I hadn't ever noticed before that he always leaves when I arrive at the Cullen house. I was ordinarily so concerned with my own insecurities and whatever tribulation had entered my day, that I was oblivious. I admit I always noticed his absence, but not specifically his departure.
I made a quiet excuse to the family about needing some time to think alone, and offered the idea of taking a walk by myself. No one disputed my idea, I'm sure it never occurred to any of them that I might have another motive. I smiled as I realized I'd found yet another reason to be thankful that my strange mind blocked Edward's unusual ability.
I followed the direction I thought I'd seen him disappear in. He wound his way through the trees, I followed deeper. I hadn't walked long before I knew I was guessing the path. I walked along and followed some strange intuition. It said in my head, This way, I feel it. He's this way.
My approach couldn't have been quiet, and felt certain he'd know long before I arrived that I was following him. I found myself walking through thinning trees, and I could hear water nearby. A waterfall? I finally stepped between two trees and in the distance, I saw him.
He sat on a rock, the waterfall fell down over him, plastering his hair around his face making it a curtain. Hiding the rooms of his eyes behind them. I would have spoken, but his posture was so... pained, I couldn't convince my voice to cooperate. He had one leg propped on a stone before him, his right elbow on his knee, both arms curled in what looked like a protective way over his head, his hands clasped over the crown. His body swayed as he shook his head back and forth, whatever he was torturing himself with, was something he didn't want. His entire body screamed 'no'.
I was stunned by the living image of devastation he presented, frozen in my hiding spot. My heart broke open to see him that way. He moved then, sitting up slightly, only high enough to pull his left arm down from his head and wrap it around his chest, curling down again as he'd been before. I knew what that was... that was ache, that was protecting the hole. Oh heart, don't wound him that way, I pleaded silently. I reached for him, wanting to add my own hand to his to help keep him together. What hole did he protect? What had ripped his certainty open, leaving only a gaping ache in its place?
I realized watching him that if he'd been human, he would have been crying. No, why kid myself. He was crying. Now that his left arm had dropped, I could see his face, and it was a grimace of anguish. I leaned toward him, my hand still out, wanting to take away his pain. He caught my movement, and he looked up and for one second, before he registered it was me, Jasper's eyes were bottomless pits of absolute desolation.
That look was only on his face long enough for me to wonder if I'd imagined it, because his face quickly transformed into shock and humiliation. I pulled my hand back, and looked at the forest floor. How could I have stood watching such a private moment? I was a fool, and rude too. I bowed my head lower. "I'm sorry Jasper. I should have left, but you looked so..." I looked up at him with my eyes alone, keeping my blushing cheeks facing the dirt still. "Jasper, can I do anything to help?"
Again his face transformed, for one moment it melted into pure astonishment and disbelief. He stood then, and moved towards me. He was very wet, his shirt sticking to him. I realized I was gaping at him, and closed my mouth. He was before me before I'd composed myself. I couldn't remember ever being so close to him.
"No Bella, you can't help me, because you can't help yourself."
I was stunned by the words, but more by the tone, as if I'd caused his pain. He must have felt my emotions, because he reached an already dry hand up to my face, gently pressing his hand against my cheek. I risked looking up into his eyes, they were filled with regret.
"I'm sorry Bella, I made you feel bad. I only meant that being yourself is all you know how to be. Nothing you are could help me. At this point only change could make a difference for me." He dropped a hand and began to walk past me.
I struggled a moment, trying to find the right words. "Jasper, change how?"
"You couldn't do it, and I most assuredly shouldn't ask. Sweet Bella, you are so human."
He took two steps away and assuming our conversation was over, I frowned. Suddenly there was a whisper of air, and he was in front of me again, both hands on my face. His breath chilled my ear. "Don't, Bella."
"Don't what?" I asked, trying to turn my head to look into his eyes again. His hands on my face held me fast though, and I couldn't turn.
He took a deep breath. "Don't marry him. Don't change." His hands dropped and I felt his cheek pressed against mine, and I could hear the sound of his intake of breath, knowing he was breathing in my scent just as, I suddenly realized, I was breathing in his. He pulled his head back, lifting his face towards the sky and closing his eyes. His jaw tightened. He looked back down at me for an almost immeasurable moment... just long enough for pain to seep into his carefully hidden expression, and suddenly I was hit by his emotion. A warmth enfolded me and it was like an electric blanket on a snow-filled night. I hadn't realized existence was cold until I felt his warmth.
He stepped away and disappeared, and I staggered, falling to the ground as the warmth was pulled away.
As my brain began to settle back to itself, I realized I was looking at the waterfall again. I recalled the way in which I'd found Jasper. Oh God, I thought, I am what punched a hole into his existence. My heart broke.