'Now that you're a member of the family Bella, I suppose you should understand that my family is sometimes prone towards...trading. Love binds us naturally, and there is no question of my loyalty towards Esme. Emmett and Rosalie seem to follow my and Esme's example, but Edward, Jasper and Alice have been known to switch the stories occasionally. Alice adores Jasper so generally speaking, it is usually him she remains with. Occasionally though, as we've spent the odd year or two in a new place, Alice and Edward have played the happy couple. To all outward observers it's as though Alice and Jasper never existed. Internally within the family we of course knew better.
'I realize it's been many years since your change, and you've adapted very well to all aspects of our games, and we have enjoyed greater companionship in general, thanks to your presence. However, I wished to inform you of these things, because Alice has had a vision. It involves her and Edward, as well as you.'
I remembered being stunned into silence by Carlisle's remark. 'Me?!' I'd asked, dazed.
Carlisle went on, 'Yes, you...and Jasper.'
My eybrows shot up, 'Me and Jasper?! What?!'
I recalled that Alice and Jasper had left with Edward to go hunting that morning. The idea frightened me. 'Do....does Edward, did Alice tell Edward? About her vision, I mean?'
Carlisle merely looked at me, his eyes full of compassion and apology.
Of course, he reads minds.
'Edward has decided that he has no interest in watching this happen, so he and Alice have spoken to me about it. Either you and Jasper may leave for the duration, or Edward and Alice will. I'm sorry that any of you should have to go for any reason, but I respect my son's feelings. What he saw in Alice's mind caused him more pain than he was able to deal with.'
'What was it?' I asked, desperate, feeling the tightness in my throat that would have once been followed by tears of frustration tumbling down my cheeks.
'You'll have to speak to one of the children to know that. He wouldn't share it with me. I only know that his face wore a deeply pained expression as he told me, and that his eyes were haunted by great sadness. Bella, you've long been a special daughter to me so please don't think I fault you for anything. Things with my children just are,' he stumbled on his words uncomfortably, '...what they, are. I'm sure you have quite a bit of thinking you'd like to do. I'm going with Esme, Rosalie and Emmett to the city, you will have the house entirely to yourself without company for an hour. At the end of that time Edward will return to pack his things, Alice has already packed hers in his car. They will leave soon after that, and then...Jasper will arrive. Esme, Rosalie, Emmett and I will be gone for the rest of the week. During this time, you and Jasper should decide whether you'll stay or go, and notify Edward and Alice by text. Edward's requested that you not call him Bella, I'm certain you can understand his pain.'
I could feel my face crumple in an awful way, it was torture to cry when there was no release of tears. Carlisle came to me and wrapped his arms around me. 'I'm sorry Bella, I know this must be a very painful prospect for you, but we'll get throught it, and as soon as possible, I hope to see my family reunited again.'
Jasper's fingers were twined through mine as we walked. Remembering that conversation with Carlisle two years ago recalled the pain of that time and I squeezed Jasper's hand more tightly. He looked at me, and his brows knitted together as he felt my sudden tension and pain. "You're hurting, what is it?" He brought a hand up and cupped my cheek.
"I was remembering the last conversation I had with Carlisle, when he told me...explained to me about us, about Alice's vision," I replied, looking at the ground, still unable after all these years to shed the habit of trying to hide the blush which no longer came.
Jasper lifted my hand to his lips and tenderly kissed my hand. "That was the time of pain Bella, leave it in the past. This is the time for celebration, we will be together again, and happy again." I felt a sense of calm and contentment settle over me, and though I often wouldn't allow him to affect my emotions intentionally, I allowed it this time. I was so tense, nervous, heartbroken, but most of all, I was absolutely terrified that Edward would not accept me back. The past two years with Jasper had been a rollercoaster ride. He'd been kind, and patient and allowed me to go through everything I needed to, to accept what had happened. I'd argued initially, certain that there had to be another way. When I'd learned from Edward that Jasper had already accepted it and that it had become a certain future I had lashed out at Jasper. My fury had nearly lost me everything.
Jasper had been able to break through my rage enough, assisted I'm sure by his ability, to find out that if someone had to leave it would be me. I was already causing Edward so much pain, I would not force him into the pain of leaving his family too. Thankfully, Jasper had been able to manage himself better than I could. I had been horrible to him at first. I blamed his complacency in accepting things so easily for the whole situation. I screamed at him and emotionally punished him for his trite words. I forced him to defend himself.
