Disclaimer: If I owned Twilight, I wouldn't be writing this, would I? Well, I mean, I would. But I'd be getting paid. As it is, I'm still hopelessly broke, and therefore unable to go to all the concerts I want. Oh, and being under 18 doesn't help either, when you wanna get into a Vegas showroom. But I digress.
When I walked into the office in the morning, my secretary (who I'd hired the day I got the office), informed me of the four appointments I had that day. I had expected a bit more business, but for a first day, this couldn't be the worst start in history.
And of course, the moment I entered the room, I heard her heartbeat accelerate, the blood rush to her cheeks, and her breathing hitch slightly. I calmed her down, as had become habit in these situations. Sometimes I wondered how long their reactions would go on if I didn't step in.
I still had an hour and a half left to myself before my first patient arrived. I was a bit worried about being in a room with a human for an hour, but I'd taken the precaution of opening the windows and placing flowers everywhere. Their scent would hopefully drown out my sense of smell. There were a mix of roses, tropical flowers, jasmine, and freesia. Their mingled scent reminded me a little bit of…Bella. I'd found myself thinking of her more than once, and while at first I was telling myself that it was just worry for her, I had begun to wonder if there wasn't something more behind my thoughts.
For an empath, I was rather confused as to my own feelings. Figures.
And then my thoughts would drift to another subject who'd once been my life, my everything. And her new beaux. I hated that they still had the power to make me think of them. It should be expected that Alice would want to leave me, leave me for someone who could guarantee good behavior. And as much as I'd like to take time out of my day to grieve for my loss of a wife, of a friend and brother, I had better things to do. Like polishing that spot on my desk.
And yes, unlike other therapists, I'd decided to have a desk. It seemed more friendly than a filing cabinet. Less clinical. If I knew one thing about humans, it was that they hated to be treated as a file. Actually (and quite understandably) this seemed to hold true for most species.
After what had seemed like only a few more minutes of musing, I glanced up at the clock and gave a start. It'd been an hour and 28 minutes. Meaning that my first appointment, my first opportunity to show I had enough skill to hold down a job, would be arriving in just a couple of minutes. What kind of psychologist would I be if I was lost so easily in my own mind? A good one? A bad one?
A knock on the door and my secretary telling me that my appointment was here shook me out of my latest reverie.
"Send them in!"
The door opened, and I turned around to look out the window. People tended to be more relaxed if you weren't staring at them as they walked in. They preferred for you to turn around as they entered, and so I did.
And found myself looking at Bella.
"...Doctor 'Cooper'?" She was amused. And confused, and a bit…worried?
"Jasper'll do, for you darlin'."
She gave a shaky laugh. A laugh, yes. But…it wasn't genuine. I wasn't going to count nervousness as a sign of healing. "Is this what you meant when you said you'd be out of business, save for over reactive parents?"
I smiled. She really was observant; Edward hadn't been wrong there.
"Of course. Well, over reactive parents and schools too lazy to recognize problems going on right under their noses that are supremely easy to fix…but I digress. What's on your mind?"
"You can't be serious."
"What? You paid for a session, and I intend to give you one…" I smirked. This was going to be interesting. What made Bella tick? And...Edward would've killed for this chance.
"Yeah, but…" she trailed off, looking at me desperately.
"Look, anything you say here won't go further than this room. Even if we see each other some other time, in some other place, we'll never need to bring up whatever we discuss here."
She bit her lip, still unsure. Her worry was much stronger now, overpowering most of her other emotions. She usually wasn't this uncomfortable around me. Yesterday I'd come in through her window, and she'd mostly been relieved, and glad. To see me?
I sighed, and she looked over at me. Apprehension filled the air. After a brief pause, she asked "What's wrong?"
"I'm just thinking about something…not so happy. You know what I mean?"
I felt sympathy from her. Not pity. Sympathy.
This was an alarming departure from the emotions I'd received from Alice.
I shook my head, trying to drive the thoughts that plagued me away, and hopefully for good. It couldn't be healthy to think about her, no matter how infrequently it must have been happening compared to Bella. But I wasn't a human. My brain processed things faster, better. I shouldn't keep thinking about her…
I felt a fresh wave of sympathy, and I looked towards Bella again, who had a concerned expression on her face.
"Sorry," I said softly. "It's just…hard, you know?"
She nodded, a distant look in her eyes. Her mood was plummeting to match mine, so I made a conscious effort to spread cheer around the room. I shouldn't be making my patients feel more upset than they were before they came in to see me.
I shouldn't be passing my troubles onto my already troubled friend.
Is that what she was?
Or was she just an acquaintance; was our relationship based purely on convenience?
I sighed again. Bella certainly made everyone who knew her question themselves.
I ducked down to open the bottom drawer of my desk, and pulled out something that I knew would lift the mood.
I walked over to my cushy armchair and sank into it, watching as she marveled over how human I seemed to look. I gestured over to the quintessential therapeutic couch that I'd placed opposite my chair, and she sat on the edge, feeling uneasy again.
But I had my secret "weapon". Pulling out the four foot by four foot notebook and novelty giant pen, I started with the most basic question, the one that made people tear their hair out at it's annoying simplicity.
"How does that make you feel?
She flashed a smile and shook her head at my parody of a therapist. Her amusement was music to me, a sign that this wasn't a hopeless endeavor, that my idiot of a brother hadn't scarred her life. That there was hope.
"How does…what make me feel?"
"Anything. Everything. The world. Food. Music. Books. Movies. People. Me. You. Him. Her."
