Jasper leaped lightly across the river before climbing an apple tree. He found a sturdy branch and sat back on it, leaning against the trunk of the tree, letting his legs lay out against the length of the branch. He growled in frustration, running one hand through his blond tresses, making them stand out even further on end. He just wanted a few minutes of quiet to himself, to collect his thoughts without Edward listening in to the whole process.
His plans were ruined as there was a creak and as fast as lightning Bella was perched on the branch next to his. Even though the red was still prominent in her eyes, Jasper saw the all too familiar curiosity that shone through. She didn't ask any questions though. Instead she just swung her legs playfully, as if she were a child, and softly stared at Jasper patiently.
"You're enjoying this aren't you?" Jasper questioned quietly.
Bella didn't hesitate before answering. "Being a vampire? Immensely."
Jasper smiled ruefully, shaking his head quickly before looking down at his shoes, a very worn pair of black converse. "Did you know that these shoes are pretty much the only piece of clothing of my own that I have picked. Alice has tried to throw the shoes out numerous times, but I retrieve them every time, much to her annoyance. I keep telling her that I will wear all the khaki pants and sweaters she wants me to wear, even if I would rather have on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, as long as she lets me have my shoes. But does she listen?" Jasper chuckled a little. "Of course not."
"You know I have had enough practice with evasive actions with Edward that I know when someone is trying to distract me," Bella commented matter-of-factly.
"I should have known it wouldn't work with you. It works with Alice all the time."
This time Bella smiled. "I highly doubt that. I bet she just lets you distract her."
Jasper grinned back. "You're probably right."
Both sat in silence, neither in any hurry to say anything. Bella looked around her, head tilted as she listened to different sounds of wildlife in the woods, from the small cricket nearby to the family of deer that were in the distance. Jasper was more intent at staring at the lone apple hanging obstinantly in the tree, while in the grass below lay all it's fallen comrades, brown from bruising.
Finally, Bella spoke up first. "What has been upsetting you Jasper."
"I'm sure Edward will tell you," Jasper replied back brusquely.
"You know he won't. He will give broad strokes, but he feels guilty enough hearing all of your secrets without telling every thought to everyone."
"I know," Jasper sighed. "It just feels like it would be easier than us having to have this conversation."
"Oh come on now. And pass up this lovely chance at bonding?" Her voice turned more serious. "You know we have never spent that much time around each other. I feel like I know the rest of the family as well as my own, but you...well, you remain an enigma."
"I'm sorry about that," he spoke guiltily. "It's just I never fully trusted myself around you, especially after your birthday. I don't think anybody really trusted me fully after that. Who would?"
"I would. I never blamed you for any of that and I wasn't looking for an apology.. I'm just saying that I saw a chance for me to get to know you better, and I am taking it. Forget the past."
"I wish it really was that easy."
"I didn't say it was easy," Bella corrected. "But, you should make the attempt at forgiving yourself for that day. I know I have. But, that's not what this is about, is it?"
Jasper shook his head, staring down at the hem of his shirt. He started to pull at a loose thread, knowing that Alice would probably throw the shirt away after spying the thread. "It's just hard to see you in there, being so good at being a vampire."
Bella raised her eyebrows, not expecting this. "I've almost slipped up numerous times."
"But, you actually haven't done anything. That completely astounds me. It's making me question some things about myself, things that I have always accepted as givens."
"Like the blood lust that I experienced and all of those people that I killed when I had first changed. I mean I have talked extensively with Carlisle and Alice about it and they have both told me that I can't be completely held responsible for what happened. I was a newborn. What was I supposed to do? But, then I see you, undergoing the same change that we all went through and not one human life has been put at risk. If you can do this, why couldn't I have stopped myself from killing all of those people?" Jasper finally spoke the words that have been haunting him for days now.
"Oh Jasper..." Bella started but was cut off by Jasper.
"Please don't. I can feel the the pity seeping from you. I don't want it."
Bella closed her lips tightly, and felt the pity drain from her body, Jasper's doing no doubt. The pity was replaced with anger instead. "I'm not mad at you, so don't try to make me."