"Bella, I've never questioned Alice's visions. They've been proven to me too many times. I always hear them knowing things can change, but I follow through on them to the letter, as if they won't. Those times include the one which brought you into our lives. I can't find it in myself to regret my committment to Alice's visions. Any of them, and especially not that one."
It had taken six long and arduous months together in a quiet cabin 100 miles outside of Ottawa for me to finally reach a point where I could live with Jasper without yelling at him. My first plan had of course been to refuse to even accept his company, but I recognized early on I would need the connection to my life with Edward. I'd lived for several months without anything to remind me that what had happened between Edward and I had been real. Not just something in my own imagination. I knew the pain of that absence and resigned myself to the knowledge that I couldn't endure the pain of separation from him alone again. So while I blamed and reviled Jasper for the whole situation, I clung desperately to him and his presence to keep me sane.
That had been the main fact which changed my outward treatment of him. In one of my more outlandish rages, we had fought, almost physically. I'd screamed that he was the last person I wanted to see ever again. Jasper had nearly left then. Switching from the complete acceptance of Alice and his life and love with her, to my intense daily onslaught of resentment proved to be almost too much for him. When I'd realized how far I'd pushed him, I'd begged him not to leave, changed my feelings completely and was contrite.
It was out of that, that Jasper and I finally found a way to live together, peacefully, and contentedly.
We'd learned quickly that the idea of Jasper and I together had been so intolerable for Edward that though we fled Washington to allow him and Alice to return, Edward had refused to go back, and he and Alice cut off all contact with the family and disappeared to, no one knew where.
Carlisle, Esme and Emmett conveyed again and again that we could return, and that they missed us (Rosalie was unsurprisingly resentful and wouldn't give an opinion.). But I had no intention of being in that house alone without Edward.
Slowly, tentatively at first, Jasper and I had become friends again. We eventually even became companions, reading together through the long hours of the quiet nights. After nearly a year, a loss of intimate contact began to affect us. From that time on, our evening reading periods were usually spent in some form of contact with each other.
The first time I'd admitted my sadness about it, I'd come into the room we called the library, knowing I'd find Jasper reading. It was raining outside, and the continual patter of the rain on the roof reminded me of Forks, and left me in anguish. "Jasper," I'd said softly. He'd looked up at me, his face empty of expression, his eyes not yet focused away from the story he'd been reading enough to capture my mood. "I miss Edward, and the family, but most of all, I miss Edward. Do you...do you miss the intimacy with Alice?"
He'd grinned at me, and set the book down. His face had lifted into a smug smirk, and he'd lifted his arms out to me, "Bella? Do you need a hug?" and chuckled. It made me laugh, and somehow, the laughter broke the tension of all the long months we'd spent apart from Edward and Alice, together. I'd crossed the room, and settled onto the couch beside Jasper and folded myself into his arms. No one could hug like Jasper, not even Edward. Jasper hugged you, not only with his arms, but also with his ability. It conveyed a warmth, and love deeper than words could ever define. Jasper had consented to hold me most of that long wet night. Neither of us had returned to the books we'd held, we just embraced until light came and touched our radiant bodies. With the dawn, the storm broke and sunshine filtered in through the windows. Jasper kissed the top of my head, and spoke for the first time that whole night. "Bella, can you forgive me for all the pain I've caused you? This is the second time I've forced Edward away, and I can't find it in me to forgive myself. But I believe I can live with it, if you'll forgive me."
I'd lifted a palm to his cheek. "Jasper, I don't see it that way, I did resent you for your acceptance at first, but I never have blamed you for Edward's absence, either time. On both occasions, it was Edward's choice." I could forgive him, but I couldn't hide the pain in my eyes. Jasper ran his fingers through my hair.
"I don't know why he's fled Bella. Truly, if it were me, I'd be there in Forks, waiting every moment for this to come to its conclusion. Alice said she saw us through eight seasons, four of them happily. We have a little more than a year to go. If we can, I'd like to spend the rest of it companionable, and if it includes this kind of comfort, then all the better for me." He smiled widely.
