I wondered if maybe my number were up. If we had been cheating death all this time and now, finally, it had caught up with me. I wondered if I should panic.

But I couldn't. Not even now, as I faced a situation similar to the one I had in Port Angeles. I couldn't believe that after all this time he had spent as an overprotective boyfriend (was boyfriend even the right word?) that he would fail to somehow show up and save me, even though he was back in Forks and I was here.

I had been visiting Renee. I had wanted to spend some time alone with her after all that had happened, to take a break from Rosalie being aggravated by my desire to be a vampire, from Emmett's, well, comments. From Alice's constant cheerful personality and her trying to get me to go shopping with her.

I would gladly have taken Edward with me, but he had suggested that alone time with Renee should perhaps be spent alone with her, and Esme had agreed. It made me wonder how much time she spent with her children on an individual basis. I could just see her trying to read to them before bed.

Everything would have been fine if I hadn't decided to go for a walk this evening. I suppose it was a stupid thing to do, going outside in the evening all alone.

Correction. I knew it was a stupid thing to do. As I stared into the face of one of my attackers, I realized exactly how stupid I had been.

He grabbed me, and shoved me roughly against the wall of the building in the alleyway. Why had I turned in here anyway? Had I been completely out of my mind?

I groaned as my head hit the wall, and realized Edward wasn't coming. I would have to defend myself this time.

Like that was going to work. Yeah.

I let out a scream and tried to kick the guy. His friends thought that was hilarious, and he grabbed my face roughly and snarled at me.

Funny how I wasn't impressed anymore when humans tried to do that.

He moved closer, and I could feel his hot breath on my face. I fought to get free; it was no use.

"Excuse me." A voice interrupted in a southern drawl. "I'm not certain that's entirely appropriate."

"Get lost." One of the men barked at him. The newcomer chuckled. For some reason, it sent shivers down my spine.

"Not without the girl." The accent was gone now. The voice sounded oddly familiar.

The man holding me turned his head to look at the stranger. "You stupid or something? Get lost!"

The stranger sighed. I had the feeling I should recognize him, even in the dark alley. "I'm going to say this one more time before I start getting irritated. Let the girl go."

My attackers just laughed at him, and one of them moved towards him. I saw the flash of a blade as he stepped up to the stranger. I shrieked.

The stranger didn't seem to notice he was being stabbed. Instead he moved in a blur of motion. There was a cracking sound, and the man with the knife went down.

The others stood there, shocked perhaps. The stranger leapt forward, knocking down another attacker, and in another motion too quick to follow took down the other two. Then he stood beside us; the man had let me go in surprise.

"We're leaving." The stranger said. "I'd suggest you and your companions reconsider your sources of entertainment. Come on, Bella."

I started. How did he know- Then I realized as I felt the wave of calm hit me. Jasper. But why had he come?

I cleared my throat as he led me out of the alley. "Um, not that I'm not grateful, but why are you here?"

"You were in danger." He said simply. That explained so much.

"So you came? Usually when my life is at risk Edward comes, or Alice."

"Edward was busy." Too busy to bother saving my life?

"With what?" I asked stupidly.

"Alice." I was getting really tired of monosyllable answers, I decided.

"Both of them were too busy, so they sent you." I said. He could probably sense my disbelief.

He could. "I was available. The others had already left."

I was still hung up on the whole idea of Alice and Edward being to busy to rescue me themselves. "But Edward wouldn't be too-"

"Busy to rescue you." He interrupted shortly. I could actually feel anger rolling off him now. So much for that wave of calm. "Edward's busy being killed by Alice."

"Why would-" He cut me off.

"Where does Renee live?" I took the lead, but wasn't about to let this drop.

Why had they both been so busy that they would send a grumpy vampire to rescue me? Why was Jasper so irritable anyway?

"It's a long story." He said, breaking the silence. "The result is that instead of going out to hunt tonight with everyone else, Alice decided it would be better to kill Edward. Everyone else decided it would be best just to let her."

I frowned. "Why does she want to kill Edward?" I asked.

Jasper growled at me. "I told you, it's a long story. What were you doing by yourself in a dark alleyway at night anyway?"

I winced, embarrassed. "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time." I mumbled. I had forgotten that this wasn't Forks.

"This isn't Forks, you know." He reminded me. I groaned inwardly.

"I know."

"Not that it's a good idea to go wondering around in the night like an idiot there either."