"You should be angry. I mean, how much more selfish can I get? I can't just be happy that you are a perfectly civilized newborn. I have to worry and think about how much more of monster that makes me."
Bella felt genuine ire bubble up. "What is with you Cullens being a bunch of self-depricating, angst ridden vampires?"
It was Jasper's turn to raise his eyebrows at the outburst. "Angst ridden? Really? I like to think of us as tormented."
Bella rolled her eyes. "I now know personally how difficult it is to be a vampire around humans. And honestly if I didn't have this amazing power of self-control I probably would have killed a human by now."
"Power of self control? I think you are not giving yourself enough credit. You don't have any such power. It would cheapen what you are doing." Jasper paused, gazing in Bella's eyes to make sure she grasped what he was about to say. "You are immensely strong. Edward is right when he said that you do not see yourself clearly. I think you are the strongest-willed person I have ever known, and that includes Carlisle. It took him centuries to get to the point he is at now, but here you are at his level and you are merely weeks old."
"I don't think I am on par with Carlisle. I couldn't walk around a hospital full of bleeding people and be just fine. And I would rather not test the theory out."
"I think that you could do it though."
Bella shrugged. "I don't know about that."
Jasper chuckled. "You have too little faith in yourself, and too much in the rest of us."
"What are you talking about?" Bella raised one eyebrow.
"It's just you had so much confidence in us that we wouldn't harm you, yet you don't have that same confidence in yourself."
"Well, I'm a newborn, of course I don't have any self-control. But you guys had been vampires for ages, I knew there was no harm."
Jasper shook his head and laughed darkly. "You have no idea. It's not just the newborns that are dangerous."
"Well, I know that vampires like James are dangerous, but you guys are civilized."
"You have no idea how dangerous even we can be. Did Edward ever tell you about our reaction to him saving you?"
"Which time?" Bella questioned, amused.
"The first time, with the Tyler's van," Jasper answered seriously, trying to gage Bella's emotions.
"No, he didn't. I think I asked one time and he just told me you guys weren't that happy about it."
"Once again, Edward is too nice to us, or specifically Rose and I. When I found out, I was convinced that you were going to be dangerous and tell everybody about what happened. I was thinking of protecting Alice. My solution was to kill you and I had Rosalie and Emmett on my side. I was convinced it had to be done. I was even going to fight Edward if I needed to." Jasper paused, trying to feel for Bella's emotions, but was shocked to only feel a quiet calm over her, with her ever present curiosity.
"What changed your mind?"
Jasper smiled ruefully. "Alice. She saw herself being friends with you someday and asked that I not kill her future friend."
"Typical Alice," Bella responded quietly.
Jasper waited for the anger to slip into Bella's mood, but it didn't come. "Why aren't you mad? I mean I was willing to kill you, and fight Edward in order to do so."
"I can't blame you considering the situation. You thought Alice was in danger. Who knows at what lengths I would go to protect Edward or Renesmee. I would kill to keep them safe. I know that." Bella responded firmly.
"But someone innocent? And would you jump to that solution so quickly, like I did? I don't think so. No one else did. Rosalie didn't even think of killing you right away. It was after I came up with the idea that she agreed with it."
"Like I said, I understand. I really do. I don't blame you, and don't even think about trying to make me feel angry at you, because I am not."
Jasper inwardly swore. He was going to give her a little hint of anger, hoping that would spark something. He couldn't understand how she was not mad. "Why are are you being so nice about both me being so selfish, but me almost killing you?"
"Are you happy that I am a part of this family?" Bella asked bluntly.
Jasper didn't hesitate before answering. "Of course I am. It is obvious that you have finally completed our family by being with Edward. But you, yourself, have brought a new layer to the family that wasn't there before. I can't describe it. I feel blessed that you have so willingly joined us and you brought little Renesmee, which is the greatest gift."
"Then that is all that matters. I'm tired of living in the past. Sure we all made mistakes and we will have to live with them, but I don't want them dictating our lives. I feel like I can truly be happy now and I don't want to waste any time being angry or bitter about events that have long since passed."
