the scent of rain, the raucous laughter of two bubbly teenagers and the hot, right scent of their pumping blood. The moment the door swung shut, the entire shop was filled with their intoxicating, maddening smell.

Jasper didn't need to turn around to see them; the girls had crossed the small shop and were standing across from him in a matter of seconds. Delores, as her friend had called her, was looking for a dress to wear to their school's Sadie Hawkins dance. Deborah already had hers but came along to help her friend and to look for shoes. The two were loud and boisterous, flipping their hair to and fro. Their scent clung to his nose and throat like the most cloying of perfumes.

Swallowing deeply, he watched as Delores threw her head back in laughter. The girls tan neck was exposed, and the man could see the blood pulsing just beneath her skin. As his mouth filled with venom, Jasper couldn't help but think about how easy it would be…

"Jasper?" Alice's delicate soprano voice sang even when she was worried. The innocent bystanders would think she was upset with her boyfriend for looking at another girl. But they both knew better. The sales woman stood behind her, still attempting to fasten a button on the lace dress that hugged his wife's body. For the first time since they'd entered the shop, he felt the familiar wave of apprehension coming from clerk.

The fear wore at the edges of Jasper's thirst as he watched Alice's face flit between fear, anger, and worry. To the human eye, the quick changes in emotion would have been invisible. But Jasper had caught each one, and he understood their meaning. As the store owner began to fuss with the bow that tied around the waist of the dress, his wife was having incomplete, flittering visions. From the worry that was wafting off of her, he didn't need to be told what she was seeing.

He already knew.

And it was exactly what he'd been terrified of since Carlisle had given the trip his blessing.

Jasper's onyx eyes flickered back to Delores and Deborah for a sixty-fourth of a second before returning to Alice's worried face. For the first time since they'd gone on their first shopping trip together, she was not showing off the outfit she had tried on. Instead, she was frozen solid in the dressing room door waiting for her husband to make a choice. Staring at his wife, he could feel the monster trying to break free, and the scars covering his body almost buzzed in hungry excitement.

It really would be so very easy.

Jasper saw himself springing forward, ripping out Deborah's throat while he held a struggling Delores in his free hand. The girl's rich, heady blood would slip down his throat barely quenching his thirst as the twitching of her body became weaker and weaker. Her terror would assail him, and he'd want to pull back, to spare her. But he wouldn't be able to. Not after going for so long without tasting human blood and being as thirsty as he was. Alice would try to stop him, but her tiny form would be no match for him. The clerk who had been so comfortable before would run. Or try to anyway. There was no room in her tiny shop to make a quick escape. In the end, he would kill her as well. If only to keep their secret.

All of the bags and boxes he'd been carrying slipped from Jasper's hands, and before they'd had a chance to crash to the floor, he was gone. The tinkling of the tiny entrance bell and the subsequent shutting of the door didn't meet his ears until he was nearing Carlisle's car. He didn't stop to think about what he was doing. He just kept running, the rain soaking his clothes. Alice would find him in her visions, and she would understand.

His frantic footfalls had carried him home, never once slipping on the rain slick street. He'd wanted to run through the forest, but he knew that if he did, he would hunt. After all of the hours in the stores and the close call with Deborah and Delores, it was inevitable. He could have hunted, but Carlisle had set him a seven-day task, and he didn't want to give up now. Jasper was confident that his father would understand, but he couldn't do it. He couldn't let the man who put so much faith in him and his wife down.

The next best place he could go was to the big white house that the Cullens lived in and the sanctuary of his own room.

Pushing through the door, Jasper didn't stop as he rushed up the spiral staircase to the second floor. He didn't even stop to speak to his parents, brushing past them like a surly teenager, He could see the questioning looks on their worried faces and feel their unbearable fear. The man knew he should have stopped, if only to reassure Carlisle and soothe Esme, but he couldn't bear to look into their eyes. And so, he didn't stop until he was in his room.

Over the past year, his and Alice's room had become a safe haven when he needed to get away but couldn't trust himself around anything with a heartbeat. Somehow, everyone seemed to know when to leave him be. He wasn't positive, but Jasper was pretty sure that Edward had something to do with that. Only Edward truly knew what was going on inside his head, and he was ashamed of thoughts that his brother had had to endure for him on his darker days. Whether he had Edward to thank or not, Jasper was grateful for the privacy this room allowed him.

With the door safely shut, Jasper crossed the carpeted floor in two strides and crawled onto the plush bed that took up half the room. He pushed the pillows aside as he stretched out on his stomach. Jasper's right check was pressed against the cool comforter, the tiny droplet of rain that had managed to seep into his hair soaking into the rich fabric. Alice wouldn't be happy, but it would dry soon enough.

He forced his lungs to expand and contract, desperate for anything that would push the monster back into the pit of his soul. Just like in the car, Jasper pressed his eyes shut trying to find lingering traces of his wife's calm in their room. Even though he wasn't listening for it, the man heard the front door open and close again. It was Alice. He could feel the strength of her love and her worry all the way upstairs.