I glared at him and sped up a bit, hoping he would take the hint and leave me alone. No good, he altered his own speed to match mine.

I ignored him almost all the way back to Renee's apartment, though it was difficult with his foul mood permeating the air. I tried to remember if it were normal for him to broadcast his moods like this. I didn't know; Jasper had avoided me for the most part until our talk a few weeks ago.

And we hadn't exactly become best buddies since then. We had teamed up to scare the others half to death, and had stopped avoiding each other, but it was still rather awkward for the most part, and tense.

"What's your problem, anyway?" I asked as he growled at the apartment complex where Renee lived. I led him inside the building.

He scowled at me. "Nothing."

"Yeah, right." I scoffed. "You know, I doubt anyone's going to attack me between here and the apartment. You don't have to stick around if you don't want to."

He rolled his eyes. "Like Edward wouldn't kill me. If Alice didn't first." He had killing on his mind tonight, it seemed. I wondered what had made him so moody tonight. Usually he was polite, if distant, to just about everyone.

He followed me to the door. "Are they home?" He asked, doubtfully. He knew they weren't.

"They went out." I said. "Are you leaving now, or were you going to wait till my parents got home?" I stared at him as I realized he had no intention of leaving.

I stormed into the room Renee and Phil had prepared for me, slamming the door behind me. I collapsed on the bed, the shock starting to wear off now, and buried my head in my hands.

That had been close.

I had Jasper to thank for my rescue.

Far from being grateful, I was annoyed with him, even angry with him. Or was I? I realized now that he wasn't right next to me that I wasn't angry. I was a bit annoyed and confused by his sharpness with me, but I wasn't angry.

He had been the one projecting the anger.

I was terrified, though. The panic, which had been pushed away while I had been near Jasper, had come back. I choked back a sob, trying not to think about what would have happened if Jasper hadn't shown up.

I sat there, shaking and crying. I tried to stifle the sobs, hold back the tears, but it was no use. I sniffed; Renee would freak if she came home and I was like this.

My eyes were closed; I didn't notice the door swing open. I didn't realize he was here until I felt a cold arm settle around my shoulders. I buried my head in his chest and let the tears flow freely. I hoped he wasn't angry with me for making him send Jasper all the way out here.

"I'm sorry." I sobbed. "It was stupid, I know. I didn't think-" I was shushed, gently, and cold arms held me comfortingly.

I felt a wave of calm seep flow from him into me. It was immediately replaced by alarm as I realized it wasn't Edward. I jolted up. He let go immediately, and slid away from me.

"What-?" I couldn't formulate the question. I couldn't figure out what the question even was.

Jasper stared at the floor. "Sorry. I overstepped my bounds." I frowned at him. "I didn't think you needed to be alone." He explained.

I stared at him. "I thought you were mad at me. Why try to help me, then?"

"I'm not angry with you, Bella." He said softly.

"You're angry about something." I pointed out.

"It helps." He muttered. I had no idea what he was talking about. He sighed. "It keeps me distracted-from other things." He looked up, and his eyes met mine. They were dark. I remembered he had mentioned that the others had already left to go hunting tonight.

"I interrupted your trip." I murmured. "I am so sorry."

He shook his head. "There's nothing to forgive, Bella." He said. "We should have known you'd find trouble wherever you went." I sat silently, uncertain as to what to do now. He was quiet too.

I looked up at him after a minute. "You don't have to stay on my account. I'm fine." Though I had a feeling I was only calm again because of him.

"You're a wreck." He said bluntly. "Or you would be."

"So are you just going to follow me around for the rest of my life making me feel good, or what?" I demanded. I didn't want to cause him any more inconvenience.

"You'll be fine, once you've been calm for a while." Jasper said authoritatively.

"Aren't people supposed to deal with these things rather than avoid them?" I demanded.

"Didn't you already do that?" He asked. "The rest of the panic and fear is just leftover emotion. It doesn't do anyone any good. You spend some time feeling calm and safe and you'll be fine."

"And I won't if you leave?" I questioned, and glared at him as he briefly withdrew his calming influence. He was right. Still, I wasn't going to let him stay. "I'll be fine." I insisted. "Besides, what's Renee going to think if she comes in and finds me alone here with some man that's not Edward, huh?"

"I don't like to hunt without Alice." He said suddenly, bluntly.

"What?" I asked, clueless. What was he talking about?

"You want me to leave because you think you're keeping me from hunting. I don't like to hunt without Alice. And I told you, she's busy."