I'd agreed, and a deeper love had begun. The days and nights passed, and we spent time together laughing and enjoying the changes in the wilderness around us. The landscape of Canada is different than Washington, but it still felt home-like to me. Jasper and I hunted together, and our laughter drew us closer and closer together. Once, while chasing a herd of deer, we'd unintentionally slammed into each other. We'd tumbled to the ground, laughing like children, Jasper holding me to him as we rolled down the hill we'd both thrown ourselves from. At the bottom the valley we were in, the surrounding hills echoed our laughter, and I was blanketed in Jasper's pure joy, which he'd unintentionally washed me with as his happiness dropped the barrier he usually kept around his ability. We laughed, looking at each other covered with dirt from the slope, and twigs, leaves, and in my case, bugs entangled in our hair.
Jasper had begun getting his hilarity under control, only succumbling to short chuckles here and there. He propped himself up on an elbow and began removing the leaves, and twigs from my hair. A lady bug crawled across my cheek, I could feel it's tiny legs crossing my smooth skin. Jasper looked at me with amused eyes, trying hard to pick the ladybug up without squishing it accidentally. His smile, and the sweetness of concern in his eyes for the bug brought out feelings in me. "Jasper, I'm happy that if I have to be without Edward, that I'm here with you." I'd said looking up at him. His eyes dropped and met with my own. His hand fell slightly, and the movement startled the lady bug. As it flew off, it's tiny wings fluttering speedily, Jasper pressed his hand against my cheek.
"I feel the same way Bella," he'd said. The conviction in his voice surprised me a moment before his lips pressed against mine. It was a quick kiss. Acceptable between a brother and a sister, but if I was honest, it didn't feel like a kiss between siblings.
As it had with Edward so often, some sort of electrical charge was ignited by our contact. As I recognized the desire for what it was, my eyes widened in surprise. Jasper pushed himself up to a sitting position.
He looked across the valley and up the opposite cliff. "I think we've lost the herd. We'll have to find something else."
I sat up too, "I don't mind, I've had enough, I could drink more, it's true, but I'm fine. Would you like to return home?" I asked hesitantly. I was still surprised by the kiss, and my response to it.
His answer threw me, and after that moment, hurt me too. "To Forks?!" he'd said.
Even as a vampire, I'm unable to hide my feelings from showing on my face. Jasper must have seen my dismay, because he retracted quickly. "Oh," he said, then softly he said, "Yes, let's go back to the house." He stood then, and reached a hand down to help me up.
I ran beside him, as we neared the house, we both slowed to a walk. I felt myself hanging back a little. How could I imagine he didn't think of Alice, and feel the pull to return every bit as much as I did. But I'd suddenly, shockingly, found myself actually wanting to be here with just him. The fact that he'd jumped immediately to thoughts of someplace that insinuated his being somewhere with someone else, felt like a betrayal, though the real betrayal was ours.
I was walking at almost a human pace when Jasper finally realized it. "You're being unusually slow. Normally you try to outrun me."
I couldn't admit how hurt I suddenly felt, so I tried to come up with something that made sense. "I just...I...I," fishing around for an excuse wasn't working. Fortunately, Jasper misread my confused stuttering, "You're missing him. Aren't you?"
Recognizing the ease of the excuse, I clamped my mouth shut and nodded. Jasper stepped forward and wrapped his ever kind arms around me. "I know it's hard Bella." I leaned into his chest, listening to Jasper's beautiful voice resonate through his chest. I'd noticed it before when we'd lie on the couch reading together and discuss whatever book we read. He frequently read out loud to me, I'd never listened to his voice nor held him close when feeling an interest in him before though. Somehow it soothed me, and I knew instinctively that he wasn't using his abilities at the moment. Jasper's presence just soothed me. As though lifting my thoughts, Jasper said, "We're here to comfort one another, to soothe these lonely moments, but I understand and don't blame you. I sometimes miss Alice too." At the mention of her name, I stiffened and began drawing away from him. Jasper felt it and pulled away too. "Bella?" He looked at me, a question in his eyes. "It's...I'm fine, Jasper...I think I'm going to take a walk," as he opened his mouth to offer to come with me, I added, "alone."
There was hurt in his expression, and I wanted to take it away. "I just need to think for awhile, Jasper. It's bothering me more than usual today." I placed a hand on his arm, and as I felt that electrical feeling between us, I nearly pulled away. I felt him jerk minutely, and was relieved that in some way, he seemed to feel it too. I looked into his eyes, and then turned to walk down the path that ran around our house and across the meadows behind it. Jasper had chosen the house, I being too incapable of rational thought at the time. It suited us, a small place, hidden, quiet. It was more a bungalow than a house, but it was comfortable and picturesque. It had an enclosed patio area in the crook of the entrance, with a door in the high wall around the patio. It was beyond private, it felt like a tiny fortress. In the beginning I'd felt it was like a prison, for sometime though, I'd come to see it as a safe haven.