Jasper focused on her voice, wondering why she bothered to speak so softly. Given their hearing, he could hear every subtle inflection of her tinkling voice with absolute clarity. And she would know that. But for whatever reason, the woman had still whispered. She'd asked Esme to have Emmett bring in her things. It was obviously a play to speak to Carlisle alone. It was weak bait, but it had worked. Their mother had left the room in search of his bear of a brother. They all knew Esme would hear the conversation anyway, but Alice hated talking about things like this in front of her. It always bothered the maternal woman so much to hear that her children were in pain.

No matter what, Esme would hear the conversation. But this way, Carlisle could soothe her later.

Alice's conversation with their father was short. All that had been revealed was that he'd almost snapped in one of the stores. Nothing had happened but it had been close. IVery/I close. Carlisle had let her go on the promise that she fill him in completely later.

From the sound of her movements as she danced up the staircase, Jasper knew that Alice had bought the lace dress. She would have found it easier to leave it on rather than waste time getting out of it. Especially since she would have had to wait for the slow, human clerk to fiddle with the buttons. The thick tulle under skirt rustled about her legs with each step she took. To a human, the sounds would have been merely audible. But to Jasper's vampire ears, the noise was quickly drowning out everything else in the house.

In the same instant that the bedroom door creaked open, Alice was perched on the bed next to him, her tiny hand pressing into the middle of his back. The woman didn't speak and neither did he. There were no words, no matter how artfully combined, that could soothe him right now. And like always, his wife understood that.

What seemed like an eternity later, the door clicked shut, and Jasper was once again enclosed in his sanctuary. But now his wife was there too, and he couldn't stop himself from tasting her emotions. As usual, she was full of love, but now there was a great deal of sadness as well. He longed to soothe and calm her, but he just didn't have it in him right now.

Replaying the day over and over again in his mind Jasper had slipped back into his anguish. Even Alice's protective touch had all but disappeared as his mind lingered on the worst moments of their afternoon. Had her palm not slid up to his shoulder and her fingers not twisted in the soft fabric of his sweater, Jasper might have drifted off into nothingness. His skin would have turned waxy, and his onyx eyes would have misted over, but he would be there, trapped in regret. Not death, but to a place where he was a thinking statue that would become weak with age. Had the Volturi not experienced it themselves, they would have slipped into the same statuesque existence. The only difference being that they had believed themselves to be gods where as he knew he was a monster.

A fierce tugging at the fabric around his torso brought Jasper's attention back from the disastrous outing. Both of Alice's tiny hands were now twisted in the material near his shoulders. As she pulled, he could hear the fine threads snapping in the seams as the back half of his sweater was ripped away from his body. The front half still trapped between his chest and the bed, Alice had tossed the fabric on the floor. And she was now gently lifting his arms, puling off what was left of the tattered sleeves. It seemed strange but right now, he didn't care enough to protest. This was, after all, Alice. There was always a means to her ends. He would just have to trust her.

Lying topless on their bed, Jasper thought of his and Alice's first night together. He thought of the first time she'd seen him naked. Unlike other vampires, she hadn't found the extensive scarring that covered his body to be frightening. Never once did he feel anything but love coming from her as her amber eyes took in the expanse of his chest and back. There was no revulsion as her gaze raked over the curves of his hips and thighs. Not once, as she pressed her lips against the scar over his left eye did he feel self-conscious.

It was impossible to feel anything but incredible when he was so deeply submerged in Alice's emotional climate.

But now…

Alice's emotions were tainted with sadness and so he was able to feel his own sorrow more clearly.

With his alabaster skin exposed, Jasper was all too aware of the web of crescent marks covering his body. The scars were reminders. Reminders of who he was and who he was trying to become. No matter how long his sleeves or how high his collar, the poisonous memories would always taint his life.

Jasper's thoughts had slowly drifted back to that first night with Alice and how he'd felt compelled to explain the scarring to her. She'd pressed her lips against his to silence him and didn't pull away until he'd lost the ability to speak. In explanation, she'd pulled at one of the stray curls hanging in his eyes and said, "No, I've seen this. You don't tell me about this yet."

Even though Alice had seen his past in her visions, it would be years before he told her the story.

His thoughts shifted once again and had made their way back to today. Jasper's memories were at war with what had happened or, almost happened today. On one hand, he'd almost killed the two giggling schoolgirls and the shop owner. On the other, he hadn't. He'd been able to stop himself. As the scene began to swirl behind his closed eyes, Jasper's thoughts froze as Alice's soft lips pressed into the base of his spine. The spot was particularly scarred; a newborn had managed to pin him down and had gnawed fruitlessly at the spot. The scars were more like a collection of slashes; the vampire had been unable to properly bite the awkward spot.

While her lips followed the path of the worst scarring, her fingers traced the fainter ones. The pixie-like woman had pulled her body closer to her husband's. A taller person could have simply leaned over to reach the far side of the man's body. But as it was, Alice was not even average height. Instead of leaning, she'd pressed her torso against Jasper's back in an effort to help her reach. But more than that, it was so she could close the gap between them. As she worked her lips over the myriad of scars lining the contour of his waist, the scarlet lace slid over his marble skin.

