Author's Note: This is my first Twilight story, so I hope you enjoy it. I, of course, own nothing -- the characters who inspired this story (along with countless more) belong to the brilliant Stephanie Meyer. Feel free to leave a review -- I admit that I like praise, but am more than happy to see some constructive criticism that can be used to better my writing. Any flames will be used to roast marshmallows!

The bell blares and I let out a small sigh of relief at having survived another History class. Not that History was difficult – hell, I'd been there to experience first hand this particular era of history we were studying – but it didn't stop me from wanting to scream at the teacher that he didn't know what the fuck he was talking about as he droned on about various military battle techniques. I'd lived through several skirmishes when I was human, after all, and even more battles (not that you'd find my more recent fights in your typical History textbook) since being born to this new life. At this point the more rational side of my mind stepped in and, though I hate to admit it, reminds me that screaming at Mr. Johnson probably wasn't such a good idea, since it would require me to use some of the air that I had been holding in ever since entering the classroom. Eying the heavy textbook, I grin and shake my head in amusement as I imagine throwing it at Mr. Johnson's balding head instead. It was then that I remembered that the bell had rung to announce the beginning of lunch, and here I was wasting time that could be spent with Alice.

Alice… I don't mean to sound like one of the love-struck teenagers that I find myself surrounded by, but her name brings an even wider grin to my face as I think of her. The graceful way she walks, the way her mouth looks when she is upset, the brightness of her radiant smile, the… well, you get the point. If it weren't for Alice, I would still be living like a self-loathing animal, feeding off of people and hating every moment of my existence. She was my savior, making me believe that I could be a better person because she had faith in me. I hate having to pretend to be a year above her, so I can't enjoy her company all day long, but I know that she looks younger than me and we don't want to draw any more attention to ourselves. Maybe next time we went through this charade we could say that she'd skipped a grade or two… But I digress.

I hurriedly collect my books together, but have to stop myself from running full speed ahead out of the classroom lest I draw unwanted attention to myself. Just as I'm about to head out the door, though, Mr. Johnson calls me back. What the hell does he want? I take a quick gasp of the fresh air that comes through the door as my lucky classmates escape before turning to face the teacher. "Yes, Mr. Johnson?"

"I read through your Civil War essay on the Federal naval blockade at Galveston last night. Your description of General John B. Magruder almost made it sound like you knew him."

I can't resist a little smirk at Mr. Johnson's words and I'm very tempted to say that I had known him, but instead I just reply, "Thank you, sir. I guess the more I read about the battle, the more I felt like I knew him." It seems like as good a response as any. I shift my weight uneasily, glancing briefly though longingly towards the door. I don't have that much more air left in me to speak before I'd need to take another breath, and I'm not sure I feel comfortable with the burning thirst that would wield its ugly head if I couldn't leave here soon. "Was there anything else?"

"Hmm… It's just nice to see you young ones taking an interest in history." I have trouble keeping a straight face as I listen to Mr. Johnson's statement. Me? Young? I'm old enough to be his great-great-grandfather! Not that I'm going to tell him that… I simply shrug and Mr. Johnson smiles as he turns his attention towards what looks like more student essays. Taking my cue, I swiftly turn and head outside, taking in big gulps of damp air as I walk towards the cafeteria.

"Jasper!" Alice trills from behind me as she slips behind me in the lunch line and reaches for my free hand. In my haste to see her, I had forgotten to drop my books off at my locker. Now, looking into her pixie-like face, I forget all about the aggravating morning routine of classes and intertwine my fingers with hers, letting her lead me through the line. She hands me a couple of soda cans to balance on my books as she grabs some pizza slices. After we pay for the food, I let her lead me to the table where the rest of the 'Cullen clan' are sitting. I barely notice them as I take my seat; I'm still engrossed in watching Alice. After all, she's what makes this mundane high school existence even remotely palatable, and I'm determined to make the most of this short intermission with my little angel before having to endure a couple more hours alone.

That doesn't stop me from noticing the waves of annoyance that Rosalie seems to be emitting. Not that that was anything new, I remind myself. I don't think I've ever met anyone who can do 'annoyed' quite as well as Rosalie. Ignoring Rosalie's annoyance, I turn my attention to the other people sitting at the table. Emmett seem to be his usual jovial self. Although I'm only half listening, I surmise enough from his words to ascertain that he's relaying to Rosalie how, when they had been playing softball in gym class just before lunch, he had 'accidentally' broken a bat swinging the ball, but had managed to hit a home run even as he jogged slowly (well, slow for us) around the bases. I guess that Rosalie is frustrated that Emmett's strength might draw unnecessary attention to us. As if wanting to affirm my suspicions about Rosalie and Emmett, Edward speaks up, though his voice would have been too quiet and fast for your average human to have been able to hear. "Don't worry, Rosalie, no-one suspects a thing. Everyone can tell that Emmett's strong as an ox, though I guess we could always try and circulate a rumor that the bat had a crack in it. And no, Alice, I don't think Mr. Johnson is in any danger from Jasper's aim… Not yet, anyway," Edward adds with a smirk.

I turn my attention back to Alice, confused. In answer to my unasked question, Alice sighs sheepishly. "I saw you knocking Mr. Johnson out cold with your book." I couldn't hold back the laugh as Alice revealed her vision, but immediately wished I hadn't as I ran out of air. I hurriedly breathe in, (since although we don't need to breathe, it feels almost as uncomfortable being without any air for us as it does for humans) and in that breath I can smell and taste the delicious perfume of hundreds of people. While their scents would be difficult to describe to a non-vampire, I guess that it could be described as if you were to imagine the tastiest morsels of chocolate, the most fragrant flowers, all rolled up into one overpowering aroma. Even though I feel ashamed for what this would do to my family, and worse, to Alice, I can't seem to control myself. I can feel the venom building in my mouth and I look around wildly, searching out the nearest victim.

In that same instant, Alice and Edward each grabbed one of my arms and were leading – no, forcing – me out of the cafeteria before I could make a scene, with Emmett and Rosalie following close behind. My muscles lock as my animalistic tendencies thrash to the surface, wanting to take my fill from the nearest person I could sink my teeth into. The venom burns in my mouth and I snarl and move as if to bite Edward. Luckily for Edward, Emmett wraps his strong arms around me from behind before I could inflict any damage and quickly pushes me through the cafeteria doors.

The moment the fresh air hit my face, the moment I am no longer inundated with the smell of all those people, I know the worst is over and I let my body sag. Emmett releases me from his powerful grip and little Alice takes his place, helping to steady me as the guilt threatens to overwhelm me. How could I have been so stupid? I nearly gave everything away that we've worked so hard for. What would Carlisle say? Or Esme? Or… Alice? I hate being the weakest link in our chain, but somehow the instant gratification of fresh blood that I'd had during my years in the south, back when I was in Maria's favor, seemed to make it all the more difficult for me.

Not that I would want to relive any of those times. My peculiar gift seemed to make it all the more torturous for me to live like most others of our kind… like I had lived for so long before meeting Alice and learning that there was another way. "I'm sorry, Alice," I whisper and take in a shuddering breath. "I couldn't stop myself." The self-loathing grows exponentially as I admit my weakness, wishing silently that a pit would appear below me and swallow me whole.

"Shhh," she replied, still holding me upright. "We all know you didn't mean to do it, and it'll be okay." She pulled away briefly to look up at me, a cocky smile appearing on her face. "Believe me, I should know. After all, I'm the one with the visions." I pull her to me again in a warm embrace as we all laugh.