I'd walked for hours, when I'd returned, it was to find Jasper standing in the doorway of the library, leaning against the wall. He had a strange look on his face, and a steely expression in his eyes. As I approached him, he stared at me, not allowing either of us to look away.
"You weren't missing Edward, were you?" he said when I reached him. I just stared back at him, he looked almost angry and I was afraid of where this might go. He stood like a sentinal, his arms crossed over his chest, the muscles in his arms defined, by the tension he held them in. We stood looking into each others faces for a prolonged, and for me, excruciating moment. Then his face softened somewhat, "I'm sorry Bella, I didn't realize you...It's been so long since I recognized it, but I didn't think you would. I.." He trailed off, and suddenly his arms dropped and he stepped forward, wrapping one around my waist and pulled me against him forcefully. Our bodies made a small cracking sound as they came together, and I looked at Jasper wide eyed, and suddenly fearful. He pushed my hair off my face, and then wrapped his hand around my neck. I stared back at him. "Jasper, what..."
He dropped his head down and kissed me. He kissed me sweetly, once, twice, and then on the third his kiss became urgent. It deepened and suddenly he changed the nature of it, and it intensified my passion. My mouth opened submissively and he drew me upward and into him so tightly that had I needed to, I wouldn't have been able to breathe. I responded belatedly, but completely. My arms wrapped around his neck and I was pulling us together as much as he was. He leaned forward slightly and pulled me up into his arms. He carried me into the living room where we had a double settee that I enjoyed lounging on when the sun came through the window. He turned and sat on it, keeping me in his embrace while continuing to kiss me. He drew back from the kiss just long enough to set me gently down on the cushion beside him. Then he raised himself up so that he was positioned on his hands and knees over me. He used one hand to run down my cheek, down my throat, across my neckline, and then he began unbuttoning the bottons of my blouse. As he began to pull my blouse open, he leaned forward and felt the skin of my stomach with the tender skin of his lips. He ran them all across every part of my stomach, causing me to burn hotly with yearning.
I couldn't help the response my body had, my hips lifting to meet his. I couldn't have stopped myself if I'd wanted to. Jasper left off using his lips, and switched to using his tongue and as he alternated between running his tongue over sensitive spots, and kissing me, I began to lose control. Before I knew it, I had us both undressed. I was enjoying the feeling of the settee's leather cushion beneath our bare bodies. Jasper rolled over and lifted me above him. He pushed me up and back, pulling our lips apart in the process. I moaned a little at the loss of the feeling of his lips, but as he sheathed himself inside me entirely, in one quick motion, it made up for the loss of his lips, and made me gasp. We crashed our bodies together in an unmeasured urgency. There wasn't thought, consideration of what we were doing or any moment of loving kindness. We just exposed everything we had to our need for each other.
I increased my pace on top of him as the sounds Jasper was making spoke of nearing his end. He was pulling me down into him with frequency and little tenderness. The feeling was unfathomable. How could anything feel so indescribable. Suddenly Jasper flipped us over, human eyes would have seen the result, not the movement. As he settled into his rhythm, I moaned loudly at the pleasure of feeling him push himself deeply into me. It undid him, he slammed himself into me just a few more times before we both cried out as we reached release together. He fell against me and there was that feeling of electrical currents flowing between our bodies at every place they were connected. We lay there, our breathing the only sound in the room.
He rolled off of me, and onto his back beside me. He wiggled an arm under my neck and pulled me to his chest. He raised his other hand to my shoulder. "I know you love Edward, as I love Alice, but there's something between us. I'm glad that you've realized it now too."
After quite some time of talking I'd learned that Jasper had been thinking of me in this way for awhile already. He'd never imagined I'd recognize the feelings he'd already been feeling, so he kept quiet and never mentioned it.
The rest of the year had been spent together in a bonded, close way that hadn't existed before that wild day. We never spent a moment together without some part of us touching from then on. Love making continued, and was alternately passionate on some occasions, and lovingly sweet on others. As the months passed, the love I had for Jasper muddled the love I felt for Edward. Our time together blurred the lines between the status of our former relationships. I didn't know if Jasper felt the same about that as I did, and hesitated to talk to him about it. But as the time drew near, when we would return to Forks, I began to fear that when it came time to step away from this life with Jasper, I wouldn't want to. I loved Edward, no fiber of my soul had changed in regards to my feelings for him. Now though, that was complicated by the fact that I'd grown to love Jasper too.