"Killing Edward." I said uncertainly. He nodded. "Why?"

He almost smiled at that. "He let slip what I was getting her for our anniversary." He explained.

"Oh." I said, and would have felt embarrassed if he hadn't been keeping me in such a tranquil state. Alice and Jasper were probably the least obvious in their relationship out of the family. It was odd to hear him mention their anniversary in such an offhand way.

I realized I was stuck with the hungry vampire. But I wasn't going to be happy about it. I scowled, though he wasn't really letting me be angry, and stomped past him into the living room. I turned on the TV, flipping through the channels to find something to at least pretend to watch. I stopped when I hit Interview with a Vampire, and wondered if I could possibly use that to get rid of him. I wasn't big on vampire movies anymore, but if it would get him to leaveā€¦

He came and sat down beside me, handing me a cup of hot tea and a plate of cookies he had probably rifled through the cabinets for. What was it with these vampires and trying to feed me after they rescued me from evil?

I realized I was kind of hungry anyway, and took a cookie off the plate. I munched on it, focusing my attention on the vampire movie in front of me in an effort to avoid the vampire beside me.

I swallowed nervously, tensely. This movie was starting to get to me. All the blood. But it was irritating, the way the movie divulged from fact so. Lestat's irreverent view of human life angered me.

I rolled my eyes at my reaction. I was supposed to be getting on Jasper's nerves. Besides, it was just a movie. Of course it was going to be different from reality.

I still felt irritated, still felt tense, still felt angry, even. Should I be feeling that way? Wasn't that part of the point of Jasper staying? I turned to look at him.

And realized it was his feelings I was experiencing, not my own. "Hey, Jasper? You okay?" I couldn't help but ask.

He started, and the room was calm again. He took a deep breath. "Sorry." He mumbled.

"Don't like vampire movies?" I asked, trying to sound teasing.

He shook his head. "I've known vampires like Lestat." He confessed. "I've seen a few like Claudia."

"The blood bothers you too." I said. He merely looked away.

"I know what you're trying to do, Bella." He said at last. "But I told Edward I'd keep an eye on you."

I sighed. "For how long?" I demanded. This was hard when he wouldn't let me get irritated. "Hasn't it occurred to you people that I can take care of myself?"

"Yes, you were certainly doing a wonderful job at that tonight." He remarked dryly. Ouch. "I know he's overprotective at times, and we tend to humor him and go along with it. Perhaps we shouldn't. But the fact of the matter is that he couldn't live without you. We've seen that. You've at least seen that he won't live without you. We'd watch out for you for that reason alone, Bella.

I considered this for a moment. "So is there another reason, then?" I asked, curious.

"What?" He asked.

"You said you'd watch out for me for that reason alone. That indicates there's at least one more reason." I said.

"Alice considers you her friend." Jasper said thoughtfully. "Emmett sees you as a little sister. Esme and Carlisle are always happy to accept another into the family."

"That leaves you and Rosalie." I pointed out.

Jasper sighed. "Rosalie resents the fact that you actually want to be a vampire. She's glad Edward's happy, though."

"And you?" I pressed. We had established that he didn't hate me, but I was curious about how he actually did feel.

Jasper was silent, thinking. Finally he spoke. "I can't be against anything that makes Alice happy." He said slowly, still thinking even as he spoke. "I have trouble understanding that you would actually want to be like us, until I remember that you're in love. Love can cause us to do amazing things." He was quiet again, for a moment. "What I think personally is complicated. You're Alice's best friend, Edward's love, and Emmett's sister. You're Carlisle and Esme's daughter. I tend to base my view of you on whoever I'm around, I reckon."

"We're alone, now." I pointed out. "What do you think about me right here, right now?"

He was quiet again. "I think you could become family."

I wondered if I should feel slighted, but remembered Alice recently commenting, completely out of the blue it seemed, on the fact that it had taken Jasper a long time to feel like a part of their family. I realized it was a compliment.

"Thanks." I said, and nestled back against the chair. He moved his arm behind me as if to protect me, and we sat in silence, ignoring the vampire movie playing in front of us.

Author's note: Hope you enjoyed this. Just another story with Bella and Jasper getting to know each other better. I'm trying to decide whether or not to either add a chapter or do another story with Renee coming home and finding them there and so on. Tell me what you think, and review please! Reviews inspire me, make me feel loved, and all that.

Disclaimer: As always, I am a poor wretch who owns none of this.