Summary: Time has never been a friend of Jasper Hale's. When Bella's life is coming to an end, he struggles to tell her that forever isn't good enough for him. Jasper/Bella.
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
A/N: Inspired by Daughtry's song 'Crashed'.
T I M E
I'm not sure how long it's been since Bella first climbed the steps of our porch. Time is a funny thing. It's a bit like us, vampires. When you watch it, it's remarkably slow, quiet, and composed, but overly present. When you're distracted from it, time moves faster than you think possible, it's elusive. The promise of time is alluring, beautiful, but so very dangerous. Even after more than one and a half century of it, it caught me off guard, like so many times before.
Bella is standing on our porch, looking out over the meadow. Her thoughts are slightly anxious, but peaceful and happy overall. Her presence calms me, ironically. I know she hasn't noticed me standing behind her yet, but I also know I won't scare her. She's used to my 'sneaking' by now.
The atmosphere inside the house was oppressive, and I had to get out, be alone for a few minutes. Finding Bella instead of loneliness was no surprise, nor was it unwelcome. She, too, was fed up with Edward's insistence on perfection and planning (death, after all, isn't supposed to be planned). I move to stand beside her, leaning down on the porch with a sigh I didn't know was building up. Bella turns her head to look at me, but I don't explain. I don't have to.
Her gaze shifts back, and so do her thoughts. We don't speak for a while, both lost in our own musings. For a moment I imagine Bella in her happy place. I feel the corner of my lip twitch up, but it stops as the next thought hits me. What is her happy place? Would it be with Edward, forever, timeless? Would she be that naïve, to believe in the promise of time?
Yes, we all fall for it, occasionally, some more gracefully than others. I have fallen for it, too. Bella's life is almost over, and while both she and the majority of my family look forward to it, I do not. I was shocked to find out that I sided with Rosalie and Edward on this one, and annoyed that it was too late to make that count. Time had gotten the best of me there.
Ever since her eighteenth birthday, Edward has had me walking on eggshells around Bella. I didn't mind at first, it kept me sharp. It got degrading, though, to be kept away from her as much as possible. Like a dog that's muzzled when around little children. I started pushing my limits, forcing myself near Bella more. I always made sure there was someone else in the vicinity, preferably Edward or Alice.
One night Edward, Carlisle and Alice were hunting. I happened to walk through the kitchen when Bella accidentally cut herself.
Remembering this, I steal a glance at her. I'm not usually a proud person, but having won over her (and Edward's) trust that night makes for an exception.
The reason I don't want her to change is entirely selfish. Luckily, my opinion will not change anything (I'm not selfish enough to destroy her happiness). Yet, I feel like she should know.
I turn around, leaning back against the railing, still looking at her. Her eyes shift to mine, curious at first, but then she understands the look on my face. She turns her whole body towards me, and stares into my eyes, as if trying to read what I'm about to say. I smile, maybe a bit ruefully.
"You don't want me to give up my life either," she suddenly says. It wasn't a question. I break the eye contact and look down, before I direct my gaze back to her. I expected her to be mad, or at least annoyed at me, for siding with Edward. Instead, she's curious.
The question is written all over her features, and she knows she doesn't have to say it out loud. She simply waits for an answer. I try to find the words that will explain how I feel. A few moments of silence pass.
"I'll miss you." The words are simple, but they sum up everything I want to tell her. They confuse Bella, though, so I continue. "Not you so much as your humanity, maybe. I like how you can push me to my limits, past my limits even, mostly with your clumsiness." She blushed. "And yes, I'm going to miss your blush too. Your blood smells even more tempting when you do that, which makes me just a bit more proud to know I can resist." I'm quite sure I never admitted that to anyone before.
Her face was screwed up with concentration, trying to make sense of what I just said. She seems to be contemplating her next words carefully, biting her bottom lip. I had to suppress the urge to do the same. "You know, Jasper, intimate relationships don't just fade away overnight." I suddenly feel the amusement, but don't understand it. "I happen to have a very intimate relationship with misfortune. So I'm quite sure that I'm going to end up a clumsy vampire." She puts her hand over mine, resting on the railing. I chuckle at her words.
"A few years ago, I would've killed you for that," I tell her, pointedly looking at our hands. She looks down too, and laughs. Her eyes focus on the meadow again, on something in the distance.
"I know. What happened, exactly?" She looks back at me.
"You, Bella." Confusion, again. "You're the first human I've allowed myself to get close to, and you turned out to be interesting. Worth pushing my boundaries for. You changed me, Bella."
"And you're afraid that you'll go back to your old self when I'm no longer human?" The incredulity is almost tangible. I nod. There's more to it, of course, but I'm not going to tell her that. I am not going to spell it out to her that her warmth, her heartbeat, and her trust always leave me hanging. Leave me wanting more. Wanting to know exactly what it's like to be Edward. I don't want to admit to her that the promise of time had me hoping for that. I have fallen for it, yes, but I want to fall with dignity.
Instead, I simply tell her, "I wish I had more time with… your humanity, Bella." It sounds awkward, and I laugh at my own words. Bella laughs along.
"It's not too late, Jasper," she answers, her voice sounding far more serious (and aware?) than her smile makes her look. Her pulse quickens under my gaze. A lock of her hair falls in front of her eye, and before she can react, my fingers brush the lock aside. Bella's smile falters. My fingers are still on her face, and her warmth draws me closer. Curiosity. Lust. Mine? I don't know.
My hand moves to her neck, feeling the blood rush beneath her skin. No fear. We have both drawn closer. Bella bites her bottom lip again, but this time I can't resist. My cold lips brush her warm ones, and the sensation is almost too much. Hope and lust mingle with curiosity and desire, and before long, I can't separate them anymore. Then suddenly, I can't get enough, and I move closer. I feel Bella's hand in my hair, pulling me even closer. She opens her mouth slightly, and we are timeless.
I don't know how long we stood there, lost in our own world, but it dawns on me that the entire house has abruptly gone quiet.
Time with Bella was like all other time—alluring, beautiful, but so very dangerous.