Jasper and I were lying in the library again, as was our habit. I sat on the sofa, running my fingers through his hair, with my right hand, my left thrown casually across his shoulders. His head was in my lap, and he was reading Anna Karenina to me. Bright light filtered through the sheer curtain on the window, and the room glowed with the light of a beautiful summer's day. The world around us was all silent splendor and quiet pleasure.
The moment was shattered by the shrillness of the phone ringing. Jasper and I both froze, his voice caught in frightened gasp. Both our eyes were wide, and suddenly we were both up and down the hall. We only had the one phone between us. Mine.
Since it never rang, it took a moment for me to locate it in my purse in what had formerly been my room, something no longer observed now. The rooms of this house were all ours.
I finally found the phone, it was home. Carlisle was the only caller we had, now and then, so I exhaled in relief. Jasper too, exhaled - we'd both held our breath. Our eyes met as we both realized this, and we chuckled slightly. I put the phone to my ear. "Carlisle?" I said smiling, laughter still coloring my voice.
"Hello Bella." That velvet smooth voice. It wasn't Carlisle, it was Edward. My breath left me again, I couldn't speak. After a moment or two I finally managed to get my throat to work again, and in a choking and staggered way I answered him.
"E-Edward!" I gasped.
"I-I'm, we actually, we are ready for you two to...for this to...Bella, do you want to come home to me?" he finally managed.
I looked up at Jasper. There wasn't any judgement in his expression, just wonder.
I suppose my answer was yes. Because Jasper had taken the phone and spoken to Alice. The love and longing in his voice made it impossible to remain there with him. Alice and Jasper had always been so private in their love for each other. I knew it wouldn't change, but I couldn't help being surprised by the actual pain of hearing it proven. I left the house and ran, I ran until my head was clear and then circled back to the house. By the time I returned, Jasper had the car parked out front and was loading bags into it. I stood out front staring from the car to the open front door, and then to the line of bags beside the car. Jasper walked out then with two additional bags.
I looked up at him, and my traitor face gave me away again. He dropped the bags where he stood and was by my side in an instant. "Bella, please don't read my eagerness to return as a rejection of what I feel for you, and what we've had together. We both always knew it was going to be a temporary thing. I never imagined it was going to grow to the level it has. I don't think Alice saw it either, or she might not have shared it." His face looked mildly haunted as he said this, and I realized Jasper was feeling guilty. I didn't want him to feel that pain, as I knew his words were true, no matter how I felt about it. He was right, we were never going to be a permanent thing. Still, I was confused in my heart. As though reading my thoughts again, Jasper stepped forward, lifted his arms around my back and held me tightly against him. He said, "I'm not sure I can let you go now. I don't know what that will come to mean. This is so strange. It's different than any of the times I let Alice go with Edward before. I can't imagine how she's felt each time they..." he trailed off, and then pulling back to look at my face, he reached a palm up to my cheek. "I love Alice, she is my everything and she left me wanting for nothing, ever. Now I love you too, and it's added the most confusing dimension to life. I don't know what we'll do about that. You're part of my every day now. How do we leave that behind?"
I didn't have an answer for him then, and I still don't have one now. As we walked from the garage to the familiar house in Forks, I felt the guilt, and confusion. I didn't know what returning to life as it had been before would mean. Jasper's qualities, beauty and charms struck me in an indescribable way. My mind couldn't make a decision, it fluctuated and every time I felt like I'd come to a conclusion, another emotion would unravel the delicate weave of my thoughts.
The front door began to open, there was nothing but silence within, no one spoke. Before anyone stepped through the door, Jasper and I exchanged one last look, it was a look of fear. Our hands clasped a little more tightly, as Alice and Edward stepped out onto the front porch. Time hadn't changed how beautiful he was, I knew that would be the case. The love and adoration I'd always felt welled up in me and I held my breath. My memory never could do him justice. He was incredible.
Alice leaned against the porch beam as Edward stepped down the stairs and came to where we stood. He came up and stood by my side, taking my free hand. He and Jasper looked intently into each other's eyes. I assumed Edward was reading Jasper's mind, and Jasper was testing Edward's mood. I looked from face to face, of the two men my heart held dearly, then to my two hands held by them. I wondered to myself, 'whose am I?'