"That is probably a very healthy way to look at all the bad things that have happened to this family," Jasper pondered.
"Not to mention, you can't forget all the good things that have happened too. Without the bad, how would we know how blessed we are?"
Jasper laughed. "You are practically glowing. It's amazing how much happiness is coming from you. You are happiest person I have ever met. It's nice to be around, very soothing."
"Good, I'm tired of being sad."
The two sat in silence for a few minutes longer before Bella announced cheerfully, "I think we are friends."
Jasper shook his head. "I think we are something more than that." Bella eyed him waiting for the second half. "I think we are siblings."
Bella nodded. "I think so too. I'm glad. Now as my brother. You should tell me a story about Edward that he doesn't want me to know. I tried getting one out of Alice numerous times, but Edward gets to her too fast."
Jasper chuckled, and thought back over the many years and he had been a part of the family. His mind stopped on one particular memory that was only a few years old. "Well, a couple years back Edward started to listening to a new kind of music, I guess you would call it emo. He would listen to it so loud and it was such dreary music that Alice, Emmett, and I got annoyed. Rosalie didn't pay any attention and Carlisle and Esme wouldn't say anything about it. So, Alice, Emmett, and I decided if he wanted to listen to all that emo music, then he better look the part. It took so much work to plan because we could not think of it around him. Finally, we got in place where Emmett and I snuck up on him and trapped him. He's strong, but he could not break Emmetts and my hold on him. That was when Alice came up from behind and started to put black hair dye in his hair. He couldn't do anything about it." Jasper broke off as he started laughing too hard to continue.
Bella had a shocked look on her face, trying to picture Edward with black hair. "But, his hair is his normal color. How did that happen since hair doesn't grow."
"Oh we used temporary dye so it washed out with time."
The thought of Edward in black hair was just too funny. Bella burst out in laughter all of a sudden, unable to control her giggles. "Please tell me that you have pictures of this."
There was a low growl that sounded from the house. Jasper and Bella both turned their heads, although they recognized the sound without having to see him. He was standing in the door frame, in the back of the house. Jasper was quick to start reciting poetry in his head, while conspiratorially whispering to Bella, "Alice has them in hiding. He keeps destroying them, but luckily we keep making new prints from the negatives."
"Good. What did Carlisle and Esme do?"
Jasper grinned broadly. "Well Esme reprimanded us and Carlisle tried to as well but you could tell he thought the whole thing was amusing."
"Did not," Edwards voice carried from the house.
"Did too," Jasper replied simply.
Bella's laughter rang out cheerfully. She believed Jasper. In a joke like that where there was no lasting harm, Carlisle would surely see the amusement of it.
Both's laughter seized when they heard the soft padding of feet approaching. They turned their head, but they didn't need to see him still near the house to know that it wasn't Edward. The footsteps were too light to be anybody but Renesmee. As they the thought this, she climbed up quickly and sat up on Jasper's legs without hesitation.
"Uncle Jasper, " Nessie asked. She was vocalizing her conversations more, trying to get in the habit for when she would eventually go out in public.
"Yes, Darling?" Jasper couldn't help the southern drawl that slipped through.
"Uncle Emmett said that you used to be a soldier and that is a bad thing."
Jsper looked over at Bella, alarmed. He didn't know what to say and didn't want to lie to her. Bella was at ease with the question though.
"He just said that because Jasper can beat him in a fight because of Jaspers training."
Renesmee nodded, absorbing the answer. "But you were a soldier?"
Jasper hesitated for a second. "Yes, I was a soldier," he spoke, emphasizing the past tense.
"That's good. That means you can protect us from bad people." Renesmee stated simply, not noticing the movement next to them.
Bella jumped down off the branch quietly, joining a waiting Edward and taking his hand. Jasper's mind panicked briefly at being left alone with Renesmee. Edward must have noticed his thought process because he shook his head and tried to amplify the emotions he felt. It was complete trust in Jasper. When Jasper searched, he found that Bella felt the same way. They walked away to go hang out with Jacob, not looking back in hesitation. Jasper turned his attention back to Renesmee, who was examining his worn shoes.
