Edward sat at the piano, watching the stairs warily. He had already caught the scene that was about to happen in Alice's mind and he was determined to change its course. However, when Alice came down the stairs she gave him a warning glare. Don't get involved in this. Just don't. Please.

Edward reluctantly got up and made his way to the living room but still kept hovering in the doorway. It was hard for him to stay where he was when Jasper came in, all fury and blood red eyes, the pained expression on Alice's face almost too much to take. "I'm coming with you."

"No you're not." There was a hard edge to Jasper's voice that accompanied the fire in his eyes. "Jazz..."

"No!" Although both Edward and Alice had already seen this happening, the sheer force of Jasper's voice made them cringe. Jasper didn't yell. The quiet and composed Southern boy never raised his voice. "Alice, listen to me."

"But..."

"Listen." Alice stared at her companion. "You're happy here. You're not leaving, do you hear me?"

Jasper didn't wait for her to answer and was already on his way out again.

"Jasper." The vampire's body went rigid when her soft voice carried to his ears. "Don't bother, Alice. It's not going to work any longer. I know it, you know it, the rest of the family knows it. And I can't stand it anymore. Now please let it go and let me go."

In a flash Jasper was out the door and Edward was just quick enough to stop Alice from following him. "Don't... I'll talk to him." Alice was reluctant but eventually let him go, watching him dart out after Jasper.

It took him exactly 10.8749 seconds to catch up with the older vampire, his fingers curling tightly around Jasper's wrist, sending them both tumbling to the ground.

The moment Jasper was on his feet again he fell into a crouch and bared his teeth, crimson eyes blazing as they rested on the younger vampire.

"What do you want? I'm not going to change my mind." He hissed, instinctively taking a few steps back when Edward came closer.

"Why don't you just stop playing games Jasper? You're just being harsh with Alice to give her a reason to hate you. Let me tell you, she won't. And the rest of us won't do that either. I won't."

Jasper straightened up a bit but his body was still tense, always ready to spring back into defence. "Edward, this is me not playing games anymore. This is who I am. Look at me. Look into my eyes and tell me you didn't see this happening."

"Jasper, this is not you, you're stronger than this."

"I'm not. We all know that. And I'm sick of trying. This is not how I want to live for the rest of my life. This is not how I was supposed to live. It's Carlisle's game and I'm not playing it anymore. I'm done."

Edward took a tentative step closer and this time Jasper didn't shy away. "You're giving up. Is that what you would have done if you'd still been in the army? Giving up when the going gets tough?"

Jasper once again bared his fangs. "This is not the same."

Edward took yet another step forward. "It's exactly the same. We're a regiment. It may not be yours and you're under Carlisle's command but we're still a unit and you're deserting. Like a coward."

In an instant Jasper was in front of Edward, sharp fangs piercing the skin of the younger vampire's neck. "Take that back."

"No."

Jasper suddenly pushed the younger vampire away from himself. "Why are you doing this? Why can't you just let me go? Why is it so wrong from me to want to follow my instincts?"

"Because it's cowardice. You're stronger than that." Jasper visibly flinched at the word 'cowardice' for it heavily wounded his pride. He'd never in his lifetime deserted a regiment, no matter how tempting it might have been. But this was different. He was just going his own way, making his own, independent decision.

Edward closed the distance between them again, his fingers digging tightly into Jasper's upper arms to stop the older vampire from escaping. "Don't lie to yourself. You're backing out. You can't come to terms with your own emotions and urges."

In a matter of seconds Jasper's lips were pressed to Edward's, the younger vampire completely taken aback at the direction this was going in. Jasper eventually broke their connection again.

"You're right. I can't handle this. I need distance. I can't handle the thirst, Alice and you. It's just not going to work."

Before Edward could come up with a coherent answer, Jasper had turned his back and disappeared into the woods in a flash.

Don't worry, I might be back. Back for you. Just give me some space.

And although instinct told him differently, Edward didn't follow.