Alice's fingers continued to work their way over the intricate webbing made up by thousands of crescent-shaped scars. Even though she was incredibly gentle, her kisses burned with the intensity of the newborn's bite. He could remember all too distinctly the feel of their teeth cutting through his flesh with the ease of a human biting through the flesh of a too ripe peach. And even though the venom's sting had faded away long ago, he would never be rid of the pain.

Each and every bite had marked him for the monster he was, and the pain of her caresses was almost unbearable. He felt as if each kiss, each gentle touch of her fingers were trying to wipe away his sins and slay the monster within him. And at first, he longed to pull away, to flee the room that was supposed to be his sanctuary. He wanted to get as far away from her touch as possible. He felt unworthy to be touched by her love. But a firm hand on his shoulder told him otherwise. He knew the decision had been made, he was going to flee and because of that, Alice knew. She would have seen him doing just that.

Holding his body in place, her caresses flowed over the curves of Jasper's back. The tender brushes continued to ache, each touch sent of new ache through his body. But when Alice's lips found the knot of scarring at the base of his neck, the pain of her touch became something else.

And he finally understood.

She wasn't trying to slay the monster that lived within him. Each kiss, every stroke of her fingers… it was her way of soothing him. Of calming the anger and disappointment that had filled his veins the moment he'd ran from the dress shop. Alice knew about what he'd been, but her kisses proved she had faith in the man he wanted to become. That she would never, ever give up on him. He'd felt it in her emotions but her touch was something else altogether. It was stronger, more tangible.

He was still trapped beneath his wife's tiny body, but now it was willingly. He'd have been content to lie there for hours, days, weeks as Alice kissed away his pain. But the relentless burning in his throat would never allow that. He would need to feed soon, but with Alice by his side, Carlisle's goal seemed feasible once again. Certainly not any easier, but not impossible either.

Her lips had fell to the left side of his neck, her soft kisses taking away his anger. As her lips fell over the contours of his collarbone, his emotions shifted. And it took him the smallest fraction of a second to decide what he wanted, needed at that moment.

Jasper didn't give the idea a second thought so that Alice wouldn't have a chance to see his plans. It took only a second for him to roll over on his side, grab hold of his wife, and pull her body tightly against his chest. In the quick moment, he'd managed to bury his face again her neck so that her chin was on his head.

Any other time she would have been giggling, but right now, the room was silent. As always, Alice seemed to know exactly what he needed. And now wasn't the time for lighthearted laughter. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his neck, her fingers working their way through his honey-blonde curls. Comfortable in her embrace, Jasper breathed in as much of Alice's scent as his lungs would allow. It was enough.

Even though they were impossibly close, the man tried to pull himself nearer to his wife. His hands clung desperately to her small body, the red lace of her dress sliding over his exposed skin. In his eagerness to be in contact with as much of her as possible, Jasper allowed his lips to rest against the hollow of her throat.

It wasn't a kiss.

There was no desire or pressure there. It was merely skin against skin. The slight touch begged for reassurance.

Alice's alabaster cheek came to rest in the curls she'd just been playing with. The tips of her fingers had fallen to his bare shoulders and began tracing the intricate pattern of scarring once again. Instead of shocking, the touch eased his pain. It was an answer to the question that his lips against her skin had silently asked. It was all he needed.

Lying there, Jasper knew that if vampires could sleep, he would have succumbed to exhaustion at that moment.

Instead, he was happy to lie in his wife's arms as her love engulfed his torn nerves. Everything seemed to slip away as Alice's fingertips traced gentle patterns over his ravaged skin. Sound. Worry. Time. It was all gone. All that mattered now was the woman holding him. Because of that, his own hands refused to leave her back for fear that space would come between their bodies. Wrapped in her embraced, the light in the room had shifted, the sun had making way for the moon. As he watched the shadows moving over Alice's skin as the sun set, he wasn't sure how long they stayed like that.

It could have been seconds or it could have been centuries.

Jasper didn't know which. Nor did he care.

Time would continue to turn no matter what, and tomorrow would come much too quickly. And with it would come a thirst worse than today's and a struggle that would threaten to rip him apart from inside out.

Even now, it was terrible. The thirst was blistering hot in his throat, and he longed to quench it. But with his wife near by, and her emotions engulfing him, the thirst was a little bit easier to control. And he was content to lie with Alice as she pressed tender kisses into his hair and her fingers caressed the scars that defined his past.

The scars that he refused to let shape his future.

Squeeka Cuomo's Notes
- This was originally written for the lj community "twilight20" (Prompt: Redemption)
- The opening quote is about Jasper from Jackson Rathbone. I was really taken with it because it fits Jasper so perfectly and it came from the person who is going to be portraying him. And that gives me hope. ;)
- Michelle: Thank you for your late night help with those pesky petrified vampires and with rating choices. :D
- Quack: As always, thank you for the awesome beta. Your comments were few, but they were very helpful.- As always, reviews are love.