"I like these," Nessie told Jasper, patting the black fabric.
"Thank you. I've had them for many years now."
"They're better than the stupid shoes that Aunt Alice puts on me." She pointed to the buckled, shiny shoes that were currently on her feet. They looked very uncomfortable, nothing that you could run in.
"Do you want me to buy you a pair of shoes like mine."
Renesmee turned to him and beamed, leaning forward and touching his cheek. She showed him how happy she was about that. Jasper saw a small undertone that he wasn't meant to pick up but he did. She was happy to spend time with him and that he was being open with her. She had felt that he was distant and she didn't understand why. She thought that maybe it had something to do with her being different.
Jasper didn't like that so he purposefully thought of how much he loved her. Before his love was reserved for Alice and that was who he felt the most responsibility for. But now he was grown to include Renesmee into his family. He made sure to concentrate on how much he loved her, sending that emotion straight to her.
"I love you too, Uncle Jasper." She smiled and snuggled up close to his chest. Jasper held her close, not even caring about the burn in his throat. For the first time it didn't bother him and he didn't think much of it. He kissed her curls and held her closer. She sighed in contentment, soon falling asleep.
They sat in the tree for a while before another person climbed the tree. It was Alice this time and she settled herself on Jasper's lap, reaching out to stroke Renesmee's curls softly.
"Why can't I have any peace in this tree?" Jasper whispered, making an exaggerated pained expression.
Alice kissed him softly in answer. "You are just too cute for your own good."
Jasper probably would have blushed if he was human, but instead he just lowered his eyes to the sleeping figure in his arms, marveling at her perfection.
"I have to ask why do I see you going shoe shopping without me?" Alice asked accusingly, as if she already knew the answer.
"Well, she just liked my shoes," he mumbled, not wanting to continue. "And I thought I would maybe get her a pair." He kept his eyes down, waiting for the anger to bubble out of Alice that was specifically reserved for occasions where people ignored her fashion advice. However the anger did not come.
Instead, she leaned forward again and pecked him on the cheek. "That is so sweet. I think she would like a blue pair, although I can't say for sure."
Jasper raised his eyes to meets Alices gaze and smiled genuinely. "You think so?"
Alice smiled back. "Although it is impossible to see her reaction for sure, I think so. Her favorite color is blue. Although this is not a good sign of her budding fashion sense. It looks like she is going to take after her mother, instead of her father who quietly submits to my requests," Alice told him teasingly. She didn't really mean it because she liked to see Jasper take part in Renesmee's life and she would do anything to support that. Alice let herself soak in the happiness that flowed through her, probably overflowing from her husband. It made her almost giddy to see him this happy and at peace.
Jasper was thinking about his and Bella's conversation. Maybe Jasper had been a monster in the past and he had done some terrible things, but maybe he could do what Bella asked of him and leave it in the past. He could focus on his now complete family that he for the first time felt truly a part of. Before, he had sometimes felt like he was just Alice's husband, instead of one of the family. But now, he was anchored to the Cullens by Renesmee. He could start a new future and Renesmee could be his redemption, making up for all of his past mistakes.
They both sat in comfortable silence, enjoying each other's presence while marveling at the beautiful little girl. Every now and again laughter would rise up from the house, and Jasper and Alice just let the laughter wash over them as they stayed in the trees. It was just starting to get dark outside and soon they would bring her inside to keep her warm, but for now they enjoyed the evening of the peace that this little girl brought to the family.
A/N: Wow, I can't believe I finally completed this story. I started it right after I finished Breaking Dawn in August and what I thought was going to be a simple one shot turned into the worst case of writers block. I know the characters are a little out of character, but I really wanted to create a dialogue between Jasper and Bella because I felt that interactions between those two was sorely lacking. This is my first Twilight story (I'm mostly an HP writer) so I am definitely open to constructive criticism and feedback of any kind. I appreciate all reviews. Thank you so much for reading.