"Well…your notebook is incredibly subtle," she offered.
I chuckled. "Oh, but of course. I'm sure you didn't even notice it. What with your lackluster powers of observation."
Her face froze, and her feelings of loss, of anger, of sadness, washed over me again. I must have reminded her of the idiot.
"…I'm sorry. What'd I say?"
"N-nothing…I mean…It's not your fault…"
It's just…he mentioned my "powers of observation" more than a few times when we first met. Before we were…"
Another wave of agony.
Way to go, Jasper. Keep this up and you may get fired on your first patient.
I smiled at her gently though, trying to coax her out of her thoughts. "It's alright to remember, you know? But…when it takes over your life, when it consumes you…well, he's not worth it. You're much too good for him, and it's better that he left you now, before you'd committed to anything."
She looked up at me, her eyes wide. "But…you can't say you never think about he-about Alice?"
"I try not to. Doesn't always work though, I have to admit."
"Well, she didn't deserve you. And…I'm sorry that you'd been together for so long before she decided to…" Bella couldn't finish; she was trying to hold back the tears that were springing from her eyes.
I was sorely tempted to get up and give her a hug. She looked so…broken. And my calming powers could only accomplish so much; the anguish she felt would still be trying to push to the front of her mind. I couldn't erase bad feelings; I could only push them aside.
But could I do it? Could I hold her close without losing control? It would be incredibly selfish to risk her life.
Selfish. That's what Edward always said of himself whenever we asked why he was never closer to Bella. And look where his "good intentions" had gotten us.
Bella's chocolate eyes, now shining with tears, made up my mind for me. I couldn't leave her alone in her misery.
I walked over to her with a questioning look in my eyes; I wouldn't touch her if she didn't want me to.
But all I felt from her was the sadness that always seemed to overwhelm her these days. No fear.
I wrapped my arms around her, and waited for her to run, to get nervous. In fact…I felt a sense of relaxation. Of calmness.
"Thank you Jasper," she said softly, before laughing slightly.
I was intrigued. I wasn't a nervous laugh; she found something genuinely amusing. And she had laughed. A fantastic step to recovery. And…I had somehow caused it. This notion set my still heart soaring.
"Is this how you plan to cure all your patients? Hug Therapy?"
I chuckled, shaking my head. Only Bella could think of something like this.
"Of course. Haven't you ever heard? Hugs Not Drugs."
"So…you're not going to be a quack shrink?"
"Hardly. Anyone can give out drugs. It takes a rare person to give a hug as good as this."
She snorted. "All hail Jasper, King of The Hugs."
"…I should get that on a plaque."
A comfortable silence lapsed between us for a bit, and I was acutely aware of Bella still in my arms. She seemed so small, so…soft.
She sighed slightly, though I could sense only contentment behind her emotions, and leaned her head into me.
And then my timer rang.
The hour was up.
The noise shook us out of our reverie, and I made a mental note to just count the time in my head. It wouldn't be a distraction to me; my mind was able to handle several tracks of thought at once. My future patients might become alarmed at the sound of the alarm, and I didn't want to drive people further to the brink of insanity than they had been when they came in. The King of Hugs would not stand for it.
I released Bella, and reminded her that she still hadn't really spoken to me. That she would have to next time.
"Well, you don't just go see a psychologist once, do you? It's a long and arduous process to be healed from non-insanity."
She appeared lost in though before responding with "I suppose it is, isn't it?"
"So, is Charlie picking you up here?"
She nodded her head in affirmation. "He should be in the reception area soon. Nice place you have, by the way."
"Thanks. You'd be amazed how fast you can get things done by flirting with desperate women three times your age. Well…a few centuries younger than my age, anyway."
I felt a pang of jealousy emanating from her, though it was gone so fast I might have imagined it. And Bella's face was revealing nothing, showing only a sort of vague smile. She shook her head slightly.
"Well, thanks for—for today."
"Not a problem."
She studied my face for a minute though, insatiably curious about something.
If it was possible for a vampire to feel self-conscious, I felt so now. "What? Am I covered in blood or something?" I inquired jokingly, trying to get her to tell me why she was looking at me so intently.
"Hmm? Oh…I was just wondering…how do you plan on staying unrecognized? I mean, you can change your name, but wouldn't people recognize you?"
I laughed. "Bella, I'm Jasper's long lost third cousin, who happens to look nearly identical to him. And…maybe I'll go back to school. As Jasper, I mean. So as to not raise any suspicions."
She looked slightly more at ease, and I was touched at her concern.
"It's alright, Darlin'. Nobody will be any wiser."
She nodded again. "Well, I'd better go. I don't want Charlie thinking it to be a necessity for me to have extra time in therapy."
"I'm that bad? You wound me, Bella," I said mockingly.
She laughed again, a beautiful sound. Especially since it was me causing it. For the second time in an hour.
Hail Jasper, King of Hugs.
"Bye, Jasper," she called, as she walked out of the door.
I saw Charlie sitting down in one of the waiting room chairs, anxiety rippling off him, until Bella came up and greeted him. They got up and walked out; he'd already booked another appointment with the receptionist as I'd been with Bella.
It would be nice, to be able to see her every week. To be able to help her heal.
A/N: Okay, updates are happening a little faster now. I hope. Well, I got it within the month, if only just. D:
THANKYOUFORYOURREVIEWS. I'm at 213, last I saw. :) You guys make my day. I very nearly squeed in joy.
aha, well. I did squee in joy. :p
ANYWAY. Review, and you shall be hugged. BY THE KING OF HUGS!